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.”
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Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]


13 thoughts on “Cuba and the BRICS

  • April 25, 2013 at 3:40 am
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    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
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    Thank you so very much, Friedrich. Cheers.

  • April 24, 2013 at 12:03 pm
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    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
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    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
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    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.

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