"Libertarian" Playboy Mag Hates Choice, Loves Authentic Communism

I am reliably informed by consumers of old-school softcore pornography that Playboy was once, in point of fact, worth reading for the articles. Norman Mailer, P.G. Wodehouse, William F. Buckley, James T. Farrell, John Updike, Issac Singer, were all, during its first few decades, occasional contributors. And according to this Playboy Wikipedia entry, "throughout its history [the magazine] had expressed a libertarian outlook on political and social issues." So attractive women in various states of undress, a smattering of libertarian politics, and a pretty deep well of top quality writers. In other words, the greatest magazine in the history of the world.

As has been pointed out a million times before, the proliferation of free pornography on the Internet helps explain the magazine's precipitous circulation decline. But, as Salon noticed back in 2002, it is more difficult to account for the disappearance of decent writing. It's politics are still mildly libertarian—good on civil liberties, horrid on everything else—and the women are still there, naked as the day I last picked up a copy.

In the January/February double issue spectacular (with C-lister Tara Reid on the cover!), readers are treated to pieces from Luc Sante, Will Self, and Dennis Lehane. Not bad, except that all three are mitigated by the single dumbest article on Cuba in recent memory, from writers Aaron Sigmond and Nick Kowlakowski, who have a book forthcoming on (totalitarian societies? Latin American caudillos?)...cigars.

A few bons mots, from the revolutionary tourists: Sigmond and Kowlakowski write that "Ironically, the trade embargo has kept the forbidden island unblemished and true to its roots." As a longtime critic of the embargo, this has to be the worst argument I've heard in its favor, and as any Cuban can tell you, the country is, to significantly understate matters, rather "blemished" by 50 years of hideous dictatorship.

And what piece of bad travel writing about Cuba would be complete without a condescending gringo reference to the "Chevys from the 1950s cruise up and down the streets"—a result of the extreme poverty bequeathed to the earthy and authentic Havana proletariat by a half century disastrous economic policy. "What you do not see in Cuba," they write, is "McDonalds." But you must act now: "Here is a caveat: Your goal is to see Cuba now, before the U.S. embargo falls and the island becomes a commercialized, Disney-fied disaster zone, with every corner sporting a Starbucks...If you wish to see authentic Cuba, now is the time" (emphasis added, though probably unnecessary).

Words fail. But by all means, if you want to see an "authentic" communist dictatorship before it becomes (!) a "disaster zone," where artists are still routinely thrown in jail, dissidents are followed and arbitrarily arrested, access to unapproved websites is forbidden, "capitalistic" books are banned, food and medicine are increasingly difficult to obtain, but where there isn't a mochachino or DVD copy of Alladin to be found (but be careful, DVD players were recently legalized!), and where one will not be harassed by cheap hamburgers...Cuba is an ideal destination!

The country's hotels might be "shabby-chic" to jackasses like Sigmond and Kowlakowski, but they're an unobtainable luxury to those living under the boot heel of the Brothers Castros. Indeed, it wasn't until 2008 that Cubans were allowed to enter hotels in Havana.

Last summer I interviewed Gorki Aguila, the frontman of Cuban punk band Porno Para Ricardo, on his frequent run-ins with Castro's secret police and recent arrest on charges of "social dangerousness." As far as I remember, his lamentations about life in Cuba were focused entirely on the continued existence of the Castro crime family, not the looming prospect of Starbucks' banana nut bread and Americans wearing fanny packs (They already have those. They are called Germans).

Update: CEI's Ivan Osorio tweets that, according to dissident writer Yaoni Sanchez, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an imprisoned opponent of the regime, has died on hunger strike. After relaying the news to her readers, Sanchez's phone service was cut off. Small price to keep Kentucky Fried Chicken out of Santiago city center, eh?

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  • ||

    So, um, the pure uncommercial bliss of Cuba is worth oppressed, poor, and miserable population?

    Holy shit.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Apparently any cost to avoid another Batista is worth it. He allowed others to own private property!

    BTW, Playboy was the first place I read a G. Gordon Liddy article.

  • ||

    There's likely some middle ground between Batista and Castro.

  • ||

    Um... Starbucks is a worry, in a country famous for coffee, sugar, and rum? McDonald's I'll grant, but ten minutes in Miami will show you that the Cubans already have the coffee thing down.

    We don' nee' no steenkin' mochaccino! We got cortaditos and cafe con leche, mang!

  • ||

    I volunteer to relieve the centerfolds of their decoder rings.

    Oh, and to the post title: Drink!

  • Iron my skirt||

    Sage, don't drink and iron!

