By Pedro Campos
HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 8 — “The enemies of a people’s freedom are not so much outsiders who oppress as they are the timidness and vanity of the people’s own children,” wrote Jose Marti.
The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and its permanently controlled government—after holding a congress in which they agreed to continue with the failed neo-Stalinist political-economic model of state monopoly capitalism, sprinkled with slight neoliberal modifications—have just published the “Draft Document” that they intend to discuss this coming January in their first conference, after 46 years of existence.
The document focuses on internal party matters as it modifies the organization’s statutes, though they do not admit to this.
In paragraphs 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8, they recognize the complexity of the internal and external political situation and the need to take into account the many existing differences of opinion in our society, but without abandoning traditional state-centric, Manichaean, intolerant and sectarian approaches that do not permit people to make concrete proposals to successfully address these circumstances.
A call for national unity, except with those who differ
The conference could be an opportunity for the PCC to build the national unity needed and claimed by calling for dialogue—as part of the meeting—with the participation of socialist and democratic forces that hold positions and proposals other than those approved in last April’s Sixth Congress.
Nevertheless, the document continues to insist that the unity of the people must revolve around the party, the government and their policies, which continue to be mutually exclusive and monopolistic, responsible for our current plight; and continue to be pursued without defining the measures necessary for the freeing up of the productive forces, though this had been promised from the very heights of government.
From those positions—emerging out of ignorance and even the denial of the existence of socio-political and ideological differences, from the stubborn defense of the failed current economic and political model—it’s impossible to achieve a consensus or the necessary cohesion of the people that the situation demands and that the party/government hopes to impose.
Therefore, they continue emphasizing the required “unity”, not what could be achieved on commonly accepted bases. Yet there is widespread evidence that strength doesn’t come from imposed “unity,” which is proclaimed though not real, but instead in diversity coalesced around shared principles.
A closed fist is stronger than an open hand, but it always has five different fingers.
The expectation created by the leadership of the party/government was that important statements would be issued on radical changes for the socialization of the state economy and for moving the current political and electoral system in directions that are more democratic.
However, the tabloid gives no clear signs of progress in these directions. This leads us to conclude that the party/government believes that it has presented all the changes that they are disposed to accept in their model. This failure is not from a lack of alternatives, proposals or support, but due to a lack of willingness. They are only willing to go so far.
This of course requires definitions.
For five years, various supporters of a more participatory and democratic socialism have expressed our positions and proposals in thousands of articles published on the Internet and even in limited space in the national press, in letters to the party/government and press organizations, in neighborhood discussions and in spaces such as the magazine Temas and other forums.
We have succeeded in presenting our ideas to the highest spheres of the party and government, and to many workers and citizens at the grassroots. Even if some of our proposals were reflected in a few of the Sixth Congress “Guidelines,” overall we are feel disconcerted by the philosophy expressed in that document and now in the “Draft Document” (for the party conference).
This is pulling the rug out from under the communists and all Cubans, who—convinced that the Sixth Congress was too abbreviated—were hoping for and expecting major policy decisions to come out of this conference.
The document is full of contradictions along with traditional, sectarian and bureaucratic concepts and frameworks. It calls for a change in people’s mindset and breaking with dogma without clearly defining what this means. Similarly, it calls for Cubans to fight for the construction of “socialism” when the party/government still hasn’t been able to hold a serious national, open, public, horizontal and democratic discussion about its meaning.
What type of socialism is the document talking about? Is it continuing to call the current economic and political model “socialism” despite its recognized failure?
How can we believe that they will respect differences, in advance, if in the same document they—in the most convoluted style of Beria’s secret police—criminalize disagreement and accuse those who differ as of serving the interests of imperialism?
How much longer will they try to equate and confuse the concepts of the party, the government, revolution, socialism and the nation?
A broken mirror
In the document, section 1.6 reads, “The imperialists are pinning their hopes on the supposed vulnerability of the young generation and certain groups or sectors of society, attempting to foment division, apathy, despair, rootlessness and lack of confidence in the direction taken by the revolution and the party. They are trying to depict this as a society without a future, to reverse socialism, and strip us of our independence and the revolutionary gains.”
This approach is one of disregard, manipulation and counterrevolution. It accuses anyone who opposes the system that needs to change as serving imperialism. The main factors that promote “division, apathy, despair, rootlessness and lack of confidence in the leadership of the revolution and the party” are the misguided economic and social policies of more than a half century of hyper-centralized government/party rule.
This is what has led to the ruin of our agricultural and industrial sectors, and consequently the tremendous hardships faced by the majority of the people. This is what is responsible for all of the current distortions in social consciousness.
