The Socialist Revolution is not the Cuban Gov., State, Party or Leadership

Pedro Campos

Foto: Isbel Díaz

HAVANA TIMES — Socialist revolution represents society’s forward movement towards the democratization and socialization of politics and the economy in the capitalist age, the replacement of salaried relations of production, which characterize capitalism, with the reign of free labor associations of the cooperative and self-managed kind.

This process is born within capitalism and begins to expand gradually.

Political revolutions in the course of the capitalist era – which have generally involved changes in government – haven’t led to socialist revolutions in the Marxist sense of the word owing to the confusion, introduced by so-called “Marxism-Leninism” (it’s Stalinist variant, to be more precise), regarding the role of workers, the State, democracy, human rights, the Party, the market, economic planning and relations of production. I have dealt with this amply in previous articles, as have many other contemporary socialists.

Cuban workers had been developing forms of free labor associations, such as savings and retirement funds and free, individual labor, since the close of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, small cooperatives and important medical associations were already being formed.

Cooperatives began to appear in sectors such as fishing, shoe manufacturing, agriculture and transportation (Omnibus Aliados). Even workers at Havana’s airport set up a cooperative, the Cooperative Association of Aeronautical Industry Workers (ACTIA), to build homes and markets for airport employees.

In 1959, Cuba’s popular revolution, which relied on the massive support of the Cuban people, triumphed. Though the Moncada Program contained socialist proposals, promoting forms of cooperative labor and calling for the redistribution of 30 percent of company profits to employees, the great, social motive force that impelled the revolution was the aim of restoring the country’s democratic system, eliminated by Fulgencio Batista’s coup in 1952, and Cuba’s democratic constitution of 1940, trampled by the dictator.

The leaders of the Sierra Maestra guerrilla movement headed by Fidel Castro who capitalized on that popular victory did not restore democracy or the 1940 Constitution and prioritized a series of widely-demanded socio-economic reforms.

Disagreements within the provisional government, the 26th of July Movement and the broad anti-Batista front didn’t take long to flourish. This led to the emergence of the first opposition groups, accused of being counterrevolutionaries by the guerilla leadership that, a few months following the revolution, was already in control of all the main levers of government. As of that moment, all dissenting thought was considered treason and a highly skewed notion of civil and political rights began to take root.

Foto: Isbel Díaz

The nationalization of estates, companies, mansions, automobiles and goods misappropriated by high officials of the Batista regime, followed by the Agrarian Reform, placed a great many economic resources and lands in the hands of that government (already headed by Fidel Castro) and quickly transformed the State into the country’s chief employer.

The bureaucracy of the old State began to be replaced by the new, “revolutionary” bureaucracy, which now had to manage all of the businesses it had secured (none of which it handed over to the workers).

The centralization and nationalization of Cuba’s economy and political life gained impetus in the mid-1960s, when the first steps to create the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) were taken. These organizations were formed out of the remnants of the 26th of July Movement, the 13th of March Movement and the People’s Socialist Party (PSP).

The leadership of the ORI was left in the hands of the main figures of these organizations, mostly those of the PSP (who had neo-Stalinist leanings) and the “radicals” of the 26th of July Movement.

At the time, the massive nationalization of US capital (its appropriation by the State, to be more precise), intensified conflicts with the United States and the economic and military rapprochement with the Soviet Union and socialist bloc, were creating the conditions needed to steer Cuba’s revolutionary process in the direction of Soviet-styled “socialism.”

After the revolution had been declared “socialist”, on the eve of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and with the defeat of this invasion and President Kennedy’s decision not to offer direct military support for the action, the triumph of “Marxist-Leninist” philosophy over the other forces that made up Cuba’s revolutionary process was sealed.

As of that moment, the United States decided that the best thing Cuba could do for the Western Hemisphere was to collapse under the weight of its own mistakes, and not to help it go out as a martyr in an epic struggle against its great northern neighbor.

This had paved the road towards the establishment of a Soviet-styled “dictatorship of the proletariat”, the strengthening of Cuba’s strategic alliance with the Soviet Union and its “Real Socialism”, the complete nationalization of the economy and complete control by the government/State/Party, led by a small group of people who called themselves the vanguard of the revolution, whose decisions were obeyed unconditionally. This situation has persisted to this day.

