Forwarded from José, part two

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Sep 7 07:11:14 MDT 2001

I hope these two posts will eliminate any lack of definition about my
position. Now let me turn to some of the other issues you raise.

On the issue of Cuba's position on México and the PRI and so on.

Cuba has no choice but to be part of a world system of states and
diplomatic relations; of international institutions and of a world economy.
These are all bourgeois systems and institutions and conventions, and Cuba
has no choice about that. I'm sure Cuba would rather live in a worker's
world and have done their damndest to bring that about.

Cuba's stance in this diplomatic aspect of its activity is to repect the
right of all countries to conduct their own internal affairs as it sees
fit. Or, at least of those countries that respect Cuba's right to conduct
its own

internal affairs.

To call on Cuba to break with the PRI over how the PRI treated its own
people is wrong for two reasons.

a) Cuba did not have special, fraternal, party-to-party, comradely
relations with the PRI. I have never ever seen anything that could be
reasonably interpreted as a Cuban statement or indication that they
considered the PRI a sister party. Nor has there been a history of close
collaboration and cooperation between Cuba and México, as there was, say,
between Cuba and Allende's Chile, Bishop's Grenada, the Sandinista
Nicaragua or as now seems to be developing between the Cuban Revolution and
the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. You cannot break relations you do
not have.

b) The relations Cuba did (and does) have with Mexico are state-to-state
relations, diplomatic relations and economic relations.

Cuba has, as a matter of principle, never, ever broken diplomatic relations
with anyone. Even the murder of the Grenada Revolution and Maurice Bishop
--who Fidel loved like a brother-- by the Stalinist Coard gang did not
evoke such an action from Cuba. On the contrary, Cuba said its assistance
to the Grenadian people in building the airport would *continue* but that
Cuba's political relationship with the (now Coardite) New Jewel Movement
would be subjected to "serious and profound analysis." I think Cuba used
such an awkward formulation because they wanted to proclaim publicly their
*political* break with the Coard group while not contributing to the
propaganda build up for the imminent imperialist invasion. But they
carefully differentiated between their state to state relations and the
special political bond between sister revolutionary organizations.

This has to do with the issue you raise about the building of an
international communist movement and specifically a communist party in the
U.S. On this, proletarian internationalism has been the cornerstone of
Cuba's foreign policy. As soon as they made it to Havana in 1959, literally
within weeks, they began encouraging people to follow Cuba's example, and
giving them concrete, material help to do so.

We don't need to rehash here the discussion about the strategic and
tactical approaches Fidel and his comrades initially used in pursuing this
line. I just want to note in passing that they took the same approach many
of the top Bolshevik leaders took in the first few years after the Russian
Revolution, essentially urging comrades in other countries to, in effect,
copy (and quite mechanically at that) what the Russians had done to make
the revolution.

In Cuba's case, the revolutionary leadership long ago dropped this quite
natural inclination to think, well, it worked in Cuba, why not elsewhere.
But their statements and activities have also been constrained by the world
that Cuba has lived in these past 40-some years, and by the fact that Cuba
is not a "party" like those many of us have been associated with, a
propaganda league whose statements are just that -- statements, but a
revolution in power, a social force, a state.

Typically a propaganda league says a great deal and does very little. By
"does very little" I mean very little that has a direct, immediate,
practical impact on political developments and the class struggle. That is
in the very nature of such a League.

Cuba presents a different modality of revolutionary activity, a way of
functioning in which one often says very little, but does a great deal. A
good example is Cuba's aid to Angola. When South African columns invaded
that country a few weeks before its independence was to have been
proclaimed, a party like the SWP (had it known about and received an appeal
for solidarity from the MPLA) would have issued some sort of statement, a
denunciation of the aggression, even one calling on the worker's states to
come to the aid of the Angolan people.

Cuba did not send any such statements to Angola, saying aid should be sent.
What they did instead was to send troops. Because of the situation, the
first group went by plane, with a larger contingent sailing by boat to
constitute essentially a heavy batallion. That was just on the first day,
more troops followed.

Cuba did not advertise or even acknowlege its role publicly at first.
Although many said at the time that the Soviets put them up to it, the
truth is that the Soviets were not even told the Cubans were planning to
send troops until after the decision had been made.

It seems to me the kinds of questions you are raising come from within the
framework and experiences of a propaganda league, which views things in
terms of statements and positions, rather than actions and the concrete
political impact such actions have. And even a paper statement by Cuba, a
speech by Fidel, is not simply the taking of a position but carrying out an
action whose consequences must be carefully weighed.

A statement about, for example, what leftists should be doing in the United
States has to be carefully weighed on many different levels. First, the
likelihood, if it is a public statement, that the imperialists and their
news media and politicians will try to twist it in some way to attack Cuba,
and the possibility that this may happen, even if it is a statement made to
a narrow group or even an individual. Second, the impact it would have on
Cuba's state-to-state relations with the United States, and also on Cuba's
relations with other countries. Third, the impact it may have in the
solidarity movement: will it cause divisions and strife in face of the
common enemy? Fourth, the impact this may have on the complex web of
political relations Cuba maintained and which were inextricably intertwined
with the economic and diplomatic relations between the socialist countries.
Fifth, the impact of the statement within the Cuban body politic. Fidel may
be a revolutionary politician but he is still a politician, a political
leader. Will the statement contribute to the education and mobilization of
the Cuban people around the key tasks of the revolution? Will it help in
their longer term political education and development? Sixth, Cuba is an
economy. Viewed in a certain sense, it could be considered one multifaceted
conglomerate competing in the world market. That's another factor to take
into account.

So while it may seem quite ludicrous, looking at it from the point of view
of a propaganda league, for comrades like the Cubans to refuse to recognize
that, say, the CPUSA it totally reformist and it sucks, Cubans do not have
the luxury of speaking as if what they say has no real immediate political
impact or material consequences.


Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list:

More information about the Marxism mailing list