Cuba: Counter-revolution vs. Socialist Utopia

Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES, Jan 1 — The genuine counter-revolution doesn’t conceal itself, it protests openly against socialist utopia with arguments like this:

“No. It’s not possible. It can’t be done under the current conditions. We cannot develop large-scale cooperativism, self-management and the consequent democratization of society. The objective and subjective conditions don’t exist.

“We have to first develop capitalism, letting domestic and foreign capital develop the country. They will return to modernize the sugar industry and all other industries, ports and communications for us, though we need a strong and organized working class. Furthermore, imperialism is right here; it could easily appropriate self-managed cooperatives and enterprises and take advantage of democratization to get rid of the historic leaders and put the old oligarchy back in power.”

Those who express such notions — and reveal their leanings toward the new Chinese imperialism — cannot even fool elementary school children. In any case, imperialism, which is one sole entity, can paint itself blue, yellow or red and it would be very easy to appropriate the assets of the government.

These assets belong to “all” in words, but which in truth, the only ones who feel like they are owners are the members of the bureaucratic class, who are increasingly isolated from the people.

If properties belong to the people — to individuals or collectives, to work groups or community groups, to freely associated workers or the self-employed — then all of this would indeed be very difficult for imperialism.

It would not be the same to confront and expropriate a bureaucratic state, ready and willing to share economic power with foreign capital, as it would be to take on people who own the means of production and control their destiny.

The supporters of statism spout a line that sounds orthodoxly Marxist (“the great development of the productive forces of capitalism and the wealth it generates is what will bring on socialism”).

Yet they have destroyed the country’s economy, squandered its resources and compelled its youth, professionals and technicians trained by the Cultural Revolution to choose between leaving the country or selling churros [strips of fried dough] and ice cream cones.

They have in fact become the main brake on the development of new forms of socialist production.

The enemies of de-statization are opposed to the turning over the management and control of the profits of state-run enterprises to workers’ councils. The statists are the ones who are blocking the establishment of an extensive cooperative law for industry and services, while at the same time they prioritize wage exploitation by private wealth.

They are preventing the elimination of the multitude of absurd state monopoly regulations on the market, rejecting the urgently needed unification of the currency and impeding other changes.

In short, they are the ones who are retarding the development and strengthening of the Cuban revolutionary process. They are obstructing the socialization and democratization of economic and political power.

Whether they achieve their objectives or not, only time will tell. What is clear is that many young people, workers, professionals, technicians, homemakers and retirees who have spent their lives for this lamentable system of “state socialism” are unwilling to continue putting up with the deceit.

They’re demanding radical changes to the state-centric economic and social policies of the party/government.

These same people from below — on their own and without waiting for the readiness or approval of the established bureau-bourgeoisie — are carrying out various life-important economic, social, cultural and political initiatives outside of state institutions.

It is within those institutions where many are grabbing on, attempting to control everything possible in society while accusing their opponents complicity with the imperialist enemy.

Any initiatives from outside bureaucratic control are met with the slogan, “Either you are with us, or you are with the imperialist enemy.” For them, then, there are no more options.

One has to ask themself: Who have been the true accomplices of the imperialist enemy?

Have they been those who have shown through their policies that “socialism” — which has never existed — has been a social, economic and political disaster. Are they those who have succeeded in making most people not even want to hear the word “socialism”? Those who have made Latin Americans reject socialism as an approach to people bettering their lives and living more freely?

Are the true accomplices of the imperialist enemy those of us who want socializing and democratizing changes now, with less state and bureaucratic control over the economy and politics?

Alternatively, are they the supporters of counter-revolutionary immobilism, who are counting on foreign investment and private capitalism to save their state-centered bureaucratic wage-labor model of the neo-Stalinist cut, to later “try” to reintroduce the cycle of bourgeoisie expropriation by the “working class”?

Are the accomplices of the enemy the ones who have never set out to change production relations of capitalism?

Are they the ones who wish to deepen the revolution and change everything that resists it or are they those who in the name of change don’t want to change anything, so that everything remains the same, especially the same bureaucracy that has held political power for a half a century and has led the country to the current disaster?

