Friday, June 1, 2012

809. Experiences and Perspectives of Socialism in Cuba: A Proposed Interpretation

Miguel Limia David

By Miguel Limia David, Global Justice Center, 2010

The Marxist and Leninist conception of the world, understood in its permanent enrichment and development, is above all a program of understanding and practical- revolutionary transformation of the social reality starting from the self interests of the workers, the exploited and oppressed in the real world. (1) The core consists of the essential critique of capitalist modernity that it carries out, and its inexhaustible constructive potential of a social and personal emancipatory character.

From this axiological point of view, theoretically posing the question of the prospects for the further development of the project of socialist construction in Cuba would be a rhetorical question, if it were not posed in connection with the multiple uncertainties inherent in the international context in which this process is carried out. The historical fate of this experience is strictly inseparable from the practical risk that the whole of humanity runs, in the first place the crushed majority of its population, excluded by capitalism from the most basic conquests of human civilization. We share a planet more and more settled and with global economic, political, social, ecological and cultural global problems whose solutions in one way or another involves us all.

The growing regressive turn that one observes in the international arena, where the big imperialist powers violate with impunity the most elementary norms of law established by the community of nations, the unleashing of war and the threat of turning to the most sophisticated and destructive means to carry it out against countries that have, together with considerable natural resources, the highest indicators of poverty on the planet, lead without a doubt toward a new and dangerous repartition of the world among the imperialistic powers, under the political and military supremacy — virtually unquestioned — of United States imperialism.

The above events demonstrate that a qualitatively new level in the changes that haveoccurred in the contemporary epoch, starting from the fall of the socialist block in East Europe and the USSR, is really being established. In my opinion, it has gone from the wave of capitalist restoration that unfolded in the first years of the decade of the 90s, to the consequential international reordering of the hegemony of the big powers, by means of the “fascistization” of the international political relationships. This puts in an extremely precarious position, not only the present and the future of the Cuban society, but of all of humanity.

From the point of view of science and effective political practice it is necessary to point out that, for specific historical reasons inherent in the nature of the Cuban nation from the XIX century, the socialist construction does not serve as one possible alternative among others for the Cuban society at the beginning of the XXI century, but rather it serves as an elementary condition of its own existence and the further flowering of the ethnos and of the nation in their real identity as such. Clearly, under these specific historical conditions, the problem of socialism continues today more than ever to be — as Marx pointed out from another perspective in the XIX century —, a matter to be solved in a definitive way in the international sphere, and not only by starting from revolutionary activity circumscribed in a national frame.

Without an energetic united and effective international action of the countries of the so- called third world and of all the left forces, in opposition to the hegemonistic imperialistic tendencies, to the neoliberal globalization in its economic, environmental, political, social and ideological-cultural aspects — which includes among other questions the end of war and the threat of its use for the solution of international conflicts, the reordering of the international economic order, the halting of the growing and limitless deterioration of the environment, the substantial democratization of the international political organization, the demonopolization of the means of mass information and the respect for cultural diversity —, the perspectives of the existence and development of the countries of the south must necessarily be conceived of as somber and virtually catastrophic. There isn’t a realistic base to suppose the subsequent validity of the right of nations to self- determination, independence and sovereignty, in the absence of a resolute international strategic answer to the regressive forces that are untied today.

The focus under the current circumstances of the situation and the perspectives of the process of socialist construction in Cuba from a general theoretical prism demand, above all, to take into account the radical international changes that have occurred starting from the second half of the decade of the 80s and their subsequent repercussion in the processes that took place inside Cuban society. As is known, in 1984 the politically named “process of rectification of errors and negative tendencies” began in the country under the party’s leadership, which in general lines pursued the improvement of the
construction of socialism by means of overcoming the fundamental limitations that were inherent in the economic, political, social and ideological-spiritual spheres of the model along the lines of which the Cuban society had been institutionalized from the middle of the seventies.

That is to say, the process of rectification of errors and negative tendencies advocated the constructive overcoming of the internal dialectical contradictions that were maturing to the extent that the Cuban Revolution solved the initial destructive and defensive tasks. In fact, the transit to the first level of the essentially constructive tasks, on the base of a radical modification of the conditions of life of the masses, of their integral social nature, as well as of the physiognomy of the personality of the Cuban man and woman, made it indispensable to thoroughly transform the mode of popular participation in economics, politics, and the social and ideological-spiritual life, as well as particular structures and styles of political leadership that had been historically configured.

