News of the death of former communist dictator #fidel castro has garnered the attention of many prominent figures, including two-time Green Party presidential nominee #Jill Stein. Most people reflected on the Cuban's life by pointing out the brutality and poverty caused by his policies, as well as the overall misery of the Cuban people under his rule.
Many were hopeful that his death might help to usher in a new era on the Caribbean island: one free from #communism, government tyranny, and hostility towards America. Some pointed out the irony that his death came on Black Friday, the day of robust capitalism. Jill Stein had a slightly different take, posting the following on her Twitter account:
Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire. Presente!— Dr. Jill Stein (@DrJillStein) November 27, 2016
A symbol of the struggle for justice? What "justice" could Jill Stein possibly see in the authoritarian dictator?
Shadow of empire
In this tweet, Jill Stein appears to be referring to the fact that Fidel Castro was a revolutionary, taking part in several rebellions against established governments, including the right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic, Columbia, and Cuba, which were generally pro-American. It is easy to see why Stein would be a supporter of such rebellions. Her Green Party is a far left, essentially socialist organization that holds views similar to those of the communist revolutionaries. In fact, her views are much more in line with those of Fidel Castro than she might like to admit.
Jill Stein: communist?
On the political spectrum, communism is located on the extreme left wing. Communists believe in the forced redistribution of wealth and the abolition of private property. Though rhetorically Stein does not go so far as to actually advocate for the abolition of private property (as this would relegate her to the lunatic fringe of American politics), she is outspoken in her support for increased redistribution of wealth in the form of higher taxes on the rich and the expansion of the welfare state. This philosophy is built on the exact same principle as that of communism. It holds that the state has a right to confiscate your possessions and give them to others in order to maximize "equality." All Castro did was take her position one step further, and throw in an extra ingredient: authoritarianism.
While Jill Stein undoubtedly holds most of the same economic views that Castro held, her vision of a leftist paradise is considerably less violent than Castro's. This is possible because there is more than one kind of leftism. The kind Fidel Castro advocated concentrates power in the hands of a dictator, severely restricts personal freedoms, and is often inhumane in its treatment of its citizens. This is referred to as authoritarian leftism. Jill Stein, on the other hand, supports leftism with a hint of social freedom. She supports drug legalization, for instance, and is opposed to the militarization of police. She is against the death penalty, which Fidel made extensive use of during his reign. She supports open, democratic elections, not dictatorships.
More alike than different
At the heart of both Jill Stein's and Fidel Castro's visions of leftism is the importance of the state. In order for wealth to be redistributed and equality maximized, there must be an all-powerful state to coerce people into giving up their possessions. That is Jill Stein's vision of justice, and she is correct: that is what Fidel Castro symbolized.