Javier Gomez Sanchez
19 January 2022
Translated by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Ernesto Estévez Rams (Havana, 1967) is a full professor at the University of Havana, a member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences and a writer on scientific, political, philosophical and social issues. This is part of the interview conducted for the documentary La Dictadura del Algoritmo, which has been included in the digital book La Dictadura del Algoritmo: Entrevistas y artículos sobre redes sociales y guerra mediática en Cuba (Ocean Sur, 2021) available for free download.
Given the massive arrival of the Cuban population to digital social networks, how is the conquest of the subjectivity of this new mass of politically significant users being structured?
Cuba is immersed in a war of ideological type, and when I say ideological I mean a war of ideas, not from now, nor from the use of digital social networks, but for 60 years. Even before that, when our country, then a neo-colony, turned out to be a field of ideological experimentation of U.S. imperialism. We were one of the first Latin American countries where radio, television and comics penetrated. We were one of the first countries in the region where television advertising was used and experiments were made to measure its effectiveness.
This made it possible to test the ways of introducing certain ideas in the population, to influence a significant mass of it with certain messages and that these became, in a “natural” way, part of the common sense of that population, becoming part of its referents.
Therefore, this is not a new phenomenon, it has been around for many years. What has been changing are the scenarios and the means, to the extent that technology has been advancing, and when I say technology I am not only referring to equipment, but to techniques of psychology, sociology, anthropology. To the extent that these have been developing, to the same extent the way of making that discourse with the same objective of producing a desired state of affairs has been changing.
But it is a phenomenon that is exacerbated when the Revolution triumphs, and also changes its nature. What was a general mechanism of ideological influence, becomes a very concrete objective, which is the overthrow of a social movement and a structural revolution in a Latin American country. This completely changed the way in which the issue was being approached and the US began to see the Cuban state as its enemy for the first time since the first US intervention.
US imperialism had been an enemy of the people as a social factor, but the Cuban State had been its accomplice, and from then on it was its enemy. Therefore, it implements all its tools against them, both physical and symbolic violence.
At a moment within this historical scenario, another very important change occurred, when Soviet socialism and its environment -the socialism that really existed, as Eric Hobsbawm called it- was defeated. That implied an important change because many of the references that had existed up to that moment collapsed. Globally, all the heterogeneous ideas that had been grouped together for years under a generic name: postmodernism, began to expand much more in the cultural and social science framework.
Because we are in an era to which many names are given and one of them is the postmodern era. Here many ideas are instrumentalized by capitalism that were being worked on mostly in academic spaces. They come out of those spaces and instrumentalize them as ideological weapons in a context of euphoria, where they had won, and in which, therefore, they considered that the superiority of capitalism over socialism had been made clear.
Then, what they proposed was a final offensive against what was left, the remnants of what those ideologues of capitalism saw as the last strongholds of resistance of that enemy they had had for many years.
Shortly afterwards came the Internet revolution, which produced a tool that had not existed until then and which allowed a socialization of information unparalleled in the history of mankind. Then the whole postmodernist ideological discourse is adapted to the nascent reality of the Internet, and then to the apparently global dynamics of social networks.
Digital social networks – I like to point out that social networks have always existed – give the illusion of being global, but in reality they are not, although they bring together millions of people who otherwise would not have had communication between them, nor would they have known each other, and make them find points of convergence in common aspects that make these people identify themselves in certain areas, such as fashion, music, literature, as well as politics.
As it is a difficult tool to prevent it from reaching people, because censoring the Internet is something that obviously does not make any sense, that old ideological war then puts its fundamental weight on the networks.
Nor can one forget the fact that behind this there is a machinery, which in the case of Cuba is financed, with very specific objectives. Sometimes we say: “The United States in its budget has put a certain amount of money for subversion in Cuba and has created a task force for the issue of the networks”, but we leave it in the abstract. Well, where does this money go? What is done with it? They don’t tell us that. But what is clear is that this money is not to buy water bottles. That money is to create particular products, to reach particular people.
The use of algorithms -although on more than one occasion their political use has been revealed-, in the case of other countries could be aimed at a commercial advertising use, to sell a soccer jersey or a trip on a cruise, what would they sell us Cubans?