To say it in another way, for the successful progressive solution of the new tasks it was more and more necessary to change from the form of popular participation in the first decades to one that, embracing the capacity of the first one to mobilize the people and the concrete individuals around primary social emancipatory objectives, was also capable of doing it systematically in the daily life, above all in work, in an interesting and growing way. (2).

However, the abrupt rupture of the economic connection, articulated for more than 30 years with the formerly socialist European countries, left the country in an extremely difficult situation; abruptly the necessity was seen of looking for new roads and ways to satisfy the elementary requirements of its existence and further development in the financial, commercial, energy and technological spheres. In these circumstances, the government of the United States of North America took additional measures to intensify the blockade that has been imposed on the country from the beginning of the decade of the 60s.

One must take into account that Cuba is an underdeveloped relatively small country with about 11 million inhabitants, and it does not have important energy or many other well- known natural resources. The economic contraction was then dramatic: in 1990 the GDP fell by –2.9%, and it continued falling until reaching –14.9% in 1993. Only starting in 1994 could the process of decline be reversed. Of course, the impact on Cuban society of this unusual change in the international arena has overflowed the economic sphere. In reality its political-ideological implications have been very deep. Faced with a group of
questions and the lack of paradigmatic definitions this implied, the political leadership of the country responded with a return to the essential principles, historically structured in the Cuban revolutionary practice, whose character was rooted in the concepts of social emancipation, national independence, and human dignity. An essential role in this was carried out by the pronouncements and the political position of the Commander in Chief.

The thorough elucidation and the public debate of “the values that we defend” and those that we cannot give up was essential to find the exit to the international debacle, when in scientific theory there were more questions to respond to than elaborated solutions. The ideological deepening in the strategic thought of the Cuban revolution allowed it to find the spiritual reserves necessary to psychologically and cognitively take possession of the crisis and to begin to overcome it. As a consequence, its effects were confronted from an antiliberal viewpoint, distributing its burden among all and prioritizing those most affected by it. The socialist values were reaffirmed from the politics in the handling of the crisis and the subsequent advance of the society.

The country is still struggling to escape from the economic contraction that this has implied and to achieve the reorganization of its internal economic, social, political, and ideological-cultural relationships, in order to maintain the socialist conquests and to extend them even more in the future. These efforts are carried out in a very complex context, since to the effects of the crisis arising from this situation one must add those caused by the nature of the measures that the Cuban state has been forced to implement in order to reinsert the country into the international arena under the new conditions. Said otherwise, the social organism is still subject to a process of internal reorganization with the purpose of creating for itself a place in the global economic relationships without losing the nature of the process of social emancipation, national independence and personal dignity undertaken by the Cuban Revolution since 1959.

The economic strategy designed to face the crisis was based on a national diagnostic carried out by means of massive discussions that were organized in a direct democratic way, which allowed the rearticulation of the popular consensus and the preparation of the subjective premises for successfully overcoming the situation that had been created. In this way there arose a new procedural political institution known as the workers’ parliaments, and the massive popular preliminary discussion of the documents and programmatic theses to take to the congresses of the party was deepened as a form of party leadership. These debates, organized in the frame of the social organizations, particularly the Federation of Unions of Cuban Workers (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba, the CTC) involved at the beginning of the crisis practically all the workers of the country and the other social sectors.

In this way the legitimacy of the diagnostic and the adopted group of measures was guaranteed, even though the effects of the crisis unavoidably created complex phenomena of anomie and social indiscipline. The latter were confronted by the political system on the basis of the legality, the ideological debate and the line of the masses. As a result of this, the forms of coercion implemented to reduce the manifestations of social indiscipline were in accord with the law, were of a popular nature, and they contributed to the strengthening of the social consensus and of the prestige and authority of the political leadership in the country.

