Blood and Sacrifice in the Sixties

To understand this period and what comes after, it is necessary to analyze the emotional ties with the revolution.5 To fully comprehend the events of the eighties and nineties, one must examine the political rhetoric of the sixties; symbolically speaking, some of the political zeal and utopianism of the sixties was reenacted in the eighties, although most of it died in the late nineties and early 2000s. This is, in a nutshell, the cultural history of utopianism that fluctuates throughout the whole period. Desiderio Navarro argues that there is an attempt to erase the memory of preexisting intellectual practices during the revolution, and that the critical spaces of the sixties were erased in the seventies. He thus argues, “It is not by chance, then, that the 1980s critical interventions struggled to rescue the memory of their 1960s precedents as an interrupted tradition” (Navarro 2002, 198). This insight leads us to ask the question: What were the symbolic differences between metaphors of soil, blood, sacrifice, and heroism that appear in the sixties and that then resurface in the eighties and nineties? What do they tell us about the political unconscious and the libidinal economies of these years? How do they inform our reading of the Cuban Revolution’s legacy for the future to come?

In order to explain the current impasse of state ideology, the book begins with an analysis of the sixties revolutionary imaginary, specifically as it pertains to the subjectivity of war and intellectual heroes (Ernesto Guevara’s New Man). I analyze this trope as a signifier at three different levels that determine each other: as national subjectivity of Cubanness (heroism and violence), as a rhetorical ethos (melodrama), and as a form of affect (melancholy). The same analytical structure can be found in each chapter. At the first level I explain the essentialist nature of revolutionary subjectivity; at the second, I explore the relationship between aesthetic representation and politics; and at the third, I analyze their affective reflection of the country’s unconscious imaginary.

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