Perspectives of the Cuban Revolution
IN MY ARTICLE “What’s Going on in Cuba?” written almost two years ago and printed serially in 1960 in La Parola del Popolo, I pointed out that the doctrine of permanent revolution would apply to Cuba in the sense that the workers and peasants, once tasting power and understanding what it means to work for their own benefit, could not and would not willingly be prevented from taking full control especially since there was no force in Cuba capable of stopping the revolution from steadily moving forward. The July 26th Party Jacobin type leadership would have to give way to a more proletarian type, even though this would entail a split within that party and perhaps a fusion with elements within the Communist Party of Cuba. Much of what I wrote then as viable has indeed become realized.
Cuba is now in a new stage of development. Thanks to the horrendous policies and actions of the United States Government, Cuba has moved directly into the Soviet orbit. She has broken entirely with the U.S.A. economically and politically and, indeed, directly inspires an anti-U.S. movement in all of Latin America. She has announced as her goal the creation of a proletarian State trying to build up a truly socialist society. The Party of July 26th has now fused with the Communist Party.
What are the economic and political perspectives entrained in this new and higher stage of the Cuban Revolution? This is the important question to which the present article is devoted.
1. There is no economic reason why Cuba can not complete the building up of the socialist economy which she began with the revolution. In the first two years of her agrarian revolution she already has confiscated all the big estates and haciendas and nationalized the land. Of the total of more then 700,000 caballarias of cultivated land in Cuba, 290,000 caballarias are now cultivated as state farms and cooperatives, 270,000 caballarias by peasants owning less than 5 caballarias each and united in the National Association of Small Producers (ANAP), while 140,000 caballarias are operated by proprietors of farms ranging from over 5 to 30 caballarias each. (A caballaria is about 33 acres).
The large rice plantations, as well as the cattle ranches, have been turned into state farms; the sugar plantations into cooperatives run by agricultural workers formerly employed by the sugar firms. Thus about 115,000 working people immediately joined the cooperatives. Large numbers of landless workers and share-croppers have been given the smaller parcels of land enumerated above.
From the proletarian point of view this situation is not entirely satisfactory. The large numbers who have become members of the sugar cooperatives were formerly wage workers, that is to say persons who did not own the means of production themselves. Now they have been transformed into cooperative property owners and, as cooperators, must deal in terms of property. This is not a step forward but a step backward. (In Russia cooperatives were formed from peasants who had been bound to the soil from time immemorial and had never been part of the working class. For such elements cooperatives were a great step forward in tying them with collective means of production being formed all throughout Russia.) The sugar “cooperators”, formerly landless workers and part of the agrarian proletarian in Cuba now have been torn aside from the rest of the Cuban working class and put into a special category where they are as much like peasants as they are like workers.
As the proletarian revolution moves forward, these sugar “cooperators” should enter the agrarian trade unions and become part of the regular agrarian proletariat. The sugar plantations should not be kept apart from the sugar refineries but both should be fused into one entity. If the State runs the refineries it should run the sugar plantations as well, or if this is too great a jump at the moment then it is the sugar workers industrial unions that should take over the sugar plantations and not agrarian workers turned back into peasants.
In Cuba producers cooperatives have not as yet apparently been formed, just where they are most important namely among the poor farmers who are individual owners of land. Here is where the cooperatives have a progressive and flourishing role, to bring individual operators into the stream of social life. And here, again, the cooperative can only be a transitional form for a higher and more socialized form of operation. Should Cuba become more industrialized by processing, preserving, canning, and manufacturing food products, these latter operations should be tied up closely with the actual production of the agricultural raw materials so that, as far as practicable, the two can become entities as closely intertwined as the sugar fields and the sugar refineries. Thus the individual producer can be moved from individual actions, through local cooperatives, into broad collective operations that will tie him directly to the interests of the working class as a whole.
In the field of industry, already all the chief industries have been nationalized and the open enemies of the Revolution ousted completely. This field includes the production and refining of petroleum, the telephone and electric company, the large sugar refineries, the chemical industry, ore-mines, railways, rubber factories, factories making glassware, canning plants, soap plants perfumery plants, tobacco plants, textile mills, etc., as well as certain public utilities. By the fall of 1960 this process has become practically completed. To cap it all it has now been decreed that the estates of all those who have fled the country are also to be confiscated. Already 80% of the gross industrial product is accounted for by nationalized concerns.
