What We Need in Cuba is a Truly Fair Society

Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Photo: Oliver Doual

HAVANA TIMES — Not long ago, I heard Bolivian President Evo Morales talk mistakenly about “centralism” in one of his campaign speeches for reelection. He literally said that, according to him, “there’s only the left and the right: you’re either one or the other.” That “centralism is a fraudulent idea, a disguise to trick the people.”

It’s also a well-known fact that Morales always attacks capitalism in his speeches, as the evil antithesis to what he understands to be “socialism.”

We’ve watched how Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has followed in Chavez’s socialist footsteps (which is also anti-capitalist in nature), whilst he’s lost ground at a groundbreaking rate to political groups who represent capitalism and its interests.

After a decade and a half of political hegemony, instead of having won over the masses more, all he’s done is made them sick and tired with socialism and lost his overall majority. At a first glance, this may seem contradictory but it’s logical if you analyze the mistaken attitudes they’ve adopted under the influence of socialism’s radical orthodox model.

In Ecuador, we’ve watched Correa rule with great political agility, with moderate socialist ideas at the heart of his agenda whilst also wanting to pass legislative bills which are reminiscent of a past gone wrong.  Daniel Ortega holds a similar position in Nicaragua, at least in his discourse.

Center-left leaders have had more success in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic. They’ve managed to strengthen economic development in the best way possible: focusing on social work but on top of the foundation of promoting national capitalist development. However, they’ve still lost political power temporarily (not leadership) to the extreme right for a number of reasons.

In the United States, a “centralist” candidate (or rather moderate socialist), namely Bernie Sanders, managed to unite a significant number of democratic voters. And even though he has little chance in reality of becoming the White House’s next inhabitant, he has shown the world that the US people are also demanding progressive ideas of equality within democracy and capitalism.

Meanwhile in Spain, PODEMOS has won an important political pedestal, different to both the radical left as well as traditional pseudo-socialism. Tsipras rose to power in Greece with moderate socialist ideas and it was only the harshest political and economic situation that pushed him to adopt more center-right policies. The “social democrats” govern in France, and in northern Europe if they’re not governing, they have an important political role, whose legacy of “the welfare state” continues to be defended at all costs.

Photo: Oliver Doual

However, to the other extreme of the spectrum, we see Cuba defending Marxist-Leninist socialism; forced to make changes because of the crisis we suffer but with so much caution that they hardly scrape the surface, so as not to interfere with the political control that the Communist party’s elite hold. China and Vietnam also stand firm in their political beliefs. However, they have been open to opening their markets to capital and have a thriving economy as a result. This kind of Market Socialism has helped them overcome the crisis they fell into with the purely orthodox model, similar to what Cuba insists on defending.

There’s no need to mention North Korea. It’s the culmination of the most exacerbated form of socialism: a military state, closed off from the rest of the world and policing society ten times more than we do here in Cuba. Forget it.

The Socialist scene today is more or less like that. Everybody knows that the orthodox model doesn’t work and it will never work as a sustainable model, it’s an irrefutable fact. Market socialism, which maintains orthodox totalitarianism as its political agenda but opens up its markets and economy, works in that it fixes the economy; but it leaves the political question waiting to be resolved, it’s a timebomb waiting to explode if they don’t hurry up and make changes.

In adopting this attitude, China has become the second largest economy in the world and is a key player on the international political scene. Nevertheless, economic empowerment of its citizens demands political justice and democracy. Perhaps the biggest crisis that its economy will face in the near future will be a direct result of their people’s political uprising which will surely come about if this Asian giant doesn’t begin to promote a truly democratic model of government.

Today, if you’re being objective, the socialist ideal is only against the neoliberal ideal, capitalism’s dictatorship. That’s it! Marxist-Leninists don’t see it this way. They promote the need to eliminate capital from the equation in order to achieve social justice; they promote innovation and radical politics, which turn into unfeasible leftist dictatorships which shroud themselves in power.

Photo: Orlando Garcia

In conclusion, where the social majority (workers) have the least voice and authority is in orthodox socialist countries; which some people still mistakenly refer to as “real socialism”. More like “unreal”. Labor unions end up becoming party puppets. That’s why people have stopped following socialist-radical parties and why they’ve become a minority in politics everywhere.

I don’t care what the experts, or the classical thinkers, have to say. They still believe in a socialism for 19th century men and women with 19th century ideas and ideologies. However, 21st century citizens have other needs and hopes, which in turn demand new doctrines which adapt to our reality today.

I see it this way: it’s up to the wiser of us to stop us from pillaging the Earth and to end great inequalities and its grave consequences; to make the world a better place, fairer, more equal and truly sustainable. The majority of human beings are so wrapped up in their own survival or in living their personal lives that they’re not really interested in global problems or the root cause of their problems. Altruism is a virtue of the very few.

If we leave everything in the hands of capital, with its unquenchable thirst for profits, where will we end up? Surely the underdeveloped world will never reach the quality of life they enjoy in the US or in Europe. However, we shouldn’t destroy capitalism as Marx recommends in order to stop it in its tracks because this would be like committing suicide to our actual well-being as well as to future progress. We shouldn’t give up our democratic rights to a political elite who cause us much more damage than capital itself. We have to look for a balance.

To be continued…

25 thoughts on “What We Need in Cuba is a Truly Fair Society

  • Gracias! That is why I can report upon matters discussed on Cuban TV! Can you? Oh! I forgot, you don’t ever watch Cuban TV.

  • You learned another word in Spanish ? Congratulations.

  • You keep using that word, but I don’t think you know what it means.

    “Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism

    “Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.[1][2][3] Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.[4][5] In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment is determined by the owners of the factors of production in financial and capital markets, and prices and the distribution of goods are mainly determined by competition in the market.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

    By definition, it is impossible for capitalism & totalitarianism to co-exist in the same state or country.

