Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 26, 2013

Juan of the Dead

Filed under: comedy,cuba,Film — louisproyect @ 8:46 pm

Counterpunch Weekend Edition April 26-28, 2013

Cinema in the Service of Revolution

Confronting Polemics With Alfredo Guevara

by LOUIS PROYECT

This week Alfredo Guevara, the father of revolutionary Cuba’s film industry, died of a heart attack at the age of 87. The N.Y. Times obituary was refreshingly honest about the role he played:

A committed Fidelista, Mr. Guevara nevertheless insisted that art should not be subservient to politics.

“Propaganda may serve as art, and it should,” he was quoted as saying. “Art may serve as revolutionary propaganda, and it should. But art is not propaganda.”

Filmmakers credit Mr. Guevara with fending off censors and overseeing films that criticized Mr. Castro’s Cuba. He was at the center of fierce debates between artists and communist ideologues, clashing with Blas Roca, a powerful member of the Communist Party leadership, in the early 1960s in a public row over the role of culture in politics.

“He had to confront a lot of polemic,” Mr. Pineda Barnet said. “And if a polemic didn’t find him, he went looking for it.”

Despite such films as “Lucia”, “Memories of Underdevelopment”, and “Strawberry and Chocolate” that defied characterizations of Cuban cinema as propaganda machines, there is still a tendency to lump Castro’s Cuba with Stalin’s USSR, as if the typical Cuban movie was about a sugar mill meeting its quota. While one would naturally expect this from the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, it is disconcerting to see the same sort of reductionism at play in the writings of one Samuel Farber, a Cuban-American professor emeritus at Brooklyn College and a self-described socialist.

full: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/26/confronting-polemics-with-alfredo-guevara/

6 Comments »

  1. Ya, the New York Times was “refreshingly honest”–even as it portrayed Guevara as a “family man.” Like the leftist hagiography, to which this is a contribution, that ignores Guevara’s homosexuality and his applauding of the heterosexist/Stalinist characterization of homosexuality at the 1971 Cuban Cultural Congress as a “social pathology.” It is hagiography like this that suggests how inconsequential some leftists regard heterosexist oppression of homosexuality. Just let them imitate us (through marriage and conventionalty) and the liberated world of the socialist future will come to pass, even if under the leadership of the bourgeoisie. These leftists echo bourgeois incorporation of a once radical movement into the heterosupremacist system (alive in Cuba as well as in the United States). Guevara’s behavior in 1971 caused harm to other homosexuality (Heberto Padilla for one), but none of this matters to hetero leftists or ruling-class obit writers.

    Comment by David Thorstad — April 26, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

  2. Well, David, Cuba is not entirely evil. It cheers on Bashar al-Assad and Qaddafi before him, just as you do.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 26, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

  3. Louis, you have lost contact with reality. I have never “cheered” for either of these dictators. Nor, unlike you, have I complained that imperialism is not sending enough weapons to the rebels in Syria. You, however, like so many apologists for the Cuban regime, regard homosexual repression as a side issue. Guevara did some good things in his life, but his applause for the Stalinist Cuban Culture Congress of 1971 was not one of them. To its credit, the U.S. Socialist Workers Party in New York (to which you then belonged) held a forum at which I spoke condemning the Congress’s bigoted heterosexist resolution. Maybe you disagreed with that at the time, I don’t know. But it is one of the feathers in the hat of the SWP that, unlike the Stalinoid and Maoist groups, and unlike Susan Sontag, it criticized that antihomosexual policy. By the way, if the rebels in Syria come to power, don’t expect anything different. Antihomosexuality is one point on which Islamic fundis and Stalinists (and even some liberal heterosexuals) are in agreement.

    Comment by David Thorstad — April 26, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

  4. You’re a fucking joke, David. It was Alfredo Guevara who pushed Cuba to make “Strawberry and Chocolate”. But none of this matters to you. On every question you troll about, from gays in Cuba to Pham Binh or me being pro-imperialist, you assume the identity of one of those Sparts who used to come to Militant Labor Forums to harp on Pablo. You may have left the Trotskyist movement, but you have never gotten over its worst trait, being a hectoring nag.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 26, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

  5. John McCain is now calling for intervention in Syria. What say you?

    Comment by A Book by Dostoyevsky — April 27, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

  6. I am opposed to anything that resembles Iraq but would definitely like to see the FSA get one Manpad for every fighter, to make Syria a graveyard for MIG’s just as Che Guevara (I believe) urged in the case of Vietnam for American jets.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 27, 2013 @ 10:41 pm


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