Cuba and "empirical facts"

Adam Rose adam at
Mon Jun 3 05:49:45 MDT 1996

> My question to Adam is a simple one. Can he
> think of another "capitalist" country that has
> made as rapid progress in as short a time as
> Cuba?

Yes, I can, but it's not in any way relevant.

This is precisely the argument that people used all through
the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's to argue that the USSR was socialist.

Basically, there was a nationalist revolution which delivered some
reforms and persued a state capitalist path of development which
was moderately successful for a few years, not unlike many other
states at that time.

> What evidence does he have that "surplus
> value" is being siphoned off to support the
> needs of a ruling-class? If there is a ruling-
> class, how does it rule? How exactly does
> capitalism function in contemporary Cuba?

It's not whether or not  "surplus value" is being siphoned off to
support the needs of a ruling-class". Siphoning off implies a
parasitic bureaucracy, not a ruling class. The point is that
Cuba has to compete with other state capitals internationally,
militarily and economically, and capital accumulation is directed
to this end. The state bureaucracy directs the economy, and
subordinates the needs of Cubans to the pressure of this international

> One
> interesting corollary on this question is how a
> population that is armed so extensively on the
> grass-roots level (probably one out of five
> Cubans owns small-arms) bear its oppression so
> passively under the iron hand of "state capitalism"

As was pre collapse Yugoslavia, and is the USA today. In the
US, the people even elect their police chiefs. So ?

> The question of Cuba came up within the context
> of a thread I initiated about the prospects of
> socialism in countries like Cuba when the
> pressures of world capitalism are so immense.
> Adam's response is to simply wipe my question
> off the chalkboard and replace it with a facile
> reply: "No problem, all they need is socialism." I
> expected people on the list who already had
> their mind made up on these sorts of questions
> to answer in the same manner as Adam but not in
> such an extreme manner. How depressing to find
> so little doubt or hesitation in a person with
> so sharp an intellect.

Ignoring the pleasing but unwarranted compliment, my honest
answer is that the Cuban ( or Chinese ) experience tells us nothing
about how to build socialism. What it tells us, along with the
Nicaraguan experience, is that neither a state capitalist nor
a more social democratic approach can even deliver lasting reforms
in the context of a global capitalist system in crisis, whether
we're talking about "advanced" or "developing" countries.

Both paths lead to a dead end, and we need to look for alternatives
to these dead ends based on the classical Marxist tradition. The
whole thrust of my argument is that defending Cuba, GDR, China, USSR,
etc as socialist leads revolutionaries AWAY from that tradition, which
unfortunately has led to the political demise of many revolutionary
individuals and organisations.


Adam Rose


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