Revisiting old problems

Adam Rose adam at
Mon Jun 3 05:18:22 MDT 1996

Louis wrote:
> On Fri, 31 May 1996, Adam Rose wrote:
> > But my criterion for socialism is simple, "socialism == workers power == a
> > commune state". Such a state doesn't exist in Cuba, therefore Cuba is not
> > socialist. Now, are you arguing that there is such a state in Cuba ? Or
> > are you arguing that socialism is something different to workers power ?
> > Choose your horn.
> >
> Louis: If this isn't an example of undialectical thinking, then I don't
> know what is. My approach to understanding Cuba is in terms of class
> relations. In 12th century Poland the dominant form of class relations
> was feudal. In 19th century Poland the dominant form was bourgeois with
> strong feudal remnants. There are very few examples in history where a
> society exists in either a purely feudal or purely bourgeois condition.
> Societies are always in transition.
> Just as societies in development have contradictory traits, so does a
> specific class as well, such as the bourgeosie or the proletariat.
> These classes are not created the way God created earth. We know that the
> working-class has its roots in the artisan guilds of 13th century Italy
> and elsewhere but it takes centuries before this incipient class takes
> final form as the proletariat as such. There was no immediate rupture. All
> we can be sure of is the general direction with all of its contradictions.

I am not sure precisely what you are arguing here.
Perhaps if you can develop your argument further ?

But I will make a couple of points :

i) Actually, I think the make up of the working class, once capitalism has developed,
is more or less the same from country to country. [ I note your arguments about
Nicaragua, etc ].

What differs are the other social relationships and classes around this basic
relationship in any particular nation. So, the relationship between Brazilian car workers
and their bosses is not much different to the relationship between those in the US.

What is different, is that there are probably more street children than proletarians.
So any workers state would have to take this into account - I believe the Chilean
coordones had community delegates as well as workers', and I'm sure something like
this would arise from the struggle in places like Brazil or India. The Russian soviets,
after all, took into account the peasantry via the army delegates to the soviets.
Solidarnosc developed fairly classical soviets, based on workplace delegates, but
extended a similar type of organisation to "civil society" - queues ( ie food
distribution ) , students, etc.

So the precise form that the commune state takes cannot be determined in advance, in
a formulaic  way. But the basic features of the commune state can be deduced in
advance, eg such things as instant recall of delegates, no special priveledges
for delegates, no distinction between legislature and executive ( ie the people who
make the  decisions also implement them ) , because we know, on the basis of history
and the theory developed from that history, that this is the only way the working class
can exercise its rule.

ii) The bourgeoisie develops in the pores of capitalism in a way that is not
an option to propertyless proletarians under capitalism. Also, the bourgeoisie
is a small class, the proletariat a large one, if not an absolute majority.
Socialism is the self conscious movement of the immense majority in the
interests of the immense majority. A bourgeois revolution is by neccessity
different. It is at best the movement of the majority in the interests of
a tiny minority, and therefore CANNOT be entirely self conscious. Comparisons
between the two types of revolution often do not hold, because the two revolutionary
classes have a different relationship to the other classes in their societies.

> Cuba abolished capitalist property relations in 1960. There were no
> soviets. There was no socialist democracy and Castro has run Cuba the way
> his father ran his plantation.

These are not the only curious feature of this "socialist" revolution.
The other is that Castro only decided that the revolution he was making
was a socialist one AFTER the revolution ( when he realised he needed
the USSR's help ). Now, why do you think a Marxist party, commited to the
goal of socialist revolution, is an indespensable requirement for revolution
in the US, when by your own reasoning it was not in Cuba in 1960 ?

Let me sum up. Your "socialist" revolution is not led by the working class.
Nor are the revolutionary forces led by an organisation which puts socialist
revolution as its reason for existence. This revolution does not result in
socialist democracy. It results in a society which "Castro has run . . . the way
his father ran his plantation."

Which of the basic marxist beliefs about state + revolution does the
Cuban revolution conform to ?

> The problem with "state capitalists" is that they rely on a formula. This
> formula allows them to avoid concrete analysis. Since the workers don't
> rule Cuba the way they ran the Paris Commune, this saves you the trouble
> of sorting out the messy details. Who rules Cuba? Adam Rose says it is the
> "state capitalists". I would challenge Adam to fill in some detail about
> these "state capitalists", but from experience I know that he, like the
> other Trotskyists on this list, can't be bothered with details.

I can be bothered with such details, but I don't have the time, resources,
or inclination to look them up. I post from work, and we don't have easily
available information on income inequality in Cuba, for instance. I can't
give time, place, numbers and analysis for the precise way the Cuban
police breaks Cuban workers strikes - but I'm sure they do, though. Are you
telling me they don't ?


Adam Rose


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