Can you dissent but still support the revolution?

Havana Balcony. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, April 6 — In his most recent public speech on Sunday, President Raul Castro urged youth to make use of debate and to accept differences of opinion as a means to advance the construction of socialism.

“Fomenting frank discussion and not seeing disagreement as a problem, but the source of the best solutions. Absolute unanimity is generally fictitious and therefore harmful,” said the Cuban president.

With that in mind Havana Times asks its readers the following:

–          Is it possible to disagree with certain decisions and policies outlined by the Cuban leaders while continuing to be on the side of the Revolution?

–          Do you think the leaders in fact fear disagreement?

–          Up to what point could differences of opinion advance or reverse the Cuban effort to build socialism?

Participate in the discussion

15 thoughts on “Can you dissent but still support the revolution?

  • While there are many problems in Cuba, socialism is not one of them. While there are many problems in the US, capitalism and imperialism are two of them. How do Cubans fix the problems they didn’t cause, with the murderous US lurking in the background? There is no answer to that. As outsiders, we can help the Cubans by giving to them, with the hope that one day, the US will back off. Wish I were a genie and could blink that into existence. Cuba is a victim and reparations are well overdue. Despite that, I would prefer to live in Cuba, and give up any material benefits that come with living in the wasteful and destructive Unkind States of America.

  • ”……. I will pay it weight in gold for each regimen in the world that not uses capitalism as economical system…..
    With the exception of North Korea that is a feudal regime…… of course

  • ‘loyal’ & ‘dis-loyal’ opposition……!!!!!!!!!
    Loyal to whom??….. the only loyalty a opposition has to have is on the own people not on the object of opposition that in all cases are another political group that can even be disloyal on the own people like in the case of a tyranny that endures 50 years delivering the national richness and industries to the imperialism that simulates to fight and the international capital that helps the elite of this loyalty demanding regimen to conserve the power.
    “loyal 2 the capitalists & their system”……. I will pay it weight in gold for each regimen in the world that not uses capitalism as economical system….. capitalism is the only economical system that exist….. who dares to prove the contrary??!!!
    “simple agents of imperialism”……… it refers maybe to those that for 50 years has been destroying Cuba’s industries one after one for the benefits of the imperialism that has rebuilt quickly those industries on USA’s…

  • Well, despite the effort of people that defends some kind of socialism that never was, the true is that European, Canadian and other real socialist systems in the world created a welfare society with exceptional benefits and justice for the working class. The same can’t be said of this other “socialism” that never was that grounded in the ridiculous fallacy about bourgeois and class fight was created and death in formers Warsaw pact country…. those experiments were killed by the inefficiency and totalitarism…. the others experiments that still today dares to call itself socialism ended in a pathetic monopolistic and wild capitalism of state that together with international capital empties country’s natural resources making the own people to “collaborate” as semi slave work forced by repression…. in other words, all those experiments ended in fascism.

  • Perhaps what Granma should do is run a national “suggestion contest.” The guidelines might run something like this:
    1) In 50 (or 75 or 100) words or less, write how socialism in Cuba should reform itself, in order to make the economy more functional and the lives of the people easier.
    2) Send in your submission via letter or e-mail by June 30, 2010.
    3) The top ten submissions chosen by a panel of from the YCL, PCC, other mass organizations and key individuals chosen by the historic leadership will receive a cash prize of ___, and have their submissions published in the Granma press.
    4) A response of not more than 100 words to each of the top ten would be given by President Raul Castro and published in the Granma press.
    5) The top 3 winners will be interviewed at length on national TV.

    Such a contest might elicit some great ideas and foment constructive national discussion. And “end run” might be made around the usual bureaucratic obstructionists.

  • Is it possible to disagree with certain decisions and policies outlined by the Cuban leaders while continuing to be on the side of the Revolution?
    The real question in the mind of many Cubans will be who will be the arbiter that will judge what is with the revolution and what is not? Where is the limit? As long as there is a with and not with the revolution people will be afraid of the consequences of expressing what they really think.

  • “Fomenting frank discussion and not seeing disagreement as a problem, but the source of the best solutions. Absolute unanimity is generally fictitious and therefore harmful,”
    This is great the issue with this statement is too little and too late the damage is already done and is very very hard to take it back.
    People have being trained to have a dual face. One of simulation and the real face the hide. If you are critical or oppose to what comes from above you are likely to be target as a counter-revolutionary by those trying to ascend or move on in the power structure.
    Raul, there should be a clear signal, like the release of all political prisoners. Allowing free press and independent journalism openly etc that will let people see that you really mean what you said and stop punishing people for expressing their own opinions.
    As long as the regime keeps punishing people that speak of other solutions to problems the incentive will be there for them to be unanimous even if they…

  • I’ve just returned from another wonderful and interesting trip to Cuba.

    This time I heard more complaining from average folks than I have in the past – but much of this was unfocused and some of it nasty (racist, homophobic).