  • ||

    Libertarian Playboy also hates the 2nd Amendment.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    Been a couple of years since I've seen a new one but I recall an opinion piece by Robert Scheer called, "Guns: I was wrong".

    My collection goes from the 70's to the early 00's. I have to admit, they were much more libertarian-friendly when Hef was at the helm.

    ... "Articles, yeah" Hobbit

  • John Tagliaferro||

    When Barbi Benton was on the mast?

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    Yeah, gotta admit, she was always one of my faves.

    ... Hobbit

  • ||

    Got to visit Cuba once a couple years ago (via the Bahamas) and I must admit it is truly a wonderful place.

    Jess
    www.complete-anonymity.cz.tc

  • ||

    Oh, Anonymity Bot, you were doing so well.

  • Sucki||

    Some 'bots are more equal than others

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    By the time I saw that tasteless, clueless article, I was too tired to keep complaining about Playboy's economic leftism at my Playboy fan blog. However, I can show you these earlier posts of mine on the subject:
    Why can't Playboy think about greed the way it thinks about lust?
    Economics in the December Forum: A Streetcar Named Big Government

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Playboy has been losing credibility on drug policy, too, since it has appointed twelve-step guru Dr. Drew Pinsky its more or less official voice on the subject:
    Dr. Drew Pinsky is on the wrong side of the drug issue
    Forget Dr. Drew Pinsky. Listen to Ram Dass on addiction.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Pretty soon, I'll post something about political correctness and the March interview with John Mayer. Stay tuned.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

  • zoltan||

    John Mayer is ultimately a lame-ass pussy.

    News at 11.

  • jingle me||

    My pussy has a first name, it's J-O-H-N, my pussy has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R...

  • zoltan||

    I'm sorry for you. I certainly wouldn't want to possess such a thing.

  • ||

    "Here is a caveat: Your goal is to see Cuba now, before the U.S. embargo falls and the island becomes a commercialized, Disney-fied disaster zone, with every corner sporting a Starbucks...If you wish to see authentic Cuba, now is the time" (emphasis added, though probably unnecessary).

    Nothing says dumb yanqui hipster douchebag tourist more than exploiting the miserably impoverished and politically and technologically oppressed for their own entertainment.

  • ||

    It actually makes me a little mad. "Please, preserve your quaint ways, while I temporarily partake of your suffering. Soon, of course, I will return home to talk about how enriching my experience was."

  • ||

    It really is obnoxious. I tend to be a lot more forgiving than most here of just about everybody, but there's really no defense of this; it's hopelessly self-centered and tone-deaf to boot.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    "All out for Fort Stinkin' Desert! You got ten minutes, folks!"

    ... Hobbit

  • ||

    This is the same sort of douchebag who tells the 3rd world not to use GMO crops. I'm sensing a pattern...

  • Sucki||

    The slums got so much soul

  • ||

    Tasteless and immoral sure. But can you really deny that it's more interesting to visit Cuba now than the cheaper version of Miami it's going to be in 20 years? And look how many printed words Reason has generated out of Cuba over the years compared to, say, Costa Rica. It's a sad reflection on humanity, sure, but Cuban (or North Korean) misery is interesting to all of us in a way that affluence is not.

    Sadly a high quality of life usually translates into less interesting visits for tourists. For example - Quebec seems full of bits of ridiculous state funded infrastructure and commercial areas that the locals seem to hardly ever use, as far as I can tell - illuminated ice skating paths, bike paths, subsidized book stores, quirky little record store retailers, etc. Would I rather live in NH and decide for myself where my money is spent? Yes, I would. But if I was telling a person from Arkansas which region to visit as a tourist, I'd recommend Quebec.

  • I grew up there||

    and we used the all those facilities. Vive la différence.

  • ||

    But can you really deny that it's more interesting to visit Cuba now than the cheaper version of Miami it's going to be in 20 years?

    It's called leaving the FUCKING HOTEL.

    Watch 5mins of travel channel, and you'll see that capitalist nations have no problem preserving their traditions AND enjoying a higher quality of life. Until the EU tells them they can't butcher hogs on their property anymore. Food Safety, dontcha know?

    And when Bourdain or Zimmern have gone to a communist nation (cuba, vietnam. can't think of other examples they've been to), conditions are visibly crappier.

    Zimmern in Cuba: "Ooohhh, look at the ppl along the roadside, they're not hitchhikers. Its a govt program to encourage carpooling!"

    Bourdain in vietnam was creepier just because of the interactions with his People's Dept. of Foreigners handler.

    So, yes, i deny that their local culture will be destroyed by Disneyfication. You'll just have to walk 10mins outside of the tourist-zone.

