There is not a single thing wrong with this statement, with the exception of failing to mention that many of the Raccoon I Workout So I Can Eat Garbage Motivational shirt resisting the Cuban government are Black and Brown.The Cuban government helped end apartheid in South Africa, and has sheltered people like Assata Shakur and Eldridge Cleaver. Expecting BLM to come out against the Cuban government is ridiculous. Its better to put out a statement like this then risk splitting the movement. This hill is too complicated to die on for BLM, and I’m saying this while still fully supporting the protests against Cuba’s dictatorship.There really isn’t much evidence that economic liberalization creates overall liberalization. It was an interesting proposition put forth by people like Milton Friedman back when we didn’t have many real world examples to test that hypothesis, but by this point in time it’s pretty obvious that it was just wishful thinking and if anything you might just be normalizing authoritarianism by making these regimes richer and making our own economy more dependent on authoritarian regimes through economic interdependence.You’d think the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of trade with China would have created a golden age of democracy but instead we have Hong Kong in chains, US companies too afraid to speak out against a literal genocide in China for fear of losing money and a Russian regime that actively sabotages US democracy.
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Friedman still believed that by aiding economic liberalization you were at least pushing a Raccoon I Workout So I Can Eat Garbage Motivational shirt more in the direction of political and social liberalization, even if it wasn’t something that was necessarily inevitable. That was how he justified his work with the Pinochet regime. And it is probably generally true that economic liberalization does make people a little more free than they otherwise would be. But at this point it is clear that things like democracy and rule of law do not come as a package with economic liberalization.But to me the bigger question isn’t even an economic one but a geopolitical one. Having normalized economic relationships with bad regimes does not seem to result in a noticeable change of behavior and may end up promoting authoritarianism. This is where the Cuba stuff fits in. It would be great to help the people of Cuba but we also cannot give our blessings to the actions of the regime there, both for the sake of Cubans as well as everyone else that is watching.The really frustrating thing is that very few people say BLM or march in the streets for the movement because of this specific organization. I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of people aren’t very familiar with this specific org relative to the broader movement, for most it’s just about affirming the literal meaning of the slogan and that our country needs to do more to value Black life and combat racism (particularly when it comes to policing). But terrible statements like this from the org of the same name provides convenient fodder for enemies of the movement to cast everyone who says the slogan, participates in a protest, or calls for police reform as a communist.