Let’s Move Cuba Towards Democratic Socialism

A government agenda that reflects the proposal for democratic socialism should stem from a much-needed change: remove Lenin from the equation.

By Alejandro Armengol, Cubaencuentro

Vladimir Ilich Ulianov Lenin

HAVANA TIMES – First of all. Not ha ghost, or utopia or storming Heaven. It’s a government agenda, not a plan to change to world. This is nothing new either. It has existed and continues to exist in Europe, with greater or less emphasis elsewhere, without the need for barricades, anthems and flags. The rest is just noise and ignorance, and ignorance is the weapon of con artists.

The best thing to do is start off with clear boundaries. Being in favor of an agenda that promotes social justice, where the government and State contribute to improving the social and economic conditions of the poor, doesn’t mean that you support forced nationalization, the creation of a Communist party, establishing the so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat” and shooting down bankers and business owners.

What’s more, democratically-elected governments with this kind of agenda have been around for a while and they have fulfilled their duties with similar achievements and limitations as other governments on the other end of the political spectrum. The key to this boundary lies not only in the democratic election in the very beginning, but in upholding the institutions that can determine change tomorrow and dissolve this government. It’s a matter of strengthening democracy, not dictatorship.

So, please, don’t confuse democratic socialism with the chaos in Venezuela, Cuba’s totalitarian government and the USSR’s history. Anyone who does this runs the risk of being labeled a hooligan or a fool.

Add to that the fact that socialists and communists have always been the worst of enemies, is an old sign of the evil stupidity does: ignorance is also a sin.

A government agenda that reflects the proposal for democratic socialism should stem from a much-needed change: remove Lenin from the equation. The political/economic model Lenin created was a historic aberration. Turning to Stalin to denounce the evil nature of this monster isn’t enough.

We have to also condemn the failed “21st century socialism” (by name, design and aspirations), which Hugo Chavez proposed and never brought to fruition. Likewise, accepting that Mao Zedong’s legacy in China and Ho Chi Minh’s in Vietnam, is nothing but accepting historic events and examples of mistakes and horror.

Trying to salvage all of these monsters is beyond impossible: terror and fury. However, this condemnation doesn’t mean refuting democratic socialism, or any government agenda that prioritizes social justice.

Defending a system of social justice (which hasn’t existed after January 1, 1959, in Cuba, to give you an example) doesn’t mean you’re signing up to exhausted plans. You can be in favor of free education, medical services for the population and a framework of State property, without walking around with the works of Marx and Engels under your arm. People who believe that placing all of a country’s economic resources in the hands of a State (a government in practice, a party, a dictator) are walking down the wrong path: this doesn’t solve problems, but rather aggravates them instead.

Some people in the US cry out and have a fright whenever they hear the word “socialism”, acting out of ignorance, which might go beyond personal experience and anecdotes.

While it’s true that the enemy has always added to this confusion, referring to “socialist republics”, the “Socialist Bloc”, and the “construction of socialism”, they haven’t won the battle just yet.

You might or might not believe in the benefits and dangers of socialism, just like you might or might not believe in the benefits and dangers of capitalism. However, it is too crass to confuse or put these phrases and events on the same playing field as European socialism, social democracy and democratic socialist parties the world over.

Being afraid of words won’t fix anything. Universal social benefits and putting the brakes on excessive greed is what we need, which has been the flag this country has brandished as the driving force for progress.

29 thoughts on “Let’s Move Cuba Towards Democratic Socialism

  • June 23, 2019 at 3:06 pm
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    There are many in favour of social justice who are opposed to communism, socialism and even democratic socialism. There is a confusion (sometimes deliberately promoted by believers in the afore-named political views) between “socialism” and social programs. Canada as a capitalist country for example, has never throughout its history, had a socialist government, but has a multitude of social programs including medical services and education.
    Those who practice the various forms of “socialism” tend to use social programs as a means of control and even as in Cuba, indoctrination. Alejandro Armengol is correct in stating that one can be in favour of social programs – he mentions education and medical services, without carrying around copies of Marx and Engels. Scotland for example enacted free education for everyone in 1697, with England following suite almost two hundred years later in 1875 by which time the corpse of Marx was undergoing putrefaction in Highgate cemetery but long before Lenin’s corpse was stuffed and put on public display in Moscow.

