Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
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.
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.
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…