Are they the ones who turn to various forms of violence and repression to combat those who peacefully advocate different ideas?

Likewise, the following will also have to be answered: Can the majority of those old, reactionary, conservative, stiff and accustomed brains, with their old, authoritarian, bureaucratic-centralism-educated ways of command and control change their mindsets, as is demanded by those at the heights of power when self-recognizing the incapacity of the centralized system?

Wouldn’t it be better to set aside those stuck in neo-Stalinism thought and instead empower the people, the younger generations, to democratically develop new forms of social, economic and political organization and new leaders demanded by the changing situation, instead of seeking a “cadre policy” aimed at ensuring the perpetuation of “everything that must be changed”?

I hope the party conference this January will help in finding answers to these questions, whether by action or omission.

20 thoughts on “Cuba: Counter-revolution vs. Socialist Utopia

  • Thank you Cimarron for cutting thru the reams of BS. Yes, attacking or defending Cuba, while ignoring the Blockade is pointless. Dressing it up in psuedo-intellectual discussions of all the mistakes made by Socialists in the past 150 years, doesn’t make the critiques true, it only makes them pointless.

    I wonder why Hugo Chavez and Venezuela are ignored. Certainly Venezuela is attempting to build on Cuba’s successes and avoid some of its mistakes. Developing Community based Democracy, while holding the Capitalists at bay, may prove effective in the long run.

    Since their Revolution was won at the polls, it has much less control over the entrenched Plutocracy. Reforms have to carefully explained and sold to the electorate in a step-by-step fashion. Much of its success rests on the willingness of Chavez to use the power of the Government to steamroll over his opponents when necessary. Compromise and talk would weaken both the Government and ’21st Century Socialism’.

    IMO, America del Sur may be the salvation of Socialism. It certainly isn’t getting anywhere in North America, Europe, Asia, or Africa. Of course humanity is in real danger of losing the race against Capitalism, Militarism, Fascism, and Global Warming. Pity the generations yet unborn who may be zapped while still nothing but a twinkle in their father and mother’s eyes.

  • A belated correction: The Weitling/Hess letter referred to was actually in a previous letter. It may be found on-line at the Marx/Engels Archive. It is the 1846 letter from Weitling to Moses Hess in which it is abundantly clear that 1) the money supporting the Communist League and all its “elaborate editions” came from the bourgeoisie, and 2) that Marx was the conduit through whom this money was acquired.

  • It really comes again as no surprise that Pedro Campos launches into another tirade couched in seemingly-sophisticated left rhetoric that fits, as usual, in his trademark blockade-denial, blame-it-all-on-the-historic leadership narrative. It is no surprise that his views coincide perfectly with that of worn-out Western imperialist propaganda and counter-revolutionary lies from Miami. Vigilant progressives who have not forgotten recent history will experience no shock whatsoever.

    It wasn’t so long ago that the engineers of “It’s-fabulous-to-be-rich” capitalist restoration in China, while touting the fraudulent “Theory Of The Three Worlds”, went so far as to support – together with the CIA, the racist-fascists of Apartheid South Africa and those of the Cuban exilio – the ultra-reactionary mercenaries of UNITA led by CIA operative, Jonas Savimbi, in Angola. Yes, this at a time when Cuba (indeed, the Cuba portrayed by Pedro Campos as a faux-socialist state!) was nobly shedding the blood of its sons and daughters in defense of African liberation and independence in Angola!

    The first duty of genuine defenders of the Cuban revolutionary process, who seek to correct its errors and resist restoration of the old order, is to be on guard 24×7 against any ideological beach-heads for imperialism, whether intentional or not, and no matter what garb it comes dressed in, even spotless ultra-left rhetoric!

  • @ George Ramirez: The Weitling/Hess letter referenced above is documentary proof that Marx and the Communist League were supported financially by the bourgeoisie. Go to the mirror and laugh at yourself.

  • Ross Hija-ry thinks he’s smarter than Marx! Hilarious. Me meo de risa!

  • @ Luis: Let me say a few words regarding your point-by-point review.

