Between the Revolution & the Wall (Part 2)

Dmitri Prieto

In part one, I mentioned that on Nov. 7th a gathering took place to reflect on two important events in history; one, the Nov. 7, 1917 Russian Revolution and the other, the Nov. 9, 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.

Havana clothes lines.  Photo: Caridad
Havana clothes lines. Photo: Caridad

We presented several books, beginning with the first three volumes of the “Cuadernos de Pensamiento Critico” (Notebooks of Critical Thought) published by the Centro Ruth Publishers, among which the most recent volume is dedicated to the 50 years of Cuba’s revolutionary process.

Notably, in the first two volumes, there appeared -for the first time in Cuba- writings by Kropotkin, Castoriadis and Holloway: authors who are almost unknown by people here.  These will be of great help in understanding what happened with “really existing socialism” in Europe and will aid in actions in support of another Cuba and another possible world.

Other writings within those volumes are equally profound, controversial and diverse.

We also presented the first part of “La politica cultural del periodo revolucionario: memoria y reflexión” (Cultural Policy in the Revolutionary Period: Memories and Reflection), a recent book with writings on the “Gray Period” of the history of socialist Cuba (1971-1976, or 1971-1986 for others), published on the initiative of Navarrese Desiderio.

Few copies of those books were ever printed, though I believe they should be in every university classroom and in each municipal library. Through their presentations, however, the “Revolution Beyond the Walls” meeting was an excellent opportunity to extend bridges between young Cubans and the imaginations of radical thinkers.  A revolution is only worth something if it’s capable of self-criticism (defending itself against its own demons).

We then exchanged ideas with Swiss-German writer Darja Stocker, author of the play “Nacidos con Ira” (Born with Anger), which deals with the fate of the revolutionary ideas of three generations, and which was presented not long ago at the Havana International Theater Festival. Darja himself also participated in the previous day’s March Against Violence,” on November 6.

We discussed how different generations lived and experienced revolution, utopia and hope. Also participating in the dialogue were activists involved with diverse cultural projects. Their initiatives are dedicated to promoting issues such as nonviolence, ecology and peace, or organizing actions like the Day of Historical Decolonization (and the International Conference on Digital Media and Culture which this December will delve into the sensitive issue of the Internet in Cuba.

In Cuba we use the word “catharsis” when people use a public or academic setting to “let lose” their most deep-rooted worries, generally without expecting this to lead to any real solution.  It doesn’t seem fair to me that any such “catharsis” is seen as an encumbrance; rather, it’s a necessary exercise in the freedom of speech.

Notwithstanding, “Revolution Beyond the Walls” was not an exercise in “catharsis,” but its opposite: Political creation. I believe that the alternative of “catharsis” is not the “deepening of debate” (even when this would be unquestionably useful in all senses), but political creation, the development and maturing of institutions of unified action and leadership. Genuine dialogue can be a beginning of this development. To me, the November 6 “March Against Violence” and the November 7 “Revolution Beyond the Walls” meeting demonstrate that.

One thought on “Between the Revolution & the Wall (Part 2)

  • Dmitri, I still can’t quite figure out what it is that you are advocating. What exactly is it that you feel Cuba ought to do politically and economically?

    I suppose what I’m asking is, “What is your program?”

    For example, one concrete thing that I’ve though might be a good thing for the Cuban Party and government to do is to send a high-level commission over to Spain to study the Mondragon Cooperative Complex. The objective would be to see if the successful worker-owned industrial cooperatives might offer Cuba economic mechanisms that could work under socialism. This proposal may or may not be a good idea, but at least it’s a concrete programmatic proposal.

    Do you have any concrete proposals for the Party and government? If so, I thing everyone reading HT would be interested in hearing them.

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