Written by Vasant G. Gandhi
Monday, 18 October 2010 08:31
Recently 84-year old Fidel Castro, the retired revolutionary leader of
Cuba, told American journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic
magazine (published in the United States), that the "Cuban model" no
longer works. Castro was referring to the economic model of communism,
which he implemented in Cuba 50 years ago.
Needless to say, many economists had previously deduced long ago what
Castro concluded in 2010.
Cuba is a Caribbean island located between the Caribbean Sea and the
North Atlantic Ocean about 90 miles (150 kilometers) south of Key West,
Its physical size (110,000 square kilometers) and the number of
residents (11.5 million) living on the island make it an ideal country
for any leader to carry out an experiment to see which economic model –
capitalism, communism, or socialism – is best suited to economically
uplift the nation and her people.
The military dictator Fidel Castro chose communism for Cuba.
Fidel came to power in 1959 after overthrowing the undemocratic rule of
Fulgencio Batista and promised to bring democratic rule to the country.
However, he did not do that. Instead, he installed a one-party
communist regime, severed ties with his democratic neighbor, the USA,
formed a close relationship with a far away communist nation, the former
USSR, and imprisoned or terminated many of his opponents.
In February 2008, after 50 years in power, ailing octogenarian Fidel
Castro retired and handed the power to his younger brother, Raul Castro.
In October 2010, Fidel told his fellow suffering Cubans and the rest of
the world, too, that his economic system did not work – communism had
Singapore is a very tiny island in Southeast Asia. Its total area is
roughly 700 square kilometers (.006 the size of Cuba!) and its
population exceeds 4.5 million (39 percent of Cuba). It opted to follow
capitalism. In 2009, its gross domestic product was US$177 billion as
compared to Cuba's US$56 billion, and the GDP per capita was nearly
US$40,000 as compared to Cuba's US$5,000.
These statistics exemplify a remarkable difference in the economic
achievements of two islands: one capitalist, the other communist.
In 1848, Karl Marx, the guru of communism, and his friend, Friedrich
Engels, drafted a document called the Communist Manifesto, which later
became an unalterable sacred text for believers and followers of
communism throughout the world.
In the manifesto, and later in the three volumes book Das Kapital, Marx
states that the theory of communism may be stated in four words,
"abolish all private property." It is the root cause of "misery of the
He argues that all the means of production, distribution, and marketing
must be in the hands of the government. All workers work for the
government and use the state managed store or facility to buy items or
The Cuban government espoused Marx's ideals. By the end of 2009, it
employed nearly 4 million employees (75%) from a total Cuban work force
of 5 million, but now the government is laying off 500,000 people.
The intentions behind Marxism are good, and it is easy to see how the
proletariat can be persuaded into overthrowing the bourgeois. But, in
reality, the public takeover of private businesses does not work.
The people of India have firsthand experience in dealing with businesses
in the public sector. For instance, air travel was unreliable when
private airlines were not allowed and the public had to use government
airlines. Furthermore, travel on the publicly owned Indian Railway
trains has been both a challenge and a safety hazard, and there are no
private train companies. Other public institutions such as banks, bus
service, energy suppliers, insurance companies, post office, etc. are
If living under socialism is bad in India, one may wonder how bad could
it be living under full-fledged communism. Ask Cubans, North Koreans,
or Russians, or read the books written by dissidents: Carlos Franqui's
Family Portrait with Fidel or Solzhenistyn's Gulag Archipelago or Nobel
Laureate Sakharov's My Country and the World.
When voters in the state of Bihar, India go to the polls to elect the
state assembly, they must remind themselves that their vote is precious
Further, if the nation of Cuba is any guide, know that communism does
not work. And voters may want to think hard before voting for a
candidate who staunchly believes in the ideology of communism and favors
the communist rule.