    If you will look again at your responses, you may be able to see what I’m talking about. If a couple of bourgeois Ph.D. provocateurs–Engels was a capitalist and Marx was a well-to-do bourgeois intellectual–had entered the socialist movement in order to wreck it politically, what would they have done?

    First, they would have gained the confidence of the Left by professing to be “scientific.” In order that this scientific claim might be accepted and not revealed has having no connection with science of the Scientific Method, they would have sought to convert socialism into a secular, quasi-religion with themselves as the infallible oracles or God-heads. This would have paralyzed the ability of socialists to think objectively.

    In order to use their oracle status as a wrecking instrument, they would have replaced the original cooperative direction of socialism with a new state monopoly direction, and tried to achieve several things:

    1) Split the small bourgeoisie form the proletariat politically–by disrespecting them, calling them not merely conservative, but reactionary, thereby handing them over politically to the manipulations of the big banks and bourgeoisie;
    2) Attack religion and spiritual sentiment, make it incompatible with socialism, promise to abolish the right of spiritual conscience under a socialist regime, and hand this potent weapon to the opponents of socialism;
    3) Hand the weapon of anti-nationalism to the opponents of socialism;
    4) Put the phrase of “dictatorship” in the mouth of socialism and give the opponents of socialism one more potent weapon with which to strike at the movement;
    5) Promise to abolish all rights of inheritance, with no distinction between dad’s farm or bar or restaurant, grandma’s precious heirloom clock, the property of the super rich, thereby alienating everyone in society;
    6 & 7) Threaten in the basic program of socialism to force every person to work, and to convert labor into vast armies, presumably under the leadership of the politically correct and well placed.

    But all this is circumstantial. The proof is in the pudding, but is there any documentary evidence to support the provocateur thesis? It is fragmentary, but please review the Weitling letter to Hess, referred to previously.

    I know you are inclined to act as Marx’s defense, but if you can try to be objective, you may draw the same conclusion as we have with regard to the duo. But no matter . . . Believe as you wish.

  • @Luis & John: Let’s try to cut to the bottom line.

    It is irrelevant whether you believe that Engels and Marx were provocateurs, or whether Gramsci and others wrote this or that. What is relevant is the core principle for a workable socialist society in the here and now.

    A) Should the state own all productive property, thereby abolishing private productive property rights and the trading market at the beginning of the socialist bridge to a far-in-the-future classless society?

    B) Or, should the state only co-own most significant productive productive property, thereby retaining private property rights and the trading market, in order to build the socialist bridge by bringing in the small bourgeoisie–by respecting them and their property rights–and achieving an alliance of all productive classes–the proletariat, small bourgeoisie and intelligentsia?

    If you say “Yes” to A, you are a state monopoly socialist. If you say “Yes” to B, you are most likely a modern cooperative socialist, whether you know it or not.

    We are socialist transformationaries for one reason only: We have a strategic, maximum program of reorganizing society in post-capitalism. We hope to win the people to support this reorganization based on either A or B above. If you guys wish the possibility of seeing a socialist US, and a socialist world in your lifetimes, then may I recommend that you go to the mountain regarding A and B, and make a choice.

    In any case, it’s good to exchange with you. Cheers.

  • Let me review of your critique point by point:

    1. I agree.
    2. I kind of agree. You must take into consideration that in Marx’s time all religious institutions worked against the working classes movements. There was no “liberation theology” back then.
    3. Marx was an internationalist, and so am I. But Marx didn’t ignore the positive transition from feudal states to national ones during the establishment of capitalism.
    4. That phrase was perhaps the most misunderstood of all time. Marx always used it in contraposition with the ‘dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’.
    5. Now you got me – I haven’t though much about it.
    6. Aren’t we forced to work to survive already?
    7. Same as #5.

    Well, again, thanks for giving me the possibility of an insight on the matter.


  • I concur with the critique of Marxian though based on two major flawed points of his socio-political thought:

    – His eurocentrism.
    – His belief on technological determinism.

    However, Marxism has (thankfully) evolved through time, for example with the works of Gramsci and Marcuse and many others.

    Thanks for the insight, even though I don’t agree with your thesis that Marx and Engels were ‘provocateurs’.


