Castros Marxism

Jorn Andersen ccc6639 at
Thu Jun 20 08:49:53 MDT 1996

This mail was sent to the list 17. March 96.
I re-post it now in the ongoing Cuba/State Capitalism debate.
It was originally a reply to Louis P.

Yours - Jorn

You write:

>Castro and Guevara believed that practice and theory are intimately
>connected. One does not develop a theory first and then base a practice
>on it. The established socialist movement, including Trotskyism,
>dedicated itself to creating Marxists as a precondition for revolutionary
>struggle. The Cubans reversed this by stating that making revolution
>helps to create Marxists.


I don't think Castro is or was a Marxist - but that's *my* problem. The more
interesting thing is: How did Castro become a "Marxist"?

*Before* the revolution he certainly did not consider himself a Marxist. He
replied, when Batista made this accusation:
"What right does Senor Batista have to speak of Communism? After all, in the
elections of 1940 he was the candidate of the Communist Party ... his
portrait hung next to Blas Roca's and Lazaro Pena's; and half a dozen
ministers and confidants of his are leading members of the CP".

(Quite interesting, isn't it? For Castro - and thousands of other young
students like him - Communism was simply not a possible road to change,
because the Cuban CP had discredited itself by entering the Batista
government as a result of Comintern's Popular Front policy.)

*During* the revolution he wasn't a communist either:
"Our revolution is neither capitalist nor communist!", he said in May 1959.

Castros aim was national liberation (from total US dominance). From what I
have read he did not want to nationalize or in other ways put restrictions
on private enterprise (including US capital in Cuba). And also that he
believed he could continue to do business-as-usual with the US.

I would describe him as a liberal democrat.

Castro only became a Marxist and communist, when he found out this was not
an option. He saw Cuba isolated (by US embargo etc.) and he saw that Cuba
could not develop on it's own.

Where to go then? The only open door was Kremlin's. (Not out of any
principled "internationalism" - Moscows interests were partly strategic,
partly economic (sugar paid for in non-convertible currency - from being
dependent on the US Cuba became dependent on the USSR)).

Having found this new ally Castro suddenly found out (I think it was in
1961?) that the revolution *was* Communist after all.

I think the process is instructive:
Castro the Rebel could *not* become a Communist because the CP was so
discredited. But Castro the Statesman *could* become a "Communist" because
the small country he was now head of, *had* to align itself with one of the
two super powers in this period - and the US was not available for him.

Both of these things happened not only in Cuba but in number of countries
where national liberation took place in the boom/Cold War period.

In Cuba there *was* a genuine tradition of worker's struggles (peaking in
1933-34, but showing a muscle also after it was crushed in 1935 by the new
Batista regime). I think Marxists should look to this tradition, and not
Castro's, when we are searching for "agents for socialism".



Jorn Andersen

Internationale Socialister

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