[Marxism] Pedro Campos Santos - Cuba: Dilemma and Hope (II)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 17 14:13:32 MDT 2007

Here are excerpts by by Pedro Campos Santos taking up the challenges
of the day. He's a retired Cuban diplomat, still residing on the island,
and he is quite critical of a range of areas in the way Cuban life is now
organized. I won't try to characterize it in great detail beyond that he
favors more decentralization, worker self-management and broader areas of
public participation in discussion. A short biographical note about the
author is appended at website. It was published originally on the Spanish
website called KAOSENLARED. CubaNews has posted other items by this author
before, and they are also posted to www.walterlippmann.com 

Please note that CubaNews posts a very wide range of materials for the
information of its readership. Unless I feel some strong reason to do so,
it's not necessary that I try to attempt some instant analysis or some
kind of exact characterization of every document or viewpoint. If you're
subscribed, you're interested, or, at least, I hope readers take the time
to follow this material. In light of Fidel's illness and being away on 
sick leave, he still has his thinking cap on. Raul's call for more debate
is also pertinent, and therefore parameters for public discussion of many
issues is clearly widening as time passes. This is a good thing, indeed,
it is very necessary in order that the country may address, assess and
confront its many challenges. More, much more of this material will be
coming as it's written, and as we can find translators to help bring it
out to the English-speaking world. If you can translate, please get in 
touch and let me know. We can only pay in boundless gratitude and in the
occasional package of free books which I bring back from Cuba when I go

Readers who aren't in Cuba should really try to avoid the temptation to
leap to conclusions about any one document, or position expressed, or to
take sides in Cuban internal politics. This is a temptation easy to fall
into, but it should be avoided. Unless you know the people, and really know
the situation in Cuba, I strongly urge you not to do this. I've explained
more than once that the more time I spend in Cuba, the more I know how
little I know. Most readers of these messages spend little or nearly no time
in Cuba. So when people ask me, is this one a Stalinist? What social layer
does so and so represent, and so forth, I'm troubled by that and try to
remind the person, as politely as I can, that such speculation is pointless
and purposeless. That's why it's best to avoid the trap of trying to take
sides and get involved in Cuban internal politics through doing that.

Cubans look to the experiences of others in different countries and periods
of history, to see what they can learn. They know that their revolution and
their social problems are part of a broader international context, but they
also know that it is they who have to make the decisions, for better AND for
worse, with which they will then live. This is a very long document, so it's
going to take time to go over it.

In a few days I hope to have ready for readers the latest article by Ariel
Dacal Diaz on Why Soviet Socialism Failed, which is from the current issue
of the Cuban journal TEMAS. It's very long, and will take some time to edit
for publication in English. I'm sure you will enjoy it when it's available.

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews


Cuba. Dilemma and hope (II)

If the economic policies applied for the past 13 years haven’t freed us from
the special period, we must analyze what has failed and what must be
changed. The reaffirmed state control of the economy will increase
bureaucracy, corruption and the popular dissatisfaction which will
necessarily act as a catalyst through some juncture.

