The End of Ideology in Cuba?

By Arnold August.
Jan 9, 2017 7:55 PM

In 1960, the American sociologist and academic Daniel Bell
(1919–2011) published The End of Ideology. It became a
classic book in official political science. The publication was
listed by Times Literary Supplement as one of the 100 most
influential non-fiction books in the second half of the 20th
century. While there were other “end of ideologies”
in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bell’s is considered the
most authoritative. The many varieties that emerged from this
school of thought have a common denominator. While not
oversimplifying this important trend, for the purposes of this
article one can say that it surfaced out of the perceived
failures of both socialism in the former U.S.S.R. and capitalism
in the West. It was born out of opposition to

In November 1968, along with other political science students at
McGill University in Montreal, I founded the Political Science
Students Association. It organized a strike around two basic
demands. The first was student participation on faculty hiring
committees; the second, linked to this potential student
empowerment, demanded a more inclusive faculty and curriculum.
This would include writings other than by Daniel Bell (who, of
course, was considered mandatory reading and enjoyed uncontested
reference in political science), progressive social scientists
and the works of Marx and Lenin. These were all excluded at the
time. After a 10-day occupation and strike, the students’
demands were finally met by the university.

Bell was blind to the inevitable uprisings that were about to
take place in the U.S. among African-Americans shortly after his
best-seller rolled off the press. These progressive struggles,
like those of the Native peoples, who also revolted, have their
origins in the Thirteen Colonies. In the 1960s, American students
were also attracted to alternative ideologies and politics. In
fact, the youth movement was omnipresent throughout North America
and much of Europe. While this inclination in the 1960s was
characterized by different left-wing political and ideological
features, and experienced its ups and downs, it was the death
knell for the End of Ideology hypothesis. However, Bell’s
heritage keeps coming back to haunt us.

In Cuba, in the last year or so, there has been a steady increase
in the End of Ideology code words and buzz phrases emitted by
some marginal Cuban bloggers and intellectuals. They were timid
at first but became increasingly bold. To mention just a few:
complaining of what they see as a “sterile dichotomy
between socialism and capitalism”; advising Cuban
revolutionaries to be “balanced and more profound in
offering their criticism” of U.S. imperialism; opposing
what they consider the extremist “Fidelista” and
“anti-Castro” positions, placing both on the same
footing; labelling those who are Marxist-Leninist or Fidelista as
“extremists” or “fanatics”; writing
about “two major fallacies of what it means to be a
revolutionary in Cuba, from the left and right,” both
being based on “exclusive dogma”; and, finally,
asserting that “life is much more profound than even

Reading these pieces, my university days back in 1968 kept
piercing through my thought process. How was it possible that we
opposed the End of Ideology in the heart of capitalism yet now it
rears its head in Cuba, of all places? One can argue that the
opposition in Cuba is coming from the “left,” that
is, from those who claim that they support the Revolution. Well,
where else can it emerge if not from the so-called left? This is
Cuba. Let us not forget that Bell had identified as a leftist.
His opposition to ideology was ostensibly from the leftist
outlook and not the right. This, after all, was how he won his
credibility and credentials. Bell became disillusioned with
socialism. He could not see an alternative so he decided to wage
a struggle against both capitalism and socialism. His work is a
reflection of his own personal/political predicament.
Objectively, however, this so-called neutrality against extremes
consists in throwing a life jacket in support of capitalism. It
is no accident that he is so appreciated by the ruling elites of
the West.

I have always maintained that the most dangerous opposition to
the Cuban Revolution comes from the so-called left, and not from
the openly right Plattists, or annexationists. It is a cancer in
Cuban society that, if left to grow without sharp ideological
resistance, can influence the most naive, especially among youth,
intellectuals and artists.

When Bell wrote his essays in the late 1950s, which were
eventually compiled in his 1960 volume, Cuba was the scene of the
most glaring refutation in the world of his theory: the 1953
Moncada attack, its ensuing program and the Triumph of the
Revolution on January 1, 1959. Fidel Castro and the July 26
Movement initiated in embryonic form the road toward a new
Marxist-Leninist revolutionary ideology for Cuba. Far from being
a period characterized by the end of ideology, Cuba provided the
world with a resurgence of – and confidence in –
the need for ideology. It represented the end of the End of
Ideology. The Cuban Revolution erupted at the height of the Cold
War yet it dug in its heels against any intimidation from the
left or from imperialism. It did not represent the politically
correct action and thinking at the time, not of the left and even
less so of the right. Thus, in the initial period, Fidel had the
acumen to not reveal the entire scenario. However, ideology was
at the centre of the action and spirit.

Since 1953, Cuba has been and continues to be the quintessence of
cultivating ideological principles. Every written and spoken word
of Fidel is impregnated with ideology. It is not stagnant; on the
contrary, it is continuously evolving according to the context.
Otherwise, Cuba would not have been able to outlast its enemies
all this time.

I am convinced that one of the main implicit objectives of the
international corporate media campaign against the persona of
Fidel right after his passing was imperialism’s revenge
against him for not capitulating on ideology. Why, they may ask
in frustration, did the Cuban Revolution never buy into the End
of Ideology? It should have, according to official political
science. Yet, after all these years, from July 26, 1953 to
November 25, 2016, Fidel lived and died as he asked of others: a
humble revolutionary.

In this historical context today, to try to impregnate Cuban
political culture with “neutrality” on ideology,
opposition to “extremes,”
“equidistance” between socialism and capitalism,
and so forth does not constitute a challenge to dogmatism of the
left as it tries to portray itself. The real defiance is against
socialism and Marxist-Leninist ideology. In the 1960s,
Bell’s theory appealed to the ruling circles, who wanted
to preserve the status quo. The elites were in power. They were
not in any danger of being dislodged by their own capitalism! The
End of Ideology critique of capitalism was then just a convenient
cover for the critique of socialism. At McGill, in 1968, that was
the main argument of the conservative faculty and administration.
They were supposedly not in favour or against any ideology. All
political options were welcome, but Bell was more welcome. He was
supposedly against capitalism and socialism. However, those who
favoured the capitalist status quo relied on the End of Ideology.
Those who opposed the “extreme” ideology of the
left were fully merged with the capitalist ideology, serving to
propagate and elaborate it. The purpose of the End of Ideology,
in the 1960s and now in Cuba, is to put an end to
Marxist-Leninist and socialist ideology.

Source: Prensa Latina\
eology-in-cuba <\

Arnold August , a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author
of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more
recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion .
Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are, on the one hand
the U.S. and on the other hand, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August and

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