HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 2 – Given the many letters that Granma newspaper is publishing for and against “cooperativismo” (the turning of certain services over to cooperative management), this past December 9, I sent the following commentary to the daily (the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party), which to date has not published it.
Letter to the editor:
The Transition of Food and Other Services to Self-Employed Individuals and Cooperatives
Some comrades speak of members of cooperatives and self-employed individuals as if they were capitalists. One should remember that capitalism is based on wage-labor and on someone exploiting another person’s labor power, from which comes surplus value. This is the dynamic law of capitalism.
Self-employed individuals do not exploit other people’s labor, do not produce surplus value, therefore nor can they contribute to extended reproduction. Moreover, when in Cuba they obtain super-profits, this is due to deformations in the State economy.
Likewise, there are comrades who speak of cooperatives as representatives of the private economy.
This shows they do not understand that production relationships in cooperatives are where the contradiction between capital and labor disappears. These new socialist relations of production involve collective production, management and administration of collective or usufruct property, and the fair distribution of a part of the profits —the dynamic law of socialism— after paying taxes and withdrawing a part for extended reproduction.
Through cooperatives (or self and co-management), relations of freely associated labor are established that take the place of capitalist wage-labor and extend to the entire industrial and service economy in the socialist stage, until reaching communism. (Capital, Chap. 27, Vol. 3)
Those who think that cooperatives, by belonging collectively to individual people, are forms of “capitalist production,” forget that the form of exploitation is what characterizes property: property under a slave system is exploited with slave labor, feudal property is exploited with serf labor, capitalist property is exploited with wage-labor and socialist property produces with freely associated labor.
This is why Marx and Engels specified in the Communist Manifesto that the form of property that was necessary to eradicate was capitalist property, not individual property or just any type of property. They also often specified that only when property is socialized, that is to say when it belongs to everyone —individually or collectively, and not to the state— there would be true property.
People will be truly free only when they do not depend on others —capitalists or the state— to earn their subsistence, which will occur when they are the individual or collective owners of the conditions of their reproduction.
Marx often said that for workers to construct socialism they would have to cease being the wage-earning class exploited by capitalism; they would have to become a class “for itself,” abolishing wage-labor and becoming the new class of freely associated workers – something frequently forgotten by those in favor of “real socialism.”
The issue is very broad to be embraced in a sole page. I could expanded on it on another occasion.