The Missile Crisis of 1962, unleashed by the installation of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, was the event which sparked off the criminal (and still effective) US blockade, which the government/State/Party invokes to justify all its economic disasters and anti-democratic policies.

It was in the course of this process that the Cuban revolution began to be confounded with the government, the Party and its leaders, as the “Marxist-Leninist” philosophy embraced by this leadership understood the process as the work of an all-possessing and all-deciding State, led by an elite who, on behalf of the people, the working class and socialism, was called on to administer the country’s economy and politics.

Such a centralization of political and economic power, instead of democratizing politics and socializing the economy, led to the exact opposite: politics and the economy became more monopolistic than ever before and, in practice, the revolution of 1959, which could have become a true socialist revolution, became the opposite (which is what happened everywhere where these misguided policies were implemented).

Photo: Caridad

The bureaucratic elite never handed the country’s companies over to the workers. It appointed administrative sub-bureaucracies in all State companies, which maintained the wage system.

It “nationalized” existing cooperatives. It placed medical associations under State control. It did away with the saving funds unions and nationalized their property, such as the Hilton Hotel, which was not owned by that chain and was operated, under an administrative contract, by Havana’s Food Industry Union.

After setting up sugar-cane cooperatives in nationalized lands formerly owned by foreign companies (in 1960), it dismantled these and re-structured them into State farms less than two years later, turning 100 thousand cooperative workers into wage laborers.

To finish off the socialization of private property and the economy which already existed before 1959, the so-called “revolutionary offensive” of 1968 placed thousands of small private and family businesses under State control.

Today, there is no question about it. After the fall of the socialist bloc and the Soviet Union, after the advent of the so-called “reform process” and its measures (reminiscent of neo-liberal policies), its hopes for an alliance with foreign capital and its inconsistent flirting with forms of cooperativism and self-employment, it is clear the country’s system was never anything other than a form of State monopoly capitalism, where a bureaucratic apparatus administers State property, the economy, laws and the rights of the people and continues to exploit workers through wage labor (paying increasingly measly salaries to its employees).

This elitist political and military bureaucracy, which calls itself the “revolutionary government”, has wielded absolute economic and political power, has done what it has pleased with all of the resources of the Cuban people and has never handed power – real or formal – to the workers or the people, establishing a clever political system that maintains it in power.

Many believe Fidel Castro “used” so-called Marxism-Leninism to consolidate his power, while others believe he honestly sought to construct socialism through its methods. For me, the important thing is to identify the methods and its disastrous consequences, which reveal that what this government has been doing for 55 years has nothing to do with socialism. Only socialist mechanisms and methods can result in such a society.

January 1, 1959 marked the glorious triumph of the Cuban people over a dictatorship. What came afterwards was steered away from the democratization and socialization of political and economic power demanded by a socialist revolution, which has been spoken about but never materialized, not to this day.

It is therefore a historical and sociological error to identify Cuba’s pending socialist revolution with the government, the State, the Party and the leaders of the revolution of 1959. Such a revolution would in fact entail the expropriation of the political and economic power wielded by the bureaucracy and its centralized State, for the benefit of the working people and of all Cubans.


19 thoughts on “The Socialist Revolution is not the Cuban Gov., State, Party or Leadership

  • January 21, 2014 at 9:52 pm
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    I will buy totalitarian state that operated under guise of communism. But I see no evidence that bottom up socialist system with free sharing of labor and resources could work. Only the market or the state have been demonstrated to drive the scale of organization needed to make a modern economy function. Incentive vs state coercion.

    The market reforms Raul is introducing will increase productivity, something he knows can’t happen as effectively by coercive state demands. He is looking to unleash the creative and productive capacity that is discretionary. Without incentive, man exerts less effort.

    Raul could unleash a productivity revolution even faster if Maduro falls leading to Cuba being cut off from oil subsidies. The most important reform has already been introduced, a tax system. It is taxes that makes capitalism appealing to the Cuban ruling class. Milking the private sector enriches the state and allows for sharing more broadly of gains.

