Cuba (to Jose G. Perez)

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Fri Oct 22 07:10:22 MDT 1999

Philip wrote:

>>I think it is very foolish, however, to be blind to the significant
encroachments of the market in Cuba and the way that a substantial section
of the Cuban officialdom is moving politically.  'Guantanamera' suggests
that the 'Fidelista' elements are not as strong as you choose to believe.>>

We can probably have a very good and useful discussion on Cuba but it was
probably a mistake for me and you to try to back into it from Guantanamera.

For me, the key to understanding Cuba and the world-historic role it is
playing in the development of the world communist movement at this time is
the class nature of the revolution, the leadership and its policies. The
Cuban line is a revolutionary, proletarian internationalist and communist
line, with a degree of consciousness and consistency that's never been seen
on this sort of scale in the world.

You posit, for example, that a layer of Cuban officialdom is moving towards
some sort of market model. I think you're looking at the wrong people. The
important thing is whether the Cuban working class continues to wage a
conscious, coherent battle for communism.

That a layer of the officialdom would feel attracted by capitalism is an
almost inevitable phenomenon. Its roots lie in the fact that Cuba does not
and cannot YET have simply a state of the "Paris Commne type," a state that
is in
the process of liquidating itself into the working people as a whole. Cuba,
like the eastern European and Soviet states of unhappy memory, like China,
sees itself forced instead to rely on a bureaucratic-military apparatus. The
main reason for
this is not to suppress the remaining pro-capitalist elements within Cuba
nor to enforce the various ways rationing is applied under conditions of
relative scarcity. The main reason, in my opinion, is that Cuba is, as have
been all the workers states, encircled by a much more powerful and
economically advanced capitalist world.

As Lenin points out in the state and revolution, the rationed distribution o
f goods after a workers revolution is really an instance of a bourgeois law
surviving the end of bourgeois rule. And he says that in this sense also the
state that applies this law is a bourgeois state. Not in the sense, of
course, that the Trotkyist movement later came to talk about the "class
character of the state" to refer to the socio-economic regime abstracting
from the particular forms of the state power, but in the sense that such a
state apparatus is organized along the lines of the old class society states
not along the lines of the commune state that cannot help but wither away.
That state apparatus still stands over, above, and to a certain degree
against society.

I believe that the "ease" of capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe and
the USSR is due to the bourgeois characteristics of this
bureaucratic-military apparatus. Marx and Lenin emphasized that, UNLIKE in
previous revolutions, the new ruling class, the proletariat, could not
simply lay hold of the old state apparatus and wield it for its own
purposes, that it had to smash the bureaucratic-military machine. The
wannabee bourgeoisie in the E. European and Soviet States found, however,
that they COULD simply take hold of the existing bureaucratic-military
apparatus and use it for their OWN purposes, i.e., capitalist restoration,
(whether you view the restorationist  project as essentially completed or a
work in progress).

In Cuba, the working class has never been politically expropriated, a
bureaucratic caste has never crystallized in the state apparatus, but you
constantly see signs of the tensions between the future the Cuban revolution
is trying to build (which in Cuba's case we might call the "Assemblies of
Peoples Power state," a conscious attempt to create "cold," so to speak,
outside the context of a revolutionary situation, state institutions of the
Paris Commune Type)  and the past they cannot yet get rid of, the
bureaucratic-military apparatus, the one that led Lenin at some point to
comment that in Moscow, they had, I think he said, 5 000 communists at the
head of the bureaucracy, but he wasn't sure whether the communists were
controlling the bureaucracy or the other way around.

I think we can anticipate that this throwback to the bourgeois or
class-society state apparatus, which is inevitable to some degree
immediately following any socialist revolution, will be much more pronounced
in the case of revolutions that come to power while capitalism is still
relatively stronger in many ways on a world scale, and that not until the
back of imperialism and capitalism as a world system is broken are we going
to see on a stable and long term basis the creation of state apparatuses
truly dominated by institutions of the Paris Commune type where all sorts of
functions previously taken on by the state standing over and against society
begin to be reabsorbed by society as a whole and lose their political

In a sense, this analysis tells me to relax, a lot of what goes down in Cuba
is NORMAL for this kind of society at this stage of development under these
kinds of circumstances. But it also tells me to take to heart the slogan of
the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, to always be on guard,
because the Cuban working class cannot yet exercise state power directly,
immediately, transparently but instead sees itself forced to rely in large
part on a bureaucratic-military apparatus of the old type, which is, of
course, a natural culture medium for bureaucratic vices. These, if not
combated WILL lead first to a bureaucratic degeneration of the revolution
and even a capitalist restoration by a wannabbee bourgeoisie gestated in the



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