The constructive politics of confrontation with the crisis have been fundamentally efficient in the short and medium term, since they ended the economic fall since 1994, and they contributed to the governability of the country and the maintenance of the basic conquests of Cuban socialism in education, public health, culture, social security and the defense of the nation. In this way, in the year 1999 the growth of the GDP reached 6,2% and in 2000 5,6%. According to calculations by the investigator Osvaldo Martínez, president of the Commission of Economic Issues of the National Assembly of the Popular Power, the Cuban economy grew at a yearly average rate of 4.7% from 1995- 2000, while Latin America grew at 3%. (3) At the same time financial balance has been maintained since 1996. Salaries were increased in 2000 by 7.7%, even though they are still very far from satisfying the expectations that are aspired to.

On the other hand, in spite of the unavoidable effects on human development and social politics, the latter has continued conditioning the economic politics. As a consequence, basic social conquests guaranteed by the Cuban Revolution for everyone have been maintained. I refer, for example, to the universal and gratuitous character of education and public health. 70% of the State Budget for the year 2000 was dedicated to such prioritized activities as education, public health, social security and social assistance, the maintenance and repair of housing and communal services. An indicator of the sustained social development is that in that same year the infant mortality rate was 7.2 per 1000 live births, which puts Cuba, in this regard, among the developed countries.

However, the resulting measures which have been applied have entailed a high political and social cost, since they are characterized by the controlled expansion of market relations in the sphere of the production (state enterprises and different enterprises with the participation of foreign capital) and exchange (different commercial networks relative to goods and services), the implementation of new forms of property in agriculture (transformation of state property in agriculture, introduction of new personal ways of use and enjoyment of the land), industry and the services, foreign investment, free circulation
of the dollar, the increase in remittances from abroad, the increased importance of tourism as the most mobile sector of the national economy, as well as by the open character of the Cuban society, among other features, which have generated not only progressive social, political and ideological phenomena, but also negative ones. The latter are particularly related to the absolute and relative increase in social inequalities, crime, corruption and individualism. The above mentioned condition the nature of the sharpest contradictions that are manifested in the ideological-spiritual sphere.

As a consequence, a key challenge to further socialist construction is to assure that the new economic sectors are organized in daily practice from the point of view of finance, of supply, of the politics of prices, of the politics of salary and employment, and of a managerial culture, so that they contribute to the socialist accumulation in the economic, political, social and ideological-cultural spheres as opposed to undermining it. This is an objective and subjective axiological matter of momentous importance for the perspectives of socialism in the country. As is evident, the same establishes momentous challenges of a constructive character with regard to the social sciences and ideology. I refer above all to strategic matters in the further development of social theory, such as the political economy of socialist construction under these specific historical conditions, the model of sustainable development to apply in Cuba, the suitable correlation of planning and the market, of the equalities and just and legitimate inequalities, as opposed to those unjust and illegitimate ones, etc.

The successful solution of this challenge is key to guaranteeing that socialism as it advances is not reversible for internal reasons, because it implies above all that the new sectors and economic agents won't dislodge in the real material relationships (not simply in the juridical sphere) the social property in its role as essential organizer of the relationships of production and reproduction of the material goods and the services in the country, or as the central designer of the projects of concrete people's lives. This is a strategic matter, although usually addressed very little in scientific analyses.

As one can see, this challenge must be resolved without any orientation from a previous paradigm, which implies the need for a special creative effort in its confrontation and a deep political and ideological loyalty to the interests of the large majorities of the population. One must also take into account that the way of articulating these economic sectors that are spread out in the country by means of the different international nets of information and of scientific-academic exchange is of a liberal nature. The theory of left thought in regards to socialist construction in the present circumstances practically does not exist, or it is profoundly outdated.

In the political sphere these phenomena require the further improvement of socialist democracy — a continuous process in the country —; in the sense of creating in organizational practice and ideological work the appropriate formulas for a social class political alliance, to channel in a socialist sense the new economic tendencies that are spontaneously created. This has as a consequence that it is necessary to reinforce the popular participation from the community bases, and the managerial and labor collectives, improving with this the forms of direct and indirect democracy articulated in the country. This work implies a systematic creative labor of a juridical-political character, for which the necessary foundations exist in the constitutional rights established by the Cuban Revolution. But, also, it demands a substantial development of social theory with regard to the elaboration of the theory of the socialist state and government, as well as, in general, of the public administration under these new historical conditions.

