By Alina B. López Hernández
It has become a government slogan in the last few months. It was coined by the President of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers and it is repeated today by every official or journalist tasked with making public statements. It usually comes out like this: ‘…as the President has wisely asked us to think as a country…’
In an unusual civic exercise, citizens have also been asked to voice their opinions about how to turn that phrase into a reality. Many do so in the social networks. For my part, I have given it a good measure of thought and this is my fragmented yet encompassing point of view in that regard.
‘Thinking as a country’
From Literature: Personification or prosopopoeia is a type of ontological metaphor and a stylistic figure consisting in the attribution of human qualities to an animal or inanimate object (whether concrete or abstract), which is made to speak, act or react as a person would.
Countries do not think. People are the ones who can think about the country that they wish or need. The function of personification as a literary resource is to be one of the figures used in fiction, but politics must challenge fiction and be realistic, otherwise it becomes demagogy, which is a political strategy that appeals, among other things, to the emotions and hopes of the public in order to garner popular support.
From Geography: In this sense, it’s reductionistic. The term country is a synonym of State and its group of political institutions having territory, population and sovereignty. The country, as the seat of the State, is a legal attainment of the nation, and the latter also includes the large number of migrants who, while not living in the country, identify Cuba as their Homeland, which means much more than an ideology, a political party and a government. It would be fairer and more inclusive then to say ‘thinking as a nation’.
From Philosophy: We’ve spent sixty years thinking what the country should be like. The first thirty years we did it under the symbol of the world socialist system; the last thirty years by experimenting unsuccessfully under the same condition of having a country-pillar to support us. Thinking has several synonyms: ponder, ruminate, contemplate, reflect; all of them communicate the idea of inaction, passiveness, stillness. Of course we must think, but we have now arrived at a time when there’s an urgent need to move on from thought to action, and that implies taking risks in decisions and changing obsolete structures. As Marx said in his eleventh thesis on Feuerbach, in which he criticizes the contemplative materialism of young Hegelians in all forms of philosophical idealism: ‘Philosophers have done nothing more than interpret the world in various fashions, but it’s about transforming it.’
From Sociology: It would be more appropriate to say express ourselves as a country. Thought is materialized though language. Thinking is not enough if we don’t manage to make our ideas, opinions and viewpoints known. And how can we do this? What happens with opinion polls in Cuba? The day after he explained the ‘present juncture’, President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced with satisfaction that opinion polls confirmed the support of the citizenry for the announced measures and the optimism of people. How can something so categorical be asserted with such promptness? How do our leaders know what we think? In an article I published some time ago I said about this:
Mass opinion polls, through surveys which respect anonymity, for the implementation and assessment of political decisions are a matter pending in Cuba. Having gone through the initial years of revolutionary effervescence, when few questioned the collective and massive way of approving government decisions in squares, parades and political rallies, we turned this course of action into a controversial way of legitimizing the resolutions of our government. In accordance with that practice, extended into stages such as the present one, in which consensus is no longer evident, we have lost the possibility of knowing the real opinions of people and their trends in percentages. We are thus failing to use the true assessor of government policy: the citizens.
In short, instead of appealing to the fanciful and empty slogan of thinking as a country, conditions should be created to enable Cubans to act as part of the nation, and to enable our government to visualize and respect our needs and opinions, so it may thus rule by obeying.
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(Translated from the original)