[Marxism] re work-needs

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Sat Jul 5 15:40:53 MDT 2008

Dear Fred,
    Firstly, let me suggest that if you feel that important points that 
you've made are going unmentioned on Marxmail, you should indicate 
specifically what they are; a long response to a foolish ephemeral piece 
in Counterpunch has probably introduced many questions that are seen as 
digressions to the central discussion about Cuba's current patterns.
    As for your suggestion that I've talked about the power of a Chinese 
current in Cuba which wants, among other things, to subordinate 
education and healthcare to capitalism, that is a blatant distortion of 
what I've said. On the contrary, I have talked about a tendency which 
seeks the solution to current problems by turning to the market and 
abandoning measures such as the 'libretto' and subsidised distribution 
of electricity. etc. once seen as great victories. That tendency 
precedes the new announcements on wages and it continues to strengthen. 
As for the subjective intentions of those who propose such solutions, I 
am certain that they are just problem-solving; however, as with their 
predecessors in the USSR, Eastern Europe and China, movement in this 
direction (rather than moving toward worker and community democracy) 
develops its own dynamic in which capitalist-type solutions appear more 
and more rational--- a point that I think Che grasped very well. In a 
passage from my article in the current issue of TEMAS, the Cuban journal 
(which I think is proof positive that I by no means that written off the 
possibility that this tendency can be reversed), I wrote:
>             Clearly, worker-management and conscious cooperation in 
> the process of production have enormous potential for building rich 
> human beings, for ensuring the 'all-round development of the 
> individual, and [that] all the springs of co-operative wealth flow 
> more abundantly'. The outcome in Yugoslavia, though, was anticipated 
> by Che in his /Man and Socialism in Cuba/:
> The pipe dream that socialism can be achieved with the help of the 
> dull instruments left to us by capitalism (the commodity as the 
> economic cell, individual material interest as the lever, etc.) can 
> lead into a blind alley. And you wind up there after having travelled 
> a long distance with many crossroads, and it is hard to figure out 
> just where you took the wrong turn (Tablada, 1989: 92).
>             Worker-management took the wrong turn in Yugoslavia 
> because an overwhelming emphasis upon self-interest not only works 
> against the development and deepening of solidarity and against a 
> focus upon the needs of people within society. It also tends toward 
> the disintegration of the common ownership of the means of production 
> and to the undermining of worker-management itself.[1] <#_ftn1>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> [1] <#_ftnref1> Thus, it infects all three sides of what Venezuela's 
> President Hugo Chavez ('Alo Presidente' #264, 28 January 2007) has 
> called the 'elementary triangle' of socialism: (1)social property with 
> (2) social production for (3) social needs. See the discussion in 
> Michael A. Lebowitz, /El Socialismo no cae //del// cielo: un nuevo 
> comienzo/ (Caracas: Monte Avila, 2007): 7-15.
    best wishes,
ps. you really should visit Cuba.

On 05/07/2008 3:50 PM, Fred Feldman wrote:
> Dear Michael,
> I think if the debate on the Cuba wage incentive, and its 
> relationship, or lack of same, to the restoration of capitalism there, 
> really should take account, be it with respect or contempt, agreement 
> or disagreement, of this article which I submitted to the list more 
> than a week ago.
> I am attaching it for your and everybody else's convenience.
> It has been published by LINKS but, of course, not by Counterpunch, 
> which is basically a radical bourgeois magazine, good for what its 
> good for but that's all. Nor has MRZine touched it. And although the 
> list is still debating the wage incentive, the points I make go 
> unmentioned.
> But such is life.
> At any rate, if you comment on this, I hope you will include whatever 
> new evidence you have found about the power of the "Chinese Current" 
> in Cuba, who supposedly advocate generalized privatization of industry 
> and agriculture (that includes making land and housing into markets) 
> and the subordination of education and medical care, China-style, to 
> capital accumulation.
> I am seriously, sincerely interested in knowing whether the Cuban CP 
> contains,  or the clear domination of, a powerful "Chinese current" 
> which is responsible for current policies. I would not hesitate to 
> join with you in opposing such a perspective, short of anything that 
> threatened, on whatever grounds, the hard-won independence of the 
> Cuban state.
> Soldarity!
> Fred Feldman

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Director, Programme in 'Transformative Practice and Human Development'
Centro Internacional Miranda, P.H.
Residencias Anauco Suites, Parque Central, final Av. Bolivar
Caracas, Venezuela
fax: 0212 5768274/0212 5777231
mlebowit at sfu.ca

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