Not quite. Chris Betram–with his mighty clairvoyant powers–elicits predicts this anti-Castro response from Brad DeLong:
I haven’t looked yet, but I’ve no doubt that there’ll be lots of posts in the blogosphere saying “good riddance” to Fidel Castro (especially from “left” US bloggers like Brad DeLong who never miss the chance to distance themselves). And, of course, Castro ran a dictatorship that has, since 1959, committed its fair share of crimes, repressions, denials of democratic rights etc. Still, I’m reminded of A.J.P. Taylor writing somewhere or other (reference please, dear readers?) that what the capitalists and their lackeys really really hated about Soviet Russia was not its tyrannical nature but the fact that there was a whole chunk of the earth’s surface where they were no longer able to operate. Ditto Cuba, for a much smaller chunk. So let’s hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care.
Thus (from DeLong):
Fidel Castro has retired. Good riddance!!
That the Lenin-Trotsky-Stalin Authoritarian Project of which Fidel Castro was the next-to-last exemplar was not an advance toward but a retreat from a better world was obvious long, long ago. Quite early–Kronstadt?–it was clear to all save the dead-enders that the project was a mistake.
Why should I approve of laudable goals achieved (to whatever extent) by illiberal means? I’m going to take the Sen/Nussbaum approach here and ask: “To what extent did the Castro regime allow citizens to realize substantive freedoms?” Taking for granted the literacy and health-care standards, Cuban welfare is substandard. Cuba doesn’t allow for political dissent or free political association unless it’s part of “socialist” objectives as defined by the state. While citizens may live in relative good health with good average education, they are severely limited in their political and expressive (personal) lives. Essentially, Cubans have the good fortune to live a long time in an oppressive socialist bureaucracy and they’re educated enough to know how bad they have it. What sort of life is that?