There is no internal reason why Cuba can not go ahead with her Five Year Plans and industrialize herself in an all-rounded manner along the lines already set by socialist economies elsewhere. In February, 1961, a Ministry for Industry and a Ministry of Internal Trade were formed to help this process along. The Ministry of Trade is prepared in the import-export field.
The National Bank of Cuba directs the centralized banking system, controls the implementation of economic plans from the financial aspect and is gradually introducing the principles of planned credits and money circulation. The currency reform of August, 1961, has consolidated this role of the state banking system. The Ministry of Finance has been thoroughly reorganized and now carries out important functions in financing the plans. The General Planning Council has been assigned the task of drawing up Cuba’s first Four-Year Economic Development Plan for 1962-1965.
Of course, Cuba is not another Russia or China. She can not be a self-sufficient country except on the lowest planes of development. To industrialize herself and develop she will need aid from abroad, from the Soviet world, and here is where Cuba will have to become the supporter of Khrushchev or pay heavily and even fatally.
2. Let us now consider the new political scene. Khrushchev is now supporting Cuba economically, politically, and militarily. One of the conditions that he seemingly has laid down is the liquidation of the July 26th Party and its fusion with the Communist Party of Cuba. In agreement with this decision Castro has now "revealed” himself as a “Marxist-Leninist” so that he can become the leading figure in the new communist political organization that will rule the country. What will be the result of this “fusion"?
We should note first that the Cuban Revolution was not achieved through the instrumentality of the Communist Party of Cuba, which, indeed, for a long time got along very well with Batista and never, even as late as 1958, believed that Cuba would break away from the United States, no less build a socialist country. The Cuban Revolution, then, was won outside of and independent of the Communist Party by forces alien to that sterile sect.
Now that the Revolution has won the day and is proceeding with the full force of the Cuban proletariat behind it, the Cuban Communist Party wants to get on the bandwagon and take control. Castro himself is slated to become a secondary figure. Else why would Khrushchev have stated in a public speech that Castro is no Communist? If by “Communist” Khrushchev meant “Stalinist” in the image of Khrushchev, then, indeed, he was quite right. Be that as it may, it is clear that such words by Khrushchev indicated that in any fusion between the Castro group and the Communist Party it would be the latter faction that would be recognized as the more reliable, loyal, and understanding.
As a matter of fact should Castro not play the game as the Kremlin wants he is now in danger of being murdered by his own party members, by people of the Stalinist faction, as Trotsky was. There is always a Sormenti (Vidali) at hand.
And yet it is clear that Castro can never be a Stalinist, Khrushchev variety, even should he develop into a real Communist. No one of any heroic build who has himself fought his way to power without the aid of the Stalinists is going to knuckle down to that debased role. To prove this, history already has given us the cases of Tito, Mao Tse Tung, Hoxha and Ho Chi Minh who had much greater reason to knuckle under than Castro. Nor will Castro ever be content, so long as he is the leader of the joint Communist Party, to play a secondary role. He must be treated as an equal, not with contempt as a “new” communist or secondary figure. Indeed, the more successful Castro will become in his new role as leader of the communists in the Western hemisphere the more will he appear as a thorn in the side of the old line Stalinist-Khrushchev forces.
Under such circumstances what were the advantages to Castro outside of receiving help from Khrushchev that induced him to liquidate the July 26th Party and merge it with the Communist Party of Cuba? From Castro’s point of view the advantages were many—and let no one be misled to believe that Castro is not a very clever individual.
a) The July 26th movement was a local Cuban movement. It was not an international movement nor could it furnish an adequate base for such a movement. And yet it had become a direct necessity for Cuba for its own protection to build such an international movement in Latin America. The only revolutionary organization operating in all Latin American countries that could furnish such a base is the Communist Parties. As part of such a Communist movement Castro can now use these parties, their cadres, organizational bases, funds, and other supports fully and completely. Castro does not mean to be the leader only of the Cuban movement but of the movement in all Latin America.
