Socialism and Freedom? By Emiliano Antunez -Price of Liberty
Socialism and Freedom?
By Emiliano Antunez

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January 29, 2007

The headline in the Miami Herald local section read: "Film About Cuba Enlightens Teens" by Oscar Corral. As I read the article, I became aware that the word “enlighten” can be perceived in many lights (some quite dim).

The piece dealt with the showing of a Channel One documentary titled Destination Cuba to students attending Miami’s Belen Jesuit Preparatory School (which I attended in the mid to late 70s) that covered most aspects on life in Cuba. But the focus of the article was on the students perceptions of the right to free speech (or lack thereof) in Cuba as compared to the United States.

Some of the students interviewed by the Herald after watching the documentary stated the obvious, "Over here we have so much freedom of speech, and we can say anything we want.” But one made a remark that says a lot about superficial observations and shallow perceptions, "You can have a socialist government or socialist thinking, without necessarily having to take away the people's rights. The problem with Cuba is that Fidel Castro is afraid to lose power, and he wants to be a lifelong dictator, and that's why he has to oppress people's rights.''

Unfortunately most people living in the United States today would agree with that statement faster than you can say ACLU. Freedom of speech and economic rights are rarely viewed in the same light and the Channel One documentary, like many that preceded it, missed a huge opportunity to “enlighten” its young viewers of the inextricable connection.

Are the differences between Fidel Castro and a majority of US politicians a matter of diametrically opposed polar opposites, or just a difference of degrees? Can an individual truly express himself freely within a state that controls most (or all) the economic aspects of his life?

Castro, much like many US politicians (aided and abetted by the folks that vote for them), have an innate desire to impose their view on others and retain the power to do so for as long as possible. The Income Tax, Federal Reserve, Selective Service, Medicare, FDA and Social Security are just some examples of how our own government imposes itself on every individual. A portion of your income is confiscated at the point of a gun, you’re forced to use currency - the value of which is dictated by whims of politicians and the technocrats they appoint, or you can potentially be drafted into the military and be shipped out to fight and die in needless military conflicts halfway around the world (and shipped back in a box). Examining these and other aspects of our lives closer should begin to blur the lines between Castro, Bush, Clinton or any other politician that aspires to hold power over you.

Can freedom of speech really exist within a system that holds a virtual Sword of Damocles over your source of income? US history is littered with examples of how politicians have used the powers at their disposal to complicate or destroy the lives of individuals who somehow threatened their hold on power or the economic livelihood of their more generous contributors. Huey Long made life difficult for Standard Oil (owned by his nemesis Rockefeller) in his Louisiana fiefdom, Theodore Roosevelt based much of his legislation and actions as President on his chumminess with the Rockefellers and his despise for the Morgans. More recently, Microsoft (AKA Bill Gates) was raked over the coals (while Marc Rich got pardoned and Ken Lay and the boys visited the White House) by the Justice Department at the behest of its more politically astute (and connected) competitors. All these arbitrary confiscatory actions were conducted under the guise of a “greater societal good.”

Speaking of dictators; after his coup in Chile ousted communist president Salvador Allende, Augusto Pinochet consulted with renowned free market economist Milton Freidman on how to improve his country's economic situation. Mr. Freidman claims that he told General Pinochet that no dictatorship could survive a free market system, and history proved him right. Unfortunately there is a flip side to Mr. Freidman’s assertion, and that is that no free market system can survive a democracy.

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Voters Deserve “No respect”

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Libertarian

A Testament To Democracy

Living In America 2029, A Workers Paradise

A Tale of Two Cubas?

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A Tale of Two Dictators-

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