What are they selling us? They sell us the defeat of our social system. What they want to sell us is that our social system is inoperative, that our State is inoperative, and that the objectives of the Revolution are meaningless. Therefore, what they want to defeat is the illusion.
The collapse of a national project that Cuba has been building for 60 years. That is what they want to sell us. And look, you were talking about the fact that in other places what they sell is a certain commercial product. Part of that ideological message also goes through there.
They sell us commercially certain symbols, such as success, prosperity. They sell us that the goal in life is reduced to those things on the basis of the exacerbation of individualism, of personal success as the summun of human aspirations. The message that any social illusion is dangerous, any illusion that is not an individual illusion.
The idea that all human narratives and aspirations that have been on the basis of grand aspirations, on the basis of universal social values are dangerous and are also failures, they lead nowhere. There is one element on which I always insist and that is that capitalism as a system stopped selling itself a long time ago.
Since the 18th Brumaire, Marx said it: Capitalism stopped selling us that a better world is possible. Now it is selling us the idea that there is no better world than the one we have: the capitalist one. Therefore, it is insisting on showing us that any alternative is worse than what we have today.
Capitalism has managed to perfect its working tools a lot, they are always hijacking the things that are happening in their environment to take away the transforming edge and to turn it into an instrument of the reproductive system. They did it with the famous Arab Spring, which is something they are desperately trying to reproduce in Cuba, taking the successful example of what happened in other countries, a kind of spring that will destroy the State and the Revolution.
They want to send us the message that a society is possible, which is not ours, a society which, of course, they do not call capitalist, because capitalism does not like to be mentioned. That a society is possible in Cuba that has the social benefits that our society has, but in a context that is not socialist. This idea is constantly sold to us. It is an illusion. It is false.
That has not been achieved in any country in Latin America, in any country in Africa. If it were possible to maintain the education indexes, if it were possible to maintain the health indexes, our social services, and we could make a longer list. If that is possible, why haven’t they done it in other places, why haven’t they done it in… Honduras? But they sell us the idea that it would be possible in Cuba.
That brings us to one of the most common things today in this war against Cuba: the creation of extremes. They want to create the idea that there are two extremes: One, the recalcitrant right-wing extreme that would like to collapse this in a crude way and take us back to a semi-feudal reality or something like that, and therefore frightens people; and the other, a radical left-wing extreme, which is also an enemy and touches the other extreme.
And that therefore the truth is in the center, the way is in the center. It is precisely that center who says: “We could take the good of Cuban socialism, combine it with the elements of bourgeois liberal democracy and create an ideal society that has all that”.
I already told you the first lie to that: Why have they not done it? No country has done it, every time a country has proposed something like that it has had no result. The developed capitalist countries that have achieved high standards of living have done so in contexts that no longer exist and on the basis of inserting themselves in world systems of inequality. No developed capitalist country is alien as a product of global capitalist exploitation of the underdeveloped world.
Check the financial flows, to which banks the financial flows go; check where the global arms export companies are from; check who are -apart from the US banks- the creditors of Third World debts; check where some of the most predatory companies acting in Africa or Latin America are from; check the NATO members and US allies in their adventures since the fall of the Soviet Union. There are many surprises to be found there, among them several countries that like to present themselves as free from exploitation and as havens of social fulfillment.
The role of the “opinion leaders”, of the “independent journalists”, who present themselves as a supposed alternative, would then be to act as transmitters and spokespersons of these ideological messages?
There is a media construction in Cuba of things that were tried in other places, for example, the opinion leaders in the color revolutions, virtual leaders, who called for certain social and political action in the networks, but many of them were not real actors. Many times they are only virtual leaders, because that leader of the networks, in real life and in the daily context of what is happening, that person is not a leader. It is a false leadership constructed in the networks.
How do I build that alternativity? One of the curious things about alternativity is that it is constructed in terms of opposites, that’s why you need the two extremes. They need to build their alternativity based on the construction of enemies, firstly, to victimize themselves: “I am the victim of the extremes”, secondly, because they need those extremes to be able to place their discourse, if the extremes do not exist, that discourse is completely empty.
