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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2764

Fidel Castro contributed an Alternative Ethic of Rebellion and Resistance - La Jornada

The premier Mexican newspaper La Jornada has carried an interview with Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, conducted by its correspondent Kyra Nunez, on the subject of Cuban President Fidel Castro and Jayatilleka’s new book on him. Datelined November 16th and appearing in the Cultural Section of La Jornada of November 17th, the article in Spanish carries the quadruple-decker title (of which the English translation follows):

“He is the more relevant political thinker born in the 20th century” says Dayan Jayatilleka to" La Jornada

Kyra Nunez, the interviewer, has met and talked to Fidel Castro several times since the 1970s. Her article reads as follows:

Geneva, November 16th. He has never spoken with Fidel Castro Ruz and has only seen him in documentaries, films and on television news. Nevertheless, from the age of six and mostly during the years of underground militancy in his native Sri Lanka, the present Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka has been fascinated with the personality whom he calls “the greatest political thinker born in 20th century” who has given an ethical and moral dimension to Marxism and mainly, to the exercise of violence.

“Castro contributed an alternative ethic of rebellion and resistance, as exemplified in his explicit behaviour of not targeting non-combatants because the life of an unarmed or disarmed person must be sacred to all”, argues Jayatilleka in his book Fidel's Ethics of violence: the moral dimension of the political thought of Fidel Castro, published in November (Pluto Press, London, 2007).

“Fidelismo is an example of modernity, rationality and militancy,” added the author, during an interview with La Jornada at the headquarters of the Sri Lankan delegation in the Office of the United Nations in Geneva.

In his study of the political thought of Castro Ruz, Jayatilleka placed it as the third platform between the pacifism of Gandhi or the tactical violence of Mandela, and the indiscriminate violence of armed movements which he illustrated by using the attacks of Hezbollah against the Israeli cities as an example. He says with blunt, convincing words: “Fidel would have never approved a similar act - under no circumstance regardless of the gravity of the provocation.” He insists that in Fidelismo, atrocity is not even known - neither on a national scale in the armed struggle for liberation, nor in Castro’s revolutionary internationalism. “Had it engaged a crime, for example a crime in Angola, the western mass media would have been devoted to exposing and denouncing it before the Human Rights Commission and the present Human Rights Council of the UN.”

The book Fidel's ethics of violence has several objectives of which this author emphasizes two. First is the evaluation of Fidel's personality as the greatest living political thinker and political leader, who has had universal influence. The second is the analysis of the exercise of violence in Castro from the strategic and philosophical standpoint. "What differentiates Fidel, Che and the Cuban Revolution from other leaders and armed movements of liberation has been that violence has not been unrestricted or unpunished". We have never seen in Cuba that which we see in the Middle East, in Lebanon, in Palestine.

Two forms of violence have been used from time immemorial: one is its exercise without limitation, because “the end justifies the means”; and the other is dictated by ethical and moral elements.

Fidel has never questioned the right of the oppressed to exercise violence, but always respecting the important nature of the civil and civilian; that is to say, without causing the death of innocents, mistreatment of prisoners, and summary executions.

This explicit moral and ethical dimension could correct the “spiritual crisis” which runs through the ideology of revolutionary Marxism. This ethical and moral dimension did not exist in Marxism, thus the reason for it being Fidel's most novel scientific contribution. The problem of the moral dimension of violence began to loom large with the Cultural Revolution in China and Pol Pot's genocide in Cambodia. It was the Cuban [Fidel Castro], who weighed revolutionary violence in proportion, between the good and bad, right and wrong. This active philosophy allowed Cuba to stay revolutionary and Fidelismo to become one of humanity's best influences. For that reason the island has not fallen back on itself, as what happened to North Korea, nor has it converted to capitalism.

Part of the argumentation of Jayatilleka was based on the comparison of ethical and moral violence with both terrorist war and the ‘war on terrorism’. He insisted during our encounter, in which the comparative examples are abundant, "9/11 makes the contrast more acute".

Jayatilleka arrived at the appointment with La Jornada with the biography of Fidel, coinciding with the publication of his Fidel's Ethics of Violence, but he affirmed that he is not promoting the cult of the personality – which Castro opposes fervently, according to the book. He "presented the leader as a great political thinker, a great political philosopher, who will still be more relevant when he no longer exists", adding that Fidel is most approximate to what Nietzsche called "the higher man".

In the 200 pages consecrated to the political thought of Castro there is no mention of the Cuban Diaspora in Miami. In this respect, the author remembered that it is in manifestations in the streets of that city, where the flag of the United States has been dishonoured and burned, not in Havana! The new Cuban generation in Miami would have to revalue the figure of Fidel, to recognize that he is part of their roots; their patrimony.

Web link: Fidel Castro aportó la alternativa ética a la rebelión y la resistencia

- Asian Tribune -

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