Vincent Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — During the most recent expanded meeting of the Cuban cabinet, President Raul Castro exclaimed: “Discussing limitlessly – that’s democracy!” Because we at Havana Times (HT) also “discuss limitlessly”, we’ve been labeled by some people as “counterrevolutionary,” especially when it concerns something that’s vitally important: whether socialism in Cuba is worth saving.
Perhaps I’m in the minority in this discussion, but — thinking that the issue goes beyond the scope of a small website — I’d venture to say that it is indeed worth saving socialism, not only for our country, but as something of global importance.
The articles in HT generally discuss many of the today’s concerns, revealing the toll of years of bureaucracy, stagnation, corruption, ineptitude and other evils of the system, which — as is well known — doesn’t even work for us.
None of this is aimed at “discovering America,” and it’s good to unload what we carry around inside, especially when it’s the truth.
Nevertheless, the inevitable catharsis has to lead somewhere, to some point or destination, one that’s inclusive of all Cubans and that leads us to our much longed for prosperity – at least as far as this is possible in the eternally limited material world and in the unlimited spiritual one. Otherwise, why complain so much?
This is why I want to stop right now and deal with a certain controversy: Socialism vs. capitalism.
Socialism, known up to now as a system established following revolutions marked by the Marxist “dictatorship of the proletariat”, is presented as a failure. As for capitalism, whose origin is very different, we can say that it too is marked by frustration. In looking at the origins of these two systems, I am able to answer — for me at least — the dilemma behind those two failures.
Capitalism enthroned itself in this world as something that appeared natural because private property, markets, money and the concentration of wealth in a few hands are inherently linked to civilization from its beginnings, millennia ago.
The bourgeois revolutions contributed the renewed idea of human rights and the restoration of democratic republicanism, ancient traditions in Western culture.
Socialism was something very different, emerging in response to a contradiction that has remained insurmountable up until now: economic anarchy that has not been able to be stopped and democracy colliding with the power of money. The excessive desire for profit, impossible to control, conflicts with democratic ideals.
Marx’s idea was to create a society that was not the natural continuation of others before it; rather, he saw one that was the outcome of the cumulative historical experiences of humankind. This meant that people would become the subject of history and define their destinies for themselves. Up through today this has seemed utopian.
Based on previous suppositions, it’s logical that socialism is identified with the names of individuals responsible for its failures, just as capitalism will end up orphaned by those who are guilty.
This is why, after re-reading what has been written by many contributors to our website, I’m concerned that some aspects of the realities is left out; in other words, they are they are looking at the trees but missing the forest.
Cuba experienced an authentically popular revolution that eliminated the evictions of families in the countryside and in urban areas; socialized education, health, science, culture and sports; nationalized the country’s natural resources and regained national independence against aggressive US imperialism. This may sound like a lot of “yada yada yada”…but it is an inescapable reality.
The “dictatorship of the proletariat,” turned into caudillismo (strongman rule), are models we must now leave behind. What is indispensable is full democracy, which I understand as effective popular participation in all decisions. It is “limitless discussion,” like our President said recently, without so-called “collective rights” being used as a pretext to curtail the equally essential rights of the individual.
A single party is not the obstacle to democracy if that institution becomes all-inclusive, in addition to differentiating its functions in relation to the state, which must be constitutionally approved. The party, as understood by Marti, meant “with all and for the good of all.”
Socialism would then make sense, because people in our society would see that they were better than they seem now and that they themselves would be the builders of their own futures.
At only 27, Marx wrote, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it.”
What I ask for and practice is the avoidance of beforehand discrediting of the people or issues that we write about, since actions speak louder than certain precedents.
Where did the reformers in the USSR, Maoist China or heroic Vietnam come from? The names will fade away, but what will remain are the results. This involves conceptions – not preconceptions.
According to Christians, “God made man in his image”; though atheists argue the opposite. The Bible tells us in the beginning: “The LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’” (Genesis 3-22)
Whatever the case, the equation is presented to us as a simple fraction: 1/1. It will always be the same because what is essential is the free will of human beings. This is why, I repeat, it’s worth saving socialism.
To contact Vincent Morin Aguado, write: [email protected]