  • The world is a different place then when Marx and Engels lived and wrote.
    Capitalism has devolved to oligarchy and is far stronger and in far more control of our societies than it was 150 years ago.

    It is nigh impossible to reform capitalism into a democratic socialist state.

    At this point in history, we do have to take control of the entire economy of a country to establish economic democracy simply because Exxon, GMC etc are not going to voluntarily become democratic and allow workers control and, in fact will and have on many occasions in the 20th century, violently fought any attempt to install economic democracy .

    Using capitalism/free markets to build DEMOCRATIC socialism is oxymoronic.
    Cuba has the right idea (if somewhat late) in coming to the reform that is needed.

    No one has raised the question of the effects of the U.S.’s 50 year war on Cuban socialism in regards to the hitherto inability to reform Cuba’s sclerotic hierarchal organizations and this should be something that is mentioned in every article or comment regarding the need for changes in Cuba.

    It is not in the interests of the U.S. to permit Cuba to prosper and become a democratic showplace for the rest of the world and a country which would make the U.S out to be the dictatorship of the dollar that it is.

    For this reason alone the U.S will maintain its war and seek to delay or prevent any reforms or improvements in the lives of the Cuban people.

    The fact that the Cuban hierarchy Is implementing reforms that, from all reports, are being widely approved by the Cuban people themselves is a good portent.

    A slow, steady reversion of small family businesses to private hands is what is needed with a wary eye towards any slipping back into exploitive (non- democratic) capitalism.

    There cannot be a democratic capitalism but there can be a democratic socialism.

    In the end it is democracy: workers control of the means of production whether state or cooperatively owned that is the only system that will work and Grady, you cannot achieve democracy by re-instituting capitalism, a most regressive and corrupting totalitarian system .

    That’s just surrender to an evil the Cuban people fought and died to eliminate..

    You cannot reform


  • @ Luis: Yes, re Lenin’s NEP, but he did it as a temporary expedient, not a renunciation of Marx’s core principle. In Lenin’s view, Marx was the oracle of socialism, and this oracle had spoken with regard to how a socialist economy should work. The basis of the state owning everything productive, in order to make everything socialist, was Engels’ and Marx’s conviction that the institution of private productive property rights is inherently evil and must be abolished just as soon as possible. This view of private property came from St. Simon and was taken up by thinkers like Moses Hess and F. Engels, then Marx.

    If Lenin had lived, it is possible that he would have seen the necessity of combining continued private property rights with state ownership, and come up with a workable, hybrid form of socialist economy. This however was not to be, due mainly to the bullet of an SR assassin.

    I feel that you are on the correct path when you say: “there’s no reason to nationalize the Joe’s bar next corner.” I mean, a person doesn’t even have to be smart to understand this. The Cubans however followed the old Marxian idea in 1968 however and nationalized small service enterprise, and basically turned the small bourgeoisie against the socialist construction project.

    Our movement rejects Engels and Marx for programmatic reasons, not because we discovered all of a sudden that they were provocateurs. We redefined workable socialism as consistent with its original cooperative roots, then looked at the wrecking job Engels and Marx had done with their injected program.

    Their program included 1) splitting the peasants and small bourgeoisie from the proletariat by spitting on them and threatening under socialism to expropriate their property and convert them into state employees; 2) attacking religion and spiritual belief, threatening to destroy the hard won right of freedom of spiritual conscience, thereby alienating large sectors of the populations; 3) attacking the nation and nationalism, the historic movement that was sweeping the world, destroying feudalism and establishing nation states; 4) putting the fulsome phrase into the mouth of the socialist movement of “dictatorship of the proletariat;” 5) threatening to abolish all rights of inheritance; 6) threatening to force all persons to work; and 7) threatening to run production with industrial armies, esp. armies of agricultural workers marching out from the cities.

    If you put these and other great accomplishments/political stupidities of Marx and Engels to the test of human reason and common sense, Luis, you can only conclude that these guys were in the employment of the big banks and bourgeoisie. This conclusion is corroborated by Weitling’s 1846 letter to Moses Hess in which it is revealed that Marx was the egotistical man in the Communist League who controlled the monetary support coming from the “rich men” (See Marx/Engels Archive on-line).

