Saturday, March 1, 2008


Fidel Castro announced his resignation on 19 February and was replaced by his brother Raul on 24 February 2008.

William F Buckley died 27 February 2008.

Coincidence? Whether it was or not, these two men were a fixture of my entire political life, for better but mostly for worse.

My first thought was that "William Fbuckley" was dead. Yet making fun of his name on Laugh In (right? Lily Tomlin?) hardly defused his importance in the culture wars (and the political naivete on the left, when they refused to compromise on Hubert H Humphrey's candidacy) that gave us 5+ years of Nixon and a taste of what could done with illegal wiretaps rather than jackboots. That really prepared me for this century, by the way.

On the other side, personal hatred of Castro has skewed US policy for over 40 years. Where trade with China has altered its "communist" state (and the lives of its people) dramatically since Nixon changed our embargo against them, our embargo with Cuba primarily serves to give that government an excuse for its own failures. A system that fails primarily because it is built on a confusion between a clever and successful debating argument by Marx about the nature of human economics and the reality of actual human behavior.

That is what Buckley and Castro have in common, in my mind. Buckley could also craft a brilliantly written argument, such as the one that segregation was just fine as long as the majority of blacks were too ill educated to meet his criteria for participating in politics. (Begging the question of how they would get educated if the system that subjugated them did not change.) However, he forgot that this was not just a Yale hallway debate, but an action giving immoral support to those who would murder black citizens in the name of maintaining segregation in both the south and the north. To his credit, he seemed to have changed his mind on this matter, but he never really admitted that he had helped oppress human beings rather than merely participate in a speculative academic argument.

Buckley also appeared to sell out his original libertarian strain of true conservatism, with its rejection of prohibition and many drug laws and massive Reagan-style spending, when he saw a chance for Reagan to come to power. I wonder if he ever realized that he had been used, in the worst sense, to sell something as alien to his main views as the reign of George "W" the (forty) Third has been.

And now a bit of a digression, a thought about someone who would see the connection between them even more clearly: Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

Here is a man who could call Castro "Uncle Fidel", but would rather die first because he was from the Batista side of the family reunion picnic table. I wonder if he sees Buckley as a hero for promoting a narrow (and originally quite racist) view that America should be run by a ruling class, perhaps just as the Cuba of his youth was run when his father was part of the ruling class in Havana.

No comments: