Irina Echarry

Havana Photo: Caridad

When we’re little, they make us believe that somebody can pull candy out of our ears, or that the girl with braids who sat down in the desk up front didn’t come to the school because her daddy had traveled to heaven, or that your nose will grow if you lie. Those things you learn when you’re growing up.

What we don’t forgive is when our parents continue treating us like kids even after we reach a certain age and begin trying to live our own lives.  Neither de we accept that older people want to impose their laws, thoughts or bitterness on us or demonstrate the kindness they don’t possess.

Something similar is happening right now here in Cuba.

The benign State is expressing itself and it’s necessary to applaud its magnanimity.  It has had the kindness to listen to complaints from the Catholic Church (though it hasn’t wanted to pay attention to those from other Cubans); it paid attention to foreigners who served as mediators; and even recognized that someone was willing to die, did not want this, and also kept in mind his health conditions.

Has the State had its ears operated on?  Now it’s no longer so deaf?  Truly, I believe that it is listening to what suits it and uses that to its benefit.

Suddenly, the same State —that has imprisoned people for writing what they think, that doesn’t recognize its political prisoners, that shows itself irreversible in its policy against dissidents— has shown signs of extreme “kindness” and has left everyone speechless.

The wives of the prisoners recognized that change when they received the news of the release of 52 prisoners when they had thought only a handful would be freed.  Fariñas will quit his hunger strike (fortunately) while waiting for the promises to be satisfied.  Once free, the prisoners will be able to leave the country if they please, but beyond this, their property will be respected – something that is not done for other Cuban citizens who emigrate from the island.

Is this change because the State has turned “good” or because it recognizes its errors?  Whatever the reason, it’s difficult to believe that somebody becomes good overnight.  And if it believes that it made a mistake, why doesn’t it apologize openly?  Or could it be, like an authoritarian father, it is only interested in demonstrating its power?


Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

8 thoughts on “The Benign State

  • Sam: Thanks for responding. In your first response, please look again at your sentence. The subject seems to change in mid-sentence and the sentence therefore is muddled. Let’s try to repair the sentence to express what you may be trying to say. It reads: “that the ‘ownership of the state’ is only a socialist interim state.’

    I think it should read: “that the ‘ownership of the state’ is only ownership [of all the instruments of production] by an interim [i.e. temporary] state.

    If this re-wording is correct, let’s discuss it. It’s important. What I’ve said over and over again is that Engels and Marx stipulate, in black and white, that a future–hopefully interim or temporary–socialist state would “concentrate all the means of production” in its hands. This to me seems undeniable. The problem is that you, and grok, and Pedro Campos will not look at the stipulation and take responsibility for it. You dodge and change subjects and do everything under the sun in order not to admit or deal with what is stipulated in black and white.

    How is it possible to have a theoretical discussion with persons who will not stick to the subject at hand? It is difficult in the extreme, as I’m finding out.

    What is the subject at hand? As I understand it, given that the Soviet-type experiment in socialist construction has destroyed the socialist state almost every time, it has to do with Cuban reform to save the Revolution. Cuba is perhaps the only Soviet-type experiment left–if we don’t open the can of worms of North Korea. The subject at hand has to do with the economic formula that the socialist Cuban state has applied, and that now threatens to send it to the same demise that was suffered by the Soviet state.

    What is this economic formula? It is “concentration of all the instruments of production in the hands of the state.” (Surely you will not deny that this is the formula applied in Cuba.)

    Where did this formula come from? It came from the last two pages of the second chapter of the Communist Manifesto. (Surely you will not deny this.)

    Why will not Sam–and grok, and Pedro Campos, and every other comrade who still thinks the sun is not setting on Marxism–why will he not deal with the question at hand. Why does he weave and dodge and muddle the subject? I don’t know, but he does, and he may not even realize that he does. (Sectarians, like all those cocooned by religious or secular cults, are lost in a fog.)

    It is simple. Every socialist has to confront this theoretical question: What is the economic formula for workable socialism? I will discuss this with you into the night, but I will not follow along with the kind of brain-scrambling, subject-jumping discourse that you are laying on HT readers and me. If we’re going to debate, let’s debate the subject at hand. This subject is worth discussion because it might help critically important, sincere comrades like Pedro Campos out of the diversionary fog of absolute faith in Engels and Marx.

    There isn’t time here to address the other things you’ve broached. But that’s okay. Let’s stay with the critically important subject at hand. What is the economic formula for workable socialism, Sam? All of Cuba and all the countries of the world are waiting to know. If you have this knowledge, please tell us in plain, straight-forward language.

  • specifically, for Marx, Proudhon doesn’t escape the bubbles and bursts created by the liberal market. Nor is Proudhon sufficiently critical of the notion of money and exchange, and where money and exchange come from.

    If you want to critique marx, you should read more than just the manifesto. The manifesto, at best, is a VERY broad outline for a Communist revolution, and can be interpreted in a number of ways.

  • Grady-you’ve never responded to my response that the “ownership of the state” is only a socialist interim state, and also you don’t recognize the possibility that there are different types of states or different modes in which the state can express its ownership.

    Anyways, Marx has a whole series of critiques of Proudhon, in Kapital and in other places.

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