Today there is a phenomenon that had never happened before in this way, which is unprecedented, and that is to naturalize what until a few years ago in this country had a tremendous stigma: counterrevolutionary. When someone received financing from abroad to influence Cuba, to influence public opinion, to carry out counterrevolutionary activities, that carries a tremendous stigma in this country.
They are trying to erase that stigma, to present that it is no longer important to receive money from private and public entities from the United States, or from other countries – because they have also diversified the sources, the money no longer comes directly from the US, it comes from NGOs from European or Latin American countries, and so now we want to naturalize it: “That is not important, that has not taken away my independence” and one hears it and asks oneself: “From when did he who pays not rule? But you see how they make the discourse that this does not take away their independence: “They never tell me what I have to say”. Of course not, because they don’t need to be told, nor do they need to force them, they simply know that if they don’t follow that editorial line they won’t have the financing.
Nowadays it is often said that “Cuban society is very diverse”. What situations inherent to that diversity have helped the expansion of this type of war?
We have to be very clear and honest about these things, that is why I have to say that many of these phenomena occur and have developed on the basis of our own mistakes. On the basis of not realizing that there is a different context, that many times we have not worked in the right way to win over and to keep people, certain groups, on the side of the Revolution and what we have done is to scare them away because of the attitudes of people who have been incorrect, who have been sectarian, this has happened and one cannot turn one’s back on that.
But also, within all this sea of ideas, there is an intentionality to make contentious speeches that can be very revolutionary, very correct at a given moment, end up being speeches that are passed on to the enemy and in those battles we have lost a few of them.
We have not lost them because the enemy has been more effective than us -which it has been-, we have lost them because we have not known how to face those battles. So, gradually they pass it to the enemy and something that emerged as a possible alternative not channeled through the mass organizations or political organizations of the country, which is a valid alternative independent from them -if we are going to see independence in that sense-, ends up being something that falls into the nets of another officialdom, of the officialdom that finances you, which is not Cuban, it comes from somewhere else.
Thus there are blogs and digital media, in which the discourse is transformed little by little, sometimes in a very calculated way, their transformation process has been designed, they are transformed until they reach a certain editorial line, because the people who run these media already have a clear purpose of going over to the enemy.
And the fourth generation war sometimes we see it as the enemy, the enemy, the enemy. Look, that enemy can’t get its head in if we don’t let it, but it succeeds because we have vulnerabilities and we make mistakes. We will continue to make them because making mistakes is something inherent to the fact of acting. The biggest mistake is to do nothing.
We make mistakes in the functioning of society, facing very complex social dynamics. This occurs in the midst of the tension in which we all live on a daily basis, including the people who have to make decisions. The vast majority of our civil servants, those who are so vilified, are subjected to the same levels of daily stress that we are subjected to.
They are people who, when they leave work, have to stand in the same queues, face the same problems, their electricity goes out as it does for anyone else, therefore, many of these errors are part of the fact that there is no ideal social dynamic and that people are individual beings who arrive at a certain moment in their lives with a whole cultural backpack behind them.
We have worked badly on what is called – I do not like the word, but for lack of a better one I repeat it – political-ideological work. In the first place, because we mix the political and the ideological, to begin with, in the same sentence we are mixing them as if they were the same thing and they are not. Secondly, because we codify it, we think, for example, at the level of formal education, that the political-ideological work has to be transferred and translated into the number of hours we teach in universities, in other levels of teaching of certain subjects, such as History, Social Sciences, etc. We think that this is a mechanism to reach us with political-ideological messages.
But I am often amazed to see students who have passed a degree course and have received dozens of hours of Marxism, History of Cuba, etc., and then you see them on the networks repeating amazing ingenuities and one wonders: “But did they really pass the courses? Yes, they passed the courses and passed them, and one wonders, “And where did that leave them?”, “What is the result of this that we have given them?”. Look, the result seems to be minimal. We must realize that there are dynamics that it is necessary to adopt in this political-ideological work, that we have to convey our message in new ways without simplifying it, without making it superficial. We do not have to give in to the enemy, we have to create our own discourse, sometimes you hear: “Nowadays you have to give short messages to the youth”, but that is a sacrifice according to what the hegemonic discourse is imposing.
