What is occurring in Cuba after Castro’s death is not a new phase of a «socialist revolution» that never existed, but the repositioning of Cuban capitalism on the world market
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 14; Autumn - Winter 2017)
The nationalism which channeled the revolt of the Cuban proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against the ferocious dictatorship of Batista and American colonization never opened the way for socialism, but for a national bourgeoisie who intended to keep for itself the profits which until then had ended up in the pockets of the American capitalists.
One of the myths fueled for more than fifty years by the imperialist bourgeoisies of the whole world loses one of its most tenacious propagandists with the death of Castro.
On 1 January 1959, after 3 years of guerrilla warfare against the regime of Fulgencio Batista, who had ruled the island for 25 years on behalf of the United States, the «July 26 Movement» with Fidel Castro at its head seized The capital Havana (from which the dictator had fled) and took power.
In the general climate of liberation movements in Latin America, when anti-colonial struggles in Asia and Africa put the colonial powers in difficulty, the United States played the card of democracy to counter the USSR, within the framework of the so-called «Cold War». That is why, at first, they supported the change of regime in Cuba; but after the Castro government, applying the program of agrarian reform, nationalized the great landed estates and large enterprises belonging to the American capitalists, above all in sugar and tobacco, it changed its policy: it sought to strangle the country’s economy by no longer importing its sugar and reducing the flow of tourists to the island as much as possible. The Cuban government, which had never before defined itself as a socialist, then turned to the USSR, which had every interest in shielding the island from American influence. This forced change of course and the adoption of an anti-American social program favored internal and external «socialist» propaganda: in 1961 Cuba proclaimed itself a «Socialist Republic». Thanks to the fact that the movement of the Castro guerrillas had succeeded in defeating and standing up against the most powerful imperialism in the world, the Cuban regime became at that time a proof of the myth of «national socialism». For decades Cuba, Castro and Che Guevara were presented by Stalinist opportunism as the champions of a «socialism» that could conquer America. All the so-called far-left groups which took the nationalizations and the cooperatives for the realization of socialism on the economic plane fell into the trap of the propaganda of Russian, Chinese and therefore Cuban false socialism; Furthermore, by claiming that the socialist revolution was possible without the decisive action of the proletariat and without the exploited masses being headed by a revolutionary communist party, they asserted that in fact socialism was only an enlarged democracy which did not have as a program the destruction of the foundations of capitalism within and, as a bastion of the international proletarian revolution, the integration of this anti-capitalist struggle into the international struggle of the proletariat of all other countries.
In reality, if the struggle against colonial oppression in Cuba tended to lift the Cuban masses of peasants and proletarians from hunger and misery, this struggle has always had the characteristic of a bourgeois struggle driving the revolutionary thrust of the oppressed strata towards capitalist political and economic objectives carried by the petty-bourgeois elements, since the great bourgeoisie was implicated in American domination.
Cuba in 1959 was no longer what it had been a century before; in 1898 the island had become independent of Spain, but it was to become a capitalist semi-colony of the USA. Historically, the «double revolution» (anti-feudal revolution or national independence laying the foundations of capitalist development, and anti-capitalist proletarian revolution, as in Russia in 1917) was no longer on the agenda; only an anti-capitalist proletarian revolution was possible, even if its framework was that of a country with little capitalist development. The proletarian revolution, truly socialist, can have as its protagonist only the proletariat of factories and the countryside, organized into economic and social associations enabling it to rise, through its immediate struggles, to the political struggle against the bourgeoisie, and directed by its Communist revolutionary party, the sole depositary organ of class consciousness, and therefore of the general objectives and aims of the proletarian struggle at the national and international levels. All this was absent in Cuba as elsewhere, because since the late 1920s, the so-called Stalinist counter-revolution had defeated the proletarian movement in Russia and the world. That is why Castroism or Guevarism were never socialism: it was no more than a bourgeois radicalism with Cuban sauce.
We wrote in 1961:
«It is only in appearance that the Cuban movements of which the barbudos (bearded ones) were the actors are connected with the movements which shook the traditional order in Asia and Africa from top to bottom. The common element constituted by the hard struggle against imperialism and the great capitalist monopolies conceals the essential fact that in the case of Afro-Asian countries the struggle for national independence and for the constitution of unitary states ( struggle against the colonial powers and in any case against the financial game of imperialist monopolies) is one aspect of the wider struggle against traditional feudal or para-feudal structures; in Cuba, and in general in Latin America although in a variable way, capitalism has for decades been imported from the United States and other capitalist countries; the economy has for a long time presented the basic bourgeois structures, including a social structure based on a numerous and overexploited proletariat.
