Dmitri Prieto

May Day 2010 in Havana

The day after May Day, also the day of the second round of the municipal elections, I saw Michael Moore’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story.  As far as I know, this was the second time this documentary was shown on Cuban TV.  I watched it again to refresh myself on some of the information and to enjoy the jazz version of The International, which was played at the end of the film.

The documentary appeared on La Mesa Redonda (The Round Table), a national television program that emerged as a part of the “Battle of Ideas” campaign during the months that the demand went out for the return of young Elian Gonzalez, who was being held by relatives in the US against the wishes of his father here in Cuba.

The Mesa Redonda usually doesn’t present debate; instead it presents a succession of explanations given by specialists in line with a previously developed script on international issues, though a few shows have dealt with occurrences in Cuba.  On occasions the network uses the Mesa Redonda’s time slot to show documentaries on politically significant issues.

I’m glad that in the middle of Moore’s masterful and amusing demonstration of today’s disastrous capitalist crisis (comparing it to the good times in which his parents lived), Moore inserted sequences on alternatives to the current bourgeois system.  He included images of buildings taken over by their residents after being evicted by banks, factories re-occupied by workers, and companies that are self-managed cooperatively by their workers.

It is fantastic that exactly one day after May Day 2010, when a group of comrades went to march in Havana’s Revolution Square with slogans against the bureaucracy and in support of the leading role of workers, there appeared images on Cuban TV of US factories that are operated without the need for bureaucrats or capitalists.

“Socialism is Democracy – Dump the Bureaucracy!” - photo: Jimmy Roque Martínez

It was amazing to see the faces of those workers, who are also owners of their economic destinies and who control production and life at their workplaces.  For me, the best part of Moore’s documentary is where people speak about their own experiences.

Obviously, self-management —as emancipatory and equitable as it may be— doesn’t solve the problem at more than a micro level, since the global capitalist system continues to exist, imposing its laws and logic on the entire planet.  Nonetheless, it’s comforting to learn about experiments that can be the first fruits of a future society that is more just and democratic.

It would be great to participate in an experiment like that in Cuba.  I believe that the Cuban people —with the sympathies that characterizes us and with the experiences of solidarity we possess— are ready to initiate the journey along the path of cooperative self-management of workplaces.  Let’s hope that the reforms that the general secretary of the Confederation of Cuban Trade Unions referred to in his May Day address have something to do with that.

In any case, I’m fully aware that the words “self-management” and “cooperative” are increasingly heard in diverse Cuban environments, thanks basically to the activism of a handful of determined citizens.  I feel warmth in my heart when realizing that many people in Cuba consider the democratization of the economy a worthy cause to work and struggle for.

Like Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The aftermath of International Workers Day is a good moment to begin rocking the boat…perhaps to the beat of The International, with a jazz rhythm.  This would remind us of Chicago’s Haymarket Square martyrs and the millions of proletarians who honored their memory on May 1, including the Cuban activists who marched through Revolution Square to the rhythm of congas, samba and rumba.

It’s a shame that many Cuban television viewers find the Mesa Redonda boring and that because of this they missed Michael Moore’s satire concerning the recent history of “Yankee capitalism.”  Nor did they see the flashes of what could be a democratic, socialist and cooperatively organized society.  This is a future that I believe is valid not only for the United States but also for other societies – including ours.


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.

24 thoughts on “Michael Moore on Cuba TV

  • Indeed, truth is always revolutionary. But sometimes it’s difficult to know who’s speaking the truth…

    Also, I’d like to thank Julio for adding up my arguments with his own’s. But he still hasn’t replied me why, in another board here on HT (http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=23937), he suddenly changed the way he writes and talked as an US-born citizen in one of ‘his’ commentaries (http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=23937#comment-7270). Wonder why.

  • I think SICKO was Michael Moore’s best film – many discussions of the small section on the (far superior) Cuban health system miss the fact that this was an intimate and detailed indictment of the US health system. That is where it is most powerful.

  • Well said Dmitri!
    “TRUTH is always REVOLUTIONARY”.

    Yes, I was referring to SICKO and I have not seen the documentary by Michael Moore you are referring. My take is it is hard for me to believe or even see anything with his name attached since I know he had lied before. So he is not a credible source to me. He usually exaggerates things.
    I thought I was worth mentioning my point of view. He may or may not be telling lies about this other documentary. I really do not know. But because of the precedent. Anything he says is suspect.
    Glad to know you guys can read our comments.
    Best regards to all of you.

  • Julio:

    I haven’t seen SICKO, which I suppose is the film you’re mentioning, where MM praises the Cuban Health System. We know much better how our health system really is than MM does, I hope.

    What I’m writing about in my post is the self-management experiences carried out by some American workers’ co-ops, which really fascinated me. I would be happy if you could tell us whether the info Moore provides about such experiences is a “lie” as well.

    The usual praise of “Cuban realities” by the worldwide left isn’t a news at all.
    Regarding myself, I just follow Antonio Gramsci: “TRUTH is always REVOLUTIONARY”.

    Cheers,
    Dmitri.

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