  • ||

    It's one thing to comment on the novelty of the situation. It's a whole 'nother thing to lament its passing at the hands of forces that largely embody liberty for the common man and wish that it would stay the same for your own sake, not for the people who actually have to live in it.

    It's just plain fucking evil.

  • ||

    It's a sad reflection on humanity, sure, but Cuban (or North Korean) misery is interesting to all of us in a way that affluence is not.

    It's not Cuba's misery that draws coverage -- it's the political situation largely responsible for said misery. Most of the world is rife with bone-crushing poverty, but you don't hear much about the misery in Cameroon or Malawi or Myanmar because unlike Cuba, they are far away, and unlike NKor, they don't tend to have nuclear weapons and missiles pointed at neighboring developed countries.

  • Mike||

    By that logic, 1940 Poland would sure be a fun vacation spot.

  • ||

    No, because an American in Poland in 1940 was not treated like a God. A big part of the reason people like these journalists are in love with Cuba is that in Cuba American tourists feel special - women throw themselves at them, men want to befriend them.

    Also an ethnic Pole in 1940 still lived OK for the most part, I don't think the hunger really started kicking in until '42 or '43.

  • ||

    From what I hear it was a really bad place to be Jewish, Roma, communist, or a bigmouthed Catholic priest, though.

  • ||

    But, but...free healthcare. They have free healthcare. So, you know,...

  • ||

    If every dumbass that lauds Cuba were dumped to the bottom of the sea, the world would be a better place.

  • ||

    But then rising sea levels would probably destroy Bangladesh.

  • ||

    Or sinking Cuba even. Lose/Lose for Cuba.

  • ||

    A few years back, maybe after Oliver Stones "Felating of Casto" movie, I pitched the idea of a Commie-grunge theme park to some Czechs. It would attract nostolgic old commies and western pinkos who can't handle the sight of the golden arches.

    The Czechs hated the idea.

  • skr||

    To be fair, the Czechs that I hung out with when I was studying in Prague had a quaint notion that America was some bastion of freedom. I told them that we had 200 years to figure out how to get around all those pesky rights.

  • robc||

    When did American freedom peak? 1954? 1926? 1781?

  • Eric H||

    1491?

  • Kolohe||

    I believe it's been documented here at reason that there are a few Soviet era gulags in former Warsaw Pact that not only open as museums, but also give tourists an opportunity to re-create some of the experience

  • ||

    What's more disturbing is that there doesn't seem to be a single person at the magazine or in the writers' lives who said "whoa, dudes, you do realize that you're saying the Cuban people should stay in a 50s timewarp (let's not even get into the communist part) for your personal entertainment, right?"

  • ||

    Who would have thought that Playboy would endorse exploiting people who don't know any better for one's personal amusement? Is there no organization we can trust to uphold common decency?

  • ||

    Getting stupid american chicks to get naked is a few orders of magnitude less screwed-up than oppressing people for entertainment/cultural value, isn't it?

  • ||

    Playboy isn't oppressing anyone -- they're just putting themselves in a position for enjoyment when the results of others' oppression appear.

    Sort of like they're not dragging women to their studios and forcefully undressing them, they're just putting themselves in a position to take advantage of foolish women willing to degrade themselves voluntarily.

  • Eric H||

    I wish someone would "take advantage" of me by paying me thousands of dollars to take off my clothes.

  • ||

    That's because you haven't thought through the consequences.

  • Coeus||

    So anyone who's ever posed naked for money hasn't thought through the consequences? I think it's just more likely that they didn't come to your conclusions. If you'll notice, it didn't seem to do Scott Brown any harm.

  • alan||

    The thing I regret the most is not using that industrial accident that happened to me when I was nineteen that left me multiorgasmic and bone hard after even twenty or so squirties to my advantage. If I had bought a ticket to the San Fernando Valley, I would have been bigger than Ron Jeremy. Man, I wished I had thought that one through, but no, I was still a sucker believing in that social constructed taboo built around a delusion we all call personal dignity.

  • ||

    There is more than one way to lose one's dignity. Wishing that one had participated in indignitous behavior is often just as efficacious toward that end as actually participating in it.

  • ||

    Ah ha ha ha ha...Chris shows up to give us crap about criticizing Playboy for exalting Cuba, and his argument is that Playboy exploits women?!?

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Chris, you really were smarter not showing your face around here for a while.

  • ||

    I have no problem with anyone criticizing Playboy. It's just the shock with which the criticism is offered that's noticeably incongruous.

  • alan||

    There is more than one way to lose one's dignity. Wishing that one had participated in indignitous behavior is often just as efficacious toward that end as actually participating in it.

