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.
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.