The Conscience of Worms and the Cowardice of Lions: Cuban Politics and Culture in an American Context

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The Conscience of Worms and the Cowardice of Lions: Cuban Politics and Culture in an American Context

By Irving Louis Horowitz
Transaction Publishers, 1993
81 pp. $24.95
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Professor Horowitz could hardly be more sparse in his prose or pointed in his opinions. His provocatively entitled booklet is based on a series of lectures delivered to a presumably friendly audience at the University of Miami. It is intended as a tribute to those Cubans and Cuban-American scholars who keep alive the antitotalitarian spirit. He roundly castigates American academics for their blindness and hostility to those he sees as the friends of freedom. But it is not clear whether he believes by the "cowardice of lions" that the United States should have sought to overthrow Castro more actively than it did (and at what cost), and there is little here that might help define U.S. policy toward a post-Castro Cuba, which he sees as imminent. Given Professor Horowitz's long and distinguished engagement in Cuban affairs, his scholarship and the audience to which he was addressing himself, this is an opportunity lost.

Professor Horowitz argues convincingly that Castro, and by extension the Cuban revolution, has had a major influence on U.S. scholarship. Yet he reduces the bitter academic divisions about Cuba to a dispute among analysts, pundits and policymakers of Jewish origin (both Cubans and Americans). "Cuba provides a painful example," he writes, "of a continuing pattern: one group of American social scientists of Jewish extraction taking a strong leadership role in an effort to sanitize and sanctify yet another dictator promising moral redemption and economic rectification, and another group attempting to make plain the disastrous consequences for democratic outcomes of such a dictatorship." Curiously, he fails to include Abraham Lowenthal in his list, perhaps the most influential of the "dialogistas" at the intersection between the academy and policymakers over the past fifteen years. And this is, in any case, a myopic view based only on a checklist of the authors included in his own anthology, Cuban Communism. Professor Horowitz's observations on the linkage of ideology, scholarship and policy prescriptions, however, are worth pondering.

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