Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Castro in My Dream

Tibor R. Machan

Yes, and I know why! The other day I saw the little movie Rumor Has It and while it was amusing and sweet, it was marred by two pieces of rank political propaganda. But then what do you expect of a flick directed by Rob Reiner!?

First, one of the main characters gave a speech at a charity ball in which he invoked Che Guevara’s name as a great revolutionary. Not Jefferson! Not Thomas Paine, not even Thoreau. Che, a murderous communist. Next this same sympathetic character was shown in a picture hobnobbing with Fidel Castro. The rest of the movie hadn’t a thing to do with politics or economics but there you have it, a little sprinkling of pro-commie sentiments and for me, at least, the night was nearly ruined.

But I got over it, except that after having written a column recently on private property rights and how it could help the environment far more than all the statist measures advocated by environmentalists, I read in THE WEEK a piece chronicling how the Chinese are royally botching up their environment for lack of solid measures against that relentless scourge, dumping. But dumping can only be combated by a legal system that firmly protects private property rights. And that is just what my column was arguing, with China and the USSR as the main examples.

So then last night I had this dream of being at some kind of shindig, kind of like that one in Rumor Has It, where I meet Fidel, of all people. No sooner do I get a chance to say something to him than I launch into a defense of the principle of the tragedy of the commons and how his dream of communism is a total waste, not to mention travesty. And, in this dream, the guy actually listens to me—oh, I knew it was a dream when that scene came up!

But that’s not all. After the ball ended and Fidel returned to Havana, I found his private phone number and called him the next morning. He answered himself and we began a long discussion on how I had experienced his fantasy world back as a kid in Hungary and how he should wise up and see that it is a looser.

I rarely have coherent dreams—snippets of this and that, mostly fantasies, of course. And this one wasn’t different in theme but how it all hung together, moving along in time as reality does, did surprise me. I guess I take this stuff very, very seriously. The idea of an entire Caribbean country suffering from the political insanity of communist fantasy when it is so clear, and has been since the time of Aristotle and Thucydides, that therein lies the ruin of human communities, just eats me up.

So then what do we make of the fact that it continues to entice people, not just in Havana, Cuba, but in Hollywood, USA? These celebrities, who are too stupid to stick to movie making so they chime in with corrupting political notions about how wonderful Che and Fidel are, are really scary to me.

It is when all this comes up that I focus in on the idea of how liberty requires eternal vigilance. Because these fantasies of the perfect, ideal society have managed to dominate so much human political thinking—starting with Socrates’ misguided notion that such a system, or one very close to it, would function as a good political pedagogical device—and stand in the way of real, possible, improvements on the human condition without any letup. And there is little one can do to stop such destructive idealism. It is the aptest example of the prefect being the enemy of the good.

So the only antidote is to keep up the dissent on all possible fronts, perhaps even in one’s most private realm, namely, one’s dreams.

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