Ten of Fidel Castro’s Mistakes which Socialists Shouldn’t Repeat

By Pedro Campos

We continue defending the Revolution. Photo: Juan Suarez
We continue defending the Revolution. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — In the wake of Fidel Castro’s death, many people are writing about his revolutionary legacy for the Left and socialism on the whole. The most important part of this legacy is the following 10 serious mistakes he made which should not be repeated by socialists if they hope to contribute to social progress.

1- Concentration of absolute power in one single person along with the elimination of the State’s independent powers, rule of law and a democratic political system which must become more direct and popular.

2- Forced expropriation, nationalization – never socialization – of all large, medium and small-size businesses and concentrated State control of this, at a level which even private capitalism has never been able to reach.

3-Maintain wage slavery in state-run companies, which adheres to the essence of the capitalist system, but for the State. The State’s move towards monopolist capitalism derives from this.

4- Getting rid of and repressing any form of opposition, no matter what their stripes, using violence in its different forms, so as to maintain a single party and do away with freedom of association.

5- State-party-government control of all media and communications, preventing freedom of speech.

6- Considering human rights that are established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Civil and Political Rights as “bourgeois”, which instead should be comprehensively addressed and form part of the revolutionary legal code.

7- Getting rid of self-employment, associated or not – which is really socialist – and government policies that prevent its free development, especially in the form of joint, mutual ventures and self-employment which doesn’t exploit employees.

8- Considering the market as a capitalist monster which needs to be controlled in favor of the State’s interests, instead of allowing it to develop as much as it can and ban any kind of private or state monopoly, of course, that tries to limit it to such narrow-minded interests.

9- Trying to export “the socialist revolution” and believing that they have full international im

10- Not recognizing general economic and social laws, believing that capitalism and imperialism could be wiped off of the face of the earth willfully by the violent force of revolutionaries and not by the natural evolution of its own development and progress of real socialist methods of private or associated production, defined by free labor.

These 10 dire mistakes made by “Fidelismo” in Cuba.  They are the ones that prevented socialism and the Cuban people from making progress, led them towards a State-owned capitalist monopoly, destroyed the Cuban economy and caused great anthropological damage in our society.

Note: I’m not writing this now because he has died. This is the essence of an article I published in alternative international press on August 16, 2014, under the heading “Thanks Fidel”.

8 thoughts on “Ten of Fidel Castro’s Mistakes which Socialists Shouldn’t Repeat

  • That’s a bit of a black-and-white view to take, in my opinion. There have been plenty of “pro-American” “pro-capitalist” dictators in the Spanish-speaking world; if the only thing Fidel was interested in, from the very beginning, was power, why not emulate them?
    I think Fidel meant well, from his own point of view, but had a paternalistic view of himself as the revolution’s “father,” and that only he could see things through to the end he thought best.

  • Not exactly “10 things” but…

    Naturally, basic services (education, health insurance, etc.) and a government receptive to popular needs and opinions. Also, naturally, freedom of association and speech.

    Economically, what CAN NOT be done is centralized state planning of a national economy. What CAN be done, in my opinion, is encouragement and nurturing of more cooperative and community-oriented models of enterprise. For instance, funds earmarked for credit unions, small businesses and worker/consumer cooperatives; credit unions/banks would be important, as such models suffer in “capitalist” countries from a lack of financing. State industries can be given to their employees to either run themselves or sell. Services can be localized and democratically run on a community-basis. A Cuban version of Mondragon would be a very welcome development, or Emilia-Romagna (large percentage of cooperative enterprises and social services, many small/medium businesses networking over projects), given that Cuba is a small country.

    Free trade would be necessary, but it shouldn’t mean foreign multinationals get special privileges. Whatever one’s opinion of the Castros, calling the alternative preferred by the US ruling class a “free market” is dishonest. What we have is riddled with special privileges and protection for big and “important” industries, at the expense of everybody else.

    Basically, what I (speaking for myself) would consider a good “socialist” Cuba would be a Nordic-style welfare state that can guarantee basic services and freedoms (including the freedom to make a living without being dictated), but with encouragement (but not dictation) of mutual aid and horizontal hierarchy.

  • Well Carlyle, most certainly Cuba’s form of Socialism was far from good. Pedro brings up some very good points.

  • You need a robust capitalistic economy for some form of socialism to work such as in many Western European countries. However, I feel socialism in general requires a great deal of capital that poor countries like Cuba cannot possibly sustain. Just taking from the rich and powerful like Fidel did, as we’ve seen, is a temporary fix. Cuba is better off as a democratic, capitalist state with a well-organized government based on all the freedoms mentioned, opposing views and smart people who know how to govern. It can be done, but not in a dictatorship who’s main focus is to stay in power. No one in his right mind wants to be jailed or shot, so the Cuban revolution will continue to flourish with its main focus of instilling fear in a population that’s too poor and hungry to want to fight. It’s really just survival mode or flee and take a boat to the U.S mainland.

  • Amen!

  • As George Orwell wrote, “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

    To quibble about the “mistakes” Fidel made in establishing socialism in Cuba rather misses the point. The whole purpose of the Cuban Revolution was to ensure Fidel Castro, and no one else, ruled over Cuba. Everything was a means to that end.

  • Pedro has delicately described what Socialism should NOT include. What I would like to see is a list of the 10 things that Socialism SHOULD include.

  • To summarize Pedro Campos’ view. Socialism is an attractive theory which has successively proven to be a bad practice. If in the form of communism as in Cuba, it inevitably ends up in dictatorship and Cuba has suffered Fidel Castro’s “socialismo” for almost fifty eight long dreary years. Cubans have been denied the right to have freedom.

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