Vicente Morin Aguado
“The prehistory of human society accordingly closes with this social formation.” (Karl Marx, 1869)
HAVANA TIMES — “Annibal ante portas!” This is what the Romans yelled when the great Carthaginian commander approached Rome. The Roman Senate accepted the temporary rule of a dictator to rally all forces and save the city. Cuba’s Hannibal has been capitalism. Now, we are definitively facing the essential question, what Francis Fukuyama called the “end of history and the last man.”
It is not exactly an apocalyptic moment. The debate in Havana surrounds whether socialism is to continue or whether we will head towards the only other option, capitalism. When Obama and Raul Castro revealed that the two countries had been engaged in secret negotiations for 18 months, the US government was clear that its efforts were aimed at “promoting the independence of Cubans,” such that they would “no longer have to depend on the Cuban State.”
Now that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations is imminent, as we celebrate with a good lager beer in Havana, we are reminded that keeping things up-front is a sure way of staying friends.
It is now a question of dismantling the authoritarian state that has steered the nation’s destiny for over fifty years, assuming “popular” ownership over the properties confiscated from the capitalists (but doing everything save give the people real control over the means of production, to use the old Marxist parlance).
I invoke Marx because it is time we return to the essence of his thought and his proposals for putting behind us our prehistory as a species. It is a Hegelian notion reinterpreted by this great, Promethean philosopher, whose point of departure is the possibility of turning human beings into the masters of their own destiny, the creation of a socio-economic and political system based on the experience accumulated by humanity.
The proposal adds a number of considerations essential to the survival of humanity: solidarity and equity on a planet which, according to the most recent discoveries in physics, will remain isolated from any other inhabitable corner of the universe for a long time to come.
The concrete proposals made by the so-called classics (Marx, Engels and Lenin) must not be taken out of context. We must reject the equations drawn up by communist politicians when they insist on the continued validity of these texts. Even Jose Marti, who was anything but Marxist, must be rolling in his grave because of the repeated allusions to the “continued validity of his thought,” which can only be understood within the context of his lifetime.
A new kind of socialism, understood as a development of Marx’s essential proposal, is not only possible, it is necessary – and it stems from the implicit logic of world events. It is completely irrational that a single man – George Soros – should have accumulated, in less than a decade, a fortune equivalent to the number of people who inhabit the Earth today.
While this great speculator and others amass such quantities of money, millions of people, including many in the United States, have lost their homes because of the volatile behavior of the stock market, turning their savings into the immense, individual fortunes of a few able gamblers.
As far as I know, Mr. Soros only wears a pair of shoes once (and I imagine other multimillionaires do the same). I don’t believe there is anyone capable of denying the intrinsic irrationality of capitalism.
On evaluating the socialist states that have existed till now, a staunch anti-communist named Francis Fukuyama correctly pointed out that “Socialism’s failing went far beyond its inability to produce factories that could manufacture semiconductors: by creating a dictatorship that trampled over the dignity of individual citizens, it failed to create that equality of recognition that is necessarily the basis of a just society.”
Fukuyama does not believe in the possibility of a different kind of socialism, to me indispensable in light of the new challenges that face humanity.
I am speaking of survival in simple, ecological terms, of the need to feed ourselves, dress and lead dignified lives wherever we may be, as it is clear that we are a single species.
I am speaking of the unstoppable spread of the democratic ideal, broadened every day by new communication technologies and by the ever broader exchange among human beings.
For Cubans, the new year began with the promise of decisive changes in the long and difficult path we have traced as a nation. We can prove those who insisted the end of history has already arrived wrong, beginning anew without forgetting the past.
Vicente Morin Aguado: email@example.com