Would this hegemony of simplification be the greatest intellectual and political challenge in the face of social networks?
The problem we have had is that the importance of the networks was not sufficiently appreciated. We thought that the traditional means we had to reach the population were enough and that we were not going to lose that hegemony. But hegemony is at stake every day.
The good thing about these battles is that they make us become active, hegemonies are built every day, because let us begin with a concrete fact: the greatest hegemony that exists today is the world hegemony of capitalism, let us not deceive ourselves, and to think that Cuba can escape from that hegemony is an illusion.
What we have to build is a counter-hegemony, because despite the fact that this counter-revolutionary discourse wants to present us that the hegemony of ideas in Cuba is the one managed by the State, as a dictatorial and totalitarian element, that is not the reality. The totalitarian hegemony is the global capitalist hegemony. We are paying in some way the consequences of being a rock of resistance in a global capitalist hegemony and the consequences that the socialism that really existed collapsed, and that suddenly the balance of the hegemony of ideas at world level was no longer that of socialist ideas. That is our context. In which the offensive in favor of capitalism is assaulting our socialist rock with everything.
So we cannot reproduce the discourse of “The message has to be brief” or “The youth is only interested in the brief”, we want the youth to read and to go deeper. We do not make our ideas superficial as much as the contrary ideas are superficial.
We must always remember Fidel’s phrase: “We do not tell people to believe, we tell them to read”. Let us translate “read” to mean that we tell people to think, to go deeper, that their conception of the world is based on having thought.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Leaflets in which the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, with suitcases and gold in his hands, escaped from Cuba in a sinking ship, were prepared and printed in 1962 by specialists in psychological warfare of the United States Army. Although they were not used in the end, because other experts considered them counterproductive at the time, they were part of the arsenal of propaganda resources planned to support the military invasion that the government of the North American nation included in the response options during the so-called Missile Crisis.
A few hours after the recent riots, which were undoubtedly orchestrated from abroad, a Twitter “user” posted that Raul Castro had fled to Venezuela, and the note went “viral”. It did not matter that the photo of the tweet was taken in 2015, when the then-Cuban President arrived in San José, Costa Rica, to attend a Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Its purpose was to contribute to fix the opinion matrix around a chaos originated by a “legitimate national uprising” against the Cuban government, due to the mismanagement of the pandemic and the lack of medicines, food and electricity.
If the media attack under which Cuba is living these days is unprecedented in its scope, due to the technological potential of the adversaries and their growing concerted actions from various geographical points, it is not strange either, because the country has always been in the trenches of a psychological war.
The example of the drawings that had Fidel as a target of disinformation appears in the book De la octavilla a la sicotecnología, by Emiliano Lima Mesa and Mercedes Cardoso, scholars of the psychological warfare procedures used by the United States in the preparation and development of armed conflicts.
Both researchers say that Cuba has suffered the largest and most prolonged psychological warfare ever carried out by the United States against any country. “It has involved both psychological and propaganda actions and has manifested itself in the economic blockade, support for mercenary gangs, biological warfare, military aggressions, sabotage and assassination attempts on the main leaders, to cite just a few examples,” they write.
In making specifics on the propagandistic level, they state that it has manifested itself in newspapers, books, posters, flyers, rumors and radio and television broadcasts to spread lies and slander against the Revolution.
The referenced book is indispensable to learn the details of the persistent and sinister behavior of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, whose purpose is subverting the social order in our country. Perhaps, in a new edition, in the chapter Against Cuba, the media misdeeds of the social networks in the Internet era should be included. The work was published in 2003 and, since then, the adversarial struggle against the Cuban Revolution has had the Internet as one of its main scenarios.
It is fair to recall that, in this same newspaper, colleague Raúl Antonio Capote wrote that as of 2007, the CIA considered it a matter of prime importance to guarantee access to the Internet in Cuba. The nefarious agency’s idea was to use the illegal networks created on the island at that time, for which they evaluated the possibility of connecting them to digital television, which would be the possible means of access to the network of networks.
