Alfredo Guevara: “Cuban Society Will Break Free from the Prison of the State” (II)

Dmitri Prieto

Tobacco worker. Photo: Darko Perica

Concerning the exciting statement made by Alfredo Guevara referring to “de-statization,” I think it’s important to specify a key point concerning the new changes that have now started to become a reality in Cuba.  There are many diverse ways of being anti-statist, but essentially — in a schematic manner — there are only two: the liberal-capitalist and the socialist-libertarian.

An ideological victory was won in the 1990s by the neo-liberals (who for some esoteric reason are called “neo-conservatives” in English-speaking countries, and whose representatives have been more publicized than the original ones).   Later, however, they led entire countries — such as Argentina — to economic and social collapse, while their domination led to the extreme empowerment of transnational capitalists.

Likewise, they also failed in their struggle for the “minimum level of government intervention,” as their prophet Milton Friedman recognized they were unable to reduce the number of government bureaucrats.   Notwithstanding, they remain spurious anti-statists (as is well known by anti-neoliberals fighters, who have in their bodies not only rubber bullets as evidence of “minimum” government intervention (though in Cuba — incredibly — they have partisans among the most anti-establishment elements on the right).

The libertarian socialists are much more conceptually dispersed, but they also have well-founded ideologies.  At the moment they form a wide spectrum on the left, especially through new movements and social forums, community activism, radical trade unionism, self-management and philosophical anarchists.  In Cuba they have a network of socio-cultural initiatives.

I believe that at this present time it is decisive for the Cuban people to know what form of “de-statization” is being talked about.  Is it an attempt to strengthen private companies (euphemistically described today as “self-employed work”) or to empower cooperative, community and self-managed collectives?

When will the “regulatory framework” appear that will allow workers to form cooperatives?  What will be the final fate of State-sector enterprises?  What sense does the proposal make whereby employers and employees of private companies should belong to the same union organization?

Presently none of this has been spelled out.  Therefore, as the character of “destatization” in Cuba remains undefined, it will be necessary to struggle for that definition.

In the meantime, the government reports to us on how and what basis taxes will be paid (something that most of the Cubans are not accustomed to doing), yet paying and collecting taxes is the most statist action that exists.  I’m always reminded of the Beatles song “Taxman.”

Governments have historically been almost fixated on the notion of revenue, on obligatory contributions.  I don’t think that even in the most (self) recognized modern democracies that the carrying out of the “civic duty” of paying one’s taxes is a pleasant act.  Only the participative budgets of some Latin American peoples have been able to subvert that logic to some degree.

Although the Beatles were banned in Cuba in the ‘60s, Alfredo Guevara too must have heard the song “Taxman.”

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.



3 thoughts on “Alfredo Guevara: “Cuban Society Will Break Free from the Prison of the State” (II)

  • The best would be to take the best model in the world: the Nordic welfare state (quite socialist) directly to Cuba…you can ask the cubans living in Scandinavia..

    Reply
    • I agree 100% with you….. but……. It is not enough to bring a Scandinavian socialism to the Caribbean in order to have welfare……to have richness to distribute first it is necessary to create richness…… Scandinavian countries have a long history of richness creation by caring and growing a healthy capitalism shielded by a strong democracy…… socialism alone is not capable to produce welfare.

      Reply
  • Modern cooperative socialism may also be described as “state co-ownership socialism.” This new form proposes a non-tax system for socialist government revenue.

    Most significant instruments of production would be owned primarily by those who do the work on the Mondragon, Spain cooperative corporate model. All that is needed to make this sort of model socialist is for the socialist state to co-own the corporations with the worker and manager associates.

    But the state’s share of ownership would be through “preferred” stocks, meaning that the state would have no managerial responsibilities or control. The cooperative associates would distribute dividends to the government quarterly, at the same time as they distribute dividends to themselves.

    In this way there would be no taxes under this “real” form of socialism. The cooperative associates would control the workplace because they would own it.

    The Nordic welfare state suggested by Maria-Pia is outright capitalism, and the working people pay around 60% of their incomes in taxes. There are taxes, tax codes and tax bureaucracies. State co-ownership socialism by contrast would not need taxes, tax codes or tax bureaucracies.

    Reply

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