The individual and collective challenge that is entailed in building gradually, but with determination, a society of social justice and personal dignity under third world conditions and being adjacent to the strongest power that has ever existed in human history, seems to add water to the mill of nihilism and distress of the forces of social and personal progress regarding ideals that have been so precious since long ago.

The majority of the artistic and propagandistic messages created today from the perspective of a homogenized international culture, that we receive through the globalized means of communication, also point in the same direction, almost without wanting to, because they provide daily, and with the single declared purpose of having a good time, the same vital formulas of the most rancid of liberalisms.

The liberal vision puts itself forward, after the sad fate suffered by the people of the former European socialist community and the attack of postmodernism, as the nature of social reality itself (4); not as a doctrine developed starting from precise and well determined class and ethnic-cultural interests. We are helping in the ontologization of this discussion. Although certain western circles are reading Marx again, they of course do not do it to recapture his emancipatory ideal, but rather to look for lessons of the governability.
By the light of neoliberal rationality the Cuban experience appears as an anomaly, the exception that confirms the rule, or the unquestionable testimony of how the stubbornness of reality will end up reordering its conclusions in the spirit of Locke and
Adam Smith. Consequently, it is only necessary to orchestrate an active wait in order that it be so; Washington’s government has been concerning itself with this question since the decade of the 60s. In their anticommunism many show themselves to be more determinist than Marx himself.

To admit that the Cuban political régime didn't crumble after its European allies did is now accepted in the liberal discourse, in keeping with their custom of being consistent with the historical facts. The somber predictions about the “last days of Castro” and “the numbered hours” of the Cuban Revolution have giving way to subtler hopes encoded in a gradual subversion, almost deaf to force, of the influence of the market, the emergence in Cuba of new social sectors supposedly incompatible with the socialist foundations and incubators of the growth of dissidence (5), the consequences of the “exchange of information”, etc.; without ruling out, of course, simpler prospects connected to open forms of use of “naked power” on the part of the hegemonic imperialism.

It is not possible to rule out that this last variant will be used on a grand scale; to the contrary, it has gained probability in the present circumstances of the systematic use of the force in the international arena, using or by-passing the Security Council of the United Nations.

What has happened to the Cuban Revolution after 40 years? Will the Cubans be condemned to suffer the same fate as other attempts to build socialism, although perhaps over a longer period and with more evolutionary but no less dramatic forms? Will it ineluctably be this way? Or, in spite of the difficulties, will we advance in the project that we have come to know and translate into practice since the last century, of independence, social emancipation and human dignity?

Begging the pardon of the vulgar metaphysicians of the Marxism, I don't believe that historical tendencies are obligatory, whether of progress or regress. Laws and “blind” necessities don’t exist in society. If we adhere to Marx it is necessary to recognize that history is not a unidirectional entelechy with regularities configured parallel to human activity, but rather the regularities are generated by human activity. The historical process doesn't exist “as such,” as Engels said of the matter. Concrete people make it by carrying out their personal projects and connecting their vital activity in a form sui generis. The subjective talents, the spiritual culture, of the makers of history are essential for the unfolding of the social reality, including its regularities.

The historical fate of the Cuban Revolution neither is nor can be predetermined, but rather it is in the hands of the currently coexisting generations, in their endowment of values, wisdom, knowledge, convictions, will, abilities and prudence, in their capacity to defend and to deploy under new internal and external historical conditions a project that brings to them essential conquests, not only in the universal human sphere, but also in the national, as well as in their own identity. That is the foundation of the Battle of Ideas that the Communist Party of Cuba is presently promoting. In a resonant lyrical expression the Apostle of our independence suggests to us that the trenches of ideas are more important than the trenches of stones. The development in the heart of the people of a high integral general culture is a premise of first order for the defense and further amplification of the achieved collective and individual freedom. It also prepares us against the uncertainties and threats of the international environment. It is the best way of guaranteeing in a global way the national security. It is opportune to indicate that the matter of the defense of the country has become more and more a question that amply transcends the purely military frame to acquire a marked integral social dimension and dependence on the solution of the essential constructive tasks of the new historical stage that it is being experienced.

