Machiavelli When you speak of Fidel Castro, what do you speak of? The Cuban Leader is not your everyday leader. To fully understand Fidel Castro you must have a firm foundation with which to work from. I will explore the political ideology of Fidel Castro by explaining what is in an ideology, Fidel Castros background, and his political position both before the Cuban revolution and presently. An ideology is a number of action-oriented, materialistic, popular, and simplistic political theories that were originally developed as an accommodation to the social and economic conditions created by the Industrial Revolution (Baradat 13). The action can be broken into a five-part definition for idealistic purposes.
To begin, the term ideology can be used in many contexts, but unless otherwise specified it is proper to give it a political meaning. All ideologies provide an interpretation of the present and a view of the desired future. This desirable future is thought to be attainable in a single lifetime. Each ideology includes a list of specific steps that can be taken to accomplish its goals. Ideologies are oriented towards the masses, and finally, ideologies are simply stated and presented in motivational terms.
In speaking of Fidel Castro and his ideologies I will apply these five definitional segments. Many theorists believe Cuban Leader Fidel Castro was directed in his political thought from an early age. He was born on May 13, 1927, on his families sugar plantation in the town of Mayari, Cuba. As a boy, Castro worked on the family plantation, and at age 6 was able to persuade his parents to send him to school. He attended two Jesuit institutions, eventually entering a Jesuit preparatory school; a member of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola in 1534 and devoted to missionary and educational work.
Both through his first hand look at the oppression of individuals and the importance of education help to shape Fidel Castro, and differentiate what was right and wrong. Three years later, in 1945 Castro attended the University of Havana Faculty of Law. That same year he was so fed up with the oppressed working class that he unionized the workers of his fathers plantation to fight for a voice in exercising their rights. After graduation from Law School in 1950 be began practicing in Havana with two partners. As a lawyer he devoted himself to helping the poor. Although very active in politics throughout his college career, it was in 1952 that Castro first attempted to run for national politics.
Just as Castro intended to campaign for a parliamentary seat, General Fuligenico Batista overthrew the government of President Carlos Prio Socarras in a coup and cancelled the election. Trying to oppose the military dictatorship through peaceful means and failing led Castro to head an armed attack of 165 men, calling themselves the 26th of July Revolutionary Movement. Failing completely through his violent attack, Castro and his brother Raul were taken prisoner until May 1955. After much recruiting, on New Years Day in 1959 he succeeded in overthrowing the dictatorship of Batista. It was one week later that the United States officially recognized Castros new government. It was shortly after this time in 1961, and now in power, that Fidel Castro announced to the world that he was a Marxist Leninist and would remain so until the last day of his life.
The question that arises when you first hear this is what is a Marxist-Leninist ideology and does Fidel Castro qualify to call himself such a thinker. Many theorists argue that Fidel Castro isnt attached to any particular ideology. His only goal is survival and power. Strong evidence pointing to this fact is that Fidel Castro survived the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union. In the case of Castro, however, if you dig enough in search for an underlying ideology, you will find that his thought and action is closer to that of a Marxist- Leninist than to any other ideology.
It is for certain that he was a young revolutionist in his preliminary political life. Remember it was he who led the country of Cuba into a revolution against the political power, President Batista, in 1959, believing that change would only happen if he burnt down the political system and rebuilt on its ashes. After the rebellion was over the entire population had to be radicalized, attitudes changed, traditions destroyed, the popular support maintained and deepened, viable organizations and institutions created, and social justice distributed. Fidel Castro in 1967, “The most difficult task was not exactly the overthrowing of Batista.. the most difficult is the one that we are engaged in today: the task of building a new country on the basis of an underdeveloped economy; the task of creating a new conscious, an new man” (Sutherland 93). Unquestionably a leftist, it is almost certain that he was not a Marxist during this time in the mountains before his attack on the Batista government. The opinion a Castro employee had on his ideology in late 1957 suggested broadly that: “The Fidel Castro I knew in the Sierra Mountains..
was definitely not a Marxist. Nor was he interested to Social Revolution. He was above all a political opportunist, a man with a firm will and extraordinary ambition.” (Thomas 1053) At this time Fidel Castro had no ideology, even if he coveted it privately. All was vague, if heroic. Both he and the leaders of the 26 July generally had certain general ideas of nationalism and of social reform, but there was no explicit program. When the revolution had to be defined it divided. Like all revolutions, its vision of the Utopian future, where there is a genuine compassion for the masses at the bottom of the social structure, was sustained by a view of the past. (Thomas 1056) Through his willpower Fidel Castro was eventually able to move his men together, holding a common ideology.
Castro did not want to organize a movement but rather try to unite all the existing forces against Batista. He only intended to participate in this struggle as just one more soldier. It was the leaders of the other forces that showed they did not have the ability, the resolution, and the seriousness of the purpose or the means to overthrow Batista. This lack of input left Fidel Castro worked out a strategy of his own. Before his Revolution movement in 1959 Castro implied: “I was a pure revolutionary, but not a Marxist Revolutionary.
I thought that change could be brought about under the Constitution of 1940 and within a democratic system.” (1052) He was able to attract members of other forces by his enormous leadership qualities. He has huge appeal to Cuban patriotism, his traditional appeal to the Cuban poor and stance against the rich. Overall, Fidel Castro has delivered himself as a Latin American “caudillo”- a strongman, a boss. There are two circumstances that made Fidel Castro a revolutionary, those are the mere vocation, special duty, tied to being a revolutionary and secondly, the fact that the revolution for revolutions sake, not any particular revolution. Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries rejected all forms of human conformity and wanted this profound change in the political system in a relatively brief period. They regarded most of societies governmental institutions as mere devices to enslave human spirit, denying it them of liberty for which they were destined.
As a revolutionist Fidel Castro appealed to all social classes of the Cuban population. For the unemployed Castro promised livelihood, for both the rural and industrial workers he promised to put an end to embezzled retirement funds, for peasants he promised land that they could call their own, and finally for the 10,000/year young professionals he promised employment. In its early phase, Castro’s revolutionary regime included moderate politicians and democrats; gradually, however, its policies became radical and confrontational. Though Castro remained the unchallenged leader, and the masses–whose living conditions he improved–rallied behind him. Even shortly after the Revolution, with his social structure now in disarray, Castros political system was a crisiss, but still the revolutionaries were celebrities, folk heros, and the final hope of the hopeful.
But a Revolutionary party can …