  • Well Grady about the core question – I think that private property rights should be *gradually* abolished by a socialist state, I mean there’s no reason to nationalize the Joe’s bar next corner. But what intrigues me is that you completely dismiss Marx and Engels, and their critique and analysis of how capitalism works remains unsurpassed to this day.

    I mean, Lenin himself saw the necessity of re-establish private property rights to small business and farms in the early 20’s with the NEP, didn’t he?

  • @ Luis: Thanks for reminding me.

    Yes, Luis, I did review it, a long time ago. I exchanged with Bruno Jossa, and even bought his book “The Economic Theory of Socialism and the Labour-Managed Firm.” I only skimmed the book, as it was evident that he was still hung up on the necessity of the state being the owner of the labor-managed cooperative firm.

    Jossa is right there with all the Marxists who are scrambling to try and save Marx. He–and they–cling to the moralistic, Utopian notion that the institution of private productive property is inherently evil, that is only consistent with capitalism, and that it is correct for the socialist state to abolish it de facto by nationalizing the land and all the instruments of production. His idea is “worker managed state firms, yes; worker owned firms, no.”

    You know, Luis, if you would open your mind and try to analyze what is in front of you, instead of trying to shore up the prejudices you imbibed when you first embraced socialism, you might be able to see what I’m saying. State ownership of everything productive, even when trying to squeeze more surplus-value out of the workers by granting them nominally-cooperative workplace self-management, doesn’t work. It has always led to the collapse of socialist state power (Soviet Bloc), or threatened to do so (Cuba).

    What is in question here, Luis, is whether private productive property rights ought to be abolished by a socialist state, through nationalization of everything per Marx and Engels; or, retained and utilized by a socialist state, through ownership of only some enterprise and some sectors and some land, but with only partial, silent co-ownership of significant industry and commerce. Modern cooperative socialism is an attempt to make socialism workable, and this is the bottom line. If you have a better plan, let’s hear it.

  • “just as Marx stipulated in 1848 and all his life”

    Hey Grady have you even take a glimpse at the link I suggested you to read?


  • We as socialist transformationists should focus upon the core principle of what real socialism is, in order that we might win the support of the masses for a society based upon that core principle. Our ongoing debate helps us to self-clarify, and we should conduct this debate with a comradely sense of responsibility.

    Let’s look at what Xjy Xjy says, thru a programmatic lens. In his first paragraph he infers that “direct workers ownership of the workplace” is incompatible with socialism. Why? He infers that direct ownership turns the workers into capitalists. His entire argument rests on this view of cooperative workers.

    He doesn’t give us any proof to support his view. He simply believes it, and counts on others reading it and continuing to believe it, too.

    I do not believe that a cooperative worker co-owner is a capitalist. He or she has simply come into workplace ownership and has, thereby, escaped from the grip and whip of a capitalist–and the capitalist serf labor market. Equating this with being a capitalist is like saying that a black slave who excapes from an Old South plantation and becomes a free farmer in the North is now a slave-owner, exploiting himself!

    What Xjy Xjy believes is that the socialist state should expropriate all the instruments of production–just as Marx stipulated in 1848 and all his life–thereby abolishing private productive property rights and the trading market. Industrial and commercial enterprise, according to Xjy Xjy, should be planned and administered by wise socialists functionaries who feel that this is real socialism.

    All Trotskyists believe this way, although they often delude themselves with all sorts of word games and appeals to prejudice.

    Xjy Xjy accuses me of “utopianism.” Yet, the Utopians are criticized because they believed that private productive property rights are the problem, and should be abolished immediately, making all productive property communal. My accuser believes as they did, because he believes that the socialist state should make all such property communal by immediate expropriation. He is consistent with Marxism, because Marxism converts private property into state property, i.e., it tries to build a bridge over to a society without
    private property by abolishing it immediately through full state ownership.

