[Marxism] China's relationship with Cuba is progressive, not "sinister"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Mar 4 10:05:23 MST 2005

Richard Fidler wrote:

The Chinese report on their 'fraternal' advice to Cuba to massively 
privatise its economy is important evidence of how sinister the 
growing Chinese relationship is.

Fred Feldman responds:

Yes, there are people in Cuba who are awed by the economic growth of
China, and very few of them -- correctly in my opinion -- are convinced
that China has definitively been transformed into a capitalist society.
(Imperialist?  Some of the lines of argument seem to head that way,
too.).  It is hard for the underdeveloped world in general not to be
awed by the expansion of the Chinese economy, and from the standpoint of
the historic development of oppressed humanity, I do tend to see this as
having some genuinely progressive characteristics, as well as
backward-moving ones.
But quite a few people in Cuba also are aware to some degree of the
disintegration of what in bourgeois terminology has come to be called
the "safety net" -- reducing the collective assurance of basic human
needs to the protection of hapless individuals who can't cut the
capitalist mustard.  Education, health care, protection and developments
of children and the aged, special education (imagine the scale of the
needs here in China!), collective cultural development, and so on.  
Cuba's distinguishing feature in the world, even among the countries
where capitalism was overthrown, has been placing these things as the
top priority, even in some ways higher than military defense of the
blockaded island. This is an important part of the reason why Cuba has
decided not to develop nuclear weapons to protect its territory -- as it
has a perfect right to do, as do Iran and North Korea. The social costs
of nuclear weapons development are enormous and, on a relatively small
economy, devastating to the social priorities that are the root of
Cubas's human and social solidarity.  These are the main line of defense
for the embattled island.

I separate this from the question of the development of a nuclear power
industry which, under existing conditions, can seem necessary for some
countries to meet growing power needs across a vast countryside,
although there are great dangers associated with it. (From that
standpoint, I have to admit I worry about Iran getting nuclear power
plants from Russia, as Iran can hardly afford a Chernobyl and I am not
sure that the Russian nuclear industry has become more efficient since
the disintegration of the workers' state. I can only hope so.)
In China, the provision of the basic needs of the masses for their
development as productive and empowered human beings been placed on one
of the lower shelves. And much of the countryside where most of the
population still lives, is being treated as a disdained hick backwater
-- a vast benighted "red states" one might say. Hence the rising
protests of a rural peasantry that not only little or no share in the
national economic-growth bonanza, but is even being stripped of what
little they have.
But it is wrong to present China's current solidarity with Cuba against
the United States as "sinister", just as it would be wrong to treat
Iran's or Brazil's solidarity.   They are governmental expressions of
the solidarity that is growing deeper across the oppressed nations. 
They reflect the progressive character of China's fight for Taiwan, and
their course toward completing the national unification of China, as
well as their basic defense of North Korea against US threats, which
Washington has yet to buy the Chinese regime into abandoning.  
Personally, I think the great national and socialist revolution that
began with the victory of the peasant army in 1949 has not ended or been
definitively rolled back. Nor do I think that China has become a rising
imperialist power.  It remains one of the centers of the
anti-imperialist revolution in the world today, and since there is no
sign yet of the kind of disintegration and collapse that took place in
the Soviet Union, I think the ultimate fate of the Chinese revolution
will be settled in struggle.
Fred Feldman

More information about the Marxism mailing list