Saturday, April 16, 2005

Planet Fidel

A recent post on Sunbreak City -- Fidel Castro is a murdering thug (and other hard to understand thoughts for the left) -- asks the following question:
Why do Woody Harrelson, Kevin Costner, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Chevy Chase, Leo DiCaprio, Francis Ford Coppola, Kate Moss, Matt Damon, Naomi Campbell, Robert Redford and Ted Turner think Castro is so great? Don't they ask questions, think about things, read books?

After observing that "Childhood doesn't prepare you for how obdurate and foolish adults can be" he goes on to recommend three books on Castro that he thinks these celebrities ought to read. I plan to add them to my reading list and I am particularly intrigued by Como Llego la Noche by Huber Matos because his bio reads like a Cuban version of Solzhenitsyn.

But back to the question: why do some celebrities tend to fawn on Fidel? I have a couple of theories about that and they start with the mysterious phantom planet that orbits the sun exactly opposite the earth. For the benefit of the men in white suits who are starting to wonder where they put their nets, I should state that I do not believe such a planet exists. But it is a recurring theme in Pythagorean cosmology, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Astrology and a number of interesting paranoid delusions. Much of its appeal in these realms comes from the fact that it is mysterious by definition (being always behind the sun so we can't see it) and it can be just about anyting you want it to be.

Sometimes the attributes of the phantom planet are selected at random; In 1969, Japanese Daiei studios imagined it to be populated by scantily-clad alien women with antennas who kidnapped small boys from earth, planning to eat their brains, only to be foiled by Gamara, the giant flying turtle. More often though, the position of the planet -- Anti-Earth, Contra-Earth, Vulcan, etc. -- on the opposite side of the sun suggests that it is also opposite to Earth in some other way, such as politics, gender roles, alternate history or in the charge polarity of subatomic particles.

For the Hollywood left Fidel Castro's Cuba is much like the phantom earth -- it is mysterious, forbidden and difficult to observe. It can be anyting they want. Almost all they know about it is that communist Cuba occupies a position that is somehow opposite to the capitalist US and they naturally assume that Fidel must be a jovial, bearded, antimatter Republican. Their imagined Fidel, then, would be someone they would like for the same instinctive non-reasons that they hate George Bush.

As to what those non-reasons might be, I wrote a bit about that in Savant Idiots where I paraphrazed Ludwig von Mises argument (from The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality [chapter 1 section 9]) that entertainers are tormented by the fickleness of a market that values their work today but may simply lose interest tomorrow. This is especially true for those who are currently enjoying the fifteen ninutes of fame that Andy Warhol promised them. They are the ones who want to smash all clocks and who fear change above all things.

And, although it pains me to admit it, from that perspective they have some reason to admire Castro and his Cuba. Fidel's great accomplishment is that he has pretty much stamped out progress in Cuba. Things suck there, to be sure -- pretty much in every way -- but they suck today in exactly the same way they sucked yesterday, and tomorrow everything will suck in exactly the same way it does today. Rust accumulates and things fall apart but this happens slowly and gradually and nothing gets replaced. If you're on top of the heap today you'll be on top tomorrow. I can see Ted Turner liking that.

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