    WWWOOooOOOWWWWWW. Did you think I was being serious?

    However, to your point. Spend a few minutes and try to calculate the number of minutes added up that other people have said to themselves, 'that crimethink, why that is a dignified fellow!'

    One, maybe two minutes? Maybe a few more? Yeap, in all of the flow of time even in the tiny span of your life, it has added to nada. Like a tear in the rain. Everyone else is too busy with their own troubles and maintaining their own set of delusions that stroke their egos to bother with yours. Don't be glum, chum, it only means that you are free and not under the constant eye of objective judgment. Even if you become the subject of scandal, for a few minutes people might yell, 'why, that miscreant!' But then they will go back to talking about the weather and forget all about you.

    So, loosen up man, your attitude is not getting you anywhere you wont get to otherwise.

  • ||

    I think you're confusing dignity with reputation. Dignity is what you are (or are not) when no one else is looking.

  • alan||

    Not really.

    One day I'll have to post my lecture Fuck Your Feelings, What Have They Ever Done For You? on line for you in order toillustrate this non trivial point. Anyway, if you were to mash up Alan Watts and Larry Flynt, you would pretty much get the gist.

  • zoltan||

    People can't have dignity when posing naked for money? Why is this?

  • Jennifer||

    Speaking as someone who paid for college and grad school by working as a stripper: getting half-naked in exchange for shitloads of money was far more dignified than the jobs I held prior to that; there is nothing particularly dignified about wearing a polyester uniform while hauling French fries out of an oil vat in exchange for minimum wage.

    I have yet to hear a plausible reason why I should regret my dancing days or why they cost me any "dignity." A devout Saudi will likely think I'm just as undignified and exploited for showing my face in public, or speaking to men who are not blood relatives or a legally wedded spouse o'mine.

  • ||

    Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

  • Jennifer||

    Give me facts, not cliches, Crimethink. Where did this lack of dignity come from? Explain.

  • Fluffy||

    Crimethink,

    You are an idiot.

    You know why I wouldn't let myself be photographed naked for money?

    Because my body is ugly.

    If it wasn't ugly, you're damn right I would take money to have it photographed.

    And since I would not feel even a moment's shame, it would have zero impact on my dignity. None. I would be proud.

    You know what is destructive of dignity? Cowardice. Dishonesty. Foolishness. Helplessness.

  • ||

    and the little fact the get paid well for getting nekid

  • Jim Treacher||

    Who needs Tomorrowland when you've got Yesterdayland?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Peter Bagge did a pretty good comic on the mentality of this kind of idiot.

  • Almanian||

    2002? That was totally worth the trip in the Wayback Machine - thanks!

  • just thinking||

    BakedPenguin,why are there are no comments?

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think they added it after the blog was started.

  • alan||

    Here is hoping that while in Cuba Aaron Sigmond and Nick Kowlakowski contracted something in the water that slowly and excruciatingly kills them. Every life is precious though some lives are more precious than others. I would hate to think that a promising stomach virus never reached its full potential because of a swish of potent rum.

  • ||

    The deadly CANDIRU fish!

  • ||

    For a magazine called Playboy, they sure have a lot of insufferable scold writers.

  • ||

    Isn't the whole point of "playboy" tourism to go wherever the vacationers' privileges are most prominent? The more poor and desperate the populace, the more solicitous they are to foreigners, the cheaper the drinks, the better the seafood, the more the girls want to sleep with you, and so forth. Yes, it's tasteless, but isn't that the whole reason people go to Mexico? Basically the whole point of this sort of tourism is to create and sustain the fantasy of being incredibly wealthy and high-status. So naturally, you go to someplace where you ARE incredibly wealthy, relatively speaking. The code word for this privilege is "authenticity", even though the "authentic" experience is created solely for tourists. The article, in that respect, seems entirely honest.

  • ||

    Very insightful post, Tony. Luckily I haven't had dinner yet, so I'm only going to lose bile in fulfilling the necessary consequence of agreeing with you.

  • ||

    Exactly. The people who laud Cuba aren't necessarily enamored of Communism per se - they just love playing at being the rich white guy. In North Korea prostitutes don't throw themselves at you, the beaches are all rock, there are no cool musicians to hang out with and the food sucks. So even lefties tend not to romanticize North Korea the way they do Cuba. But white people do romanticize Jamaica or Haiti and how "authentic" those people are.

  • ed||

    Ayn Rand did the Playboy Interview. Good reading. But you knew that.

    http://www.ellensplace.net/ar_pboy.html

  • ||

    I bet Rand understood the difference between self-imposed and externally-imposed exploitation.