The promoters of the program, Capote pointed out, ordered to put in Cuban territory ten BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) equipments. “One was given to a CIA agent in Havana to send daily, in a secure way, information on the capacity of MININT and Mincom to detect illegal satellite TV connection antennas. They also required information on movements of FAR troops in certain regions of the country, and characterization of leaders and cadres of the Revolution”.
In the route that led to the riots of last July 11, there are many other traces of U.S. intelligence agencies and entities created by them to act against Cuba. Thus, among the most recent are the events of San Isidro and the concentration of young people in front of the Ministry of Culture headquarters in Havana.
Both cases were portrayed as an internal issue, due, among other things, to new currents of thought and dissatisfaction of young intellectuals and artists unable to give free rein to their creative spirit. But when analyzing the causes, if the nonconformity to certain regulations and the superficiality with which some officials act is real, it is impossible to ignore that in the period 2008-2012 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored the non-governmental organization (NGO) Creative Associates, which set out to recruit young people belonging to what is identified as Cuban counterculture.
In January 2012, in one of the reports justifying the expenditures, the NGO cited several achievements of its work, including a network of more than 30 independent leaders in all Cuban provinces and the solid establishment of youth and countercultural groups.
Faced with the failure of the immediate objectives they intended with the recent unrest, USAID has responded with a call for more subversion projects in Cuba. The new sum amounts to $2 million dollars, and is being offered for democracy promotion activities. After all, for identical purposes, the agency, along with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), was a channeling mechanism for much of the $250 million that in the last two decades the U.S. government devoted to undermining socialism in Cuba.
By the way, Samantha Power, the new director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is a character to keep an eye on. A former U.S. ambassador in the Obama administration and an expert in diplomacy and climate change issues, she has also stood out for promoting her country’s active intervention in other nations for supposedly humanitarian reasons.
That position is confirmed in an article published by The New York Times, on April 15 of this year, when Lara Jakes exposed details of Samantha Power’s confirmation hearing in the Senate. On that occasion, writes the author, Rand Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky, asked the official, “Are you willing to admit that the interventions in Libya and Syria that you advocated were a mistake?”
“Power did not,” the journalist said, transcribing her words: “When these situations arise, it’s almost a question of lesser evils; the options are very difficult”.
Could the requests for humanitarian intervention for Cuba made by the same promoters of the vandalism riots be the result of coincidence; the same ones who, in desperation, want to make people believe that chaos reigns in the country?
By Fabián Escalante. Division General (retd), former head of Cuban intelligence services. Author of several books on the intelligence services of the US against Cuba and has investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy from the Cuban viewpoint.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Undoubtedly, the social explosion that took place in our country on July 11 of this year surprised us all, and not for lack of evidence and indications. The social networks, in an Olympic marathon, spread to the four winds slogans, orientations, false news, doctored photos, etc., aimed at manipulating, confusing and deceiving national and international public opinion on the Cuban socio-political situation.
The objective was clear, to take advantage of the dramatic circumstances of hardships and needs produced by the asphyxia of the multilateral blockade decreed by the United States. To this was added circumstantial events, such as the exponential increase of the COVID-19 pandemic and the breakage of the main electricity factory (Guiteras, in Matanzas), which not only affected energy but also the water supply.
To this should be added the difficulties in the supply of food and medicines with the usual long queues, a “mafia” of “black market” born as a result of this, and the mistakes made in the late implementation of economic measures approved some years ago, including food production.
The subversive operation of coup-like magnitude, at least for what is publicly known, was not discovered and unmasked, nor -at least- was the population warned by all available means. A solitary and excellent documentary, The Dictatorship of the Algorithm, shown on Cuban TV, was the most outstanding alert of these weeks. It, however, since it was not conceived as a well-organized media campaign aimed at exploiting the information provided, did not achieve the psychological and political effects and influence on the social consciousness that was necessary and should have been projected, given the imminence of the aggression underway.
