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Friday, 24 August 2012

Visions of socialism

I have just finished reading an article that appears HERE in the current edition of Temas magazine from Havana written by Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, of the Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (pictured). For those who can read Spanish it is well worth a look.
She identifies three tendencies of thought in Cuba today about the way forward for socialism in the country. These she labels as the 'statist', 'economistic' and what she calls the 'autogestionaria' which I translate as the 'collective self-manager'.
The statists are those who still cling to a strong, centralised and authoritarian state as the best means of defending the socialist system. They do see the need for some economic reform but wish to go only so far as to alleviate the immediate economic problems. They oppose the idea of a broad opening to the market and political as well as economic liberalisation or democratisation.
The economists, she describes as being in their purest form actually very frighteningly close to being neoliberals (though not admitting it in so many words), advocating root and branch adoption of market mechanisms and privatization of enterprises as the best means of delivering growth and improvements in living standards.
The third and final group (to which I suspect Camila belongs) are those who wish to see a decentralisation and democratisation of the social economy, greater workers' control, more accountability and more cooperatives. This she says is criticised as utopian and is a view confined mainly to intellectuals who are wary of the pitfalls for the other two tendencies, which, she says, predominate in the public discourse. However, she points out that the 'statist' view is not shared by all those within the state, nor is the 'economistic' vision confined or monopolised by those who might be defined as economists.
If what Camila is describing does accord with the current reality, I draw three conclusions. Firstly, Cuba is going through a true period of societal change that involves a broad ranging discussion of the future and the options available to it. Secondly, there is a very real division of opinion within society as to what is the best direction forward. However, thirdly, despite these very divergent visions, the society is not visibly separating out into camps that define themselves along these ideological lines.  There is evidently something overlaying that binds the society together. My reading inclines me to believe that there is a consensus that whatever route they take, the accepted need is to find a path to preserve what they have and that implies keeping the United States out.
The United States should take on board the writing such as this that is coming out of Cuba and understand that this is not a society that is cowed by 'totalitarianism' nor is it a society that will be subverted from outside. If Camila is correct, it is a society that is genuinely trying to find its own path to socialism and sustainability in the 21st Century.
My point in saying this is to suggest that while this may be reason enough for the US to oppose it, I think it would be fairer for all concerned if the political class in the US would just say so, rather than to pretend that Cuba is 'totalitarian' (see: 'The weird world of Mit' - below) or does 'not respect human rights' or is a 'sponsor of state terrorism' - all of which, as Camila's erudition and apparent freedom to write shows, are palpably false and utterly insulting to anyone with half a brain who lives in the United States or elsewhere in the so-called liberal democracies.  


  1. Very good article. Happy to have discovered your blog. Marcel Hatch, Vancouver, Canada