The Spider Weaves at an Unspectacular Pace

Erasmo Calzadilla

The storming of the Bastille. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — This post is motivated by a recent article in which Samuel Farber says the single-party system is the main obstacle to the genuine democratization of Cuban society.

In essence, I don’t agree with the central thesis of his article, however Farber himself provides another approach to understanding the issue.

He writes:

“For those of us who support the establishment of a self-managed socialism, it is necessary to clearly understand that the political monopoly of the Cuban Communist Party is not going to be abolished automatically, and that only a democratic movement from below can achieve that goal.

“Worker self-management requires a degree of motivation and involvement on the part of urban and rural workers that does not exist in a society whose dire economic situation has strengthened the spirit of “resolver” (to solve basic needs) – including the wish to emigrate – thus creating powerful incentives for the efforts of the individual on behalf of herself and her family, but not on behalf of the collectivity as such.”

The biggest problem I see in the bulk of the proposals for change inspired from the left is that the social beings capable of implementing them still haven’t been born. There will always be crazy activists willing to found a socialist cooperative or sacrifice themselves in battling the single-party system, but up until now that vanguard bloc has not materialized.

It’s not that the bases exist but that they’re immature, unorganized and fighting between themselves. No – it’s that they simply don’t exist. This was already said by Farber himself.

Viewed in this manner, the matter takes on a socio-cultural or anthropological perspective, and the issue of a single party as the main obstacle to the advent of democracy starts to lose its luster, fade and dissolve.

Reasoning would suggest that with the monopoly of the PCC eliminated and a “free market” installed, this would be a breeding ground for the outbreak of a social movement or a workers’ movement from below.

It’s clear that this is demented reasoning, because who right now is going to bring down the super-powerful monopoly of the PCC? Perhaps another exile invasion orchestrated by the CIA? Or perhaps those same social bases that require the collapse of the PCC-cracy in order to be born?

This is why I think, for now, that the job must be done slowly, from below. Not to create leftists or “new men” or underground cells, but to help with the emergence of a strong social, economic and cultural fabric, preferably independent of other monopolies that are worse than the PCC.

From this point of view, it could be that those who are the most revolutionary force right now are the self-employed workers.

In another post I said this is the work of an ant, but now I think it’s that of a spider. Spiders are averse to the totalitarianism of the ant colony and they like loneliness, yet their intersecting webs cover the entire forest.

Or we could also say that this work is that of a tree, in the sense of growing slowly, sinking roots that are interwoven with other beings, and establishing alliances with all the other creatures that live in the forest…with all those other creatures, except the one that wields a chainsaw.

If on some warm spring night we were to engage in the heroic storming of the Bastille (the Central Committee), with some courageous lady encouraging us valiant adversaries, another monopoly would take its place the next morning.

That’s how I look at it.


6 thoughts on “The Spider Weaves at an Unspectacular Pace

  • Tweaking the margins of the system, while keeping the essential elements of single party dictatorship in place, will not save the Cuban regime from it’s inevitable fall. The internal political and economic contradictions are too great to survive. The system cannot survive as it is, yet it cannot transform itself into anything that can function.

    A brief analysis of the Cuban predicament from the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy:

    “Cuba’s abysmal worker productivity seems to have led to an overvaluation of the exchange rate.
    Slowly barter trade had replaced commercial trade; whereas it was only 40 percent of Cuba’s
    external trade ten years ago, it is now 60 percent. This hardly helps macro efficiency. Corruption
    seems to have increased with the augmented price distortions–dual exchange rate, favoritism shown
    those with rich relatives, only partly free markets–and has led to friction (a polite word; it includes
    confiscation and jailings) with foreign investors; foreign investment flows are falling, not rising.”

    “Then there is the demographic “time-bomb.” Cuba’s population is now the oldest in the hemisphere and is projected to continue to age. Falling birth rates–partly a result of high abortion rates–and long life expectancy mean not only that the population has not grown over the past five years, but that the elderly are slowly replacing youths. The work force has now begun to drop in absolute numbers; there are now fewer workers to support more retirees.”

  • Mankind make History at the same time as History make Mankind. This sound a bit crazy but in the end that’s about it! 🙂 I think Erasmo goes towards in that direction, and so do I.

  • Does Man make History? or does History make Man? I’d say you tend towards the latter, Erasmo! If we wait for “objective conditions” to evolve, then the right leaders will step forward, and–!viola!–The Revolution! On the other hand, I am of a different frame of mind. Incidentally, the illustration of the storming of the Bastille which accompanied your article evoked some different fantasies for me: If only Robespierre, St. Just and Cluthon had not been overthrown! If only they had been allowed to finish their task of rooting out the traitors and purifying the Revolution! If only…..

  • Ägain, great response, Grady.

    But wait, Erasmo HAS encouraged people to take action by…getting high on mushrooms?

    Back to work…

  • The individuals and movement to make necessary and correct changes in the Cuban status quo, Erasmo, are not organized and of political consequence yet, because thinkers like you have not developed and put forward a political program for the future reformed socialist republic.

    How are Cuban people supposed to get together and work for effective change, if those capable of laying out a plan of reform, like you, continue to sit on your backsides and prattle about the absence of the people needed to make changes?

    It’s the same here in the US. The people are backward because the Left is backward. Everyone sits on his or her backside yakking about inconsequential, sectarian crap, and almost no one tries to develop a political program that can bring the people out of their backwardness and into the political arena. (The whole US Left has been sucked into the Democratic Party, and wastes precious time obsessing about the lesser of two evils, leaving the people without a sliver of transformationary leadership.)

    Our numerically inconsequential US cooperative republic movement has set forth a program for a workable socialist republic. This program could work in Cuba, as well. People like you however, who might wake up and smell the coffee, continue to write colorful fairy tales about slow spiders and trees. Best wishes.

  • The Cuban who can combine the fresh ideas necessary to ignite the long dead spirit of civic interest among Cubans AND the moxie to bring it fruition must be Cuban-born and free of real or implied influence from US Cubans and others. That Cuban is no doubt alive today in Cuba. Likely an intellectual who by failure of the socialist revolution is frustrated with the Castros broken promises and the daily struggle for decent food and clothing for his family. His or her leadership will hopefully trigger a relatively peaceful change in regime but that is not assured. What is certain is that despite the economic reforms and the changes in migration policy, the system is broken beyond repair. Change is inevitable.

Comments are closed.