The efforts to quantify, and on this base to further evaluate, the different aspects of the social relationships that have taken shape in Cuba during the revolution, are bankrupt and deeply deceiving when they lose sight of the essential thing: the Cuban Revolution — improvable as a vocation if we abide by its practical-ideological program which arose in the beginnings of the XIX century and was substantially enriched by Marxism-Leninism and the essential contribution of comrade Fidel — has been inspired by a new paradigm of rationality, in which the socialist construction is conceived as a matter that is not purely economic and instrumental, nor is traced on the pattern of the guidelines of modern ideality.

That is to say, this vision of the social world is based on a way deeply different from the liberal to organize, understand, be familiar with, evaluate and transform the social life, put into practice through numberless contradictions that cannot be broached in the frame of this article. This denotes to Fidel a humanism that is deeper and more consistent in the promotion of the development of the society and the people in it than that which is advocated to us by the conception that is dominant today in the culture “homogenized” by neoliberal globalization (6). As a rule the Cubanologists’ measuring apparatuses used in the Mecas of capitalism do not measure that which is specific to the Cuban Revolution, and they commonly commit the sin of dogmatism in their method, because they try to apply a world view which is unable to capture the internal meaning of the processes that take place here.

Those that have lost the faith in the revolutionary projects of the XX century complain of the price paid in exchange for the attempt to create an emancipatory work of a socialist character in our country, while the declared enemy makes the most of this, ironically attributing to the political leadership of the Cuban Revolution the costs that he has greatly contributed to causing them to grow. It is almost always expensive to want, and even more to achieve, to live in collective and personal freedom, when the norms established on the planetary scale to build human relationships cause selfish interests of domination and subordination to prevail. Consequently humanity has had to learn the ethical lesson that sacrifice fertilizes the achievement of the highest aspirations and it opposes out of necessity any severe limitation to hedonism in any in its forms. The ethical revolutionary Cuban thought from the XIX century is an excellent testimony to what we are pointing out.
The distinctive note of the Cuban revolutionary ideational system — which began to be formed in the XIX century starting from the work of the presbyter Félix Varela, achieved its maximum exponent in that century in José Martí and has had Fidel Castro as its fundamental promoter in the XX century — consisted in directing the emancipation all the way to those forever humble and left out, all the way to the workers, and to conceive it as effected by themselves, as well as in intimately connecting the pursuit of individual dignity to the success of the collective work. This ideology that from its first formation indissolubly connects the cognitive and the axiological has become the autoconscience of a new multiracial ethnos, of a new human community, the Cuban; and it has served as a foundation to constitute its social project, of the human person, and of relations with the social and natural environment.

In this context the historical subjects par excellence are the popular masses and the socially connected individual, the worker. In its turn, the emancipatory work has many levels and complex tasks that are being revealed and reposed to the extent that the revolutionary work advances. The transformatory action sets out to put the masses and the concrete person in this quality of subject in the different spheres of social activity, which cannot be done without a fight, without combativeness, without creativity, without facing the things done badly and the new obstacles that can appear and in fact emerge at each step.
For the time being, this action is carried out without having a socialist prototype in the spheres of efficiency and of human relationships; the Cuban people need to solve the different challenges in a creative and successful way, starting from their own initiative and tenacity, organically connecting social justice and equity with economic efficiency and political governability. From there then comes the transcendental importance of direct popular participation in politics and in the preparation of its agendas, the
prioritization of matters, the definition and implementation of policy, as well as in their control and feedback. Neoliberalism, that obviates in the real civic life the own interests and the active incorporation of the popular masses and of the citizen, nevertheless offers recipes elaborated over several centuries and starting from their prevalence in the international arena. Strictly speaking, it has very little to boast about in what refers to most of the population of the planet.

The capitalist world system defends its hegemony not only by means of the naked employment of force and with an uninterrupted diplomatic offense, but also through more subtle ideological-cultural mechanisms that are more difficult to notice and to confront in daily life.

Through the means of mass communication, of propaganda of a different type, they want to impose on us the prejudice that the only reality possible in the economic, political, social and cultural organization of the human society is that of the liberal character; that is to say, the one that is articulated on the lines of the ideals that the bourgeoisie introduced into the human history since the XVI century. Nevertheless, the practical expression of these ideals, corresponding to the capitalist way of structuring the socio- economic and all other relationships inside the societies and in the heart of the community of nations, is precisely what has led the whole of humanity to the critical situation in which it finds itself today.
Today the western metropolises try to inculcate in us the idea that the social option of emancipation and dignity of the humble is either madness or supreme foolishness; because “the way” of being civilized consists of sharing capitalist “representative democracy,” the “market economy” connected to the search for profits at all costs and “the liberal ideology,” that claims to be pluralistic and impartial.

