Cuba and the BRICS

We are spoon-fed an unorthodox view of economic success and apocalyptic visions on a daily basis.

Vicente Morin  Aguado

Los BRICS.  Foto: etceter.com
Los BRICS. Foto: etceter.com

HAVANA TIMES — As I recall, one of the important issues addressed during the exchanges between Humberto Eco and Cardinal Martini was that of the apocalyptic vision of the world, a vision shared by many old-school communist leaders, not too dissimilar, in its function, to the fear of God we would instill in children decades ago, when the Catholic Church still reigned in many parts of the globe.

The Catholics, having grown tired of repeating their dark admonitions, have forgotten the whole affair, but the Marxists have not, invoking the global economic crisis, the “hard times” that Spain is going through and, most insistently, the dangers of climate change.

Though the State’s and society’s responsibility for environmental problems cannot be denied, we mustn’t forget that global warming and cooling processes were taking place on earth millions of years before human civilization even emerged.

Let us now focus on Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS), a short list of countries that could include others and would present around half of the world’s population as engaged in authentic and sustained development, a group of countries that would represent one fourth of the globe’s energy resources, the same portion of the earth’s surface and a bit more of its total, yearly production.

In Cuba, the BRICS are presented to us as an alternative to the hegemony of the United States and its Western European allies. While this may well be a valid contrast, we must look behind such apparently simple remarks, for they point to the fact that half of humanity has undertaken a form of development that was in no way foreseen by the communists who steered the educational system and ideology in my country for many years.

Image: postwesternworld.com
Image: postwesternworld.com

If we were to take official Cuban textbooks at their word, we would have to conclude that Russia is in dire straits today, that the market economy is a devastating attack on Che Guevara’s socialist ideas and that representative democracy is an inadmissible compromise, even for Cuba’s current leadership.

I need not remind readers that those are the developmental principles of the BRICS, and of other, economically less significant countries that maintain relations with them.

This begs the question: Are we approaching the end of the world, or do we have other options? If half of the world’s population is experiencing a rapid pace of development on the basis of center-Left policies that preserve State control over a nation’s primary resources, then it looks as though such policies are a true alternative to the old, failed Communist model, without going the neo-liberal route.

Russia emerged from History’s first triumphal socialist revolution, betrayed in both form and content by Stalin. China put Mao’s radical adventures behind it. India has a constitution which respectfully includes the word “socialism”. South Africa did away with the opprobrious apartheid regime. Brazil has put long years of a typical Latin American dictatorship behind it.

We can add Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Egypt, South Korea, Taiwan and others to the list. The length of the list tells us that there are other roads to development that do not necessarily throw social justice out the window.

The world isn’t coming to an end. If it does end, it won’t be because of today’s capitalism, much less because of frustrated socialists who announce the Apocalypse, having never truly understood the biblical message.

The BRICS demonstrate that there are other ways open to us, revealing how blinkered some, perhaps too many, old-school communists are. It’s a question of “changing everything that ought to be changed.”
—–
Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]


13 thoughts on “Cuba and the BRICS

  • April 25, 2013 at 3:40 am
    Permalink

    Thanks, Griffin. I know SA & SK don’t fit neatly into the acronym, but I meant to convey that another polarity is emerging in the world.

  • April 25, 2013 at 3:36 am
    Permalink

    Thank you so very much, Friedrich. Cheers.

  • April 24, 2013 at 12:03 pm
    Permalink

    Austro Marxism is a term first time used by th Us- American socialist Louis Boudin 1904. Fathers of Austro – Marxist could be named Max Adler, friedrich Adler, Otto Bauer, Karl Renner Rudolf Hilferding. In strong opposition to the Bolschewiki for its methods and also in a certain distance to radical German socialism with Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, but very much opposed to fatalist revisionis, they want to come to the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” through the means of democratic parlamentarism, and the majority by free elections etc. Criticized strongly by Lenin.They try in the so called 2 1/2 International in Vienna to mediate between the second and the third International, without success. Austrian Marxism ended by the takeover through Dollfuss on 17. of February 1934, some of the leadin socialicst could flee to Switzerland, Czechoslovakia or Sweden from were they returned after 45, lots of them , whether socialist or communists were sent to concebntration camps, some assassinated..1951 there was an attempt to bring back to lie the 2nd International, which failed. The Ausrian Socialist party integrated lots of elements of Austro Marxism into her program. Austro Marxism was reputades in the 20th and 30th for its social programs, especially in Vienna. see: Helmut Gruber, Red Vienna, Experiment in Working Class Culture 1919-1934, New York, Oxford : Oxford UP1991.

  • April 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm
    Permalink

    I find your exposition regarding Austria and socialism very interesting, Friedrich. It’s not clear if you know about our US movement’s concept of “modern cooperative, state co-ownership socialism,” but I would like very much to know if it has any resemblance to what is going on in Austria. Please respond.

  • April 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm
    Permalink

    You missed some significant demographic differences between Canada and Cuba. Canada has a positive population growth and a steady rate of immigration into Canada. Cuba’s population is declining, nobody is immigrating to Cuba, only away and it’s the young adults who are leaving in droves. By 2030 1/3 rd of the Cuban population will be over 60. No nation in history has ever survived such a sudden demographic collapse that Cuba will soon face. Unless the Cuban government can convince young Cubans to stay in the country and have more babies, they country will collapse. It matters not whether they follow a socialist path or a more capitalist path, if they fail to address the demographic crisis.