CubaNews translation by Dana Lubow, August 16, 2007. 
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Pedro Campos (Para Kaos en la Red) [13.07.2007 17:27] – 318 readings  - 24
We Cubans associate the Special Period with the worst economic crisis of the
revolutionary phase: it is synonymous with scarcity, food shortages,
blackouts, bicycles as transportation, houses in deplorable, almost
irreversible condition, little television transmission, the disappearance of
numerous newspapers, reductions of print runs of major newspapers, a drastic
reduction of most leisure options for the populace, constant siren alerts in
the face of possible imperialist aggression, massive mobilizations to dig
tunnels, evacuation exercises, training of territorial militias and other
similar actions.
There are regions of the country where the situation is worse than in
others, above all in the supply of food, transportation and housing; but
many of those things have changed a lot—more for some than others—and others
have improved, although almost nowhere is there any comparison with the
worst moments of the Special Period. Thus, the appraisal made recently by
Carlos Lage is very correct, when he stated that we still haven’t left the
special period, despite the changes and some improvements we have
It is our duty to ask why, thirteen years after the application of economic
and social policies characterized by the strengthening of state
neocapitalist socialism, with several years of highs and sustained economic
growth, and when nine years ago, in 1998, it was said that we were beginning
to leave the special period? We still haven’t managed to get out of it
entirely, while it is observed that there are persistent food shortages,
serious problems in public transportation and in the maintenance and
construction of housing, major problems which continue to affect the
majority of the people.
There is a conspicuous absence of popular participation in decisions: they
are not consulted at all. The current provisions of the business improvement
plan, which is only applied in a portion of the businesses, suppose that the
workers “discuss” a plan that has already been approved. The plan and
national and regional budgets are never debated or approved by the people in
any degree, since the current representative system doesn’t allow a real
participative and direct democracy of the masses, as would be expected of a
society that aspires to be truly democratic and socialist. We must advance
in that direction.
In order to really be socialism, it must be participatory, democratic,
self-managing, inclusive and integrated. Participatory, because it must
permit the broadest participation of all affected parties in the development
and approval of all of the important economic, political, and social
decisions; democratic, because the methods that are used to make the
decisions can’t be based on the policy of “I order and direct,” in the
imposition from above, but on the  will of the majority expressed through
democratic methods; self-managing, because only self management and
cooperation are capable of creating collective conditions for the
development of a truly democratic society, without exploiters or exploited,
equitable and with a new collective mentality; inclusive, because it must
include and mobilize all levels of society, including the most fallen
behind, for the great common socialist plan; and integrated, because it must
move toward economic, political and social integration with other peoples
who make are struggling to build socialism, prioritizing all types of
commerce or exchanges and joint investments with these countries above any
relations with international capitalism.
What we are proposing does not at all suit the enemy since it doesn’t serve
its interests. They know that our proposals strengthen socialism which they
hope to destroy, precisely with the help of the methods we are criticizing.
Cohesion—not false unanimity—is essential.
In the former socialist Europe, these types of analysis were considered
leftist deviations, diversionist and revisionist. All of those charges were
weapons used in favor of stagnation in other times against revolutionaries,
but it is now no longer possible to repeat those mistakes. Those who would
try it would be clearly identified as intolerant, opportunist, dogmatic and
Stalinist, condemned by history, signs that nobody wants to wear around his
neck nowadays because the cutting weight is too great.
Nor do we believe that those who defend the current course are
pro-imperialists, annexationists, unpatriotic or anti-party, although we
know that the road that they are currently pushing forward, toward the
strengthening of state capitalism, leads to the consolidation of
bureaucratism, the destruction of the revolution and the restoration of
annexationist capitalism. It is a matter of a lack of political-ideological
For these reasons, so many  wish to leave the country in any way possible,
whether it be to internationalist missions, work contracts, family visits or
for whatever reason, and hundreds of thousands fill out forms for the U.S.
lottery and risk their lives in the Straits of Florida, attracted by the
siren song of the murderous Cuban Adjustment Act. These are the real causes,
and not the “consumerist ideological weaknesses” that are attributed as
reasons to many of those that go and want to go.
If we revolutionaries and communists don’t show our discontent more openly
it is because we trust that a change in course towards more socialism will
take place at any moment, and because we don’t want to set off a fracturing
of the revolutionary camp that could open the road to an eventual return to
the capitalist past—that now would be necessarily annexationist—not desired
by the great majority of the people. Because of that we promote cohesion
from intrarevolutionary discussion for consensus. 
The Italian theoretician of modern socialism, Antonio Gramsci, wrote: “If
the dominant class loses consensus it stops being the ruling class, it
becomes uniquely dominant, it scarcely maintains coercive power, which goes
to prove that the great masses have moved away from traditional ideology, no
longer believing in what they believed before.” And that, right now, is
happening to us in Cuba. We understand that there is no longer consensus in
society about the way in which the revolutionary project is being conducted:
no longer is there direction but rather imposition. Let us search for
consensus or we will end up losing credibility with the masses, which is
already quite affected. 
This situation is becoming more and more complicated due to the stubbornness
to continue on a wrong course, one in which announcing progress really leads
to us falling behind in socialist relations of production (cooperatism,
self-management and co-management). It may end in a disaster for socialism
in Cuba or in a rebirth of the revolution which has to reach a truly
socialist phase: the socialization of the means of production.  A Stalinist
type of tyranny which nobody wants is ruled out, in which repression against
the people and the communists would be the death of the process.
If we don’t manage to solve the problems of corruption and bureaucracy, the
current contradictions will intensify until some conjunctural situation may
catalyze, and then all will depend on whoever manages to capitalize on the
discontent of the masses: the imperialist enemy with its internal
pro-annexationist allies, or the ordinary revolutionaries who beat strongly
in the heart of the people, the Communist Party and its leadership.
The forces that are the most revolutionary and not contaminated by
bureaucracy in the leadership of the revolution, with Fidel and Raúl at the
front, will not disappoint the trust that the people have deposited in them.

Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
writer - photographer - activist

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