    (fyi, Self-Exploitation is a great thing. the other, not so much.)

  • ||

    If it were self-imposed, Playboy wouldn't have to pay them $$$$ to do it.

  • Kolohe||

    Dude, man, you're about one step away from the Marxist critique of Labor's relation to Capital

  • ||

    I really do want to see Cuba before it get all wonderfully capitalist and free. I also wouldn't mind visiting North Korea. Because I want to see these scary, evil, should-be-archaic places that are the real-world versions of my dystopian novels.

    And then when I come back from Cuba, I am going to slap my academic adviser upside the head for being a Soviet apologist. And then I'm going to put a Big Mac on Howard Zinn's grave.

  • C-Dog||

    I read that the North Koreans have speakers installed in their houses with constantly streaming propaganda. You can turn down the volume, but you can't turn them off.

  • Abdul||

    I just Read Barbara Demick's excellent book on North Korea. Like a true communist utopia, they don't have enough electricity to run the propaganda anymore!

  • ||

    I'll be impressed when REASON has done as much to promote free speech and transform society as PLAYBOY has in its' time.

  • MNG||

    +1

  • ||

    This is of course complete bullshit. Playboy is, and has always been, nothing but a highbrow stroke mag. Yes, the freedom of smut has increased thanks to Hefner and Flynt and their ilk, at the same time as commercial speech and political speech have been curtailed.

    It's not surprising, though, that worshippers of sex would regard the ability to say "ASS" on broadcast TV as a huge victory for free speech, even while saying the name of a candidate for office during that same TV broadcast is a federal crime.

  • MNG||

    "while saying the name of a candidate for office during that same TV broadcast is a federal crime"

    [citation ommitted]

  • zoltan||

    You mean Hustler, I hope.

  • MNG||

    Look tools, when Playboy says they are libertarian they mean they are libertarian in the way sane people are: they don't won't government to restrict their choices of what kind of porn they can watch or foods they can eat and such. They don't mean they are pining to be free to strike employment bargains for under the minimum wage or buy groceries under caveat emptor. Because no one would like to be in a position in which they have to bargain for those kind of terms, it's not something anyone longs for.

    However, many people long to be able to have other people in that position. But we call these people "assholes."

    Discuss amongst yourselves...

  • ||

    Yes, it's called "spoiled brat socialism", after the resemblance to the philosophy of teenagers that demands complete privacy inside one's room, non-interference with one's choice of friends, drugs, and sexual activity; and in addition, a steady allowance, dinner served on time every night, and a car with a full tank of gas made available at his or her whim.

    You'll forgive me for showing a wee bit of disdain for those who sully the word "libertarian" by self-applying it. It was in this way that we lost the word "liberal" back in the day.

  • C-Dog||

    I'm going to steal that term, I dig it.

  • ||

    It was actually supposed to be "spoiled brat libertarianism", but my Freudian appears to have slipped.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Sorry, has to be done:

    +1

    Scratch that, +1,000.

  • Fluffy||

    Because no one would like to be in a position in which they have to bargain for those kind of terms, it's not something anyone longs for.

    However, many people long to be able to have other people in that position. But we call these people "assholes."

    Fuck you, liar.

    I do in fact long to be in that position.

    Google "the maxim of one's action". If I want to be free, I have to concede that others should want to be free, too.

    That means I long for the press to conduct an expose on me, I long to be able to buy a cheeseburger from someone who hasn't paid for 20 different "occupancy permits" and "operating licenses", I long to hear you spew your nonsense every day [witness the fact that I keep coming back], etc.

    If the day ever came when I could hire anyone I wanted to be my representative in court, and I had to carefully research who was qualified and who wasn't, and any schmuck with the gift of gab could advertise to be that representative, I would probably cry tears of joy.

    You assume that because you want other people to be bound hand and foot for your convenience [and you admit that we're talking about convenience when you say that no one wants to have to bargain] that everyone else does, too.

  • MNG||

    And this may really shock some people here (like the many here who seem incapable of striking bargains with their employers that allow them to go on really posh vacations), but many people when they go on vacation do not want to hang out at strip malls and McDonalds, they want to see these quaint "unspoiled" areas. I mean, do you like that, is that really something you seek in a vacation spot? WTF?

    Of course it is silly not to realize that Cuba seems unspoilt by commercialism because, well, commercial life is daily strangled there much to the harm of the local population. But it seems this is a TRAVEL article after all, not everyone must preface everything about Cuba with long two minute hates about Castro and such...

  • ||

    You can have both McDonalds AND quaint unspoilt areas in a country. Heck, most square miles in even the US contain not a single strip mall or chain restaurant!

