Cuba and the Price of the Alliance with Foreign Capital

Pedro Campos

Hard times. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The new foreign investment law – which seals the alliance between Cuba’s bureaucratic apparatus and foreign Capital – has been approved on the island. The regulations that are to make this new legislation viable have not yet been announced.

Previous articles dealing with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the “socialist bloc” and its failed form of “State socialism” clearly demonstrated that there were two ways of overcoming the crisis facing Cuba’s revolutionary process.

One by moving forward towards a new form of association between the government, people and workers, in order to share economic and political power and arrive at socialist forms of self-management, or two, by returning to private enterprise capitalism and an alliance between the State bureaucracy and capital.

These conclusions can be arrived at easily. The economic crisis that is the natural outcome of State monopoly capitalism can only be overcome in these two ways: with the participation of the people and workers or with the aid of capital. Both alternatives have a price: sharing power and losing it to the chosen ally in the long term. Bureaucracies founded on “socialist” State centralization have always opted for the second option.

It is, in essence, what happened in the former Soviet Union and “socialist bloc”; it is what happened in China and what’s been happening in Cuba recently. This decision is ratified by the anti-constitutional law that authorizes wage exploitation by private business owners and, particularly, by the new foreign investment law.

Only a basic outline of the new law has been made public, even though the legislation has already been “approved” by the Cuban parliament, made up of deputies advanced by the government and Party, without any previous debate with the people and workers, without having subjected the bill to a referendum, despite the fact that it affects all Cubans. Its strategic results are of historical significance and it implies a new course for the country’s economy as well as modifies essential aspects of the current Constitution.

The law is an expression of the alliance between State and international capitalism sought by the Cuban leadership, for the purposes of overcoming the severe crisis brought upon Cuba’s economy through the joint exploitation of Cuban wage laborers.

No one can deny the need for a partnership with foreign capital – rejected again and again by the very government that now welcomes it – in today’s global economy.

Corner cafe. Photo: Juan Suarez

However, using it to the befit of a centralized and bureaucratized economy is one thing and placing it at the service of a broadly socialized economy where small and mid-sized private and associated capital enterprises, free individual labor and cooperatives predominate is quite another.

Not one of the three major revolutions of the 20th century, the Soviet, Chinese or Cuban revolution, led to any form of Marxist, cooperative, self-management socialism. The “socialism” these revolutions sought to build were never anything other than a form of State monopoly capitalism, where the State, owner of all the means of production, continued to exploit salaried workers and to degrade and reject free individual and collective labor.

Let us consider some of the historical developments shared by these three revolutionary processes that produced the same results:

1- In none of these cases did the social revolution stem from the economic base of society, as has been the case within modern capitalist societies in the Americas, Europe and Asia. That is to say, the base did not directly participate in transforming the salaried labor relations that characterize capitalism into different forms of free and self-managed labor, which would predominate in and characterize socialism.

2- The three revolutions began as violent armed insurrections and continued to exercise violence once in power as a means of maintaining the control of their respective Communist Parties, as per the “Marxist-Leninist” doctrine turned into dogma by Stalinism.

3- The three governments which emerged from these revolutions dismissed democracy and its elective mechanisms as “bourgeois”, contrary to Engel’s teachings on the Paris Commune and Marx’s reiterated defense of the democratic republic.

4- In the course of these three historic events, land and properties were taken by force from the defeated capitalists, expropriated in the name of the nascent “socialist State”, which claimed to represent the interests of the people and workers. In all cases, the result of this was a violent clash between classes which led to civil war and foreign intervention. During these three processes, peasants were considered a counterrevolutionary, petit-bourgeois class pitted against the urban proletariat. There was talk of an “alliance of workers and peasants,” when, in truth, peasants were forced in different ways (War Communism in the Soviet Union, communes in China and the State as the only food purchaser in Cuba) to hand over their products at low prices in order to feed workers in cities. The three revolutions practiced the forced collectivization of the peasantry.

Line to buy potatoes. Photo: Juan Suarez

5- The three countries conceived of the market as a capitalist mechanism and sought to replace it with centralized planning that would control the economy through regulation and State monopolies. The creative initiative of individuals and their social collectives was thus replaced with instructions handed down from the bureaucratic apparatus.

6- All three revolutions sought to “build socialism” on the basis of the creation of a New Man endowed with a new consciousness that would define the future.

