[Marxism] Gore Vidal in Havana (excerpts)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 21 11:19:02 MST 2006

(These are just a few excerpts from a much, much, much longer
discussion with Gore Vidal during his recent week on the island.)

Gore Vidal in Havana
By: Rosa Miriam Elizalde
2006-12-20 | 13:17:06 EST

• Only if we restore the constitution can we have a country with
aspirations, and indeed, successes like Cuba.

•Overnight we became a banana republic, without any bananas to sell.

•Our founders didn’t like democracy. However, we’re set on bringing
democracy to Iraq and all these other countries that long for it.

• We have a country mad about torture, murder, executions and life
sentences in prison.

•The Cuban Five are all in prison with what seem like eternal
sentences for having obeyed two presidents: one here and one in the
United States.

December 13, 2006

RM: Do you blame Harry Truman for the United States becoming the
authoritarian country it is today? This is an opinion that seems not
to be shared by many Americans. George W. Bush, for example, has said
recently that the man who dropped the bombs over Hiroshima and
Nagasaki was a good president.

GV: Well, remember two things: most Americans have no information at
all on history, on geography, or on what’s going on in the world.
They don’t know about these things. Roosevelt had made arrangements
so that we would detach the colonies from France, Holland, Portugal.
By 1945 when the war in Europe and in Asia ended, we would get them,
and we would become their masters. Americans knew none of this, and
they still don’t know. They're not taught this; the rulers do not
want them to know it.

Truman was personally rather popular. He was a nice little man. 
He knew nothing at all about geography, history, religion, he knew
nothing. Behind him he had a Prince Metternich, who was Dean
Achinson, the Secretary of State, a great international lawyer. And
he knew everything. He was the one who then designed the totally
militarized state that emerged by 1949/50 under Harry Truman. And it
all comes down to one document, the National Security Council
document number 68. There were several points. We were to be forever
at war with somebody. We were going to fight communism everywhere on
earth even if it didn’t threaten us. It was a holy war, just as now
we've made one on terrorism and Islam, equally stupid and equally

The man who should have been president in 1945 was Henry Wallace.
However, he was replaced by a Mr. Nobody, a southern right winger
named Harry Truman, from Missouri; who took over the government when
Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945.

So we got a terrible president because he was so bad that they built
him up into an idol, everybody’s. Everybody who knows nothing admires
Harry Truman, and they don’t know why. He's just such a nice little
man. He was a nice little man, but he ended the Republic and set us
on this wave of conquest. He went yelling and screaming to the people
that the Soviet Union was on the march, that they were about to seize
Greece, that they were immediately going into Italy, they could then
cross over to France, and cross the Atlantic at any time. We hear
echoes of this in the current little man, Mr. Bush, who says:
[imitating GW Bush] “well we can’t fight them over there... we're
going to have to fight ‘em over here...fight them over here...” We
don’t have to fight them; they have no way of getting here. But no
American can ask questions like that because they will be thought
unpatriotic or silly.


RM. The Bush administration has led his country into such a disaster
that Fidel himself said recently that he believes the United States
public will oust President Bush before he finishes his term. Do you
see this happening?

GV: The people running the Bush Administration are so mindless and
radical that they're apt to start bombing Russia, or start bombing
Iran. They would have to start a diversion, so they can scream: “true
patriots come to the aid of the Commander in Chief in war time”
[imitates Bush]. That’s their rubric. Well that’s all nonsense. In
other words, they create events. They create panic.

Two days after 9/11 there was somebody in the government saying,
“it's not if they attack again, it’s when!” The nonsense had already
begun. Then we say, well it’s been seven or eight years and they
haven’t attacked and they say “well that’s because of the precautions
that we take at the airports ... oh! You don’t like them! Because you
have to take your shoes off, but at the same time that is what has
saved you from an attack.” Well, prove it! We can’t prove it, they
retort, without revealing our secret sources. Its circular.

I hope that the Democratic Congress which comes in, with the
chairmanships of congressional committees, including the Judiciary,
gets every last one of them under oath before Congress to answer
these questions.

RM: What would be necessary to re-establish the Republic?

Listen to the great words of our greatest president, Mr. Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, at his first inauguration The country was
collapsing, economically the banks were coming down, money was short,
and he struck a great political note which other presidents have
generally imitated until we get down to this junta he said [imitating
Roosevelt] “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” That is the
basis of the Republic. Don’t be taken in by fear. There are people
who make money out of fear. That’s their job, just to frighten.

I'm not for real revolutions, because they always bring you the
opposite of what you want. The French Revolution brought the world
Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis XVI. So you very seldom get what you want
if you have a violent revolution. I think we are due one because of
our our economic collapse.

There was a headline in one of the big American papers the other day
that the army was begging the administration for money. They don’t
have the money to make fools of themselves in Baghdad. They’ve got to
raise it somewhere; we have no tax revenues because all the rich
people have been exempted from tax as well as corporations. It used
to be that 50% of the revenues of the Federal government came from
the taxes on corporate profits. Its about 8% now, they’ve just
eliminated it. Corporations don’t pay tax and rich people don’t
either. So they've not only helped all their rich friends who now
have enough money to finance the Republican Party with billions of
dollars so they can tell lies about anybody in the country and
pretend that the patriots of the country are traitors. It’s a very
good trick both economically for them and it’s a bad trick on us real
Americans, we don’t like it. We've lost the Bill of Rights; we lost
the Magna Carta, on which all of our liberties are based for 700
years. No, it’s not been an amusing time.


RM: One last question. You’ve been here for a few days already. Is
Cuba anything like what the media presents to North Americans?

GV: [Laughs] Are you crazy?!! NO! We’re told everybody hates it here;
everybody is starving to death, and they put out stories in Cuba on
how they have wonderful doctors but in fact they are terrible doctors
and nobody goes to them, any Cuban who is sick goes to the Mayo
Clinic in America.

There is no lie that our government will not tell and has not told.
So no correct picture gets through. One of the reasons I’m doing
television here, is I feel every now and then I do have some audience
out there. I can talk about what I’ve seen. I've seen the influx of
doctors, would be doctors into Cuba. I've been in that building which
used to be a Russian Navel Base, and is dedicated to teaching a whole
generation about medicine, about community services, something
Americans hate, you know, everybody is help for himself, grab all the
money you can and then run away, to Tahiti or someplace. I was
talking to 8 or 9 Americans from New York, Massachusetts, who are
studying medicine here. I said well is it as good as they say, they
said, “oh yes it is, its rather better, better than anything we could
get at home, going to ordinary medical universities.” Why don’t we do
the same for the health of our people and other countries? I see what
you've done with medicine, from Africa to the deepest Amazon or
wherever. We had a great Constitution, and a great legal system. Only
by the restoration of that can we have a country with aspirations and
with indeed successes like Cuba. Don’t think I don’t get extremely
jealous for the United States, since I am a super patriot; I get very

RM: Will you return?

GV: Never make predictions.


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