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  • June 23, 2019 at 3:21 pm
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    Cuba has some of the freest and most democratic elections in the world but go off

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    • June 23, 2019 at 6:28 pm
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      Yup, without opposition, one Political Party, not free press and on, and on. I guess you are not Cuban.

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    • June 24, 2019 at 10:06 am
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      Rain Meadows statement demonstrates complete ignorance of Cuba’s totalitarian state, the constitution and reality.

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    • June 30, 2019 at 4:48 pm
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      Silly comment. Unless you are prepared to redefine what you mean by free and democratic?

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  • June 23, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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    A lot of Americans do not understand Socialist government matters. Socialist government Nations liquidate natural resources for the benefit of all Socialist Nations. The defacto International consortium of Socialist Oil Producing Nations and consumers including Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, and now Venezuela show that US sanctions on these regions is a waste of time.

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    • June 24, 2019 at 10:15 am
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      You may have noted Thomas Weldon Makin that Erdogan,s party lost the election last week in Istanbul. But the first four words of your second sentence are correct: “Socialist government Nations liquidate”. The inevitable consequence of socialist governments is an ever increasing level of debt. Admiration for such systems illustrates lack of concern for the citizens who suffer the consequences.
      “The inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”

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  • June 23, 2019 at 6:57 pm
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    “……some animals are more equal than others” socialism and a truly free democracy since the state controls the means of production and by extension your employment , means of sustenance and your vote.its a ok to have a safety net but socialism is incompatible with liberty.

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  • June 24, 2019 at 4:21 pm
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    Karl Marx was one of the most remarkable philosophers to have ever put pen to paper. It was not his fault how his theories were interpreted in a century in which he never even lived.
    Blaming Karl Marx for the actions of a Stalin or a Pol Pot is as banal as say, blaming the Wright Brothers for 9-11.

    Some say that socialism is entirely incompatible with liberty.
    Others say that capitalism cannot ever possibly be compatible with either democracy or justice.

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  • June 25, 2019 at 1:00 am
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    But Nick when Diaz-Canel had his brief time in London in 2018, where did he head for – why to Highgate cemetery to pay homage to Marx. But If Marx holds no responsibility for communism, does that equally apply to Jesus Christ and Christianity?

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    • June 25, 2019 at 3:41 pm
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      I would suggest yes. It most probably should apply.
      Karl Marx was largely responsible for the development of Communist theory. It does not make him responsible for the crimes carried out say, a century after he died. My knowledge of his works is not exhaustive (it’s not all what one would call ‘an easy read’), but I do not recall him urging the idea of gulags in Siberia or killing fields in Cambodia – or for that matter, political detainees in Cuba.
      Similarly, Jesus Christ cannot be held responsible for the infinitely more numerous invasions, atrocities, murders, torture, imprisonments carried out over the last two millennia in his name or by those who use their belief in him as a pretext for their actions.
      Can one pin the blame on Adam Smith for all the various crashes, depressions, suffering, enslavement, famines etc that have been caused by excessive capitalism?
      Or should one blame Adam Smith for all the wars waged by those using the defence of Capitalism or the necessity to spread Capitalism as pretexts ?

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      • June 25, 2019 at 5:15 pm
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        All good questions Nick.

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      • June 30, 2019 at 4:55 pm
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        Excellent arguments. However Marx, unlike Jesus Christ and Adam Smith, failed to consider the nature of Man in his economic theory. Had he done so he would have recognized how flawed Communism is practice would become. Christ understood Man’s nature and preached a gospel to overcome it. Smith understood selfishness and greed and wrote about savage capitalism. Marx ignored the human instinct.

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        • July 1, 2019 at 4:14 pm
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          lol…Smith didn’t compensate for the depravity of humans with the “invisible hand” method either. No perfect market can exist and a dictatorship of the proletariat is more plausible than a truly free market.

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  • June 25, 2019 at 9:14 am
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    Communism is definitely not compatible with liberty.
    They block free enterprise, free elections, free speech etc etc.

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  • June 25, 2019 at 8:13 pm
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    Canada is a social democratic country, and all of the elected parties have upheld that philosophy, whether they use the name “social democratic” or not. In essence the country is essentially democratic socialist.

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    • June 26, 2019 at 2:32 pm
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      Obviously C. Ermle you have joined the pot smokers in pursuit of your irrational dreamland. Somewhat obviously you are endeavoring to gain some credit for socialism by the pretense that social programs necessarily are socialist. Baloney!
      Canada is democratic and capitalist, its people having had the opportunity every four years, have continually rejected socialism and communism. They enjoy freedom!