The Cuba -and the world- of today is different from that of yesterday, and even more different from that of the first years of the Revolution. These reasons that make it impossible to use the same methods of analysis or crisis management used before. There is a young, depoliticized sector of the population (due to our inefficient political and patriotic work) that does not understand the need to resist imperial policies and who wish to improve their living conditions and do not find an immediate solution to their expectations.
Days have passed since the events described above and, as it happens, many interpretations are coming to light, while the media campaigns in the United States and its allies continue to accuse Cuba of human rights violations and other atrocities, with the open intention of creating the conditions for a U.S. military intervention.
We, revolutionaries, have to meditate and draw lessons from what has happened. The United States and its fascist government is mainly responsible, but -and this is important-, we also have responsibilities for the errors committed. They demand a self-critical analysis, not only marginal references. It is necessary to deepen in the why of them, what were their causes and how we are going to solve them. That is what Fidel taught us and warned us in November 2005 when he stated in a speech at the University of Havana that only the Revolution could destroy itself.
The call to revolutionaries and communists has to be to go on the offensive, to the front line: fight against counterrevolutionary elements from within and without, fight against corruption, bureaucracy, idleness: fight against what is badly done, fight against disappointment and mistrust, against the lack or absence of administrative and political control, fight against “hollow, formal” orientations, in two words, generate ideas, defend concepts and conquests.
To fight against the enemy and bureaucracy would be the duty and responsibility of this historical moment. To use the political, social and mass organizations, supported by the duties and rights provided by our socialist Constitution, not to shy away from direct confrontation and not to be afraid to face conflicts, because as Fidel indicated on many occasions: the best way to defend oneself is to take the offensive.
The combat and confrontation of ideas is taking place today at the base of society, in the block, in the neighborhood, in the community. It is there where the Party and the social and mass organizations must and have to do battle, not to oppress, but to convince, to explain and, if necessary, to transfer to the leadership of the party and the government, the difficulties, misunderstandings and shortcomings.
Passivity makes us accomplices of the errors and negative tendencies that Fidel had already warned in his time.
The enemy campaigns carried out by social networks, by mercenaries of Cuban origin living in Florida, as well as by the media operations of the traditional bourgeois media, must be confronted without hesitation. It is necessary to denounce them, to alert our population, to disarticulate them from within, taking advantage of the enemy’s need to publicize their slogans, orientations and contact their internal promoters. Their activities can be prevented and neutralized, without unnecessary mobilizations, which could wear down and exhaust our forces in the perspective of a long struggle.
External solidarity, as has been called for, must be strengthened to its maximum expression, both in Miami and other North American cities where honest Cubans live, as well as in other cities of the world, where the Cuban attitude of solidarity is well known.
Once again, Fidel summons us to the battle of ideas, which consists in debate and not in imposition, in conviction, in listening and understanding arguments, and accepting those that are fair, because this does not imply concessions of principles, on the contrary, in any case, it reinforces our concept of Revolution, that which Fidel bequeathed to us.
“Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stones”.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Some concepts are fundamental to understanding the new socio-political context we are living in and that we will most probably continue to see in the times to come. We talk a lot these days about cultural, communicational and media warfare. But what do these terms really mean?
THE CONTROL OF WILLS AND HEARTS
The concept of cultural war points to a very broad and complex phenomenon that is not limited to Cuban society. It is the global strategy of the centers of capitalist power aimed at the production of alienated subjectivities, functional to the logic of capital.
People are induced to embrace a way of thinking and feeling based on the cult of individualism, meritocracy, competition, consumption as a measure of status and welfare, the search for individual solutions to systemic crises, uncritical attitudes towards capitalism, indifference to the precarious situation of most of the world’s population and the deterioration of nature.
This way of perceiving the world and one’s place in it is presented as obvious, or natural and inevitable. Any opinion that does not fit in or that questions this perspective will be rejected, not because it will be criticized, but because it will be inconceivable.
I will share a testimony. In a foreign university where I was teaching, I conducted an exercise in a social psychology course. I asked the students, between 19 and 25 years old, to bring me information on any topic that caught their attention in the cultural and social life of the country. They could choose topics related to art, science, politics, sports, environment, among others. My surprise was that they all brought commercials about certain products: Coca-Cola, Levi’s Jeans, Lancôme, etc. The discussion revolved around which advertisements they found most interesting and best done.
The reduction of people’s world of interests to the realm of advertising and consumption, at a stage of life which, in theory, should be characterized precisely by the fullest development of the conception of the world, in a society, moreover, of great cultural richness and a very complex social fabric,. This occurs in the midst of a process of formation in the field of social sciences, indicating how the mechanisms of cultural domination can be effective in controlling the spectrum of human desires and motivations. Attitudes towards life are depoliticized and subjectivities are accommodated to the dynamics of the market, while countless fundamental questions remain outside of what the individual is even capable of seeing.
Baudrillard will point out what is even worse: the person lives the illusion of being free because they choose what to consume, when that choice is totally pre-designed, communicatively produced and destined to fulfill a very specific function within the system of capitalist production and accumulation.
The ultimate aim of the culture war is to induce the idea that there is no better alternative to capitalism as we know it. In this sense, various agents of socialization on a global and local scale play a key role, such as educational institutions, the cultural and entertainment industry, certain churches (we cannot generalize), for example, and all those social actors that fulfill the function of socializing values.
Within the culture war, communication is fundamental, and although it is not reduced to the media, because communication occurs through various channels, such as face-to-face communication. For example, media devices play a key role, which in recent times has gained prominence given the weight acquired by digital media and social networks. That is why we are talking about a war that is also communicational and that also has a media dimension.
Digital algorithms to keep people’s minds “connected” all the time in virtual platforms crowded with advertising and busy seeing how and what to buy, are brutally effective. For Naomi Klein today, people even advertise themselves, as if they were a brand, coupling and reducing themselves to the logic of the market, the function and content of many links.
More important than experiencing, meeting, knowing and sharing, is to exhibit oneself in the “market” of human relationships, reducing these to transactions of likes mediated by electronic devices, without questioning anything else that happens around, making the meaning of life revolve around these marketing dynamics of the self.
We have to understand that this communications system, which works as an alternative pedagogical path, to the extent that it forms certain motivations and values without being a school. It is one which responds to the interests of the market and not to the project of society we want to build. It will become increasingly present among the younger generations in Cuba, to the same extent that they have greater connectivity to the Internet. This is a problem that must be assumed and solved creatively.
LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE OPINION MATRIXES
However, the communications war may have more specific objectives than the naturalization of the cult of capitalism. It is also used to attack political systems that oppose the interests of the centers of capitalist power. In this case, matrices are fabricated to influence public opinion in one direction or another, to intervene in the course of certain political processes in a manner convenient to the interests of the United States or other powers, to overthrow governments, to deploy soft coups… Both forms of expression of the culture war complement each other, since the more alienated people are, the easier it is to manipulate states of opinion on specific political issues.
An opinion matrix is a partial representation of reality with an ideological imprint that responds to the interests of a certain power group and is manufactured with the intention of producing or maintaining hegemony and dominating public opinion on an issue. Opinion matrices try to create subjective conditions favorable to intervene or manage political processes. They are managed by taking into account the characteristics of the target audiences.
Let us look at an example. The opinion matrix that most strongly bombards the national media scenario is aimed at inducing hopelessness and resentment towards the Revolution and socialism. It cannot be understood without the existence of the blockade, they are a strategic pair. The blockade generates the objective conditions of shortages and frustrations which are then amplified through the discourse of hatred and boredom around the political system, in its dissimilar tonalities. The blockade produces the objective floor on which the matrices of opinion against the system are settled. This is not to say that the problems we face do not also have endogenous causes, which produce discontent that can be capitalized on.
What do the fundamental matrices of opinion that operate in our reality say? Cuban socialism failed, the government’s management and institutionality are overwhelmed (there is a crisis of governability) and the Cuban state has collapsed: there must be intervention in Cuba. These opinion matrixes try to create the ideal subjective conditions for a regime change.