These political points of view are transferred to us not only in a direct way through the political propaganda and pamphlets of different types, but fundamentally by means of the “culture of the image” (that is to say, the one that spreads through television, movies and other means of mass diffusion, appealing essentially to the symbolic language of the image and the sound); as values of the daily life that are offered seeking not to educate us, but to inform us about the only possible nature of social reality.

The Cuban people have been confronting the ideological impositions and similar
mechanisms of manipulation of their consciousness since the first half of the XIX century, when the sharp edge of the thought of Felix Varela discovered the core of political and ideological-spiritual domination of our country by Spain. However, today the matter has become more complex, because of its global nature and the powerful interests and resources that it involves.

For that reason, in the frame of the Battle of Ideas that the Cuban people are waging at present, it is of significant value to thoroughly know what the complex and contradictory lattice of political-ideological values contained in the dominant, and therefore called “western civilization,” values consists of and how it has been formed historically; what is their true nature and collective and personal meaning, in what direction they push human behavior and action, which alternatives of sociality they offer us, to what degree they are justified in the face of the gravity of the contemporary situation, and what is their capacity to build a base for a viable and humanist solutions under the current circumstances.
The dramatic situation of the special period that began at the beginning of the nineties has increased the difficulties and conflicts in the daily life of Cuban men and women, but it has not modified the nature of intentionality of the project of building a new society. From the perspective of the destructive, constructive and defensive work developed by the revolutionary process, the future demands that we strengthen it and make it flourish, because what is at risk is the fate of the community and of the moral integrity of each person that opts not only to be a Cuban (ser portadora de “cubanidad”) — which can be accidental —, but to fight for “Cubanness” (ser portadora de “cubanía”), that since the XIX century has been a project of struggle, a project to achieve dignity, and a project to create a fairer and more human world, and a world with more solidarity.

Revolutionary work has the vocation of ending alienation, not simply economic development, social security and cultural progress. The tendency to overcome the dissimilar and historically changing forms of the alienation between the person and the results, the means, the premises and their activity itself is intrinsic to revolutionary work; otherwise, the transformation of society on the basis of socialist and communist principles can not be talked about. The construction of socialism and communism is a process and not a society one arives at. Fidel Castro's rich political thought, where the inheritance from Martí is conceptually articualted in a dialectical way with Marxism and Leninism, persuades us that the values defended by the ideology of the Cuban Revolution in their intimate substance express this way of being revolutionary.
The unfolding of the revolutionary project cannot be otherwise than dialectically contradictory, because in the society precisely people and collectives, with interests that are differentiated and not only common and equal, are related; these are objectively conditioned and subjectively apprehended in vain.

The concern then at the present moment is not to blindly and with prejudice limit their distinct forms of manifestation, but rather to prevent that those interests spontaneously spread in a spurious, antisocialist, individualistic or narrowly collectivist way, against the key collective and personal conquests; therefore, to establish their economic, political, juridical, ethical, and ideological regulation, on behalf of socialist construction. This becomes more important in light of the diversification experienced by the socioeconomic sectors as a way to face the economic crisis and to overcome it.
Of course, this matter contains severe challenges for consciousness and daily political activity; but it has developed its spiritual and normative dimensions throughout the history of the revolution in no other way.

The survival that is so much alluded to in the current Cuban society implies defending the conquests of the socialism — of historical concrete socialism taking, as a result of the Revolution’s work, the form of the nature of the real social relationships and the structure and dimensions of the personality of the Cuban man and woman; not of the socialism defined speculatively on the lines of a theoretical will divorced from the conditions of life and the real activity of the true agents of history —, because it supposes, not simply the new investments, finance for the economy, the introduction of new forms of production capable of generating greater economic efficiency, the creation of a new technological culture and management, and the reinsertion into the world market, but also in addition not to lose the role of protagonists of the different workers; but rather just the opposite, to orchestrate at a new level and tone, with the development reached by the society after 40 years of revolution, the massive and personal popular participation in management of production and in politics, starting from the factors that are essentially intrinsic to creative activity itself.