  • January 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm
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    a nonsense article, which brings me memories of a good friend that uses to teach Scientific Communism in Cuba. In the end all of his predictions or analyses where incorrect

  • January 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm
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    I am so very curious as to how you continue to misstate others positions on this site in order to try make your argument….how do you do that with a straight face?

  • January 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm
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    Agreed.However, the extraterritorial effect does not abrogate the rights of Americans to decide who is permitted to do business with Americans using American currency. Consider this: Cuba likewise says that to do business in Cuba, a foreign company must share 51% of the ownership with the Castro regime. That too has extraterritorial ramifications. The legal challenge is in negotiation rather than litigation because the plaintiff knew their likelihood of prevailing was weak and the business value of winning the case was outweighed by the cost of the challenge. Legally, the US is on pretty solid ground based on international sovereignty rights. That’s why the annual UN vote is non-binding and carries no sanctions. The only case to be made is the moral one: Is it fair that the world’s largest economy would choose to freeze out the economy of a poor nation of only 11 million people?

  • January 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm
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    One can buy Nestles ice cream in Cuba, even thought the company is 10% owned by US investors. Cuban computers run Microsoft Windows. THe list goes on. THe notion that Cuba is utterly cut off from US products is obviously not true.

  • January 15, 2014 at 9:31 am
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    If it is your choice to use name-calling as a means to bolster what is a scattered and incoherent defense of weak positions, then I will no longer engage or debate you. I find it repulsive when cowards write in internet blogs what I am sure they would not say to my face.

  • January 15, 2014 at 9:20 am
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    In a globalized economy the effect is extraterritorial. It is roping third parties into following your foreign policy whether they want to or not. For example the company I work for couldn’t do business with Cuba if they wished to. The legal challenge by the EU was serious, it was just dropped in favour of negotiation.

  • January 15, 2014 at 9:18 am
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    I will call a spade a spade .
    You equated homo sapiens with Peking Man which is moronic.
    Secondly I said ” from the time humans and chimpanzees split off from a common ancestor….”
    If you go back and reread my post you’ll see this is so.
    Have you read about the implications of chromosome 2 ?
    A question: as a believer in things Biblical , is it your belief that God created homo sapiens ( us) some 100,000 years ago and then waited some 98,000 years before intervening to help us out ?
    If so , you might want to view the You-Tube video entitled
    ” The falsity and immorality of Christianity” a 12:59 minute Christopher Hitchens debate segment .
    Do please let me know your thoughts on that video.

  • January 15, 2014 at 8:12 am
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    You said prior to the chimpanzee/human split, ergo Peking Man. Try not to resort to school-yard name calling John.

  • January 15, 2014 at 8:09 am
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    The embargo does not prohibit “countries” from doing business with Cuba. That would have to be accomplished through a UN resolution or multi-lateral sanctions. Such sanctions, for example, exist against North Korea which Cuba violated with the discovered weapons they attempted to send to North Korea. Instead, the US embargo applies to companies that wish to do business within the US. Companies which prefer to do business with Cuba and reject businesses opportunities in the US are free to do so. Many companies choose this option. For this reason the embargo is only partially effective. There are no serious legal challenges to the embargo as it is based wholly on the sovereign laws of the US.

  • January 15, 2014 at 7:44 am
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    Your country can refuse to trade with Cuba – that is your right, but penalising, fining and blocking third countries is not. This isn’t allowed behaviour in commercial relationships between companies and is more than likely illegal under international law. The EU certainly believed so, otherwise they wouldn’t have brought an action against the US on this very issue.

  • January 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm
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    Moses,
    The question I am asking was asked in at least one previous thread that went away .
    The question is pertinent to a great many articles and discussions we have had in which you asserted that the purpose of the U.S . embargo was to restore /establish democratic systems in Cuba .
    All our discussions involve this in one way or another.
    You cannot possibly be thrilled to be asked this question because I have these 54 instances in which the purpose of the U.S. intervention was never to establish democracies, you cannot come up with one so far and you are obviously avoiding the question for that reason.
    Also… you have never denied being a totalitarian which being a supporter of both capitalism and the U.S oligarchy you must be and thus democracy is an alien and impossible system for you to support.
    You can run but you can’t hide.

