[Marxism] Cuba under Raúl: Creeping toward capitalism?

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 24 11:28:05 MDT 2008

These aren't the leftist criticizers who are arguing that Raul has
started to open the floodgates to capitalism. This is the mainstream
media which approaches these matters from a somewhat different angle.

These authors write for the Christian Science Monitor, and this also is
posted at another site with the photographs easier to see. Please go
check them out. If one picture is still worth a thousand words, you
can see important images and save lots of words by looking at the very
graphic images which accompany this story. Naturally, in the capitalist
media you'll never find anything which tells you that Cuba's system is
actually working. No matter what happens in Cuba, and no matter what
changes are implemented, the message is always the same: Cuban society
is a failure and everything which has ever taken place there, with the
rare occasional exception of reports on medical care and education, it
all confirms the complete, utter and total failure of the Cuban system.

Cuba is relaxing some controls? That proves that only capitalism works.
Cuba is tightening up? That proves that only capitalism really works and
the Cuban government is afraid of capitalism, which is, of course, the
only system known to humanity which really works. As we watch the great
successes of U.S. capitalism in the home-mortgage crisis, we, of course,
understand what "only capitalism really works" means in real daily life.

If there's anything I have become convinced of in my years going to Cuba,
it's the idea that society, aka, "the state", can or should be expected to
take care of organizing and providing everything, simply doesn't work.

It's one thing, of course, to allow various odds and ends of small private
endeavors to stop being illegal, such as driving people around and other
similar economic activities. That's not capitalism, at least I don't think
it's capitalism. Cuba's informal sector fills in where the organizing work
of the state can't or won't resolve things. Of course, doing that has its
own challenges, problems and contradictions. As Fidel put it so well in
his speech of November 17, 2005:

"Here is a conclusion I've come to after many years: among all the
errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we
believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that
someone actually knew how to build socialism. It seemed to be a sure
fact, as well-known as the electrical system conceived by those who
thought they were experts in electrical systems. Whenever they said:
"That's the formula", we thought they knew. Just as if someone is a
physician. You are not going to debate anemia, or intestinal
problems, or any other condition with a physician; nobody argues with
the physician. You can think that he is a good doctor or a bad one,
you can follow his advice or not, but you won't argue with him. Which
of us would argue with a doctor, or a mathematician, or a historian,
or an expert in literature or in any other subject? But we must be
idiots if we think, for example, that economy is an exact and eternal
science and that it existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and I
offer my apologies to the thousands of economists in our country.

"All sense of dialectics is lost when someone believes that today's
economy is identical to the economy 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, or
that it is identical to the one in Lenin's day or to the time when
Karl Marx lived. Revisionism is a thousand miles away from my mind
and I truly revere Marx, Engels and Lenin."

FULL: http://www.walterlippmann.com/fc-11-17-2005.html

Combined with the news from Reuters correspondent Marc Frank now
reporting Cuba has received additional credits which are now being
offered to farmers to upgrade their productive capabilities, we're
seeing a slow but steady process of adjustment and re-adjustment in
Cuba which is premised on reducing the island's isolation by growing
ties with as many countries as possible: Russia, China, Venezuela,
Brazil, Vietnam and so many others.

REUTERS: Cuba promises farmers resources to back reform

Thanks to Washington's decades-long blockade of the island, Cuba has
developed new, alternative sources of economic linkage, and Washington
has nothing but itself to blame for the inability of U.S. individuals
and businesses from playing any role and making any money from the
rapidly-evolving Cuban domestic situation. The Cuban leadership has
to put food on the table for eleven million people, and the recent
steps are ones which can hopefully increase domestic food production.

By the way, the rightist Cuban exile militants are bitterly hostile 
toward ANY commentary that says ANYTHING good about Cuba. EXAMPLES:


Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Cuba under Raúl: Creeping toward capitalism?

Since Raúl Castro took the helm in February, he's rolled out a series
economic changes, including allowing Cubans to buy cellphones and giving
farmers profit-incentives.

By Sara Miller Llana and Matthew Clark | Staff writers of The Christian
Science Monitor

Havana - A handful of Cubans are taking turns doing bicep curls and pedaling
on stationary bikes. At first glance, there's nothing extraordinary about
this nameless gym in the basement of a Havana apartment complex.

Yet when night falls, the machines – crafted out of wood planks and
scavenged metal tubing – disappear like a government informant into the
shadows. They are disassembled and tucked away to make room for the coughing
Russian Ladas and '50s-era American cars that fill the building's parking

Officially, this fly-by-day gym does not exist, but Guillermo Arrastia
opened it five years ago. He employs a staff of three and collects monthly
$5 fees from more than 100 members. It is run completely "por la izquierda"
– "on the left" – a term that describes how most Cubans make ends meet. "We
have to survive," says Mr. Arrastia, unapologetically.

Guillermo Arrastia runs a clandestine gym in the garage of his apartment
building. He spoke to the residents and all agreed that it would be a good
idea. He designed and built most of the machines. Members, mostly from the
neighborhood, pay a monthly fee. Mr. Arrastia uses part of his income to
make improvements to the building, and thus keeping residents from alerting
the authorities.

Such gray-market microenterprises exemplify a spirit of dynamism and
creativity straining to be fully unleashed, say some observers of Cuba. 
The question of the day: Is Raúl Castro about to release it?

Monitor photo gallery:

(interesting if rather
smarmy video)

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