This last matter is particularly key in the process of managerial improvement that at the present is central in the socialist enterprises in the country, which demands a protagonistic role of the labor collectives and it constitutes one of the essential and definitive elements in the further development of the construction of socialism. In regards to this subject it is instructive to make reference to the intervention made by a delegate to the V Congress of the PCC (Partido Comunista de Cuba) regarding the managerial improvement in the MINFAR (Ministerio de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias), which was applied beginning in March 1986. He pointed out that this process “required preparing the workers well and the elimination of concepts like seniority, and to implant
the best system of rights of labor, in addition to others such as capability, and concepts related to evaluations, where the real capacity demonstrated by the worker is most important.” Later on it was emphasized in the diagnosis of the state of every enterprise and of the requirements to make them efficient that the participation of the workers is an essential element, in the same way that in the integral system put into practice in those enterprises it is key “[...] that the worker knows exactly what he has to do; the accounting and the control, both of human resources and materials, from the factory to the Ministry...” (7)

The main vehicle of the revolutionary work has been the mode of popular participation and the production of real dignity for the concrete person, implemented from its origin, and as a core element of it; those that, until now without being bereft of important limitations, have conquered an undeniable degree of progress for the community and the individual through multiple and complex contradictions. It has modified in an unobjectionable way the nature of the social relationships in Cuba and the type of person that intervenes as the subject and object of this process.

The Cuban man and woman of the end of the 90s are deeply different in their social physiognomy from what they were in the decades of the 50s and the 60s, they have individuated and differentiated differently in the generational and social class aspects. The collective nature has appeared, the sources of authority and the matters that are the object of debate and management have been diversified, as well as the hierarchical levels where these are settled. In the same way a perceptible change in the correlation of the personal, private collective and social general interests has occurred. If in early decades of the Revolution the fulfillment of the first ones necessarily occurred through the success of the collective project of a general character, in the current circumstances the attainment of this last one is not possible without putting the emphasis on the interests of a private character, as much in the personal as in the collective sphere. It poses a severe challenge to the ideal guidelines and leadership styles configured over long years and institutionally established. This point deserves a more detailed analysis that is not possible to develop here.

The paradigm of revolutionary rationality spreads more and more on the basis of the conquests achieved by the Revolution and, consequentially, it is necessary to solve new tasks of essentially constructive and emancipatory characters delineated only in their more general features in the beginning of the process. The socialist revolution, if it is authentic, is of an uninterrupted nature in the deepening of its historical action and in the volume of the masses that it attracts to itself. Marx spoke about that in The 18th Brumaire of Luis Bonaparte. (8).

The special period has increased the number and the sharpness of many of the contradictions of development and established new challenges to the ideology and politics in order to find the appropriate formulas in these times to connect the personal projects of life with the social. In the current moments the questioning of the meaning of the life by young and old has become a habitual question: the former, for the necessity of defining under exceptional historical conditions their projects of life and the means to reach them, and the latter, for assaying and understanding the lived past from a difficult present and of fighting for the future whose representations and models will no longer be the traditional ones.

All are urged to enrich the social instincts in harmony with the new historical conditions, connecting in them the epic with the daily, combativeness with modesty.

The newly arisen economic phenomena bring with them a social impact that goes a far beyond their mere economic dimension. On one hand, they transform the social class structure itself of the previous decades and they delineate new layers and social groups as bearers of their corresponding necessities, interests, demands, and points of view; and on the other hand, they contribute to strengthening the social inequalities and their concomitant integral effects. It updates the problem of new class alliances and ways to organize so that these sectors are directed in a daily and habitual way to accumulate in the economic, social, political and ideological-cultural spheres in favor of socialist construction. It refers above all to the identities that are institutionally attributed to these new sectors, as well as to the organizational conditions that create the context for their further production and reproduction as integral social phenomena. Everything seems to indicate that ideology, as a reflection, organizer and orienter of the social interests, requires in this matter an intense further development.

