Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Evil Master

The Evil Master

One of the most frequent topics of discussions when talking about Cuba,
is whether the reality in which we live can really be called
"socialist." For my generation, which grew up with books on Marxism,
manuals on scientific communism, and volumes of the writings of Lenin,
it is difficult to find the Cuban model in those works. When someone
asks me about it I say that on this island we live under state
capitalism, or, as one perhaps could call it, on the Party's plantation…
the family clan's plantation…

My theory derives from those ancient books I was forced to study, where
there was one factor essential for characterizing a society as
socialist: the methods of production were in the hands of the workers.
But what I see around me is an "omni-proprietary" state, owner of the
machines, the industries, the infrastructure of a nation and of all the
decisions made about it. A master who pays the lowest possible wages and
demands applause and unconditional ideological fealty from his workers.

This miserly owner now warns that he cannot continue to employ more than
one million of those working on the public payroll. "To advance the
development and actualization of the economic model," we are told
payrolls must be drastically reduced, while opportunities for
self-employment will see only the smallest and most controlled
expansion. Even the Cuban Workers Center — the only labor union allowed
in the country — reports that the layoffs will come soon and we must
accept them with discipline. A sad performance for those whose role it
is to represent the rights of their members vis-a-vis the powers-that-be
and not vice versa.

What will the antiquated owner, who has possessed this Island for five
decades, do when his unemployed of today become the dissatisfied of
tomorrow? How will he react when the labor and economic autonomy of the
self-employed turns into ideological autonomy? Then we will hear cursing
and stigmatization of the prosperous, because any surplus — like the
presidential chair — can only be his.

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