Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cuba’s Left Must Roll Up its Sleeves

Cuba's Left Must Roll Up its Sleeves
April 26, 2012
Pedro Campos

HAVANA TIMES, April 26 — Cuba is going through critical moments in its
history that are marked by the physical decline of Fidel Castro, the
open recognition of the general failure of the "state socialist" model
(which is really nothing more than concealed state monopoly capitalism),
and the struggle for either the restoration of private capitalism or the
advance toward to a new truly democratic socialist society.

An additional factor is the complex situation facing our sister nation
of Venezuela and its possible impact on the Cuban economy.

The government-Communist Party — pursuing its politics of "updating the
model" — favors the continuation of wage-labor exploitation by the state
and by private domestic and foreign entities over self-managed
cooperative forms of production, which would epitomize socialism.

In the meantime, they are seeking to maintain absolute state control,
particularly over the economic activity of society.

At the same time, we can see contradictions in the official statements
concerning their willingness to carry out democratic transformations in
the political system: Raul Castro speaks of greater democracy within the
party and society, just like the party billboards express the idea that
these changes on the island are for more socialism; nevertheless
economic reform czar Marino Murillo bluntly says there will be no
political change in Cuba.

It's not possible to fully develop socialism without real freedom and
democracy, just as it's virtually impossible develop full freedom and
democracy without genuine socialism.

An emerging right alliance

However, facilitated by the democratic and libertarian deficits in the
current statist model of society, we see a realignment of the
pro-capitalist forces, some from within the state and others that are
outside of it. They are changing their approach from one of
confrontation to more peaceful means and to dialogue; while from the
diaspora, well-known capitalist figures are showing themselves willing
to join in the "updating" with their investments.

Some argue that these movements may reflect the existence of a tacit
sort of agreement between the pro-capitalist wing of the
party-government, part of the hierarchy of the Cuban Catholic Church,
major émigré investment groups and the reigning US Democratic Party, as
they seek a peaceful transition towards the restoration of private
capitalism – but like in China, maintaining strict communist party
control over society.

The recent visits to Cuba by the Pope and prominent Cuban-American
businessman Carlos Saladrigas could be contributing to this framework.

The US government maintains many of their laws to keep the
blockade/embargo in place, though they have loosened some of its strings
(remittances, the sales of food and medicine, Cuban-Americans, and
travel and cultural exchanges) while demanding "democratic changes" that
the Cuban government seems unwilling to undertake.

The possible re-election of Democrat Barack Obama is creating
expectations around the continued loosening of other strings of the

The recent Summit of the Americas showed the isolation of the blockade
policy, something which the US government must take into account. Though
absent, Cuba was the real star of the event.

The inflamed and brutish north is ready to even intervene either
militarily (if Cuba were to apply massive repression) or with the
investment of "generous" amounts of its capital to "develop" the country
(like in China) and exploit (in collusion with the state) the huge
"human capital" created over the past 50 years of the revolution.

Continued Disarray on the Left

In the broad democratic Cuban left — critical of traditional statism but
also anti-capitalist — there abound concerns and warnings about the
future of the country and the outcome of the "updating." However, though
there are some programs and many individual statements, what is not
appearing is the necessary synthesis, harmonization or articulation of
our positions. There's considerable confusion.

Parenthetically, we recently heard about an official policy on
cooperatives around which experimentation is being conducted, but then
there appeared a local official on TV here in Havana arguing for greater
state control of the cooperatives.

He suggested that cooperatives of parking attendants for multi-unit
buildings – perhaps the most authentic of all existing forms of
cooperatives today in Cuba — should be returned to the State fold in
order to reach a higher level. Such occurrences indicate how all
socialists must be on alert!

It's time for the left — all those individuals and collective defenders
of anti-capitalist, socialist, and revolutionary democratic ideas,
ranging from intellectuals to certain officials within the party and the
government, and especially the many rank-and-file communists — to
consider regrouping our own forces to defend the popular gains
previously achieved (particularly free health care and education), and
for all of us to form a common front against private capitalist
restoration – whatever its source.

If we fail to realize the historical moment in which we're living, if
we're incapable of leaving behind sectarianism and one-upmanship, if we
do not form a broad front capable of upholding the revolutionary road,
we could be approaching the painful end of this socialist experience.

We will see ourselves overwhelmed by the full restoration of private
capitalism that is rapidly advancing with government compliance, or by
the possibility of imperial intervention (Cuba isn't China) to the
extent that the Cuban government continues to refuse to carry out the
democratic reforms that increasingly more people are demanding.

Time for rolling up our sleeves

Supporters of a more participatory and democratic socialism have always
expressed our readiness for national dialogue without exclusion, for
reconciliation among all Cubans in the search for a common path accepted
by all and for the good of all.

What is done must be based on the agreement of everyone and not just
those holding political or economic power. But in the meantime, the
broad left should come to an agreement on and harmonize our positions.

Democracy yes, but for everyone – where everyone as a whole decides on
the fundamental laws that affect us all, meaning there must be agreement
concerning what investment projects to pursue using the people's money,
consensus on the structuring of the national and municipality budgets
and the adoption of all public positions through referenda by direct
vote using secret ballots. This would mean direct, participatory
democracy, where the people themselves decide their own fate.

Everyone on the left must "roll up their sleeves," think about this
situation and try to take the position that they deem appropriate,
beyond the continued acceptance everything that is imposed on us in the
guise of participation.

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