[Marxism] Cuba's wage changes not a return to capitalism ... Re: Is Cuba Done With Equality?

Steve Palmer spalmer999 at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 20 10:45:24 MDT 2008

Well, his premise is bollocks, so the rest of his argument can't be any
stronger ... Obviously you can't measure productivity based on prices in a
capitalist economy, since they include equalization of profit rates. However
most operational management techniques are use-value based and are relatively
easily transferable to a socialist economy: bourgeois ideologists sneer loudly
in public at the law of labour value, but managers are busy watching that every
hour of a worker's time is spent maximizing output.

>From today's Guardian:


Cuba's wage changes have nothing to do with a return to capitalism
Far from 'moribund', the island's economy is thriving and has much to teach the
west, says Helen Yaffe

    * Dr Helen Yaffe
    * The Guardian,
    * Friday June 20, 2008

Your article claimed that "Cuba has abandoned its egalitarian wage system to
try to salvage its moribund economy, marking another step away from Fidel
Castro's socialist dream" (Cuban workers to get bonuses for extra effort, June

In reality, there has never been an "egalitarian wage system" (ie one where
every worker was paid the same): Che Guevara himself devised a new salary
scale, introduced in 1964, with 24 different basic wage levels, plus a 15%
bonus for over-completion. This scale - which I studied during my research in
Cuba on Che's work as minister of industries - linked wages to qualifications,
creating an incentive to training, which was vital given the exodus of
professionals and low educational level of Cuba's workers.

Like Marx himself, Che recognised the socialist principle: "From each according
to his ability, to each according to his work" - which your article associates
exclusively with Raul. Cuba has never claimed to be communist and therefore has
never embraced the principle "from each according to his ability, to each
according to his need", which expresses the attainment of communist society.

Your description of the Cuban economy as "moribund" is bizarre, given that it
has grown between 7 and 12% annually since 2005. Pensions and salaries have
been raised several times since 2004, with big investments made in social
infrastructure, transport and communication. Electrical goods in every Cuban
home have been replaced by new energy-efficient equipment.

You say that "the island is impoverished", but how can you dismiss Cuba's
first-world standard, free, universal education and healthcare services -
luxuries gradually being withdrawn in our own country? The Human Development
Report now lists Cuba in the high human development category.

The new pay regulations were introduced to standardise salary policy across the
economy as part of the general implementation of the economic management system
operating in army enterprises since 1987. Capped or not, bonus payments in Cuba
are awarded for outperforming the national plan in the production of physical
goods or services. Your article did not mention the fact that these payments
remain capped at 30% of salary for various bureaucrats, technicians and
economists - a measure to prevent the emergence of a technocratic elite.

The new salary incentives - to increase internal production and productivity,
particularly in agriculture and exports - reflect Cuba's push to reduce
vulnerability to the global food price crisis, rather than a return to

Your report equates productivity with capitalism - but how efficient is this
economic system which leaves millions unemployed because their work is not
"profitable", while millions of under-5s die every year of malnutrition and
diarrhoea. For 50 years, Cuba commentators have predicted the collapse of the
socialist revolution. Your article repeats the same mistake.

· Dr Helen Yaffe is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for the Study
of the Americas, and author of Ernesto Che Guevara: The Economics of
Revolution, to be published by Palgrave MacMillan 

helen.yaffe at sas.ac.uk

--- Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:

> Counterpunch, June 20, 2008
> Of Pay and Productivity
> Is Cuba Done With Equality?

"I study a lot. That is one of the responsibilities of every revolutionary." Hugo Chavez.


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