This is the same philosophy that has tried to ignore political and ideological differences and to present them as “enemy activity.” It then restricts the freedoms and rights of all Cubans, and hopes to force the young generation to think like those of the past and to offer their unconditional support.
Discrimination on the basis of gender, age, color, religion, ideology, regional origin and other factors are not resolved by promoting victims to the positions of potential perpetrators, elevating them to senior rungs in the hierarchy, nor is this resolved with strategies that continue to be exclusive and sectarian and that criminalize differences.
Instead, what are needed are policies that lead to the real, practical, legal, moral and economic elimination of inequalities, hierarchies and powers that allow the exercise of discrimination.
Discrimination can only be exercised from a higher hierarchical level. Those who don’t have power cannot discriminate. Its resolution is an issue of economic and political power being shared and distributed, not centralized. Its concentration and centralization is the basis for the present disaster and all forms of discrimination.
We all need to participate in the power. We must wind up with the empowerment of the people. The hegemony of the existing power must be ended. Power must be pluralized and distributed in all ways, making it truly popular.
This implies laws that punish those who discriminate for any reason. This implies a legal and judicial framework that immunizes society against all forms of discrimination. From that, independent civil society can exist and function – one that doesn’t operate simply like a pulley that lowers directives from the top down. This implies legislation that guarantees all human rights equally to all, and not just some of the rights or for some of the people.
What has created distrust in the party and in its political-economic model is not imperialist propaganda but the establishment of state monopoly capitalism. Its proponents decided to reach this through socialism, where the bureaucratic structure has replaced the bourgeoisie in the appropriation of the means and results of production, and has established a controlled representative political system based on the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” which has really become the dictatorship of the bureaucracy.
A brotherhood of two bureaucratic factions?
If the classical framework of political power of the bourgeoisie is “representative democracy,” then the political structure of this system of state monopoly capitalism (we won’t call it socialism any more) may well be called the “representative bureaucracy.”
Another factor is that imperialism and the opposition of course use the media to exploit ill-conceived and absurd government policies.
If Raul has now determined that imperialism is not our main enemy, but instead our own mistakes, inaction, inertia, double standards, what is the source of this movement in reverse? Do they fear that democratization could lead to policies consistent with the recent speeches by the president and the first secretary of the PCC? Why not concentrate criticism on the real enemy, which has already been recognized and acknowledged by him? Or are the PCC and its first secretary moving in different directions?
The “Draft Document” cites important quotes by Raul, which at no time were implemented, such that it seems that to be in good with him they’re saying “I agree with you, but I’ll continue doing what I please.” It’s evident that the “Draft” (for the January party conference) was written by a team of neo-Stalinists who have nothing to do with the people who prepared the “Guidelines” (for the party congress), pregnant with neoliberal biases.
We revolutionaries and the people of Cuba are trapped between neo-Stalinist PCC bureaucrats and the neoliberal bureaucrats of the government commercial enterprises?
Are the neo-Stalinists and the neo-liberals the same thing or have they formed a brotherhood that operates beneath the presidential line to guarantee the future control of the country once the historic leaders are gone?
Does Raul know that neo-Stalinism and neoliberalism are antipodes of socialism? Does he realize that the revolution is being strangled from within by the party/government bureaucracy itself, by these two anti-socialist tendencies?
They are doing the dirty work of imperialism—some for free and others receiving large commissions—whose military muscle will not be needed to fully restore the power of international capital over our country.
Despite all of its recognized errors, the party continues to consider itself the vanguard and leader of the revolutionary process. It makes the decisions for all the people while ignoring the fact that the people and workers who should have the highest decision-making role. They would play the leading role in any genuinely revolutionary process.
Doesn’t the party/government realize that they are continuing to treat matters of the revolutionary process as if they were their private property? They forget that, until now, everything has been made possible by the sacrifices of the workers, peasants, soldiers, professionals, students and the Cuban people in general, who are now ignored, ill paid and underestimated by neoliberal-style policies undertaken by the all-possessing and all-deciding state.
By adopting an escapist position focused on the past, the party/government is forcing the reconsideration of analyses and positions of the revolutionary forces against that perspective.
It’s time to recognize that the revolutionary process is not a state, a government, a party or an individual—however important their role may have been in certain stages—but the systematic progress of socialization and democratization of economic and political power.
It’s time to move from the “representative bureaucracy” to direct democracy, exercised by the workers and people in production and service centers, in communities, in neighborhoods and in the municipalities across the country. The conference offers nothing in this regard.
What is left to say and do by the broad gamut of communists, socialists, libertarians, anarchists, Trotskyists, Gramscians, social democrats, democrats, supporters of wide diversity, defenders of the rights of everyone, and revolutionaries in general?
Each must find their answer.
To contact Pedro Campos: [email protected]