Erasmo Calzadilla

Havana photo by Caridad

Someone named Greg commented in Havana Times that even though I have the capacity to be constructive, all I do is criticize and de-construct.  I thank Greg for his heeding; I’ll keep that in mind.  This also allows me to express my idea of how to take better aim for the betterment of things here in Cuba.

What I’m suggesting —concretely— is popular rule and workers ownership of their workplaces.

Let me explain…

In Cuba, it’s the Communist Party that governs at the local level, not the representatives of the people.  It is no less certain that institutions created for popular government exist and are sometimes effective, but only on some precise matters.  The representatives true role however, in my point of view, is to cover with the dress of democracy a mechanism that has nothing to do with being democratic.

Similarly, in workplaces, it is the respective administration and party cell that rule.  The workers are supposedly represented by the union, which can serve to protect them from irregularities and abuse, but these are not for exercising workers control over the means of production.  The workers are subordinate to a boss selected from above in a hierarchical structure that is neither democratic nor socialist.

As a consequence, neither in communities nor in workplaces are people really represented, which in turn generates such a level of apathy and alienation that everything ends up functioning haphazardly.  The flip side of a system like this is obviously crime – the two are indissolubly united.

For a change to occur, what is necessary is the awakening of mass consciousness, among other things.  People must gain trust in themselves and want to change things, take the reins of their lives and send their patriarchs far away.  The maturation of this lies at the end of an arduous and time-consuming path, as does anything that depends on popular imagination.

It is precisely this —the awakening of consciousness, the desire for freedom, for autonomy and responsibility— that I attempted to do as a philosophy professor from the classroom and on the university campus during my off-hours with students.  This, however, cost my being fired from my job, just like has happened to so many others for more or less the same reason.

But Greg, we’re not about to throw in the towel; We continue struggling here.  I hope that you, as the intelligent and sensitive person that you appear to be, try to understand and support us as much as possible.

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

12 thoughts on “Criticize and Criticize, Proposing Nothing

  • June 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Hello Grady,

    You say your socialist party aim for the 2020 national elections to assume state power. I have a question: suppose you win. How will your movement deal with the Pentagon’s warmongers?

  • June 24, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    It’s great to know that some people are paying attention. The exchange going on under Erasmo’s article is the kind of thing that needs to go on repeatedly.

    I apparently mistook the reference to “Greg” as a mis-remembering of my name “Grady.” I apologize.

    The key question in this discussion is: “What is the program for a workable form of socialism?” This is the question that interests me, and the question that I believe is of interest to modern humanity.

    So, what’s the answer?

    Ours is just what was said previously: “Direct ownership of the workplace by those who actually do the work, which means employee-owned cooperative corporations on the Mondragon, Spain model for most major industry and commerce–with large chunks of non-controlling, ‘preferred’ stock owned by the state for its necessary revenues–plus pluralistic ownership of smaller enterprise–farms, ranches, restaurants, repair shop, etc.–by individuals and families.”

    This formula for a workable socialist cooperative republic is based on centuries of worker-owned cooperative experience, most prominently the so-called Mondragon cooperatives of the Basque region of Spain. Anyone who ignores the success of these is not dealing with reality.

    I’ve read Michael Lebowitz’s silly book Build It Now. His assertion that worker-owned cooperatives are capitalistic and do not work is utterly false. A better understanding of the problems and shortcomings of Yugoslavian self-management under a Stalinist regime can be had through George R. Melnyk’s 1985 book The Search for Community: From Utopia to a Cooperative Society.

    Employee-owned cooperatives are business enterprises. Under a capitalist regime, as business enterprises, they face all sorts of pressures and negative influences. If a cooperative republican state it not achieved by a vanguard party–transforming the economy and society along socialist lines–then these cooperatives can be re-absorbed into the capitalist system. Such cooperatives have never reached their transformational potential because the vanguard elements have shunned them, and these elements have been diverted into useless sectarianism by subversive mole ideology.

    To Julio de la Yncera: There is a good deal of truth in what you say, and I’ve taken note of your various comments. We believe that truly free enterprise–cooperative socialism, not capitalism–is the answer to freedom for the peoples of the world, and for saving civilization from the ecological devastation of world monopoly capitalism. If you believe in truly free enterprise, the market and private property righs, and still wish to be a patriot to your country and to humanity, then embrace the new program for socialism detailed herein.

    To Greg Dean: Good luck with your Parecon scheme. I think it’s fantasy, but I could be wrong.

  • June 24, 2010 at 4:27 am

    You can read Parecon here: . Or search for talks by Michael Albert on you tube. Also you can read a speech he made to a conference in Venezuela.
    Also, Julio de la Yncera according to your writing on exchange value, you should read Helen Yaffe’ Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution. That book is hard to find, but worth it, Che Guevara solved the riddle you’re referring to in law of value and exchange value. The 3rd volume of Capital or Marx’ Poverty of Philosophy would also be illuminating to you.

  • June 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm


    “Please, everyone read Participatory Economics: Life After Capitalism… ”

    Where do we read that?


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