Anti-Political Politics, Solidarity, Nonviolence and Saving a Cuban Rocker from a Stalinist Show Trial Tuesday
“I would rather die as a poet then live as a politician.” – María Elena Cruz Varela,
I favor “anti-political politics,” that is, politics not as the technology of power and manipulation, of cybernetic rule over humans or as the art of the utilitarian, but politics as one of the ways of seeking and achieving meaningful lives, of protecting them and serving them. – Václav Havel, Politics and Conscience (1984)
“What are the rights of revolutionary or non-revolutionary writers and artists? Within the Revolution, everything against the Revolution, no rights at all.” – Fidel Castro, Speech to Intellectuals (1961)
There are moments when circumstances and context crystallize and underline an idea. Beginning Friday night listening to María Elena Cruz Varela present her self titled book in Coral Gables where she explained that what drove her to defy the Cuban dictatorship was not politics but a question of living in truth and saying what she thought. In a May 27, 1993 interview with the Spanish newspaper El País she bluntly stated: “I would rather die as a poet then live as a politician” Listening to her now one can understand that the vision she has of politics is one focused on power. In a multi-party democracy politicians have to appeal to voters to get elected but are fundamentally driven by getting into and staying in power. In the case of a totalitarian regime power is maintained through terror and repression and politics dominates everything including inter-personal relations.
On Saturday, Rose Tang also wrote about another courageous artist living under a totalitarian regime in main land China, Cui Jian who is not only considered the father of Chinese Rock but also an icon for Chinese rebels. He played his songs for students during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and the lyrics were critical of the regime in power there. Twenty five years later and he’s still protesting injustices in China. One of his albums is titled “The power of the powerless” which is the title of Václav Havel’s best known essay.
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