As has been said, from the start of the process of the rectification of errors and negative tendencies at the beginning of the second half of the decade of the 80s it was clear to public opinion that it was necessity to improve the mode of popular participation, to be able to complement the one articulated in the first decades with new styles and procedures conducive to putting the emphasis on the base, on the labor collectives, on the territories, on the community, on the constructive aspects; that is to say, to build the power from below and discovering new objectives of management, new sources of production and productivity, as well as novel procedures and ways of devotion to work and of a tight connection between personal and social interests that comprehend the specificity of those bonds at the current moment. This must continue being the fundamental social content of the restructuring processes and continue being implemented.

It is indispensable to continue putting the emphasis on the participation of the base in the taking of decisions, in the governance of production and of the territories, with the goal that not only the efficiency and effectiveness of management’s activity is increased, but also that their social foundation and the sustained interest in the solution of the key problems of the present is increased, above all in the economic sphere. This increases the role of the PCC in society and conditions the improvement of its methods of work and styles of leadership.

All this puts us under an obligation to consider more thoroughly in the daily political- ideological work the heterogeneity of society today, as well as the necessity of continuing to fight for unity not only, or fundamentally, starting from the identity of interests in the face of the common imperialistic enemy; but rather also, and always more and more, taking into account the differentiation among the members of society in their daily constructive lives, conducive to common emancipatory purposes. As a consequence, today the reason is more evident than ever why Ernesto Che Guevara showed in the decade of the 60s the inadequacies of the ethics of episodic or momentous heroism (9) that had been formed in the preparatory and early stages of the Revolution for the essentially constructive tasks, and he called for the daily heroism of daily work as the only road to legitimize it and to make it viable under the new conditions. It is key for the world of values that society be readjusted organizationally around this principle: the rescue of the dignity of the work as the essential criterion of merit in the moral and in the material.

The challenges are many and complex, but the continuity of the revolutionary process doesn't have any other alternative than to face them and to solve them. Their nature and the solutions that are constructed have a reach that transcends national borders. The capitalist rationality is definitively in crisis, and the viability of the Cuban people as an ethnos depends on their succeeding in constructing and making triumph that which surpasses and overcomes it.

1. C. Marx, “Thesis sobre Feuerbach.” En: Obras escogidas en tres tomos. Editorial Progreso, Moscú, 1976, t.1, pp. 7-10. In English, “Thesis on Feuerbach.”

2. I have looked into this issue in more detail in “Sociedad civil y participación en Cuba,” Informe de Investigación, Instituto de Filosofía, La Habana, Cuba, octubre de 1997.

3. See: “Entramos al siglo XXI con la economía creciendo, pero aún más importante, con la dignidad multiplcada.” Periódico Granma, 22 de diciembre del 2000, p.5.
4. See: John, Gray. Post-Liberalism. Studies in Political Thought. Routledge, New York, USA, 1996, pp. 314-315; 320.
5. Note: I refer to the diversification of socioeconomic sectors that occurred as a consequence of the economic crisis and the productive restructuring that was promoted to overcome it, which has brought with it a new stage in the reproduction of the social class structure of the country. The forms of property have become more heterogeneous, the mixed and private property have acquired new functions, new social class components have appeared, the social distances have been increased at the same time that a certain polarization has spread in connection with the incomes. The old problem referred by Marx in his analysis of the Paris Commune returns to center stage, but in an extremely complex and new way: the alliances of classes and of popular social sectors under new historical conditions. See “Componentes y tendencias socioestructurales de la sociedad cubana actual” by doctor Mayra Espina Prieto and others. Informe de investigación. Archivo de la Agencia de Ciencias Sociales del Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente, diciembre de 1977. See also Cuba Socialista No. 21. La Habana, 2001.
6. I have had opportunity to examine this matter in detail in an unpublished Informe de Investigación titled “Los fundamentos de la concepción de los derechos humanos en el pensamiento de Fidel Castro.” Instituto de Filosofía, La Habana, febrero de 2000.
7. See: “La intervención del general de brigade Luis Pérez Róspides.” Granama, La Habana, 11 de octubre, año 33, No.203, p.5.
8. C. Marx. Obras escogidas en tres tomos. Ed. cit., t. 1, pp.404-498.
9. See: “Socialism and Man in Cuba.” In: Ernesto Che Guevara: Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. Pathfinder /Pacific and Asia, 1987.

Miguel Limia David is one of the most prominent philosophers in Cuba. He is President of the Social Science Council which oversees several of the country’s research centers in the social sciences and a Regular Investigator at the Institute of Philosophy. 

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