    Also, I do have this little problem called "empathy" that prevents me from enjoying myself when surrounded by utterly destitute people. Maybe liberals aren't troubled by that mischievous emotion.

  • MJ||

    It's not that liberals have no empathy, it's that, to a liberal, Cubans are destitute for the right reasons.

  • MNG||

    Oh bullshit, most liberals despise the Castro regime and support organizations, like Human Rights Watch and such, which are actively working to dislodge it.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    [Citation needed]

  • BakedPenguin||

    MNG - I've tried, unlike many others here, to maintain decent relations with you. Honest men can disagree, and all that. But you are really coming off as a fucking troll here.

    How many Cubans do you think would love to work in the US for less than minimum wage? Since 99% of them are making < $5 a day, I'd say that figure is probably pretty high. But that's just me, being a mean, mean libertarian.

    Cuba kills people for speaking out against the regime. It imprisons human beings for daring to disagree. That is what Playboy is ignoring, and that is what we are pissed off about. They are ignoring massive human rights violations - just to have a motherfucking quaint place to visit. They are ignoring murder because the murderers are so fucking picturesque. You're smart enough to know this is the issue. Don't fucking dodge it. It's a "travel" piece? Hey, here's a fucking idea - DON'T travel to places where they throw you in prison for you thoughts! Or if you do, have the fucking balls to mention it, instead of giving a glowing review.

  • Warty||

    I've tried, unlike many others here, to maintain decent relations with you.

    See what a mistake that was? MNG is scum.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Scum?

  • ||

  • BakedPenguin||

    So MNG fucked Valerie Solanis?

  • ||

    It's doubly sad because MNG, while always having been a loyal liberal, used to actually be a decent commenter. Like so many others, the Obama presidency seems to have flipped his troll switch.

  • MNG||

    "DON'T travel to places where they throw you in prison for you thoughts!"

    That's like half the world Baked. The Middle East (including Israel), China, parts of S. America, heck even most European nations (hate speech laws). You meam you can't write a travel article about any of those places without loudly trumpeting a denunciatory preface each time?

  • Fluffy||

    No, but that's not what is being done here.

    If you wrote a travel article that said, "It is really fun to travel to the Sudan to watch people get raped and burned alive. Where else can you see people get raped and burned alive? You don't see that every day. Wow, the sheer novelty of it is great. You better get to the Sudan before peace breaks out, because once that happens you'll never have a chance to see people get raped and burned alive that easily again!" it would be proper for other people to find fault with you.

    And yes, that is exactly what this article is doing, and no, I'm not mischaracterizing it in the least.

  • Fluffy||

    So you can write travel articles without including denunciatory phrases, but not when:

    1. You're specifically celebrating an aspect of the society that arises from its state of oppression.

    2. You're specifically lamenting the fact that the state of oppression might end in the future.

    3. You acknowledge in your own text that the spectacle you're encouraging people to seek out is the result of their political situation.

    4. You're warning people to take advantage of that political situation while it lasts.

    The article in question does all four of these things.

  • MNG||

    Any Cuban who would work in the US for less than the minimum wage would only do so because his situation is so dire-that's my point, many of these economic "rights" guys revere are rights that noone longs for. Any cuban who would agree to work for less than the minimum wage would RATHER work for that wage or above.

  • mr simple||

    This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Of course everyone wants to make more money. The point is that people would rather work for below minimum wage pay than not work, because some is better than nothing. Higher minimum wage means companies can hire fewer people.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Everyone wants more money. The point is, some jobs, and / or some people, aren't worth it. There's a local grocery chain that hires slightly mentally handicapped people to bag groceries, and I'm sure they're getting the minimum wage. But that's charity, because they can't work fast enough to deserve it - the cashiers almost invariably help them out. Without minimum wage laws, a lot more of these people could be hired, because they could actually earn what they're making.

    As far as Cuba goes, the same freedoms that mean that our minimum wage workers are far better off than nearly every Cuban are the reason why we can earn so much more than them.

    As far as the travel comment, it might be a good thing to note those laws in an article, lest tourists get thrown in jail inadvertantly. In 2002 in Britain, I said "Paki" (which I meant to be short for "Pakistani"), only to be told that it was considered a very derogatory term for all South Asains over there - the equivalent of "sandni**er" over here.

    Also, don't pretend there are no differences between the speech laws of Cuba or China and those of Western Europe. While I don't agree with any of them, the fact that you can shout "down with (insert leader name here)" in any Western European country and you will not be detained for the content of your speech. Try that in China.

  • ||

    I find this whole idea totally disgusting. BP is right--any attempt to defend this is pathetic.