  • January 14, 2014 at 5:48 pm
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    Moron,
    Peking man was a primitive progenitor to homo sapiens .
    Homo sapiens made its appearance only some 100,000 or so years ago .
    Anthropology is not your strong suit nor is sarcasm garbed in the pronounced ignorance you shamelessy display . .

  • January 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm
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    Good news! There’s already a national anthem for your anarchist utopia. Amy Winehouse sang a nice version of it:

    “Monkey Man”

    Aye yi yi, aye yi yi
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man
    Aye yi yi, aye yi yi
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man

    I never saw you, I only heard of you
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man
    I never saw you, I only heard of you
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man

    It’s your lie, it’s your lie
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man
    It’s your lie, it’s your lie
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man

    Now I know that, now I understand
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man
    Now I know that, now I understand
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man

    La la la la la la
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man
    La la la la la la
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man

    Aye yi yi, aye yi yi
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man
    Aye yi yi, aye yi yi
    Huggin’ up the big monkey man

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lEgNyJQ2is

  • January 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm
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    Ohhhhh! I get it now. So what you propose is that humans revert back to how we interacted with each other during the Peking Man stage of human development. That would explain your ‘small brain’ political theories.

  • January 13, 2014 at 9:43 pm
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    I am thrilled to address any question you may have of me so long as it relates to the post above. Please try to stay on topic.

  • January 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm
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    The purpose of the U.S. economic war upon the people of Cuba was explicitly stated to be to cause such economic deprivation across the entire human spectrum in Cuba that they would revert to capitalism.
    This is entirely in line with U.S. foreign policy history and “controlling its commerce” by waging economic war on Cuba’s people does not come close to being rational.
    Could you tell us where that thought originated ?
    Lastly , I have to ask you again because you have evaded the question twice so far:
    In which of the 54 U.S. interventions listed in William Blum’s “Killing Hope”
    was the establishment of a democracy the intention ?
    Anyone else who cares to review those interventions at the “Killing Hope ” website is free to answer as well.
    Hint: the answer is somewhat less than the number of fingers on one hand

  • January 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm
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    A precisely accurate description of the Cuban government and system as Leninist and therefore totalitarian , a near-antithesis to socialism and communism but don’t tell that to Moses or the U.S. State Department or Rush Limbaugh who all define Cuba as communist because it suits their purposes of denigrating democratic forms by claiming that Cuba’s system is communist or socialist .
    Being totalitarian is to socialism and communism what sexual intercourse is to chastity.
    What Moses is ignorant of is the fact that until the establishment and enforcement of the state and capitalism just a few hundred years ago , human nature created the mutual aid society that existed from the time humans and chimpanzees split off from their common ancestor and without which humanity would have perished long ago.
    It is the brute force of state enforced capitalism that stifles humankind’s intrinsic kindness and which has created poverty and the selfishness behind it
    All this is detailed in (anarchist) Peter Kropotkin’s ” Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution ” written in the early 20th century and still entirely valid in its conclusions .

  • January 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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    Pedro presents a reasoned basis for his opposition to labeling the Castro dictatorship as a socialist revolution. The problem is that theoretical socialists like Pedro will continue to “chase their tails” and reject all efforts to implement a ‘true’ socialist government. They fail to accept that human greed and ambition, even in the hands of even the most earnest socialist leaders, will eventually corrupt the most well-intentioned hearts steering the form of governance toward totalitarian ends. One need only bear witness to the transformations taking place in nearby Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and even Argentina. The call to 21st Century Socialism is slowly but surely evolving into constitutional reforms to allow leaders to stay in office in perpetuity, limited freedom of the press, and increasing the power of the executive and limiting the power of the legislative and judicial branches of government. Although Pedro describes the US embargo which is within the sovereign right of any government to control its commerce, as criminal, he otherwise lays blame for the Castro power grab where it rightfully belongs…with the Castros.

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