Saturday, August 27, 2011

Today's Cuba & the Ripe Fruit Policy

Today's Cuba & the Ripe Fruit Policy
August 26, 2011
By Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES, 26 August — In April of 1823, US President John Quincy
Adams established his well-known "Ripe Fruit" foreign policy in relation
to Cuba:

"There are laws of political as well as physical gravitation; and if an
apple severed by its native tree cannot choose but fall to the ground,
Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain,
and incapable of self-support, can gravitate only towards the North
American union…

"There is no foreign territory of greater significance to the United
States than the island of Cuba… It has come to take on momentous
importance for the political and commercial interests of our union."

One hundred an eighty-eight years have lapsed and the fruit has yet to
ripen. Nevertheless, the strategic political, military and economic
importance of Cuba for the empire has not declined one iota.

At this point, annexationism as a political concept among Cubans has
been reduced to small and steadily declining segments of the extreme
right that have no influence on the island's population.

Even anti-government groups of some significance in Cuba have clearly
distanced themselves from classic annexationism. Many have even spoken
out against the blockade and the aggressive policies adopted by the US
against Cuba.

However, the systematically aggravated economic, political and social
consequences of the neo-Stalinist model of "state socialism" (really a
disguised form of state monopoly capitalism) have by natural pendular
restoration generated a progressive increase in the numbers of those who
sympathize with the US economic and political system. This has reached
the point that the United States has become a point of reference for
many Cubans, especially youth, who see no other remedy than immigrating
to the United States or transplanting that system in Cuba.

So Who's to blame? John Quincy Adams? Richard Nixon? George Bush?
Barack Obama?

The upper echelons of the Cuban government have recognized the true
enemies of the changes they would like to implement in the bureaucracy,
corruption, immobility, double standards and that whole pernicious
mentality generated by the statist and centralized model of neo-Stalinism.

If the "fruit" ended up maturing and fulfilling the prediction made by
the sixth president of the United States, we would have to "thank" that
model implanted in Cuba in the name of "socialism and working class
power." That model has acted like carbide, the chemical compound used
by Cuban merchants to artificially ripen fruits.

This is why for some time I and others have been denouncing the
existence of a new neo-Plattism that has consistently blamed all of our
misfortunes on the US blockade, deflecting attention from those truly

It won't be necessary to wait long for the verdict of history to
identify what/who has turned out to be the best ally of imperialism and

That monstrous model has led to such an ideological disaster that the
Communist Party itself has decided to undertake economic reforms under a
slogan of "updating" the model.

Notwithstanding, their effort is pregnant with neoliberal recipes:
laying off workers, increasing the retirement age, intensifying the
exploitation of wage labor to the benefit of private capital,
transferring land to foreign capitalists for tourism deals, making
drastic cuts in social services, reducing care for the handicapped and
the chronically ill, expanding opportunities for foreign capital,
granting administrative autonomy to companies without workers' control,
and others.

However this "updating" doesn't propose solutions to two basic problems
that are generating corruption, causing the popular economy to
hemorrhage, encouraging emigration and serving to age the population:
Low wages and the double currency. Instead, this effort centers on
remedies of discipline, control and demands imposed from above.
Volunteerism always fails, and the blame for the disaster allows falls
on the workers.

The economists behind the "updating" — who fail to understand the causes
of the failure of "state socialism" — are choosing a narrow capitalist
gorge for the Cuban economy. This is what is pointed to by the
"Guidelines of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC)."

It's not that those "updaters" are inadvertently aiming for the real or
virtual annexation of Cuba to the US, it may be that they don't
understand that the full integration (I use the term "integration," not
"interchange") of the Cuban economy with the contemporary capitalist
system can lead us to dependence and our real or virtual annexation to
US capital – so near to us, so predictable in its habits, and always so
eager to control our strategic position.

This should be known by all those who desire the return to private
capitalism — with its "free" circulation of capital — even if they've
distanced themselves from annexationist ideas. The idea isn't to go
from the frying pan into the fire").

E. Preobrazhenski, one of the great economists of the Russian
Revolution, in his work "Perspectives of the New Economic Policy"
stated: "The unnatural alliance between the socialist state and big
foreign capital will fail and be replaced by a natural alliance between
that same foreign capital and all the bourgeois forces of Russia." (1)

History agreed with him in Russia, and in the rest of former socialist
Europe and in China.

What would happen with new oil discoveries and lots of tourists?

Have they considered what would come of Cuba if its oil were pumped by
US companies and if two million American tourists visited the island
annually while foreign companies administered or co-administered our
state-run tourist facilities, beaches, our sugar-alcohol industry,
hotels and scientific centers?

Have they imagined the impact of more than a dozen golf courses and
"gated communities" for the well-heeled (complete with luxury mansions
and limousines), along with the repercussions of several marinas with
slips for the yachts of millionaires, a giant port in Mariel and a
"special economic zone" (with a maquiladora assembly park that would
exploit cheap Cuban labor) that would handle several million containers
going to or coming from the US?

