Cuba: What Would Marx Have Thought?

Dariela Aquique

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Two teenagers were talking at a bus stop. With the habitual idioms that characterize the parlance of a good many Cubans these days, one of them was showing off his IPhone 5, saying to the other: “Bro, this thing’s off the chart. Look at the cell my old man got me, it’s smokin’. It’s a got a ton of killer apps, but you can’t use many of them here.”

I recalled that, some days before, I had read an article from Russia Today titled “Marx Knew it All Along”, which mentioned the five systemic characteristics of contemporary capitalism presaged by the theories of the German philosopher 150 years ago.

The article didn’t only enumerate these characteristics but also described them as chronic and noxious aspects of the capitalist system itself. Repeating the phrase “unlike socialism”, it referred to the illusory needs Karl Marx had predicted over a hundred years ago as one of the features of today’s system.

Marx had defined the creation of false needs among people as an inherent tendency of the capitalist system, explaining that this system makes consumers long for high priced products that have very little use for, ultimately turning them (and I quote) into “the slaves of inhuman, refined, anti-natural and imaginary whims.”

He predicted the situation in currently existing States, which enjoy high standards of living and nevertheless look for new means of distraction, making people feel a constant impulse to buy more and more things, when they actually have no need to do so, owning similar appliances that work perfectly well.

When the socialist bloc collapsed, Cuba remained as a kind of museum-piece, as one of the few countries still set on maintaining the postulates of the socialist system as Marx understood them. I say this bearing in mind that China’s socialist praxis is rather sui generis and the “socialism of the 21st” century allegedly practiced in some Latin American countries does not proclaim itself Marxist.

This day and age, Cuba continues to close its Party congresses with the International and continues to carry the torch of an egalitarian society that will one day give birth to the “New Man” (after many miscarriages).

Since 1959, the Cuban State has eliminated all vestiges of the so-called bourgeoisie. Cuban men and women, like their revolutionary leaders, were called on to say no to the ideological weakness promoted by advertisement, consumerism and the puerile nature of the media.

Something, somewhere, went wrong. The passage of time, technological breakthroughs, the inadequacy of certain theories and hard everyday life have turned Cuba into a society that is more and more susceptible to those “sensationalist ills” Karl Marx railed against.

Most of our young people today are only interested in brand clothing, foreign fashions, videogames and the last, showy manifestations of technology: Iphones, Blackberrys, IPods and 3D plasma TVs.

What happened? Weren’t socialists supposed to be immune to such contagious ills? What would Marx have thought?

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

11 thoughts on “Cuba: What Would Marx Have Thought?

  • He would be embarrassed by the use of his writing to fool and suppress by totalitarian governments. Individual freedom is the ultimate luxury. Coercive oppression in the name of fairness is dehumanizing.

  • Smart phone are evil tools of corporate control. Shame on
    you glorifying such as wasteful crap. In Cuba there is no need for huge shadowy
    organization like NSA, generating pollution with theirs gigantic servers and satellites,
    while collecting your information. We have a more humane and environmentally friendly
    way, your neighbor and friends, actually meet the people and pass the

  • Marx was uncannily right about consumerism (or commodity fetishism as he called it). I don’t include the advance of technology like mobile phones, apps. I couldn’t – I work in IT myself. But look at the clothes industry. People will pay probably three times as much for a branded pair of jeans and even more if the manufacturer has already cut holes in it, or the seam has been sown on the outside, or they are so badly fitting that half your arse shows. During the recent riots in the UK clothes shops and branded clothes became one of the main targets for stealing. Imagine it, people were willing to face prison just for the sake of a label.

    As for Cuba, Cubans are thrice blessed that the consumerism there is based on word of mouth. At least they don’t have to endure the brainwashing effect of advertising which psychologically manipulates our subconsciousness, preying on our souls, desires and insecurities and filling our lives with garbage.

  • You defined it as such in your statement above:

    “Communism, socialism, Marxism is DEAD in the world and except for crazy N.Korea, isn’t killing anyone anymore.”

    You made the association between the murderous regime of North Korea, et al, and communism, socialism & Marxism.

    Your feeble argument-by-authority backfires on you. These wise academics you point to at “accredited universities” at one time or another all supported, endorsed, praised and taught Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, Trotskyism, and Fidelismo as the ideal socialist systems. Many still do.

  • Whatever.
    You can define Stalin et al as socialists or communists as you like .
    You can say that the Earth is flat and that the sky isn’t blue as well.
    In attempting to jab at me , you succeeded only in again pointing out that you have no formal education in the associated economics or philosophies which alone determine what communism, socialism etc are and are not.
    You cannot take your post to any accredited university and not have it roundly rejected as inaccurate as it is.
    Radio talk shows are not accredited forms of political curricula.

  • I don’t care how you define yourself. I hope you don’t feel hurt, but I’m not writing about you. You & your political opinions are not important to me.

    My post was about the history of what you identified as “Communism, socialism, Marxism”. So while you play the no-true-Scotsman game you slipped up and admitted that North Korea, and by implication, all the other totalitarian “Communism, socialism, Marxism” states were just that.

    I don’t have to do anything to prove you wrong. History has proven Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao, Castro, Kim, Pol Pot, and all the other Communists, socialists, & Marxists wrong.

