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

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 20 11:45:39 MDT 2008

Some people seem to think that you can build socialism,
even in a single country, and even in a country with a 
relatively small population (say, eleven million) and
in an economically-underdeveloped circumstance, and so
they criticize Cuba for the efforts it makes to adjust 
wage rates when they think it necessary. 

While we know that Cuba can and does many, many things,
it cannot function outside of the existing world market
system. In that sense, of course, it cannot, therefore
build "socialism in a single country". That's clearly
the implication of the leftist critics who decry this
or that move to make adjustments to changing times and
circumstances in the actually-existing planet today.

We must see Cuba continues to function in a world which
remains dominated by capitalism, last time I looked. Via
a process of successive approximations, as circumstances
on the island and in its world context change, the Cuban
government tries to make adjustments which can retain as
much as it can of its non-capitalist foundations. 

When the Soviet Union provided extensive economic help,
Cuba was able function in one way. With the Soviet Union
no longer in existence, the Cubans have had to learn to
utilize such strengths as they have, including their 
beautiful physical plant - the island's geography and 
its lack of commercialism - by tapping into it through
tourism. It's used the rising price of nickel in the
world market to help retain other

The truth is that far too many Cubans, living in subsidized
conditions with food, housing and utilities, have found
ways to live without making a productive contribution 
to society. That's also why you find doctors driving
illegal taxis, and so on. These are not healthy factors
for the construction of a society based on such Marti-ist
principles as "with all and for the good of all".

The critics, by the way, also seem to think that just by
adding what they see as "democracy", which for them means
their ability to legally attack the Cuban government in
public, or by publishing all of the island's economic
facts and figures, that magically all problems would be
solved. Democracy is, of course, a good thing, and more
democracy certainly a better thing. But if we look at it
strictly in the abstract, as groups like the IMT always
do, they invariably omit the influence of the blockade,
and Washington's desperate and relentless efforts to 
prevent Cuban economic growth and development, via
increased trade and investment from abroad.

Perfectionism spells paralysis, and it's no substitute
for intelligent political decisions being made under
the given circumstances. These are some of the reasons
why I'm loathe to jump up and criticize the Cubans
when they do something a bit different. The foreign
media will always do what it always does: find fault
and find reasons to say Cuba is moving away from its
historic socialist goals. But isn't that what they've
been doing for about half a century now?

Fidel Castro reminded us in THE ELEPHANT AND THE ANT, Cuba
can to a great deal because it has abolished capitalism
and established a system of economic planning and also
maintains state control over foreign trade:

But building a complete, self-contained socialist society
in a world still dominated by capitalism? I think that's
not a reasonable thing to expect, even of revolutionary Cuba.

Walter Lippmann
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

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

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