Is that what we want Cuba to come to? A world cruise-line destination –
yes; and appendage of the United States – no.

Isn't it enough that our special intelligence services cooperate with
those from the empire on their southern border to control drug
trafficking, illegal emigration and terrorism while we serve as an
example of the unworkability of "socialism" to the continent? And look
at the imperial compensation: they again put us on the list of countries
that support terrorism.

No one is pleading for a moat in relation to the US or for complete
economic self-sufficency. We are not advocating ignorance of the
contemporary world or the absence of all types of exchange with the rest
of the world (as was attempted in Albania, North Korea, and in China at
one time).

International collaboration – yes, but not with the objective of
accumulating capital at the expense of workers. Technology and money by
themselves do not generate socialist development. This is a part of
prioritizing the advance and consolidation of forms of production under
workers' democratic, collective and generically socialist control, along
with their broad participation in ownership, the management of companies
and the distribution of profits through cooperative/self-managerial
structures. This is a condition that has been emerging — for centuries
— within the core of more or less developed capitalist countries as a
natural alternative to capitalism's failure.

Cuban economists trained in the de-ideological epoch of the '90s,
placing emphasis on macro-economic problems traditionally dealt with by
bourgeois experts (like those related to fiscal policy, the circulation
of money, marketing and others), discarded Marxist political-economic
categories and analysis as being "out of style."

Being so "well-informed," they tell us: "We have to live within the
modern world; we have to integrate ourselves with it." But aren't they
confusing the facts that it's one thing to trade with the capitalist
world and another thing to be integrated with it?

They forget, ignore or don't want to know that without effective changes
in the wage-labor production relations of capitalism, we will not be
able to advance to a new mode of producing and living.

Once again, I repeat — for those who insist on refusing to understand
that it's not about converting everything into cooperatives — what we
are proposing is prioritizing the socialization of government-owned
property through co-management processes (worker-state and
national-foreign capital when necessary) and self-management by workers
of government-owned industrial and agricultural companies or services.

This would mean full freedom to cooperative labor with wide state
support in the form of loans, reduced taxes, freedom of trade and the
full range of self-employed work (by individuals, including
professionals, and families who do not exploit wage labor) as a form of
self-managed production.

One philosopher, ignorant of the Marxism that Stalinism tried to hide,
belonging to the neoliberal intellectual litter that generated the
de-ideologization of the social sciences in Cuba (an action promoted
after the fall of "real socialism") said that Marxism has been unable to
explain those events and that it has failed to offer a viable
alternative to capitalism. Clearly this academic has not read Cuban
historian Ariel Dacal Diaz, not to mention others who have not been
published at home.

It was that same rejection of Marxist political-economy that
ideologically dismantled the Communist Party itself and has in good
measure led to the position of "updating the model" when what needs
changing are the state-centrist and wage-labor foundations of the Cuban
"socialist" system.

In the genesis of Stalinism there was subordination to a sole way of
thinking, one that failed to understand that capitalism is a mode of
production sustained by a number of pillars: the exploitation of wage
labor, the concentration of ownership and production output, and the
continuation of forms of social domination and oppression.

There was no real understanding that socialism implied the greatest
freedom of thought and a gradual advance toward new forms of production
different from wage-labor production, and that it entailed the
socialization (non-statization) of ownership and output, along with the
democratization of the country's political life and the de-alienation of
society through the elimination of all forms of oppression.

The basic error was the oversimplified identification of capitalism with
a system of government and socialism with a form of distribution. From
all of that were derived multiple political errors, such as combating
all bourgeois-democratic forms of government, absolutizing the armed
struggle as the path to revolution, underestimating transformations in
the forms of production within the core of the capitalist system itself,
looking down on the economic struggles of workers, the negation of
self-management, and a host of other mistakes.

Neutralizing the "carbide effect" will demand the participation of
everyone: communists, socialists, revolutionaries, national democrats
and all Cubans of good will. Neo-Stalinist philosophy, methods and
concepts must be disassembled within the party, within the government
and within all of society to make the "unity of the nation" a reality
and to truly turn Cuba into a country "with all and for the well-being
of all."

The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba left a plan that looks
more like capitalization than socialization, promoting differences
rather than equality. The Party conference scheduled for this coming
January could correct that path and rescue the libertarian, democratic,
socializing and comradely contents of the revolution, those elements
than many of us continue attempting to secure.

My colleagues and I have contributed to the debate around the current
situation and various perspectives, and we continue to be willing to do
so in any setting. We are ready to explain our position to the
government, the opposition or any other interested parties.


Three years ago the document "Cuba Needs a Participative and Democratic
Socialism. Programmatic Proposals" was published.

Pedro Campos:

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