Foreign Policy’s Editor-in-chief, MoisÃ©s NaÃm, wrote an interesting article in The Times the other day about Fidel Castro’s blog. While the article delves into the political and economic future of Cuba, which interested me as a writer and student, there is perhaps a different angle to the story that interested me as a blogger. It allowed me to wonder whether what blogger’s don’t say/mention on their blogs can be just as telling about what they do say/mention on their blogs.
Maybe there are lessons in blogging to be learned from soon-to-be ex-Comandante, Fidel Castro:
About a year ago Fidel Castro started blogging. Every week or so he posted his â€œReflections of the Commander in Chiefâ€. While not strictly a blog, in his internet musings â€œEl Comandanteâ€ does what bloggers do: he comments on the news, chastises enemies (Bush, Aznar), extols friends (Hugo!) or rambles on subjects he cares about (sport and politics).
On Tuesday his most recent post, which as usual was also published in Granma, Cuba’s leading newspaper, was a bit different: â€œI will neither aspire to nor will I accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor will I accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chiefâ€, Castro wrote. Not many bloggers make history with their early morning postings. Moreover, in this history-making post El Comandante did reassure his readers that while he was relinquishing power they should not worry: he was keeping his blog. He would just change its name to â€œReflections of El CompaÃ±ero Fidelâ€.
Bloggers know that one of the risks is inadvertently to expose too much about themselves. And Fidel was not immune: he too revealed a lot in his postings, often through omission. Indeed, his postings are as informative for what they skip as for what they include.
In Fidel’s blog, for example, RaÃºl Castro was never mentioned. It was only last Tuesday, after months of voluminous blogging, that Fidel felt the need to refer to RaÃºl, who happened to be his younger brother, the acting president, head of the armed forces and his rumoured successor. Even then Fidel only mentions his brother to emphasise that when he had to hand over power to him: â€œRaÃºl… who is also the head of the armed forces thanks to his own merits [my emphasis] as well as other party and state leaders had been reluctant to see me go from my positions, despite my frail health.â€
RaÃºl’s invisibility in Fidel’s blog is a manifestation of the secretive power struggle to define Cuba’s future… [source]
Very interesting! Do you have any more info regarding this power struggle Nas, I was always inder the impression that Raul was another face for â€œEl Comandanteâ€ Fidel.
Markus: i remember reading about it in an op-ed in the guradian over a year ago but i couldn’t find it. there’s this though:
I didn’t realize that Fidel had a blog– I am going to have give this one a read. 🙂
Blogging always seems like a risk, no matter what you write or what you don’t write. If you write something, it goes on record and the whole world can see it–which is unfortunate if the information is inaccurate, your opinions change, or you decide later that you would rather not have shared. If you don’t write something, people are free to assume whatever they’d like. On the other hand, it’s not on the record, and there’s no real proof. Re: the Fidel blog, hindsight is 20/20. If Fidel hadn’t resigned, would people have read this deep into the omission of Raul from his blog? Probably not, and even if they did, there would have been no information to back it up.
My attitude toward blogging was fairly cavalier when I started my own blog, and it largely continues to be so, though I am really quite careful about anything I post related to contacts or my own research. I think I can afford to be cavalier because I don’t have much at stake– no personal or professional secrets or machinations. When I get a real job, the nature of my blog will probably have to change. And if I were a world leader I surely wouldn’t keep one!
I think something that is more revealing with regards to bloggers is frequency of posting. A couple of my favorites have puttered out recently for personal or professional reasons, and I often do it myself.