Many customs have begun to get lost in recent times; others have appeared in their place. Previously it was normal to run up on people on any street corner solving the problems of the world. They’d be discussing passionately, but amicably, what was going on in distant or nearby lands.
Today I see very little of that, at least in my daily environment. Problems that are more precarious and more immediate are what concern Cubans. The former atmosphere that fueled those gatherings has gradually faded away.
Even among people who think and write about our society from positions that are similar, it’s common for them to engage in calm and instructive debate, but often this dialogue turns into ugly personal exchanges.
Therefore in this spirit, that of debating in a constructive and peaceful manner, today I am daring to critique an article published in Havana Times: “Cuba: The True Counter Revolution,” authored by a comrade who I follow closely: Pedro Campos.
I have read almost everything published by Pedro and I share many of his positions, especially regarding cooperatives as a way out of the predicament we’ve been led into by the “neo-Stalinists” (as he calls them). But there are other statements by Campos that I don’t understand, and some with which I’m in frank disagreement.
The question that was raised by an article of his and that I cannot respond to is, simply: Who are the bad guys. In other words, who is it that is impeding democracy and workers empowerment for which the Cuban people struggled even prior to 1959? Who are the ones who implanted and sustain Stalinism? In short, what I want to know is: Who are the true agents of counter-revolution that he is alluding to in the title of his work?
Campos opens with quotes from Fidel and Raul Castro affirming that the true danger faced by the revolution is the errors of revolutionaries.
Therefore are the true counter-revolutionaries the revolutionaries who commit errors? I don’t think that’s the idea, because soon after he points in the direction of another negative character on the scene: the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy is bad because:
“…they have the capacity to hold back the necessary changes…” He adds, “They are the sectarians and exclusionists who accuse all those people of being counter-revolutionaries and agents of imperialism who propose an alternative for getting us out of this stagnation into which we’ve sunk due to a half century of statist and ultra-centralized government.”
Perhaps I’m being too picky, but one thing is “the errors of the revolutionaries” and another very different thing is the existence of a bureaucracy. What connection do these two subjects have? Is it that the bureaucracy is an error of the revolutionaries? Is that what he means? I don’t think this is the idea either.
On the other hand it’s necessary to ask: Who implanted that statist and ultra-centralized government that Campos speaks of? The same bureaucracy? Perhaps here we find the solution to the initial question: “Who are the true counter-revolutionaries?”
The answer we can find later on when he affirms that the bureaucratic mentality and the obstacles placed by the functionaries are “the consequence of the collection of concepts and state-centric norms upon which the current bureaucratic and dirigiste model was established.”
That takes us back to the initial position: neither is the bureaucracy the true counter-revolutionary force. It is not self-originating; it doesn’t cause itself but is a consequence of the “collection of concepts and state-centric norms…”
To follow the logic, one has to ask themselves: Where did such concepts and state-centric norms come from? Who implanted them? I thought we were finally on the edge of the revelation; but no, the counter-revolutionaries wriggle out of our hands again because “…it’s necessary to recognize that the phenomenon has a systemic character…”
By this, does he mean that state-centrism is a process with its own life that operates by itself independently of the will or errors of someone?
This seems to be the case, because the system is not the “fault of anyone in particular, but due to the historical circumstances that emerged with the revolutionary victory of the Cuban people in 1959.” That system is also “a derivation, the consequence of a way of producing and living.”
I won’t continue passage by passage; the article is quite extensive. By the insistence and the tone with which it is mentioned, it seems that the true counter-revolutionary force is the bureaucracy (along with the neo-Stalinists).
However when Pedro Campos tries to analyze what or who is behind the bureaucracy and neo-Stalinism, we arrive at a system that is not the responsibility of anyone, but of historical questions and of our way of producing and living. All of this seems contradictory and confused to me. I don’t raise this as an attack; perhaps others can help me to understand what only I am unable to.
Now, what I’m in frank disagreement with is the flowery assessment that he makes of Fidel and Raul Castro. According to Campos, they are — along with the leadership of the party-government — those who discover the problems, those who stimulate openings that the bureaucracy then brakes, those who defend the right of Cubans to express themselves only for the bureaucracy to trample on it, etc.
He never speaks of their errors, which have been serious and have had fateful consequences for the entire nation. Nor does he mention the responsibility they have had up until now in the installation and maintenance of that state-centric and bureaucratic system (bureaucratic up to the point where they need it) that is preventing the arrival of real socialism (that of the socialization of the means of production) that Pedro and I both yearn. That’s why I consider the assessment of these two figures to be at least incomplete.
I am not saying anything more. This is my modest contribution to that work by Pedro Campos. Let’s hope it serves for something.