  • You wasted a lot of time on that pointless post.
    You jumped to a lot of unjustifiable conclusions for nothing.
    To repeat as needed:
    I am an anarchist and a communist and a complete democrat , all of which are compatible.
    I am not a Marxist. Marxists are hierarchical and ultimately totalitarian.
    I am not a Stalinist or a Maoist since they were totalitarian state controlled thinkers and not at all democratic .
    I am not a Leninist as are Fidel /Raul and the PCC because Leninism is also top-down and elitist and not democratic .
    I oppose capitalism because of its effects and because it is sociopathic and totalitarian.- it is the antithesis of democracy .
    Again , to repeat: there has never been a socialist or communist country, economy or society in recent centuries and certainly not since the advent of the state and capitalism .
    You don’t know what you’re talking about.
    You can copy and paste from the Black Book Of Communism or wherever it is you get your piss-poor rhetoric but you misinterpret both me and history .
    Your stuff is pathetic
    They do not teach your version of reality at anyplace except Limbaugh’s Institute For Advanced Conservative Studies .
    Seriously , submit your posts to any university where U.S. foreign policy matters are taught and ask for an opinion of your “facts”..
    I can tell you that no ACCREDITED institution of higher would teach what you post .
    Prove me wrong.

  • Let’s parse that key sentence of yours:

    “Communism, socialism, Marxism is DEAD in the world and except for crazy N.Korea, isn’t killing anyone anymore .”

    So now you finally admit that North Korea is communist, socialist and Marxist. Wonderful. Furthermore, by using the word,”except”, you admit there are or were several other communist, socialist and Marxist states. And because you mention “killing”, then we know you are referring to all of the communist, socialist and Marxist states which practiced mass killings on an institutional scale: the USSR, Mao’s China, Vietnam, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, Mengistu’s Ethiopia, and of course, revolutionary Cuba. Add to that all the sordid wars of revolution where the USSR or China supported extreme leftist terrorist groups: Sendero Luminoso in Peru, FARC in Colombia, and a hundred other bands of murdering Marxists.

    You wrote “anymore”, which is an admission these communist, socialist and Marxists used to kill quite a bit. But these formerly communist, socialist and Marxist regimes didn’t stop killing because they decided to be nice. They stopped killing because the regimes collapsed. Eastern Europe is no longer ruled by communist, socialist and Marxist states which used to kill the people as a matter of policy. Russia is no longer communist, socialist and Marxist, even thought the ruling party of Vladimir Putin is essentially a reformed & relabelled Communist party and included many former members of the old guard, including Putin himself. Typically, his government does continue, on a relatively smaller scale, the old practice of killing political rivals and uppity ethnic groups who attempt to break free of the Russian yoke (ie Ukraine, Georgia). The Chinese regime, which still calls itself communist, socialist and Marxist, is quite vigorous in putting down dissent and rebellious ethnic groups by the tried and true methods of killing.

    You attempt to isolate the only ongoing killing by communist, socialist and Marxists to North Korea, while blaming all hunger and want on “capitalists”. First of all, there are hundreds of thousands of people starving in communist, socialist and Marxist North Korea, and millions of malnourished children in communist, socialist and Marxist Laos. The still very much communist, socialist and Marxist Cuba is struggling to feed their population as well, and a good many of the Cuba dissidents manage to die in questionable circumstances.

    In Venezuela, where the Maduro government is attempting to impose a more extreme form of communist, socialist and Marxist state, the regime is now engaged in killing the people. The murder rate in Venezuela has soared since Chavez came to power 15 years ago.

    So which countries do the most to end hunger and feed the starving? Capitalist countries do. The USA, Canada, the EU, Japan and other Western capitalist countries spend billions of dollars every year on aid, medicine, and development projects in poor countries around the world.

    Meanwhile, the current and former communist, socialist and Marxist states do nothing to end hunger in the world. The communist, socialist and Marxists like to talk about feeding the poor. But they refrain from actually helping to feed the poor as a matter of policy because it is a point of their ideology that the starving poor will rise up and support communist, socialist and Marxist regimes to rule over them.

  • You should read Marx sometime Griffin just so you have a more factual idea of what he was writing about and how his philosophies were twisted by the totalitarians who used his name to justify their atrocities.
    you realize of course that you could also say the same thing about Jesus Christ as you did about Marx and Marx also, had nothing but the best of intentions in what he said and wrote .
    Lastly. I read this statistic a few days ago:
    The world , at present, produces 117% of the food needed to provide adequate nutrition for every man, woman and child on the planet .
    Yet.. every year some six million people die of starvation in the world because they live in very poor capitalist countries and cannot earn the $2.00 a day it takes to buy that food .
    The supermarkets and local shops have the food or can get it but the people have no money to buy it.
    Add to that 6 million a year the millions who die each year of malnutrition-caused diseases, malaria and other preventable and curable diseases again because they have no money for mosquito nets or medicine and then multiply it by 50 years or 100 years .
    That’s a great many hundreds of millions of people who CONTINUE to die under capitalism.
    Communism, socialism, Marxism is DEAD in the world and except for crazy N.Korea, isn’t killing anyone anymore .
    Capitalism OTOH is getting more murderous and those hundreds of millions of deaths caused directly by capitalism-induced poverty continue, year after year after year.
    And you support it while beating the dead horse that is Marxism in the world today .
    You might want to think about your priorities .

  • He would have thought, “darn it, never did account for human nature” that’s why I was a failure.

    Marx would probably view a black and white TV and a rotary phone as a distraction. iPhones, for example, are not “showy manifestation” but are instead tools that are used in a naturally evolving technological society. The inexorable march of time. Unfortunately Cuba, because of its twisted system, is caught in a time warp, that effects not only the material prospects of the society, but the menal as well.

  • What would Marx think? If he had any shame, he would apologize for the tens of millions of people who have suffered, starved, were imprisoned, exiled or murdered in his name.

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