    Note, too, that the poverty and oppression is blamed on the trade embargo, which is all sorts of nonsense. Plenty of countries do business with Cuba, after all. I don't think anyone is embargoing Haiti, which is a clusterfuck for different reasons.

  • zoltan||

    I wish to see the natives "unspoilt" by liberty, freedom, and wealth, too. Here I come, Myanmar!

  • ||

    Well, I can go to Italy and see some lovely sites without having the entire population oppressed to do so. And they have all of that commercial stuff.

  • Fluffy||

    ...many people when they go on vacation do not want to hang out at strip malls and McDonalds, they want to see these quaint "unspoiled" areas.

    Right. So you're basically admitting that tourists enjoy to see suffering because of its novelty value.

    You realize, of course, that this is one step above gladiatorial games? Maybe only a half-step?

    "Oh, how picturesque it is to see all this suffering! How different from our own boring lives! Quick, honey, let's masturbate while that poor man struggles in the sun to irrigate his field with that shadduf! Feed me a grape, quick!"

    I hate the big-box automobile culture, too, but that doesn't mean I want to celebrate the fact that other people live in undeveloped conditions so I can travel that and be Marie Antoinette as a shepherdess.

    Re-read the last 20 pages of Brave New World and tell me that's not our modern tourism culture.

  • ||

    What have you got against gladitorial games?

  • ||

    Vanya, do you like movies about gladiators?

  • ||

    I do. And of course gladitorial games are an "authentic" part of the Italian/Mediterranean cultural experience that was trampled by the cultural imperialism of Christians. Maybe Playboy could lobby to bring them back.

  • a||

    Orlando Zapata Tamayo, an imprisoned opponent of the regime, has died on hunger strike.

    There's just something about Cuba and asymmetric warfare.

  • ManikMonkee||

    just heard that

    what absolute bastards eh

  • ||

    Poverty Tourism. It's the new, new, thing.

    If it's not full of donkey or mule drawn carts, quaintly corrupt police officers, terrified locals slipping you messages on toilet paper, and sinister government informant dogging your steps, then it's just not "authentic".

  • ||

    So you've been to Maricopa County.

  • I bet they do crafts too||

    Why do libertarians bitch about that place? They get to wear pink and the camping looks like fun.

  • zoltan||

    Speaking of pornograph, Ronald Reagan's Justice Department gave this one crazy bitch $700,000 to "study" pornography. Her conclusion: police should be required to collect evidence of pornography consumption at any crime scene.

  • MJ||

    Considering that Hefner's most rabid, kiss ass fan is Bill Maher, is it any surprise that Playboy has similar relationship to libertarianism?

  • ||

    Was listening to NPR some time back (Yeah, I know: bad habit) and a left commentator was talking about driving down the main drag in Juarez and grumbling about all the U.S.-based franchises lining the road. 'This is Havana, a year after the Old Man dies,' he says to his wife (who is Cuban-born but a lot less Left than he is, apparently). And she answers: 'You say that like it's a bad thing.'

  • Abdul||

    There is something to be said for visiting a place before it inevitably and irrevocably changes. I missed a narrow window to visit Hong Kong while it was still under British control and always regretted it.

    That said, Cuba will be a much happier place once the Castro brothers go to that collective farm in the next world.

  • Fluffy||

    It's one thing to comment on the novelty of the situation. It's a whole 'nother thing to lament its passing at the hands of forces that largely embody liberty for the common man and wish that it would stay the same for your own sake, not for the people who actually have to live in it.

    It's just plain fucking evil.

    This has to be repeated as often as possible.

    I used to think that the evil [and yes, let's use that word] premise behind "tourism of the authentic" was subconscious. I used to think that people enjoyed the fact that they could visit parts of the world that were undeveloped, but never actually articulated to themselves the thought that lack of development was a good thing because it allowed them to indulge their taste for the picturesque.

    But now the cat is out of the bag.

    Now this evil thought is actually spoken aloud without shame.

    And once again, it's another instance where Rand's caricatures came true. I used to thank James Taggart was a poorly-written character, because no one is actually overtly "anti-life" [in the sense Rand meant]. But now I have been proven wrong. There are people who hate their own lives and their own culture so much that they are willing to exult in seeing other people held in poverty and bondage so that they can escape their own lives and culture on a two-week vacation.

    Stop and consider that for a few moments. Try to taste the vicious and despicable full flavor of that thought.

