The Evolution of Cuban Communism or Cuban Socialism?

Louis R Godena louisgodena at
Thu Aug 15 13:18:07 MDT 1996

Tim W writes that "[no] doubt mass society contains within it a real threat
to meaningful
invigilation by the masses.," and then asks,  "[b]ut should we as socialists
abandon efforts
toward invigilation and jump on the totalitarian bandwagon?"

Tim,  I think that the problem here is that we are each using "democracy" in
our own recondite sense of what that term should mean in today's world.
I speak of the "democracy" of mass society,  of planned economies and the
purposive deployment and use of our human resources.    You,  as I
understand it,  cling to a "democracy" largely defined by yesteryear,  a
phenomenon developed ages ago by homogenous, closed societies of equal and
economically secure individuals mutually recognizing one another's rights,
in short,  something that is now as obsolete as your use of the term
"invigilation".   Mine concerns a democracy of  ill-coordinated,  highly
stratified masses of people of whom a large majority are primarily occupied
with the daily struggle for existence.    We live in a world in which the
old concepts of democracy--which you evoke against Castro--simply have
broken down.    You speak in terms of Pericles and Locke and attempt,
lamely,  to fit them to a pseudo-Marxian sheme for which it is ill-suited;
your "democracy" is, essentially,  a conservative doctrine.    You speak of
the need to defend democracy. I speak of the urgency with which to create it.

Tim continues with the observation that there "are countervailing trends
in modern society: e.g. the class struggle goes on."

For myself,  it seems inconceivable that we can,  in a world of 6 billion
people--the vast majority of whom are ill-housed,  ill-clothed,  ill-fed,
and whose means of sustaining life and health are rudimentary at
best--return to the individualist democracy of a privileged class.
Rousseau was the first to think in terms of the sovereignty of the whole
people; he faced squarely the issue of mass democracy.    He did so
reluctantly;  for he himself preferred the tiny community where direct
democracy,  without representation or delegation of powers,  was still
possible.     Roussea recognized that the large nation state--to be replaced
a century or so later by the international cartel and confederation--had
come to stay, and that,  in such conditions the people could be sovereign
only if it imposed on itself the discipline of the "general will."    The
practical results of this doctrine found its logical expression not only
with the Jacobins,  but with the vanguard party of Lenin, to embody, in its
revolutionary incarnation,  that same "general will."     In my view,  the
class struggle,  and its logical denouement, is not the negation of mass
democracy,  but a necessary component for its fruition.

Louis Godena

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