[Marxism] Cuba and the Internet

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 7 09:46:41 MST 2004

An Opinion on the Internet in Cuba

by Jose Steinleger
La Jornada
February 06, 2004

Syllogism: an argument containing two premises from which a conclusion is 
derived; i.e.: "The United States maintains an economic blockade on Cuba; 
such blockade influences all aspects of life in Cuba." Besides the 
propositional context..., what valid conclusion is obtained from both 
premises? In school, we learned that a syllogism constitutes a tautology 
because its conclusions are rigorous.

There are two categories of syllogism: hypothetical and disjunctive. 
Hypothetical: "if Cuba submits, the revolution dies. Cuba submitted; 
therefore the revolution died". A disjunctive syllogism contains a major 
argument sustained by a major premise: "if Cuba submits, the revolution 
betrays its principles and dies." It also contains a minor premise which 
either affirms or denies the disjunctive: "it hasn't betrayed them, 
therefore it hasn't died".

We also learned what a dilemma means: an ambiguous proposition that 
contains two axioms and two premises, which function is to combine the 
hypothetical and the disjunctive arguments; i.e.: "Socialism without 
democracy is not socialism. Cuba is socialist, but not democratic; 
therefore, Cuba is neither socialist nor democratic". Aristotle, however, 
cautioned that a dilemma must be demonstrated.

Interesting? It depends. If we rationalize like a feverish desert-dweller 
stranded in the arctic, the tedious task of discerning reality and 
falsehood is therewith exonerated. Of course there would not be a dilemma, 
but rather a self-inflicted hallucination. Therapy recommends 
cross-referencing, examining sources and a small polycosanol pill (PPG), 
daily which Cuban health officials prescribe to adults and the elderly 
suffering of hypercholesterolemia, regardless of ideology.

Those on the left who don't take PPG, reckon the levels of freedom and 
democracy in Cuba discriminating the social achievements from the injuries 
exerted by the embargo. In the field of Information Science, for instance, 
such achievements would remain at the margin of the contravention against 
the stipulations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that 
the United States performs in order to provoke internal subversion. 
Therefore, Cuba cannot export or resell the software produced within its 
borders, but rather it must purchase licenses, updates and technological 
transfers through third party countries, with the subsequent increase in 
prices and delays.

The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 upset the creation of a partnership which 
would produce fiber optics, coaxial and data transmission cables. In 2003, 
the Department of Commerce denied an export license to a California agency 
wishing to donate 423 computers to hospitals and clinics in the island. The 
Cuban internet connection lacks the adequate bandwidth to satisfy national 
demand. The blockade forces the use of expensive, slow bandwidth and 
satellite transmissions, easily avoided if a fiber optics cable ran between 
Cuba and Florida.

To what valid premise obeys the omission of such prohibitions? Is there a 
dilemma between "free speech" (ambiguous proposition) and the premises and 
axioms regarding egregious losses which U.S. imperialism occasions Cuba in 
the areas of basic and wireless telephony, electronic commerce, electronic 
mail and internet access?

"Communication, information and education are now available to everybody 
and anybody who can afford a computer and an internet account". The person 
who wrote this lives in Nicaragua, a country where a scarce 0.04 percent 
has internet access. With a population of 11 million, there are 480,000 
users in Cuba (4.3 percent), according to the ITU. There's a similar 
percentage in Mexico (4.6) and in Russia (4.2). In the Summit of the 
Information Society (sic), an African delegate said: What are we talking 
about? In my country we have 0.16 telephones for each 100 people!

Notwithstanding the cost of international connectivity, Cuba uses the 
internet in a rational, creative and orderly manner. Instead of 
prioritizing the residential and corporate markets (an endeavor which 
belongs to telecommunication companies and international providers), the 
most dynamic development of Cuban Information is dedicated to social, 
cultural, educational and health issues. Every kid and youth in the country 
has access to computers, even the elderly and children in daycare.

Yet, a marxist in slippers dares to scold the Cuban government for 
implementing mechanisms which guarantee that the users pay. On the other 
hand, I would admit that using the internet to copy music and refuse to pay 
constitutes piracy; it would also be illegal that a person working at an 
office or a university used the internet for personal gain. But when Cubans 
sell internet accounts in the black market, stealing them from the 
government, it constitutes freedom. Isn't everything supposed to be free in 
a socialist and democratic revolution?

Translated by Miguel Alvarado

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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