  • ||

    You are really overselling it. Tony up above is right. Basically people want to feel special. It's not so much that these lefties hate America, it's that when they go to Cuba they immediately climb 10 ranks in the social pecking order. Expats I've known who live in Japan or Russia aren't that different - a big part of the attraction is becoming a somebody just by showing up. If you go to Italy you're just another tourist. If you visit an out of the way Cuban fishing village you're an instant celebrity. Visiting Somalia doesn't work that way because you're likely to get killed. (However, people who work for NGOs in places like Somalia probably do get that same thrill). It's actually not all that different from the drive that leads a lot of people to join the military or the police. Put on a uniform and get instant status. None of this has any relation to Taggart. Rand was an Asperger sufferer who had very little insight into human status games.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I wish the Cuban people a happy, prosperous future with a Starbucks on every corner. I hope it becomes so free that, come the collapse of America, my family and I can flee there and buy a little McDonalds franchise of our own.
    That said, I agree that, from a strictly tourist standpoint, Cuba is probably more "interesting" now that it will be on that glorious day.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    ...than it will be...

  • ||

    I have been to Cuba numerous times in the last few years and it is hardly what posters claim it is. I always stay
    in "casas particulares" or family homes for $20-30 a night. The people aren't oppressed and the vast majority
    support Castro.There are no homeless, little crime,high literacy,free healthcare and education.Millions from around the world visit there and a good proportion stay with families.These families speak openly about their concerns with the government. If it weren't for the embargo the Cuban people would have a better life so don't blame it all on Castro. Before spouting off about Cuba go see it yourself. I guarantee it is not what the Miami Mafia claims it is like. The thing the has tourists going to Cuba and and returning is the Cuban people who are quite different from those in Miami. Viva Cuba

  • Spoonman||

    Are you saying the Cuban government does not take political prisoners?

  • ||

    And then Robert stops by to demonstrate the banality of evil.

    Really now, if it's everything that you say it is, why aren't you living there, rather than playing totalitarian tourist?

  • Abdul||

    Of course there's little crime. Castro won't allow competition! Zing!

    I have no doubt that many Cubans are content with the status quo, but only because it's all they've ever known.

    But seriously, how do you account for all these happy people jumping in home-made rafts and swimming for Florida if life is so hunky-dory there? About how any Cuban delegation leaving the island has a bunch of defectors?

    And as far as oppression, are Amnesty Internationl and Human rights Watch just making shit up?

  • ||

    That must be why Cuban baseball players are locked in their hotel rooms whenever they play in international tournaments in other countries.

  • alan||

    Before the dictatorship, the standard of living in Cuba rivaled a good deal of Western Europe, now they are poorer than Gautamalians. You assure us that they are mere pooches and are well groomed and taken care of by their socialist masters so I guess that makes everything okay.

  • ||

    "It's politics are still mildly libertarian"

    You might want to drop that apostrophe if you want us to take you seriously.

  • alan||

    Tourist Bureau Official: Good day to you, sir. Is everything going well, I trust?

    Tourist: Well, no.

    TBO: (very concerned) What is the problem?

    Tourist: I was just across the street at the samba club.

    TBO: Yes?

    Tourist: The guitarist did a solo clearly influenced by Al DiMeola.

    TBO (horrrified look on his face): son of a bitch.

    Tourist: That 70s Fusion stuff just killed the whole authentic 1950's vibe.

    TBO: I assure you these counter revolutionary activities will be harshly dealt with. You have my word on it, and sincere apologies.

    Tourist: No, it is I who think you. In a crass world of consumerism, people like you who care make all the difference.

  • ||

    Yes,Cuba has political prisoners but many were on the US payroll like the USAID worker presently imprisoned. If a Cuban came to the US to push for "regime change" they also would be arrested as would an American working for a foreign power with out declaring it. The Cubans come for economic reasons like the Haitians, except we send the Haitians back. Why wouldn't they come, they can immediately go on US welfare due to our ridiculous policy. I just love the stupid response
    of so many "if you like that country so much, why don't you go live there" I traveled and lived in 95 countries in the world. Their are many
    I loved but wouldn't want to live there.Can you claim to have seen Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic and all the Central and South American countries and be able to compare them to Cuba. I have also been in numerous countries with US supported dictators that had CIA trained "death squads" killing thousands. Alan, your comment about that Cuba had a standard of living rivaling Europe is a total lie that you probably got from Fontova.United Fruit and the Mafia controlled Cuba and their pawn Batista murdered thousands. Just keep reading and believing Fontova rather than going and seeing it yourself to find the truth. Just remember Fontova is a bitter old man who hasn't been there in 50 years like the rest of the Miami Mafia. He is a great role model who supports Bosch and Carriles who bombed aCuban civilian airliner killing 73 who are presently living well in Miami.
    Well Town Hallers keep dumbing yourself
    down with Fontova's lies.

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