Don’t touch our boy Castro

With the release of my new book, The Blogging Revolution, I’ve been expecting certain elements of the Left to criticise my focus on so-called repressive regimes, rather than closely examining censorship far closer to home (ie. within the US.)

It hasn’t taken long. Sydney University academic Tim Anderson – who wrote an article in 2007, titled, without irony, ‘Why Cuba is a democracy and the US is not‘ – has unloaded on the work with a curious essay in the Marxist publication, Links:

Antony Loewenstein is confused. Flushed with the success of his first book, My Israel Question, he has ventured into the wider world of global politics and has stumbled.

His first book presented the perspective of a young Australian Jew, reflecting critically on Israel. His second book, The Blogging Revolution, attempts a wider analysis of the cyber-media and democracy, by reference to six countries: Iran, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and China…

Antony’s assertions on Cuba, if they are read, will add reassuringly to the cloud of misinformation actively promoted in corporate-media monopolies, which oppose any system which rejects privatisation. This is hardly subversion of the “western-centric” view of the world, as he claims.

Anderson solely focuses on my Cuba chapter and claims I misrepresent the Castro regime. I stand by my assertions, that despite the immoral and criminal US embargo, something I condemn strongly in the book, the state is authoritarian and shuns any kind of freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press or multi-party elections. Such things clearly don’t bother Anderson as he never says anything critical of the Castro regime, opening him up to allegations of being far too close to Havana and its local representatives.

Sadly, Anderson belongs to that fringe element of the Left that automatically defends any nation condemned by the US and supports it uncritically. It’s strangely anti-intellectual and lacking in curiosity. My issues with Castro’s regime don’t equate with endorsing capitalism over socialism. As I wrote about this blindness in May:

The problem is, for me as a human being and journalist, many of the nations in my book commit gross human rights abuses and remaining silent is neither moral nor legitimate. One either believes in human rights or you don’t. You either support the rights of individuals to live in freedom, read a free press and meet without fear or favour or you don’t. It’s possible to do all this and still slam US foreign policy, the crazy US embargo against Cuba and campaign strongly (as my new book does consistently) against foreign meddling in non-Western nations.

My book doesn’t focus on the West, and this is something that is unforgivable to many of the Left. I am highly critical of the role Washington and its allies play around the world but not every cause of trouble has emerged from the US.

My journalism and worldview isn’t controlled by an ideological mindset that allows no dissent from a party line. And my work over the years, from Israel/Palestine onwards, proves that I believe in defending peoples who have little voice in the West.

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