To think about Cuba today. By Karima Oliva Bello
Some concepts are essential to understand the new sociopolitical context that we are living in and that we will most likely continue to see in the near future. We talk a lot in these days of cultural, communicational, and media warfare. But what do these terms really mean?
CONTROL OF WILLS AND HEARTS
The concept of culture war points to a very broad and complex phenomenon that is not limited to Cuban society. It is about the global strategy of the capitalist power centers aimed at the production of alienated subjectivities, functional to the logic of capital.
What does this mean? 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 well-being, the search for individual solutions to crises that are systemic, uncritical positions concerning capitalism, of indifference to the precarious situation experienced by most of the world’s population and to the deterioration of nature.
This way of perceiving the world and its place in it is presented as obvious, or natural, and inevitable. Any criterion that does not accommodate or that questions that perspective will be rejected, not because it will be criticized, but because it will be inconceivable.
I will share a testimony. At a foreign university where I was teaching, I did 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, the environment, among others. My surprise was that they all brought advertisements about certain products: Coca-Cola, Jeans Levy’s, Lancome, etc. The debate revolved around which advertisements they had found the most interesting and best achieved.
The reduction of the world of people’s interests to the field of advertising and consumption, in a stage of life that, 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, in the middle of a training process in the field of social sciences, it indicates how the mechanisms of cultural domination can be effective in terms of controlling the spectrum of human desires and motivations. The attitude towards life is depoliticized and subjectivities adapt to the dynamics of the market, while several fundamental questions remain outside what the person is even capable of seeing.
Baudrillard goes on to point out what is even worse: the person lives the illusion of being free because he chooses what to consume when that choice is totally pre-designed, communicationally produced, and destined to fulfill a very specific function within the capitalist production and accumulation system.
The culture war’s ultimate goal 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 comply with the function of socializing values.
Within the culture war, the communicational is fundamental, and although it is not reduced to the media, because communication occurs through diverse 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 that digital media and social networks acquire. That is why we are talking about a war that is also communicational and also has a media dimension.
Digital algorithms to keep people’s minds “connected” all the time on virtual platforms packed with advertising and busy seeing how and what to buy are brutally effective. For Naomi Klein, today people even advertise themselves, as a brand, coupling and reducing themselves to the logic of the market, the function, and content of many links.
More important than experimenting, meeting, knowing and sharing, is exhibiting 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 sense of the Life revolves around these self-marketing dynamics.
We have to understand that this communication system, which works as an alternative pedagogical way, insofar as it forms certain motivations and values without being a school, which response to the interests of the market and not to the project of society that we wish to build, it will become increasingly present among the younger generations in Cuba, to the same extent that they have greater internet connectivity. That is a problem that must be assumed and solved creatively.
LET’S LOOK CLOSELY AT THE OPINION MATRICES
Now, the communication war may have more specific objectives than the naturalization of the cult of capitalism. It is also instrumentalized to attack the political systems that are opposed to the interests of the capitalist power centers. In this case, matrices are manufactured to influence public opinion in one sense or another, intervene in the course of certain political processes in a manner convenient to the interests of the United States or other powers, depose governments, deploy soft blows … Both forms of expression of the culture war complement each other, since the more alienated people are, the easier it is to manipulate the states of opinion regarding specific political issues.
An opinion matrix is a partial representation of the reality of ideological imprint that responds to the interests of a certain group of power and is manufactured to produce or maintain hegemony and dominating public opinion regarding an issue. Opinion matrices try to create favorable subjective conditions to intervene or manage political processes. They are managed to take into account the characteristics of the audiences to which they are intended.
Let’s look at an example. The matrix of opinion that most strongly bombards the national media scene is aimed at inducing hopelessness and resentment regarding the Revolution and socialism. She cannot be understood without the existence of the blockade, they are a strategic pair. The blockade generates the objective conditions of deficiencies and frustrations that are then amplified through hate speech and boredom around the political system, in its dissimilar shades. Blocking produces the target floor on which opinion matrices settle against the system. With this, we are not saying that the problems we face do not also have endogenous causes, which produce discontent that can be capitalized on.
What do the fundamental opinion matrices that operate in our reality say? Cuban socialism failed, the government’s management and the institutionality are overwhelmed (there is a crisis of governability) and the Cuban state collapsed: Cuba must be intervened. These opinion matrices attempt to create the ideal subjective conditions for a regime change.
In media content of various kinds of media with a counterrevolutionary agenda, the economic crisis that Cuba is experiencing and its social impacts are analyzed, the inheritance of underdevelopment before January 1959, the existence of the blockade, as well as the Achieved achievements. Endogenous causes of problems are hyperbolized; Cuban society is uncritically and historically equated with other societies, to import liberal and/or anti-state narratives and forms of struggle; The class struggle category is eliminated as a fundamental north to think about the future of the nation, at the same time that they de-ideologize the routes of analysis and proposals for solutions to the problems we are experiencing.
A CHANGE OF TIMES
The victory in this new scenario will happen, in the first instance, to understand that the time is different and the mechanisms of domination that we are facing are not the same; that the virtual territory has its own dynamics and laws of operation. It is not about bringing the same narratives now to a virtual stage. It is about completely transforming the working methods, the forms of resistance, and struggle.
Despite considering that the communication war that is being waged on us we must assume it and defeat it, our country has a strength in that sense that is not in the virtual territory, although it seems paradoxical: we can revitalize our organizations and institutions to transform the devices for communication. 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 the future of Cuba will make a difference: the more politicized, the less manipulation of subjectivities through the devices used in this cultural war.
Articulate an educational-communicational strategy on a large scale, in extension, and in-depth, to promote our perspectives and the right to build, in peace conditions, our collective and sovereign path towards more prosperity, democracy, and social justice.
Translation Red en Defensa de la Humanidad – Cuba