    Some of the things lefty visitors like me most admire about Cuba (sustainable, local agriculture, international humanitarian solidarity) are the very things which make some people in Cuba really angry these days. I met people on this trip who want nothing more than to live like Americans but these people generally lack any real solutions to the problems of underdevelopment.

    The government clearly faces some tough choices – they cannot keep talking about “debate and discussion” without giving some real decision making power to the people. I would suggest starting with communal neighbourhood councils and community media – with real freedom of expression. It won’t be easy – but power to the people is the answer

  • It’s not “differences of opinion” that are truly at issue here. It’s “differences in program.”

    Raul did not say: “Our present program for building a socialist society has some serious problems, so we would like to invite the youth to caucus together and come up with some alternative programmatic points or policies to address and perhaps solve the problems.”

    He did not seem to pose any solid programmatic questions. He seemed only to tell the young people to discuss things, in general. He: ” . . . urged youth to make use of debate and to accept differences of opinion as a means to advance the construction of socialism.”

    He might have posed questions like: “Do you think we ought to “go down the Chinese Road,” or continue as in the past?”

    It’s my understanding that, whenever anyone has disagreed with the leadership and voiced or discussed those disagreements openly, it has not gone well for them. If this is true, the youth may not be too eager to speak up.

  • What seems 2 be missing in Cuba (even while there is a form of representative democracy that remains an advance on the bourgeois model) is a true, soviet mass council government: which would be what was expected of a mass socialist revolution in an industrialized society. Cuba, instead, had a different sort of revolution — & has had trouble advancing beyond that stage, for a number of reasons.

    In any true *soviet* model government OTOH, different interests in socialist society (while all still accepting they R collectively building socialism) would exist *as different factions/parties inside these soviets*, at all levels. The unique, concrete experiences of the bolsheviki & their particular government should never have extended beyond the special circumstances of the Oktober Revolution — but this is the malign legacy of stalinism: which is the ghost that remains the uninvited guest that will not leave.

    & so cubans must build socialism recognizing multi-party differences.

  • 1st, I’d like 2 point out 2 1 commentator here that the much-vaunted social-democratic welfare state in Europa & North America was always a short-term, calculating bribe; & recent history is the tale of the bourgeoisie now clawing-back all those supposed ‘gains’ of this postwar soc-dem fraud. So let’s just forget the Big Lie of the proclaimed superiority of the reformist road to ‘socialism’, OK? It simply cannot happen peacefully under the capitalist oligarchs. The bolivarians R now finding this out in Venezuela; as they R in Bolivia & Ecuador & Paraguay & Uruguay & Argentina & Brasil & Honduras, etc., et al.

    2nd: there R 2 sorts of political opposition we R talking about here: ‘loyal’ & ‘dis-loyal’. e.g.: the soc-dems — while claiming 2 represent the interests of the working-class — R in fact loyal 2 the capitalists & their system. & so in socialist countries 2, we must be cognizant of opposition which wishes 2 build socialism — vs. simple agents of imperialism.

  • This goes for any country/regime.

    1. of course. Disagreeing with details does not equate with disagreeing with a paradigm. (US congress just battled about healthcare reform, but none of them are advocating a change of paradigm)

    2. of course. All leaders do. All people do…. disagreeing is disagreeable, but as long as it is in the spirit of finding mutually agreeable solutions, it’s worth it.

    3. Again, struggling to improve on a theme is helpful. Merely complaining, or the opposite, ignoring problems will cause more problems and/or stagnation. Attacking an entire paradigm is usually not necessary or preferable and is frankly an easy route for detractors who have no constructive input.

  • Yes.

    Yes (as it is easier to follow a rule than deviate from it with a degree of flexibility and individualism).

    And, I would love to know and hope it would be able to begin to improve a flawed and heavy-handed socialism into a more egalitarian one.

  • Answer #1…. Yes but it is hard to be on the side of the revolution and disagree with its leaders. They are not used to disagreements. For example, if you present to them facts about how their economic policy destroyed many industries in Cuba and how those destroyed industries flourished later in USA, probably you will in jail for decades.
    #2….. when disagreement means to point their absolutist way of government leaving out the work for a better country all people that can suppose a trait to their absolute power then they becomes very afraid.
    #3…. European countries built a much better socialism than any so called socialist country of the Warsaw pact, China or Cuba and has done it by allowing wide differences of opinion and ideology. Cubans gov. mistakes “to build socialism” with totalitarian control of the country.

  • My answer to your first question–Yes! Wasn’t it the early Church father Origines who said something to the effect that “Within the Church everything! Outside the Church, darkness!” If the Church had taken his advice, it might have been in better shape today. Ditto the Revolution. Chairman Mao’s once said “Let a hundred flowers bloom, a thousand schools of thought contend!” Whether agreeing or disagreeing with the leadership, the essential criteria should be love of the socialism and revolution, wishing them to succeed, even if, in order to accomplish this, painful changes must be made. Those who have arrived at the larger picture of society know how ghastly and unjust is the system based on greed; for us there is no alternative. Yet, having said that, there are many roads towards the New Jerusalem, the City of the Gods we wish to create.

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