On CNN’s New Day Friday, American documentary filmmaker Jon Alpert blamed the United States for the failure of communism in Cuba.
The New York-born Alpert said it was not the inherent failings of Stalin’s “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” system — which has killed almost 100 million worldwide and powerfully driven down standards of living by its implementation — which destroyed the Caribbean nation; it was, rather, America’s handling of sugar which kept Castro’s iron-fisted communist rule from leading to national greatness.
Alpert’s love of Cuba began long ago: he sailed there illegally in 1972 at the age of 24. The leftist was intrigued by communism’s political ideals — everything is free! He told PBS:
“I want free, good healthcare for everybody in the United States. I really want it. I want free, good schools for everybody in the United States, and decent housing. I want equal opportunity, and they were going for it down there in Cuba, and so I sure wanted to see for myself.”
Of course, Alpert’s mistake was (and is) in thinking that resources can be made magically free. But for many on the Left, reality is as far away as, well, Cuba. Alpert wanted to close that gap — over the next forty-five years, he regularly visited the poverty-stricken country, documenting its post-revolution state by profiling three families there. The result of his efforts is Netflix’s Cuba and the Cameraman.
On New Day to promote the film, Alpert praised Castro -- who in one decade alone detained 18,000 political prisoners -- for his “useful changes”:
“Since we spent 45 years, we look at this under a very, very long line, so if you look at Cuba under Batista and the changes that the Castros initiated, those were useful changes. The real tragedy is the ideas -- the things that I agreed with -- I think that you might agree with -- universal free education, better health care for everybody, the alphabetization of the island -- they never really got a chance to put into practice.”
Darn it -- between the murders and imprisonments, Castro just never got around to the good stuff. And why, in a span of over half a century (he assumed power in 1959), did Cuban communism fail? According to Alpert, the catalyst was capitalist America:
“There were some early years back in the '70s when Fidel bet everything on the sugar crop. Sugar prices were at an all-time high, the money was flowing in -- they were building schools, hospitals -- they were doing the type of stuff that we want to do here in our country, then the United States...we dumped our sugar reserves on the world market, crashed the sugar price, blew the bottom out of the Cuban economy...At that particular point, they were out of gas, and they stayed out of gas for a long time.”
Was it merely being "low on gas" that caused more than 1 million Cubans to flee to the United States? Host Chris Cuomo responded with something rarely found on CNN — sense:
“That's just economics, you know. The criticism's going to be about human rights. Money isn't what made him punish democracy and punish free speech. That's where the criticism is going to come.”
“We didn't hide that, so I don't think we ducked any of this in terms of the program, and I think the longitudinal look at Cuba -- and nobody has ever done this before -- that's why I think this program is useful.”
Despite its massive failure across space and time due to its inherent deficiencies, communism continues to be the dream of the American Left. How someone can look at the history of Cuba and other communist fiascos and not note the wholly flawed nature of the political ideology is a mystery. Ultimately, perhaps Alpert's and his fellow leftists' affection for Stalin's favored governmental system is best explained by the title of a Russian pro-communist book, written almost a century ago: "Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder."