[Marxism] Cuba : 50 Years of Revolution
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Fri Feb 7 09:28:42 MST 2014
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> 9. Cuba: 50 Years of Revolution | The Speed of Dreams: Since
> 1492 (Louis Proyect)
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> Date: Thu, 06 Feb 2014 20:32:13 -0500
> From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
> To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
> <marxism at greenhouse.economics.utah.edu>
> Subject: [Marxism] Cuba: 50 Years of Revolution | The Speed of Dreams:
> Since 1492
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This document presents statistically the gains of the Cuban Revolution in areas such as education, health, gender equality, provision of utilities and public services, employment, nutrition, etc. All these real gains come under real threat with the emerging tendencies towards capitalist restoration and growing inequality. How are these gains to be defended as these trends increasingly assert themselves?
A fundamental problem presents itself as soon as private capital enters and becomes developed within the sphere of circulation. In order to reproduce itself, it must - sooner or later - put down roots within the sphere of production itself. If it is unable to do this under the present conditions in Cuba, it cannot and will not survive and thrive. Historically, this is precisely how capital originated as the dominant relationship of production as a whole. First, it conquered the former sphere with commodity and money capital (trade and usury) and then entered agricultural production in the 16th century. The Protestant Reformation served to accelerate this process with the transfer of land from the church to the bourgeoisie whose social existence rested on the production of surplus value. These developments then proceeded to have a dissolving effect on the Guild System and we see capital enter the sphere of production itself in the period of manufacture from the 16th to the mid 18th century. Elizabethan reforms (the so-called Elizabethan "Golden Age") served to facilitate capital's entry into production as a whole. The growth in trade and the foundation and exploitation of the colonies in the Americas once again further accelerated this process
In Cuba, the state is already letting land for agricultural production for profit. Capital can take "co-operative" forms as well as private forms. Capitalist agricultural production is entirely possible on state-owned land. The state levies a rent as the landowner and the capitalist farmer takes the rest as profit. Adam Smith himself - who considered rent to be a tax on capital - advocated the nationalisation of the land in Britain during the 18th century as a means of accelerating the accumulation of capital in agriculture and manufacture. Smith saw private landownership as a retarding force on the development of capitalism and therefore advocated state ownership which he insisted must levy a nominal rent only. This is an inconvenient aspect of his work which today's philistine "neo-liberal" worshippers of Adam Smith prefer to ignore.
'Landed property acts as an absolute barrier only to the extent that the landlord exacts a tribute for making land at all accessible to the investment of capital' (p.764, Absolute Ground Rent, Marx, Vol 3, Capital). If the land is freehold (i.e. owned by the farmer or by corporate representatives of agricultural capital) then the rent also accrues to capital. If land is leased to capitalist farmers in Cuba, then the next stage in the underlying dynamic will be transference of ownership from the state to private capital. It may not be as far-fetched as some may think. Capitalist sugar producers, for example, would want ownership and control over the sources of the raw material as well as the actual industrial refining and packaging facilities. The state would simply collect (parasitically as with all landowners) a share of the surplus value in the form of rent.
In England today, large areas of land are 'crown land' on which capitalist agriculture takes place at a very handsome rent for the state power and equally handsome profit for the capitalist farmer. The phenomenally high organic composition of capital (C/V) in agriculture - greater than the average social composition - has effectively abolished absolute ground rent to be replaced by the most lucrative forms of differential rent. Some of the most fertile arable land in England is crown land, for example, the alluvial land in South-East Yorkshire (Holderness) reclaimed from swamp and the River Humber just east of where the writer lives. In England, the history of landed property is the history of the theft of the common land by means of state-sponsored deception, violence and wholesale terror and massacre. The bloody period of 'primitive accumulation'.
We need to recognise the gains made by the Cuban Revolution but, more importantly, the question now facing us is how do we defend those gains in the face of restorationist trends? It is not simply a task which faces the proletariat in Cuba but calls for internationalism, especially from the American class movement. The Cuban Revolution has been swimming in a hostile sea of US blockade and capitalism with its crises and, of course, simply remaining afloat for 50 years under these conditions has been a major achievement. The deepening structural crisis of global capital is the actual source of these restorationist trends in Cuba. The question is not why but rather how do we resist them now? Global capital will not able to gain full access in Cuba without the active co-operation of the Castroist bureaucracy.
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