  • Donde?

  • CErmle, once again you are to be commended for making the funniest posts on this forum.

    Thanks for the chuckle!

  • You are out of touch. They just used it yesterday again for the one hundred thousandth time.

  • Just a reminder CErmle that you are out of step with the Castro family communist regime that you so admire – the word democracy is no longer used by them.

  • Mr. Goodrich omitted one of his usual points, that being mention of Noam Chomsky at whose proverbial knee he attentively squats. Mr. Goodrich finds it necessary however to disparage his own country the USA and its citizens. The cause being that he has absolutely no basis for his views or thoughts about Cuba as he has never been there.

  • Your response = envy!

  • A part from your well-reasoned comment, you seem to fail to see what the real problem is. The Castros have only one raison d’etre. Their sole purpose is to stay in power. So a debate between which economic model is best for Cuba is not being considered unless that model assures the regime of continuity.

  • Once again John, please provide one credible source that fully agrees with your definition. Just one. I double dare you.

  • It’s worse than that. I prodded John for more than a year on this blog to provide just one credible source who would corroborate his “definition” of socialism. He never produced anyone, not even his buddy at the comic store. It would seem that he is making all this up. No surprise there.

  • Mr. Goodrich is consistent in his views about Cuba which is understandable as he has never been there. To him Cuba is but an economic theory. As he rightly says, he has done his best to explain something about which he has only academic knowledge unsupported by reality. His last sentence says it all! “Go figure it out for yourselves.”

  • Socialism = poverty

  • …nobody cares John.

  • Capitalism is a totalitarian economic form .
    To believe in the American Dream you have to be asleep and your comment indicates you are a believer.
    Wake TFU

  • To state that the state capitalism economy in Cuba ; a top-down and totalitarian form is a form of socialism is to turn that economic philosophy’s main tenet on its head.
    Any system that can legitimately be called socialist must be a worker run, from the bottom democratic form or it is not socialism.
    You cannot assign the word socialist to a totalitarian system such as in Cuba.
    Both the dictatorship in Cuba and the dictatorship and the United States have a common interest in mislabeling Cuba’s totalitarian system as “socialist” . Cuba because it would have the Cuban people believe ( like the Soviets believed Stalin , Lenin et al ) that they are transitioning to socialism at some point in the future and the United States has an interest in having that totalitarian form be understood by the American people as what socialism is because it is horribly totalitarian .
    The author of this article is not alone in not being able to accurately .define socialism.
    According to the “National Review” this month . an ABC/New York Times poll showed that 67% of the American people in a poll could not accurately define socialism yet 75% of those polled opposed it viscerally, from their gut without the vast majority of them not knowing what it is.
    What it is, is democratic
    In order to rationally and effectively debate the issues involving capitalism and socialism, it is necessary to be arguing based on a mutual understanding of the terms involved.
    If the author and most people choose to term socialism as the totalitarian form that exists in Cuba, then what do these same people choose to call the democratic socialism of Marx and all the others who created the economic form in the first place ?
    It would seem that the authors of socialism are the ones best qualified to define socialism and not those who have bastardized and defamed it by attaching its name to the many totalitarian forms that have come about in the past 100 years .
    Yes the Cuban system is horrible but no, it is not socialism because it is not democratic .
    I find it passing strange that so many of the same people who oppose Cuba’s totalitarian forms are in favor of forcing totalitarian free enterprise capitalism onto the Cubans to replace them.
    You are either on the side of democracy or you are opposed to it.
    I’ve done my best to explain what democratic forms are and are not.
    Go figure it out for yourselves

  • Capitalism = Greed

  • Democratic Socialism is the answer for Cuba and the United States. Capitalism and Stalinism are two sides of the same coin.

  • Why do people feel the need to give a system a name? Why are we unable to provide for the sick, weak and needy. We should be able to forget our differences and help and care for our people. Before you call me mad and stupid or foolish just stop and ask yourself a question. Why is it impossible to help each other? Can you imagine what life would be like for the Cuban people if everyone worked and pulled together? The country and all the people of Cuba .would prosper. Cuba needs good and strong leadership for the benefit of it’s people

  • Actually, Marx was a great admirer of capitalism, because it promoted rapid economic growth, the precondition to genuine human liberation. He didn’t think this growth would continue, but he definitely believed that socialism would equal or out-perform capitalism as measured by economic growth. If you don’t believe me, read through the Communist Manifesto, which is no doubt easily available in Cuba, and is available in English here:https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm#007

    Here’s a bit of the Manifesto, to whet the interest of the AdamSmith/MiltonFriedmanites who haunt these pages:

    “The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?”

    On the other hand, Marxist anti-imperialists might be surprised to find passages like this: “Just as it has made the country
    dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries
    dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois,
    the East on the West”. “Barbarian and semi-barbarian”? Tsk tsk. Marx and Engels would be run off of most American college campuses today.

    As for Cuba emulating China and Vietnam. Why not direct the attention of Cuba’s rulers towards Singapore? It’s been ruled by one party almost as long as Cuba has, but is able to win free elections (while being pretty authoritarian in many other respects), and is far more prosperous and successful than either Vietnam or China. It’s an island, like Cuba, and has, like Cuba, a well-educated population. Of course, no country can simply copy another, but if the Cuban leadership is considering changes in the way things are done, it could do worse than examine Singapore.

  • your comment explains a lot Dan.

  • To paraphrase Hatuey, if that’s what you call freedom, I’ll remain enslaved, thank you.

  • Capitalism = Freedom

  • Socialism without a market experiments total failure. Cuba has little choice but to include a market and monetized system. It is a simple reality. Social medicine and education can be maintained in such a system as is case in most industrialized nations.

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