Tinkering at the Margins / Fernando Dámaso
Fernando Dámaso, Translator: Unstated
Several friends, honestly worried about the future of Cuba, firmly
declare that they do not want capitalism, but a Swedish-style socialism.
First, it is worth clarifying that Sweden is not a socialist but a
capitalist country, with a monarchy and a democratic parliament, and
with a solid economy and outstanding social services. The tendency of
the ruling party at any given time, which sets a certain tone, should
not be confused with the socio-economic model of the country. Spain is a
capitalist country with a parliamentary monarchy, whether the government
is from the Spanish Socialist Workers Party or the Popular Party. So it
is in most countries, each with its own distinctive characteristics.
Linking the ruling party with the socio-economic model is unique to
socialist countries, where a dogmatic and closed scheme establishes a
set of so-called principles, applicable to all of them: one party,
invariably communist (when others are allowed to exist, they are small
and are controlled by the ruling party); state ownership of the means of
production, with a centrally planned economy (if some small private
enterprise is allowed, it is in rural areas, or in the service sector);
only state health and education systems; only official culture; the
justice system fully subordinated to the state; state-run media;
government unions and social and other mass organizations, and so on.
Those who violate these principles or deviate from them, are accused of
revisionism and are isolated (Tito's Yugoslavia, and the Soviet-Chinese
dispute, in which each side accused the other of being revisionists,
even to the point of armed confrontation, are good examples). This model
is airtight, the same for everyone. That is socialism.
With capitalism, each country applies it according to its own
historical, geographic, and national characteristics. Thus, although the
general principles (private ownership of the means of production, and a
market economy) are the same, the forms of its application differ.
France's capitalism is not like that of the United States, or of
Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Mexico,
Argentina, Chile, etc. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua,
whatever their governments say, are capitalist countries, even if some
are more left-leaning than others. North Korea and Cuba, both in
perpetual economic crisis, are the only existing orthodox socialist
countries. China and Vietnam, socialist politically, are capitalist
economically, in a strange marriage, enabling them to develop, something
never achieved with the socialist model.
We should take this seriously, and consider all these facts and
alternatives before we propose what Cuba should be in the future. I
think it will have its own characteristics, taking the good and positive
from the entire accumulated global experience. Not doing so would be a
big mistake and a waste of time. What we should not do is try to invent
another national monster. One is more than enough!
May 25 2012