Walterio Carbonell is dead
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
We could discuss at length whether something was right or wrong, or well thought-out or badly conceived, but here’s a work to be reckoned with. Those who want to use me had better know that I still feel for and act in a twofold capacity: I’m an old Cuban communist and an old French communist. Remember I joined the French [communist] party when I was studying in that country.
Walterio Carbonell (18-I-1920)
Walterio Carbonell’s major historiographic merit was that he highly valued the blacks’ contribution to Cuban culture and society as a whole social phenomenon, in keeping with Georges Gurvitch’s views on this kind of process. Until then, bourgeois historiography had either neglected or underrated black people’s participation in the national historiographic work. Among the first-class scholars, only Fernando Ortíz and Elías Entralgo had given these disregarded ethnic groups the recognition they deserved.
He was an upright opponent of the Soviet flow of manuals used to start spreading Marxism and Leninism in Cuba, the reason that he had to stop teaching this subject. (…) I’m grateful to Walterio for making me understand our revolutionary process in depth and with all its complexities. Since we talked for the first time he made it plain to me in a very simple way that the solution to the problems of social, economic and racial inequality that prevail in the world today lies in socialism, as long as it’s real, democratic, participatory and free of any sign of dogmatism and intolerance.
–Tomás Fernández Robaina
Rather than a strict approach to its object of reflection, Walterio Carbonell’s book [How natural culture emerged] is one of the most singular and engrossing testimonies about the history of Cuban intelligentsia in the second half of the 20th century. It addresses the cultural debate that took place in those days from a different perspective, one way above any political quarrel, literary squabbling or intrigues to seize cultural power. Walterio Carbonell proposed a Marxist dialogue about the nation’s historical foundations, racial premises and its possibilities to keep playing its role in the Cuban Revolution’s ideological discourse. Carbonell’s book, however, went unnoticed, and with time its pages were hushed into gloomy oblivion.