Contribution to the Debate between Cuban Anarchists and Democrats

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Cyberspace has been the stage of a bitter debate between Cuban anarchists and democrats for some time now.

I’ve managed to keep my eye on the ball as it flies from one end of the court to the other from time to time, but, when the “battle of ideas” gets too intense and convoluted, it makes my head spin and I lose track of the match.

The last move I’m aware of is an article by Marcelo Liberato Salines, where this author, on the basis of his anarchist ideas, declares himself “anti-democratic.” Reading his article, I decided to write this well-intentioned post.

Liberato rants about democracy. My question is: which one? There isn’t a single democratic model but a family of relatives that is not without illegitimate children. From what the author writes, I have the impression the shots are aimed at bourgeois democracy, which has become a mechanism for legitimating plutocratic domination.

Let us assume for a moment that sincere democrats, like anarchists, reject bourgeois democracy as a false democracy. Let us also suppose that both anarchists and democrats sympathize with direct democracy. The bone of contention, I assume, would be representative democracy.

Are bourgeois and representative democracies the same thing? They look the same, but they actually aren’t. We could regard the former as a corrupt variant of the latter. It is a very common form of corruption, true, but by no means inevitable.

Representative democracy is fruit of a delicate equilibrium and, as such, is often riddled with difficulties. We cannot but ask ourselves, however, whether a real society, given its diversity and complexity, could do without it.

The tense relationship that exists between unity and diversity, is there any way to get around such a demon?

Let us agree, at least, that these are difficult questions which, as such, call for broad, constructive and cordial debate.

To conclude, folks, I know that there are irreconcilable differences between sincere anarchists and democrats. But I also know there are common interests and goals that would profit from a rapprochement, at least a strategic one.

To confront the destructive power of Capital (and its exponential growth), it would be advisable to stick together for the time being, even if, further down the road, we start biting each other’s flesh off.

By the way, a friend of mine says that condensed milk and orange juice (a blend of anarchism and democracy) is a killer combination: