Quarter past midnight, end of a long day on the water and in the lab that started at 0600. Sitting in the quiet breezy night on the narrow concrete back deck of the dorm (not a proper lab as this is really a dive and fishing operation), creaking boat ropes and rhythmic slapping wavelets and night insects, an occasional thrashing sound in the water — one of the tarpon that hang around among the stilts under the house?
At last a little time to sit quietly. I end up reflecting on the unique and fascinating society around us—both the charms and rough edges of socialism in practice, particularly the positive aspects that are so vigorously glossed over or denied on this side of the water. I’ve been struck forcefully during our stay that the full range of laborers and deckhands—the blue-collar guys in American parlance—can frequently be found during breakfast or afternoon breaks watching the Discovery channel or other such educational programs on TV. Perhaps this is the only programming that Big Brother Fidel has provided (though that seems inconsistent with the very irreverent episode of Bill Maher we saw in our hotel one night) but it’s nevertheless a vivid contrast with the inane commercial crap that so often spills out of TVs in the US. Surely there are important lessons here.
Is there not some middle ground between predatory market capitalism on the one hand and authoritarian communism on the other?