Beginning with the discussions about our “Basic Positions”, a debate about the nature of the Cuban regime opened up. Based on the article “Summer, sun and socialism?”, we want to continue this debate in an organized way. There are different opinions within REVOLUTION and we don’t want to hide this. We want to give both sides an opportunity to express themselves because this debate is going on in practically all left-wing structures.
Market elements are not always dangerous
50 years after the emergence of a free Cuba, there are more speculations than ever about whether the system is drawing slowly towards its end and towards a restoration of capitalism. It is paradoxical that thoughts about the collapse of the workers’ state and are becoming loud now. In the early 90s, Cuba was not only economically but also ideologically paralyzed; it was even forced to use the US dollar as a currency. Yet Cuba, despite all the difficulties, has progressed.
It is true that the “special period” and the economic reforms in recent years have produced a number of negative phenomena. The development of tourism has not only led to the direct participation of foreign capital in the Cuban economy, but has also undermined the relatively egalitarian social structure of Cuba. A privileged layer of people was created with access to foreign currency. That led skilled workers (teachers, scientists) to shift into hotels and taxis.
The “joint ventures” deal with their partners abroad autonomously, without state control. The monopoly of foreign trade – an indispensable tool for every workers’ state – is thus practically abolished in Cuba.
Can capitalism, which failed in a frontal attack, now invade Cuba via the backdoor? The “Chinese road” (to capitalism) is entirely possible. However, it would be wrong to overestimate this threat and to identify every market element with a return of the exploiters.
Market elements in the framework of the planned development of the socialist sector are not necessarily immediately dangerous – they can even be directly helpful. The development of the private sector during the New Economic Policy (1921-28) in the early Soviet Union encouraged even faster growth of the socialist sector and this “cooperation” (of course under the strictest control of the workers’ state) resulted in an absolute and relative increase in the state share of the economy.
The idea that market elements should have no place in Cuba must be rejected. The Cuban economy has no access to the most advanced productive forces, but these are the only basis for really overcoming the market (as opposed to administrative surpression by the government). It is better to have a limited market as a good servant than to suffer from the cancer of a black market.
What is needed is a radical reform process of de-bureaucratization and the strengthening of control from below. However, de-bureaucratization doesn’t mean that sort of “democracy” that would conciliate the class enemies of the revolution – on the contrary, this kind of process would mobilize additional forces against counterrevolution.
But internal reforms cannot be implemented outisde the international context. The survival of Cuba depends on the success of revolutionary forces in the neighboring countries of Latin America. In this, the Cuban government is not a passive spectator but rather an active player, whose interest is to support every revolutionary movement and to create real workers’ states.
by Nikola, Revo Prague
The enemy Is (also) on the island
Unlike the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China, Cuba has always been held in high esteem by a broad spectrum of the left. That may be because of the relatively democratic atmosphere (for a country of the “socialist block”), the internationalist support for anti-colonial movements, the myth of Che Guevara or the special flair of Cuban culture.
Nevertheless, Cuba – just as the USSR or the PRC used to be – is a degenerated workers’ state. The economy is subject to a plan and around 80% of the working class is in the public sector. This plan is not managed by the workers themselves but rather by a privileged bureaucratic layer.
Cuban Stalinism, of course, has a democratic facade similar to a bourgeois-democratic country with a parliament etc. But it is not difficult to see that the Cuban system posseses few elements of genuine mass democracy: it has been more than a decade since the last congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, and in the meantime leading politicians like Carlos Lage and Felipe Pérez Roque are removed, unexpectedly and without discussion, by the bureaucratic leadership.
This bureaucratism is not a product of an egomaniacal attitude by the Castro brothers. There is a bureaucracy which enjoys considerable privileges in comparison to the working class and cannot allow any democratization because that could jeopardize these privileges.
This type of Stalinist (or: “Castrist”) bureaucracy has an interest in maintaining the status quo: the planned economy must be defended, but revolutions in other countries are in fact seen as undesirable because these might lead the power structures in Cuba to crumble. For this reason, Cuban foreign policy has never been revolutionary: in the 1970s, good relations with the bloody military dictatorships of the continent were entirely possible as long as they supported Cuba against the USA.
One recent example should suffice: in December 2001, a revolutionary crisis erupted in Argentina. After several governments had been topped by mass protests, Eduardo Duhalde could establish himself as president. Fidel Castro greeted him – instead of showing the Argentine masses a clear path to socialism. For the Cuban Stalinists, good relations with the bourgeoisies of Latin America are more important than the creation of new workers’ states!
For all these reasons, the struggle to defend the planned economy and the social achievements in Cuba must also be a struggle against the bureaucracy. Of course, not every market reform is necessarily a step towards capitalism – but in contrast to the NEP in Russia, it is now the ruling party in Cuba who are themselves profiting from the market reforms!
by Wladek, Revo Berlin