In media content of various kinds from media with a counterrevolutionary agenda. The economic crisis Cuba is going through and its social impact is analyzed, the legacy of underdevelopment from before January 1959, the existence of the blockade, as well as the achievements made, are ignored. The endogenous causes of the problems are hyperbolized. Cuban society is uncritically and ahistorically equated with other societies. This is done in order to import liberal and/or anti-state narratives and forms of struggle. The category of class struggle is eliminated as a fundamental north to think about the future of the nation. At the same time the routes of analysis and proposals for solutions to the problems we are experiencing are de-ideologized.
A CHANGE OF EPOCH
The victory in this new scenario will be, in the first instance, to understand that the time is different and the mechanisms of domination we are facing are not the same. The virtual world has its own dynamics and laws of operation. It is not a matter of bringing the same narratives now to a virtual scenario. It is about completely transforming the methods of work, the forms of resistance and struggle.
In spite of considering that we must assume and defeat the communicational war that is being waged against us, our country has a strength in that sense that is not in the virtual territory. Although it may seem paradoxical: we can revitalize our organizations and institutions to transform the devices for participation and political debate at the grassroots. We need to promote effective spaces for meaningful dialogue about our reality, for coexistence in the midst of the life circumstances we are going through, for collaboration and for the collective search for solutions to the difficulties that arise.
Politicizing the analysis of Cuba’s future will make a difference: the greater the politicization, the lesser the manipulation of subjectivities through the devices used in this cultural war.
Articulate an educational-communicational strategy on a large scale, in extension and depth, to promote our perspectives and the right to build, in conditions of peace, our own, collective and sovereign path towards more prosperity, democracy and social justice.
The inventors of the narrative of popular indignation now want to build another one about a supposed spontaneous insurrection against the government, which justifies the defeat and propitiates foreign intervention in the island.
Author: Raúl Antonio Capote | firstname.lastname@example.org
July 24, 2021 00:07:34 AM
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In February 2018, following indications from then U.S. President Donald Trump, the Internet Task Force for Subversion in Cuba was created, subordinated to the CIA.
It was a new step, considered essential, to dominate Cuban cyberspace and move to a higher stage in the strategy of subversion against the Cuban Revolution.
The propaganda crusade organized by the Task Force has been characterized by a coordinated use of all the instruments at its disposal to achieve, as a central objective, the demonization of the adversary and to justify its total destruction, as they have done in so many places in the world.
As part of the White House plan, which contemplated moving on to more severe actions against Cuba, after the “failure”, proclaimed by the ultra-right, of the policy followed by Barack Obama, the Trump administration applied more than 243 measures to “close” the blockade and suffocate the island.
It was a real shock therapy aimed at discouraging any resistance and breaking people’s faith in the future.
An important part of the plan was to start “heating up the streets”, as Gene Sharp’s manual indicates with absolute precision, with actions such as those that took place in the San Isidro neighborhood or the provocations in front of the Ministry of Culture and other institutions.
COVID-19 was a “marvelous opportunity” for the enemies of the Cuban people. Of course, they could not fail to take advantage of the pandemic and the suffering it could cause.
According to the calculations of the authors and sponsors, everything was ready: with the millions destined for subversion they paid mercenaries, cyber-sicarii and criminals, repeating the script of Iran and Bolivia in 2019.
During the last days of June, already under the administration of President Joe Biden – let’s remember that the policy of that country towards Cuba is only one -, the campaign of fear and demonization was strongly increased in the networks, the Internet Task Force synchronized the entire arsenal of media, sites and digital hitmen created or bought.
It was not, as they would have us believe, a Facebook group -a space created, as there are thousands on the island, where people share, meet friends, etc.- that promoted the events of July 11 in San Antonio de los Baños.
It was an action well-planned from the outside, with high technology, promoted by hundreds of fake accounts, bots and trolls, as has been denounced in recent days by our media. They acted taking advantage of the discontent caused by blackouts, shortages and fear of the increase of COVID-19 cases.
The defeat unleashed the hysteria of the promoters of the “protests”, the managers and ideologues. The mud machine kept going, like a puppet without strings, thrashing back and forth, howling death like a wounded beast.
The inventors of the narrative of popular indignation now want to build another one about a supposed spontaneous insurrection against the Government, justifying the defeat and propitiating foreign intervention in the Island.