Open Doors on Cuba’s Future

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Eduardo Soñora

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 8 — In my preceding post, I made reference to this absurd episode of Cuban political history in which — not at the barrel of a canon but in a state of shock — our society constitutionally endorsed its subordination to an authority standing above it: the Cuban Communist Party (PCC).

I explained how to me this appeared to be a mistake that our generation and future ones will have to correct. In the meantime it will cost us dearly, but no more dearly than following that same decision.

That was the general idea of my post, however a group of commenters (who I thank for their participation) quickly assumed that my diatribe against partyicracy* was praise for multiparty systems.

For them I wrote this response:

My call is not for multipartyism, but for self-government generated from below, and the further from below the better.

With self-government we could choose any variation except those that close off the future to different parties and different forms of government.

The concentration of power in the state, a party or capitalists would only be another way to restrict and close the future.

Among those who commented, there was no shortage of those who tried to legitimize the PCC-cracy by invoking Marti and his effort to organize a single party, the Cuban Revolutionary Party (PRC).

Those who attempt this old argument do not take into account that:

1. Marti fought to reunite all Cubans around a single party, but he didn’t advocate banning or stigmatizing other parties or punishing those who followed them.
2. The PRC did not claim itself to be a power standing above society.
3. As the party of the nation, it represented the whole society and not just one part of it.

So that’s it for now.

* Particracy (also ‘partitocracy’, ‘partocracy’, or ‘partitocrazia’) is a de facto form of government where one or more political parties dominate the political process, rather than citizens and/or individual politicians.


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.

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7 thoughts on “Open Doors on Cuba’s Future

  • Erasmo, what you are advocating, i.e., “self-government generated from below,” is what our new movement in the United States is advocating, a modern socialist cooperative republic.

    In such a republic, working people would be the primary owners of the instruments of production, and would operate them according to sound business principles and the conditioned socialist trading market. There would be plenty of small businesses and most other enterprise would be owned by worker associates on the Mondragon model.

    The government would take part ownership of enterprise, but this would be silent, non-controlling equity participation in lieu of taxes and tax bureaucracies. Social and political democracy would flow from this democratic, bottom-up economic power.

    If this is true, then you are perhaps the first modern cooperative, state co-ownership socialist in Cuba.

  • Mark, I live in California and can address a few words to your comments. Yes, we are able to use the referendum mechanism, and this potentially is very, very good. But what happens in practice is that the real economic power in society is able to get poisoned-pen referendums on the ballot that can be bad for the people. With great monetary resources, the capitalists are able to manipulate the mass media and subvert the public good via rigged ballot initiatives.

    What is needed is direct ownership of the instruments of production and distribution by the working people. From this economic power would come social and political power.

    This is a point that Erasmo seems to be missing in his several articles. He focuses on political mechanisms, whereas he should be focusing on legal, direct ownership of enterprise by those who work and those who consume. Without direct economic ownership, social and political democracy will always be impossible. I believe that Erasmo would do better in advocating such ownership, whether cooperative-worker or small business, than in advocating an abstract political or social mechanism.

  • Self-government generated from below sounds good in theory. If it works anywhere it is at the local level of government.

    At a national level, most citizens do not have the time, the expertise, or the inclination to directly make important decisions on economic, social, environmental or foreign policy. That’s why we elect representatives to make those decisions on our behalf. If we don’t like those decisions, we replace those representatives with others who will hopefully make better decisions through periodic elections.

    I suppose a country could only allow independents to run for elected office. The likely consequence is the formation of informal voting blocs in the elected Parliament. As a voter, I prefer to know who belongs to what voting bloc before an election, not after.

    There has some countries (e.g. Switzerland) or states (e.g. California) that often use binding citizen referenda. Are decisions made by referenda better than those made by elected representatives? I would say those decisions are usually worse and polarize the electorate into yes or no camps on important decisions for which compromise is often the best solution.

  • So it’s all about the “good” vs “evil” then, huh?

  • Guys that is never going to happen, not with the Castro brothers.
    The Castro brothers are in love with the honey of power as Fidel calls it.

    I have this image of Fidel as Golum holding and not letting go his “precious” honey of power.
    Not too long ago Fidel said that power belong to his elite group.
    He never said anything about giving power to the people.

  • I agree generally but would say that because of the lack of bottom up democracy in Cuba and the way Poder Popular has been corrupted to the point that the planned democratic processes can no longer work, the United States some of the lapdogs European countries are able to make some valid criticisms of Cuba that have nothing to do with socialism but which they use to demonize socialism.

    With an economic form whose very name conjures up Stalin and the word dictatorship, it is even more necessary that Cuba get back somehow to a true bottom up democracy and worker control to counter that image and make Cuba the example for the region and the world it can be..

  • I totally get it, Erasmo, and thanks for the clarification.

    The question of whether one vanguard party should lead the socialist transformation of society is of great significance. Most significant however is the question of “what is the correct, workable strategic program of transformation?” rather than the number of leading parties–or even the democratic, bottom-up procedure you depicted today.

    What is needed in Cuba is open discussion and debate regarding this strategic program. Socialist state power is already in hand, and so dynamic economic and social experimentation, to constantly refine this program should proceed.

    If Cuba could constantly refine its strategic program, it would make rapid transformation of the world to post-capitalism a reality. Unfortunately, the strategic program implemented was and is statist, and this has led both to failure of the Cuban model and failure of the transformation in other countries.

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