The man who saw San Che dead speaks

An accidental find: the famous reporter and former Guardian writer Richard Gott has written a history of Cuba, and lo…

Fidel is not a tyrant, says Gott, and does not rule without the consent of the people.

The “and” in this sentence reads like “because,” and the implied definition of tyranny shows that Gott is as clueless about it as his pro-war opponents are, or pretend to be, about democracy.

Tyranny can easily be a form of primitive democracy. On the other hand, a democratic system of government does not guarantee political liberty to the majority, to say nothing of minorities. Tyranny’s key sign is the state’s arbitrary behavior that indicates it does not think of itself as bound by any laws, even of its own creation. A helpful hint is also suppression of human freedom in general and interference with the segments of human life that decent governments are not supposed to poke their noses into. (Indeed, they say a homo sapiens’ nose grows from birth to death; all the more so the gummint’s sniffer.) Once the magnitude of this interference explodes beyond all acceptable limits, we suspect tyranny regardless of popular consent.

And there is conditioning… Gott says the Cuban nation formed only after 1959, which would mean under the watch and supervision of the Party. No wonder then that Fidel Castro rules with consent of the people. There’s a trickier little thing to wonder about. Is the nation past the age of consent yet?

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