7- In the Soviet Union, China and Cuba, the centralization of property, appropriation and all important decisions led to the creation of a new class: the political and military bureaucracy, a caste that appointed itself the authentic and sole representative of the revolution. This resulted in the emergence of a “bureau-bourgeoisie” which continued to exploit workers through wage labor, as the capitalists did, with without paying workers the true value of the exploitation of their use-value (because, according to “Marxism-Leninism”, no classes, exploitation, laws of value or surplus value would exist under socialism).

8- All of these dogmatic and misguided conceptions, far removed from true Marxist dialectics, ended up ruining these countries’ economies, the vast wealth of resources they had and the energies of their respective peoples.

9- In all three cases, when Left democratic forces demanded a change of course and proposed and sought democratic and socialist reforms as a means of confronting the crisis, governments used different forms of repression against these revolutionaries and the very rank and file of their Parties.

Stalin’s barbarous acts and murders are well known. Politburo conservatives opposed Khrushchev’s reforms of the 1960s and ultimately deposed him. Two decades later, conservatives again staged a coup against Gorbachev and the renewal of Perestroika (the results of which are well known).

Cuban art. Photo: Juan Suarez

The repression of revolutionary forces by the Chinese Communist Party reached its most brutal expression with the Tiananmen Square slaughter, which did away with attempts at democratization within the Party and consolidated the pro-capitalist course of Den Siao Ping’s reforms.

In Cuba, the revolutionary leadership has been carrying out political purges aimed at left-leaning currents practically since the beginning. Suffice it to recall the persecution of anarchist and Trotskyist groups during the first years of the revolution, the sectarian foundation of the Politburo and Central Committee in 1965, the so-called “Micro-Faction” incident in 1968, the Gray Quinquennium (70-75), the closing down of the social sciences journal Pensamiento Critico (“Critical Thought”) and the Americas Study Center (CEA).

The collapse of the Soviet Union and socialist bloc brought about a crisis within the bureaucracy and the contradictions that had existed within the Party, particularly those stemming from currents that supported the democratization of politics and the socialization of the economy, began to flourish as early as the 4th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, held in 1991.

What followed, however, was a deep purge aimed at sweeping away such currents, where Cuban Counter-Intelligence played a central role (dismissing, deposing, expelling or retiring all Party, Armed Forces or Ministry of the Interior officials who showed “signs” of sympathizing with Perestroika or have advanced proposals of a similar nature.

10- Left-leaning currents having been eliminated, neutralized or quite simply crushed during the three periods, the road was paved for the respective bureaucracies to enter into alliances with international capital, as a means of remaining in power and continuing to enjoy its benefits. Their justification has always been the economic crisis, which they attribute to factors external to the absurd economic model imposed by these same bureaucracies in the name of socialism.

In Cuba, this moment came with the arrival of Raul Castro and his trusted officials, who imposed the “updating” of the country’s economic model on the Party and people of Cuba, inspired by the pragmatic conceptions of Chinese “communists.” The way was clearly defined: they chose an alliance with capital, instead of a coalition with the people and workers.

Today, there are no longer any doubts about what’s happening and, as was the case in Russia and China, in Cuba, to paraphrase Preobrazhenski, the unnatural alliance between the socialist State and foreign capital will fail and will be replaced by the natural alliance between the latter and the bourgeoisie.

What Cuba’s political and military bureaucracy, the “unforeseen” class, blinded by the glint of international capital, fails to understand is that it will never be allowed to join the bourgeois club, and that, just like the Russian and Chinese Stalinists, it is destined to ostracism, to be absorbed, defeated and expelled from power by their new, powerful allies (who neither forget nor forgive).

The price of having chosen an alliance with international capital and not the workers and people will also have to be paid by Cuba’s bureaucracy at one point.
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28 thoughts on “Cuba and the Price of the Alliance with Foreign Capital

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    What right do the Castro brothers have to tell the Cuban people what form of societal institutions they will have? Fidel promised free & democratic elections and a restoration of the 1940 Cuban constitution. He reneged on that promise when he banned all political parties but the Communist party and cancelled promised elections.

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Hey, for once I agree 100% with you. The Cuban people deserve the right to self-determination, as expressed through a free and democratic vote.

  • April 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    A free and open referendum is a lovely idea, but you are missing one very crucial point:

    There is no way the regime will ever agree to anything that will bring an end to their absolute monopoly on power. Never. You can ask them as respectfully as you like, pretty please with sugar on top, but the answer will be the same as always: Sociolismo y Muerte!

    (or more of the latter and less & less of the former)

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