Here the main theme of the anticolonial «revolution» is the effort of the young indigenous bourgeoisie to liberate itself from the domination of foreign financial capital (in the shadow of which it has developed) or, as the case may be, to establish co-operative relations with it for the exploitation of local resources, using for this purpose the revolts of the proletarian and semi-proletarian masses, orienting them towards the nationalist objective, diverting them from any social-revolutionary orientation and making them the stepping stone for its domination in the State. The movements and regimes that arise in this area, and of which the Cuban example offers the most «pure» model, thus present themselves as violently nationalist on the outside and reformist within; In the first sense, they have a historical function of breaking imperialist equilibriums which can provoke and in fact do provoke in the major centers of bourgeois piracy (and especially in the United States) crises of prestige and serious economic difficulties the violent outburst of which the world proletariat and the Communist revolutionary party cannot stupidly greet with indifference; In the second sense they act as a brake on internal social contradictions; and for the international and indigenous proletariat not only is there no question of armed support to the nationalist parties allegedly for «advancing the wheel of history» by cutting down the residues of pre-capitalist structures and pushing the movement towards «double revolution»; but there is the problem of denouncing their bourgeois reformist aims and putting forward the question of the independence of the working class vis-à-vis interclassist parties and regimes, and of the open proletarian struggle for the seizure of power.
In the specific case of Cuba, the revolutionary proletariat can judge positively the blows to the American sugar and oil mastodons and their government which intervenes in the name of «freedom» and «self-determination of peoples», and the demonstration of the falsehood of this propaganda; but it must combat the claim of the Castroists to have achieved a «social revolution» and, worse still, to have constituted a «socialist republic» overnight, with the blessing of the grand world of business affairs as customized by the Kremlin.
To the creation and dissemination of this myth which, in parentheses, brings water to the mill of the bourgeois radicals who preach the possibility of a revolution without a class party and therefore without Marxism, contribute not only, Stalino-krutchevians, travelling salesmen of popular inter-class regimes baptized «progressive» or even «socialist», but also the national communists à la Tito and those who, to the misfortune of the great revolutionary, proclaim themselves Trotskyists».(1)
Beyond the Castro-Guevarist myth of «Cuban socialism», remains the fact that Cuba has resisted the pressure of Washington with its embargo that has lasted for 55 years. It is true that until 1989 when the Soviet empire collapsed, the fact of being able to count on commercial and political relations with the USSR and its European satellites made it possible to face the American threats. But it should not be forgotten that the Cuban economy, precisely through capitalist relations with Moscow and Eastern Europe and some Latin American countries, had reintegrated into the world market through imports of petroleum, foodstuffs , chemical and industrial equipment and exports of sugar, tobacco, nickel, fishery products but also pharmaceutical products. After the collapse of the USSR trade relations extended to the countries of Western Europe to the extent that since 2002 Cuba uses the euro instead of the dollar in its international trade. The easing of the US embargo since the early 2000s has made the United States the third largest trading partner of the country. The isolation of Cuba has in fact never been a commercial and economic isolation, but a mainly political isolation, a marginalization by American capitalism to exhaust the regime until it falls, given the failure of the interventions of the style of the Bay of Pigs attack.
Will it be the euro rather than the dollar that will reposition Cuba in the world market, not only with trade but also with investments? Whether it is one or the other will not alter the foundations of capitalist economy: capital invests more easily where there are natural resources and an abundant labor force. And Cuba offers to Capital a fertile land and a capable workforce, well trained and above all accustomed to a low standard of living, that is, a low-cost labor force. The signing of agreements with European pharmaceutical companies through biotech development plans demonstrates that Cuba can represent good sources of profit for capital. There is no doubt that this is the path the regime will follow, with more enthusiasm than before; the recent visit of Obama and officials of the State Department to Havana is another sign that American capitalists are pushing towards the end of Cuba’s isolation from the United States.
If the Cuban workers in the towns and the countryside, deceived for decades by a false socialism, have nevertheless been able to enjoy important advances, notably in terms of health and education, they owe it first of all to the struggle which they led against the most brutal aspects of their exploitation by the American capitalists and their colleagues, a struggle which led to the expulsion of Batista and the American trusts; in order to establish its legitimacy, the Castro regime was obliged to ensure the basic needs of the masses. They then owed it to an international conjuncture where tensions between imperialisms finally were concentrated in other parts of the world, particularly in Africa and Asia.
We do not know how long it will take for the Cuban proletarians to realize that the nationalism which «Commandantes» Fidel Castro and Che Guevara baptized «socialism» as well as the so-called «communist» party (founded only in 1965), have been bourgeois instruments to emancipate Cuban capitalism from the American grip and directly manage, through the conquest of a «national sovereignty», their own exploitation, characteristic not of socialism but of any capitalist society.
We do not know what aggravation of the inter-imperialist contradictions and what economic crises will shake the bourgeois power in the United States, Europe, Russia, China and Latin America; but it is certain that the growth of capitalism itself will lead to an increase and an intensification of clashes and wars, inevitably pulling the proletarians out of their long reformist, democratic and nationalist intoxication and placing before them the historical dilemma: war or revolution , a revolutionary class struggle for the defense of solely proletarian interests, immediate and historical, or the crushing of their class identity and continuation of their enslavement to the pitiless and insatiable capitalist mode of production.
As internationalist revolutionary communists, based on the historical experiences of the Paris Commune and the October Revolution and following the line that characterized the struggle of the Communist Left against the degeneration of the Communist International and of its parties, we continue the difficult task of defending orthodox Marxism against all opportunistic attacks, and working to form the international class party which will have to lead the proletarian masses towards the anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist revolution, truly socialist and communist this time.
(1) « The two faces of the Cuban revolution », Il Programma Comunista n°10/1961
International Communist Party