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  • June 26, 2019 at 7:44 pm
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    Ha Ha Haaaah…..
    Canada, which is one of my favourite countries in the world, enjoys massive resources and a relatively tiny population.
    A recipe for wealth and happiness regardless of the ….ism !

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  • June 26, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    Yes Carlyle you are right Canada is capitalist with social programs.
    Socialist is flung around very loosely.

    The Webster dictionary explains the definition, few read it.
    State control etc

    Pot smoking is irrelevant.

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    • June 26, 2019 at 11:14 pm
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      I had always thought Brad that pot smokers do so to extend the imagination – call it dreamland?
      Although Webster’s pre-dates the Oxford dictionary, I use the latter – which says:
      “a political and economic theory which advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”
      It doesn’t record that the theory results in the few or the individual who claim(s) to represent the “community as a whole” in reality become dictators.
      I agree with you that few read any dictionary.

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  • June 27, 2019 at 1:09 am
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    Mr MacD,
    You state that the Oxford Dictionary is incorrect/inadequate.
    You add your own personal definition.
    Then bemoan that few read dictionaries.
    Hilarious.

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    • June 27, 2019 at 3:34 pm
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      I did noting of the sort – re-read Nick! I made a direct quote of the Oxford English Dictionary, I did not “state that the Oxford Dictionary is incorrect/inadequate. Also, I did not “bemoan that few read dictionaries” I merely agreed with the view expressed by Brad.
      You may gain hilarity from total distortion, but that merely reflects inadequacy.

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  • June 27, 2019 at 8:38 am
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    I was born in Cuba but my parents left in late 1960. I have spent my life battling the government of the United States of Atrocities. Capitalism as it exists in the United States is a corporate dictatorship in which greed is the first order of the day. Education is non-existent without huge student loans at high interest rates and medical care is mostly just a phrase, as people die when they cannot afford their diabetes medication.

    The concept of freedom as just a word does not express what everyday wage slaves go through, or what immigrants go through. I have been a social activist my entire life, cubana pero no gusana, and I find some of these conversations disturbing. The United States is free only in the talk of corporate sponsored Orwellian propaganda, and most people are proudly ignorant these days. The prison-industrial complex imprisons more people than the rest of the world and the immigration system in its entirety is corrupt and highly militarized.

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    • June 27, 2019 at 3:49 pm
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      Whereas I agree with Silvia A Brandon-Perez that there is much to criticize about the US, it is ridiculous to state as she does, that: Education is non-existent.”
      Do please relate Ms. Brandon-Perez the top ten Universities in the world?
      My university was Aberdeen, my wife’s degrees including her Maestria, are Cuban. But we recognize the quality of the US universities, the first of which was Princeton, with its first Head being a Scot.
      As one born in Cuba it is always possible for you to return there, to claim Cuban citizenship, to renounce American citizenship and the “atrocities” and enjoy the benefits offered by the Castro regime.
      Cuba would be pleased to welcome you, as it strangely doesn’t have many immigrants.

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  • June 27, 2019 at 3:28 pm
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    Silvia, you make some very good points.

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  • June 27, 2019 at 3:50 pm
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    I did noting of the sort – re-read Nick! I made a direct quote of the Oxford English Dictionary, I did not “state that the Oxford Dictionary is incorrect/inadequate. Also, I did not “bemoan that few read dictionaries” I merely agreed with the view expressed by Brad.
    You may gain hilarity from total distortion, but that merely reflects inadequacy.

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  • June 28, 2019 at 5:53 am
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    Mr MacD,
    Where on earth can you have you misplaced your sense of humour ?
    Your comment about total distortion is a total distortion.
    Perhaps while you are going through the dictionary looking for definitions to embellish you may pause to look up the words ‘total’ and ‘distortion’.

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    • June 28, 2019 at 1:47 pm
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      You are correct Nick in thinking that my sense of humour does not include fabrication.

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  • June 28, 2019 at 5:59 am
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    Mr MacD.
    By the way, you have badly misquoted Silvia. She did not say that education in the USA is non existent. That would be an absurd claim. It is plain obvious that the comment referred to the cost of education in the USA which is prohibitive to many people.

    Reply

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