    Modern cooperative socialism believes, by contrast, that the socialist state needs to own some enterprise and even some sectors 100%, but that most industry and commerce should only be co-owned silently, with primary ownership going to cooperative workers. This would retain private productive property rights during the socialist bridge building project to a classless society, thereby drawing in the small bourgeoisie and intelligentsia to the project.

    All the rest of Xjy Xjy’s tirade is a regurgitation of the Trotskyist line and cult worship dogma.

  • @ Lo que escuche:

    This kind of language is unworthy of you. It undercuts our ability to debate. You owe HT readers an apology.

  • Pedro thanks for your writing, and i wholeheartedly agree with everything you said,
    the old power structure is trying to cling on to its power, and thats messing up cuba at the moment.
    Grady Ross Daugherty is quite frankly full of shit, with his MBA, free market mentality that has gotten cuba to where it was in the 1950’s so opening up to capitalist investment is a step backwards in the wrong direction!

  • Grady thinks that direct workers ownership of the workplace will bring socialism. If that ownership is capitalist – which it will be if the state hasn’t expropriated the capitalist bourgeoisie – then the workers will start off exploiting themselves and before long transform themselves into capitalists using the labour of workers imported from outside the workplace. This is anarchistic, autonomistic utopianism.
    But for a state to expropriate capitalism, it can’t be a bourgeois state – the bourgeoisie won’t expropriate itself. Individual bourgeois rivals – of course! But not the whole class. And to create a non-bourgeois non-capitalist state you need an anti-capitalist revolution that tears the means of production (land, factories, finance) out of the hands of the bourgeoisie, and takes them into its own hands defending them against the raging bourgeoisie/imperialism by force of arms.
    The problem of a non-capitalist state run by a reactionary privileged bureaucracy is one facing every workers (plus peasants) revolution. Revolutions can degenerate, and the harsher the pressure from imperialism, and the less well-developed the material preconditions for modern production, the easier this degeneration is. This was seen in the USSR in the 1920s in the losing battle fought by the revolutionary Left Opposition against the degenerating Stalin-led wing of the Communist Party. The defeat of the revolutionaries led to the political degeneration of the USSR and ultimately to its capitulation to imperialism in 1991. And made the successful anti-capitalist revolutions in Yugoslavia, Vietnam and China deformed from the start, since they took the degenerated Soviet Union as their model. No workers democracy – in fact, anything but workers democracy!
    Before the threat of imperialist restoration in China (the biggest threat) or Cuba (most important for Latin America and the Americas including the US) can be properly tackled, all this historical experience needs to be examined, understood and assimilated. Which means spreading and discussing in depth the issues and arguments in the 1920s when the revolutionary fire was still bright in the Soviet Union. Which means discussing the Left Opposition and most significantly the arguments and positions of its leader, Leon Trotsky, whose role in the October Revolution together with Lenin can be compared to the teamwork of Fidel and Che in Cuba, with the difference that Lenin and Trotsky were incomparably better versed in Marxism and more deeply rooted in working class revolutionary activity.
    Pedro passes over this completely. And this makes his well-meaning words a bit like foam on the waves. History and the workers revolutionary movement are the ocean and the Gulf Stream, speeches detached from these are liable to be flung in the air by a rock and swept away by the wind.

  • Like all Marxists, comrade Pedro apparently believes that only state property is socialist, and that socialist property can only be that owned by the state. The fact that he calls for democratic running of state-owned enterprise by the workers does not alter the fact that he is, in a programmatic sense, a state monopoly socialist.

    The old Utopians made the programmatic error of abolishing private productive property rights immediately. Those entering their exemplary communes put everything into the communal pot, and this was going to show the world how communism could be exampled and built right now, without a multi-generation bridge to is elimination.

    The Marxists speak of socialism as a bridge to a society without private property, then force the abolition of private property onto society at the beginning of the bridge journey. It has never worked.

    Marxism makes the same programmatic error as the Utopians, by making everything productive common, state property, as did Cuba by 1968. Pedro Campos still cannot understand that workers can only achieve democratic self-management of the workplace by owning it directly. He clings to the fantasy that someday, somehow the workers could and would achieve workplace democracy under state monopoly ownership socialism.

Comments are closed.