    Grady: Iran is not part of BRICS and several of the countries that are, especially Brazil, India, & China, are closely integrate with the US economy. You mentioned South Korea, again not technically part of BRICS, but it is very highly integrated with the US economy.

    The point to BRICS as an economic group is not that they are an economic block, such as the EU, (they’re not), nor do they represent a new or alternative path to growth than that espoused by US capitalism (they don’t, and they each have followed very different paths). The point to BRICS is that they exist at all. They are all formerly under-developed countries which have recently grown to where they approach the Western “1st world” counties in economic growth and standards of living.

  • April 21, 2013 at 5:30 am
    Permalink

    The BRICS are a creation Goldman Sachs, are capitalists and imperialists in and of themselves and still serve the interests of the US, IMF, World Bank and are agents of the global imperialist overlords but portray themselves as a benign trading bloc simply trying to help themselves and their neighbors grow economically while they ravage the planet for big business.

    Beware anyone working with them and I suggest y’all go back to reading Lenin’s and Rosa Luxemburg’s works on Imperialism and also watch and read below these.

    Cort

    Patrick Bond on the BRICS Summit in Durban

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3oZ36kPuKo

    ——————————————————————-

    BRICS: ‘Anti-imperialist’ or ‘sub-imperialist’?

    http://links.org.au/node/3265

    Bankrupt Africa: Imperialism, Sub-Imperialism and the Politics of Finance

    http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za/files/Bond%20Bankrupt%20Africa%20historical%20materialism.pdf

  • April 20, 2013 at 11:31 am
    Permalink

    Grady,

    are you serious, when you are saying the centre of gravity is moving towards Iran? That will be news to many people in Iran suffering from economic mismanagement.

  • April 19, 2013 at 9:07 pm
    Permalink

    Small little question: how big is social justice in Russia? In Taiwan? In South Corea?Egypt?
    At the end, what all this would be leading to a leftist social democracy, which might be a viable alternative to state monopoly.
    Here I`d like to point out my own country of origin, Austria, which has learned through the civil war, the Nazi period, liberation and then 10 years of occupation, that a strongly state controlled economy was possible ( although the first post war governments were conservative). Lots of socialist elements ( Austro- Marxism was one of the big European schools, although called revisionist by Lenin, a strongly left winged movement, but opposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat and also allowing privat economy) are reflected within the constitution and also the laws. Socialist ideas found entrance in the countrie`s politics ( Austrias biggest political party is still the socialist one) among others in subsidised housing ( Vienna still is famous for its social housing program of the 20 and 30ie, also called the architecture of Red Vienna and alltogether these and more strongly socialist elements show an extremely positive result: Right at the moment economy n.o 1 in the EU, lowest unemployment rate ( around 4,5% although tendency increasing,high social standards, being considered as one of the safest countries also for foreign investment due to its high educational and professional level and political stability after world war 2.A very big role plays the so called social pact between the workers movements and the employers – one the one hand the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and at the other hand the (socialist dominated) Unions and the Chamber for Workers and Employes. The purpose above all is, in case of conflicts find solucions through negociations and avoid similar situations as in the 30ies, which led to the civil war, the rise of Austro Fascism ( like Franco, and Mussolini, very nationalist and anti- German) and at the due to those conflicts to the take over by the Nazis. They also have an important advising role within the legislation, before laws pass through the National and Federal Assemblee ( the parliament). It just occurred to me, when reading this article, that Cuba on a long term might go a similar way. Of course in its own way, as conditions are different.

  • April 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm
    Permalink

    I like Vicente’s open-minded article very much. It seems clear that the center of gravity in world affairs is shifting rapidly (to China, Russia, India, Korea, Japan, and Iran, with South Africa and Brazil standing like footholds in two other continents). These BRICS-ist states seem ready to replace US/EU hegemony fairly soon.

    Unfortunately, the US people have not gotten the memo. They still believe the mass media and major parties that none of this is happening (“all the better to delude you with, my dears,” sayeth the big bad wolf).

    I do wish that Vicente could have addressed the struggle for “credit hegemony” that is going on worldwide between the monopoly banks of the US/EU, on the one side, and the so-called “sovereign accounts” of some of the BRICSs, on the other.

    This is the important, not-always-visible battle that is going on behind the establishment’s pundits’ highly-prejudiced backs. It deserves to be addressed in HT by someone competent, for it pretty well controls or conditions everything.

  • April 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm
    Permalink

    South Africa, the odd man out. Not in the same class or level as the others economically, politically.

  • April 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm
    Permalink

    In capitalists countries and especially those BRICS countries (especially China), privately-owned companies do business, not governments. OK, as a market participant, governments themselves act as buyers and sellers to a lesser extent but the majority of commerce is non-governmental. As long as the US embargo is in place, Cuba’s capacity to buy and sell and receive credit internationally will be hindered as most private companies will choose to avoid the loss of the US market in order to do business with Cuba. Cuba should focus on making those changes required to trigger the lifting of the embargo before imagining full integration in world commerce, let alone with BRICS countries.

  • April 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm
    Permalink

    If what you meant was “median age” then Canada is 40.7 and Cuba is 37.8 years according to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_median_age.
    A difference of less than three years. If you factor in all the other disadvantages that Cuba bears, how is that an advantage, let alone a huge one?

  • April 19, 2013 at 11:45 am
    Permalink

    Canada is certainly looking to do more business with the BRICS. Cuba has a huge advantage over Canada. Medium age in Canada 41 – medium age Cuba 31. Gordon Robinson
    [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *