[Marxism] Fidel Castro: The elephant and the ant

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 19 09:47:33 MDT 2008

Reflections by comrade Fidel 

It would seem there's no topic worthy of addressing that would not
bore our patient readers, after the Round Table program of June 12,
which dealt with the new edition of a book published in Bolivia 15
years ago, featuring now a prologue I wrote. During this program, an
introduction was also read written at a later date by Evo Morales and
a message from the prestigious Argentinean writer Stella Calloni, to
be included in an upcoming edition. I had carefully chosen the
information I used for that prologue. A powerful internationalist
spirit, which had its roots in the broad contingent of Cuban
combatants who participated in the anti-fascist struggle of the
Spanish people and made the best traditions of the world worker's
movement its own, had developed in Cuba in the first years of the

We are not in the habit of publicizing our cooperative efforts with
other peoples, but it is at times impossible to prevent the press
from mentioning it. Our cooperative efforts stem from profound
feelings that have nothing to do with a desire for publicity.

Some ask themselves how it is possible for a small country with
scarce resources to carry out tasks of such magnitude in fields as
decisive as education and health, without which contemporary society
is unthinkable. Humanity developed the goods and services essential
to its existence since establishing its first society, and the latter
has in turn developed from the most elementary to the most
sophisticated of forms over many thousands of years.

The exploitation of man by man was inseparable from this development,
as we all know or ought to know.

The different ways in which this reality has been perceived have
always depended on the place each of us occupies within society. For
long, exploitation was seen as something natural and the immense
majority was never aware of the above relation.

At the very height of capitalist development in England, which was a
world leader, next to the United States and other countries in
Europe, in a world that was already dominated by colonialism and
expansionism, a great thinker and history and economics scholar, 
Karl Marx, on the basis of the ideas of the most prestigious German
philosophers and economists of the time -including Hegel, Adam Smith
and David Ricardo, with whom he disagreed- elaborated, wrote and
published his ideas on capitalism's relations of production and
exchange in 1859 in a work titled Contribution to the Critique of
Political Economy. In 1867, he continued to spread his ideas with the
publication of the first volume of his most important work, a work
that made him famous: The Capital. Most of the long book, on the
basis of Marx's notes and comments, was edited by Engels, who shared
Marx's ideas and, like a prophet, spread his work after Marx's death
in 1883.

What Marx published constitutes the most serious analysis ever to be
written about class society and the exploitation of man by man.
Marxism had thus been born, as the foundation of revolutionary
parties and movements that proclaimed socialism as their objective,
including nearly all social-democratic parties that, when World War I
broke out, betrayed the slogan proclaimed by Marx and Engels in The
Communist Manifesto, first published in 1848: "Workers of the world,

One of the truths that this great thinker expressed in simple terms
was that: "In the social production during their lives, men establish
certain necessary relations independent of their wills, relations of
production which correspond to a given phase of development of their
material productive forces. It is not man's consciousness which
determines its being, but on the contrary, it is its social being
which determines its consciousness. On reaching a given phase of
development, society's material productive forces come into
contradiction with existing production relations...From forms of
development of the productive forces, these relations become
obstacles to the latter and an era of social revolution thus
begins...No social formation disappears before its productive forces
are fully developed and no new and more advanced production relations
emerge before the material conditions for their existence have
matured within the old society".

I could not find better words to more clearly and precisely express
these concepts elaborated by Marx, concepts whose essence, with a
basic explanation from a teacher, even one of the young Cubans who
joined the Young Communists League this past Saturday June 14th could

To describe the concrete development of the class struggle, Marx
wrote The Class Struggle in France from 1848 to 1850 and the 18th
Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, two excellent historical analyses that
delight any reader. He was a true genius.

Lenin, a profound continuator of dialectical thought and Marx's
research, wrote two key works: The State and Revolution and
Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Marx's ideas, put into
practice by Lenin through the October Revolution, were also developed
by Mao Zedong and other Third World revolutionary leaders. Without
them, the Cuban Revolution would not have taken place in the United
States' backyard.

Had Marxist thought simply limited itself to the idea that 
"no social formation disappears before its productive forces are fully
developed", the capitalist theoretician Francis Fukuyama would have
been right in proclaiming that the collapse of the Soviet Union
marked the end of history and ideologies and that all resistance to
the capitalist system of production should cease.

When the founder of scientific socialism published his ideas,
society's productive forces were far from fully developed. Technology
had not yet yielded deadly weapons of mass destruction capable of
exterminating the human species; the aerospatial domain did not yet
exist, nor did the unlimited squandering of hydrocarbons and
non-renewable fossil fuels; climate change had not yet been detected
in a natural world whose potential seemed infinite to humanity, nor
had the world food crisis, to be borne by innumerable combustion
engines and a population six times larger than that which inhabited
the planet on the year Marx was born (then of one billion), made
itself known yet.

Cuba's socialist experience takes place at a time when imperial
domination has expanded across the globe.

When I speak of consciousness I am not referring to a will capable of
changing reality but, on the contrary, to knowledge of objective
reality which can determine the path to follow.

Tens of million of people died in the war sparked off in the mid 20th
century by fascism, an ideology which was new at the time, born in
the anti-Marxist bosom of the developed capitalist world Lenin had

In Cuba, as in other Third World countries, the struggle for national
liberation, under the leadership of the middle classes and petite
bourgeoisie, and the struggle for socialism that the most advanced
sectors of the working class and farmers had been waging over the
years, combined and strengthened one another. Ideological and class
contradictions also flourished. Objective and subjective factors
varied considerably from one process to another.

The United Nations and other international organizations, where many
saw the beginning of a new, international consciousness, emerged from
the last world war. Those hopes were betrayed.

Fascism, whose instrument Hitler called the National Socialist Party,
was re-born, more powerful and threatening than ever.

The empire deploys and keeps aircraft carriers in all of the world's
seas, ever ready for military intervention. What does it decide to do
in order to compete with Cuba in our hemisphere? To deploy an
enormous ship turned into a floating hospital that works ten days in
each country. It can assist a number of people daily but it cannot
solve a country's problems. It does not compensate for the
brain-drain, and it cannot train the specialists who are needed so
that real medical services may be offered on any day of the week and
year. All of the world's aircraft carriers, which today are
instruments of military intervention deployed across the world's
oceans, working as hospitals, could not offer those services to the
millions of people treated by Cuban doctors in remote corners of the
planet, where women go into labor, children are born and there are
sick people in urgent need of attention.

Our country has demonstrated that it can stand up to all pressures
and help other peoples.

I was thinking about our cooperative efforts, not only in Bolivia,
but in Haiti, the Caribbean, several countries in Central America,
South America, Africa and even distant Oceania, 20 thousand
kilometers away. I also recalled the missions undertaken by the Henry
Reeve Brigade, which responded to serious emergencies, traveling in
our planes, transporting personnel and other resources.

We are not far from reaching the figure of one million people
annually operated on for sight problems, free of charge. Can the
United States really compete with Cuba?

We will make use of computers, not to create weapons of mass
destruction and exterminate people but to convey knowledge to other
peoples. From the economic point of view, the development of the
intelligence and conscience of our fellow citizens, made possible by
the Revolution, allow us not only to aid those in most need at no
cost to us, but also to export specialized services, including
healthcare services, to countries that have more resources than our
own. In this field, the United States will never be able to compete
with Cuba.

Our small country shall continue to hold its ground.

In one phrase: The ant has proved mightier than the elephant!

Fidel Castro Ruz
June 18, 2008
7:35 p.m.  

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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