O'Connor on Batista

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri Jun 28 07:55:08 MDT 1996

"Batista was caught in an enormous contradiction, one which he had
helped to create twenty years earlier. Unlike economic growth (a rise
in per capita income), economic development required national
autonomy; political stability, the precondition for foreign investment,
required dependence on Washington. Economic development required
an independent monetary system and monetary autonomy; political
stability required that Cuba be secured against inflation, the scourge of
United States operations in many other Latin American economies.
Economic development required that Cuba be able to postpone, adjust, and
modify her international payments; political stability required prompt,
full payments: in 1957-1958, 70 per cent of United States credit
collections were termed 'prompt,' and 90 per cent were paid within
thirty days. Economic development required that Cuba seize the
advantages of established instruments of economic and commercial
policy: exchange controls, multiple exchange rates, import quotas,
controls over profit remittances, and so on; political stability required
that the island's international economic relations be arranged in the
interests of North Americans. Economic development required that
Cuba liberate herself from the sugar quota system; political stability
required that the island's fate be linked to the interests expressed in the
United States Congress and Executive.

There was no conceivable way for Batista to keep up the juggling act
for longer than a few years. Cuban nationalism was frustrated, turned
back, distorted, betrayed. Cuban industrialization, which aimed to
reduce the island's dependence on sugar, was a failure. Structural
changes in the economy continued to be elusive: the proportion of the
employed labor force in primary, secondary, and tertiary activities was
about 42, 20, and 38 per cent, respectively, in both the immediate
prewar period and in the late 1950's. The economy continued to
stagnate. Thus, Cubans tended to view the material benefits of
economic activity as fixed quantities, incapable of expansion and
available to individuals and groups through political rather than
economic effort. Political, rather than economic forces continued to be
the main determinants of the distribution of income."

(From Chapter two of James O'Connor's "Origins of Socialism in
Cuba". This selection represents the pinnacle of Marxist thought.
Observe how he explores the *contradictions* of the Cuban political economy.
Observe how he substantiates his claims with statistics. This is the sort
of Marxism we should all aspire to. When I prepare my post on why
Cuba is socialist, the debts to O'Connor's research will be obvious.)

Louis Proyect

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