b) By joining the Communist movement and taking a leading part in it Castro can build his own form and faction within it that might be able to learn all the plans proposed by the Stalinist-Khrushchevists and see that such plans did not hinder the spread of the revolution elsewhere in Latin America as they did in Cuba itself.
c) Castro, one may be sure, has not forgotten one of the primary lessons learned by the Cubans, namely that to achieve victory the working class must bypass the Communist Party as a sterile, non-Marxist, opportunist sect, incapable of taking revolutionary leadership. Stalinist Khrushchevism historically means elimination of proletarian initiative and destruction of any heroic party capable of seizing power substituting instead dull hacks trying to sneak into power, a la Stalin, by all sorts of deals and “maneuvers". In his new position Castro will be able to see to it that the Communist Parties elsewhere in Latin America will also be bypassed and that as in Cuba the workers abroad will be allowed to develop their initiative with their own forces.
d) By joining the Communist Party Castro will be in a better position to see that certain elements within that party are eliminated and removed from control in the factional fighting that must ensue. Furthermore, by such direct contacts especially with Khrushchev himself he will be able to deal more effectively with any attempt on the part of the Khrushchevs to stab the Cuban Revolution in the back by sacrificing Cuba for Berlin, for example, or for any other objective the nationalist communists in charge of Russia might concoct.
e) With Castro in the Communist Party the Soviet Union will not be able to bypass Castro in its efforts to influence Latin America. Cuba, not Mexico, will have to become the regional Latin American headquarters for revolution and all funds will have to be spent through Castro and his Cuban control. In Latin America already the principal cry is not Defend the Soviet Union, but Defend the Cuban Revolution. The Soviet Union is rapidly being forgotten as a direct revolutionary force in Latin America.
The big question is who will win out in the struggle that is bound to take place within the Communist Party of Cuba, the Castro group or the old sterile Stalinist hacks? This depends, in turn, on who will be able to win the workers, and this, in turn, depends on the political development of the workers.
From this point of view as well as from the point of view of the general welfare of the Cuban Revolution, it is absolutely essential to raise the question of general elections in which the workers and toilers will be entirely free to vote to make their choices and to participate actively in all government and political activities.
There is now only one party in Cuba, why should not there be elections? There is now a new proletarian state in Cuba, why should not there be a new constitution? Why should not SOVIETS be formed in Cuba as proletarian organs of power? The Stalinist-Khrushchevists who have killed the soviets in the Soviet Union of course have buried all of Lenin’s words not only in behalf of soviets as instruments for seizing power but soviets as organs of proletarian state power. Since Lenin’s day no soviets have been formed in any country controlled by Stalinists!
Or if there is to be no soviet regime in Cuba, should parliament consist of one chamber or two chambers? The Stalinist-Khrushchevists who have killed every form of working class direct control also killed the one-chambered revolutionary parliament in Russia. Should Castro come out for a new constitution with only one revolutionary parliamentary chamber he might even be called a Trotskyist!
How should the proposed elections take place? It is not necessary to deprive any class, except open enemies, of the vote, but if a dictatorship of the proletariat is to be firmly established, the working class should be given as many votes as necessary to effectuate its will and interests. Workers could vote in their shops AND in their unions AND in the communities where they live, if giving them THREE votes to the one vote of the shopkeeper or to the peasant were needed to control the situation. In a country like Cuba it would be easy to establish such election laws as would give the proletariat the decided majority in the legislative halls. But the proletariat must now be allowed to vote and express its will. What is Cuba waiting for? To wait further is a major crime against the people of Cuba? Working class elections can no longer be delayed! An advancing proletarian revolution can no longer tolerate this dictatorship OVER the working class.
In these working class elections, how can the activist Castro faction lose as against the old sterile Stalinist opponents? Such elections give Castro at last the opportunity to form a collective working class movement that will move away from the ideas of Jacobinisin to that of Marxism. After all, there is a direct historical line from Robespierre, to Baboeuf, to the Blanquists to Lenin.
Working class elections to the organs of state power will also mean working class elections within the governing party. For once the party will become a collective party which will not be dictated to by any outside forces not motivated by international proletarian considerations.
The transformation of the Cuban Party to a Marxist-Leninist one will have tremendous reverberations throughout the entire political world. especially in Latin America. It is the best guarantee that the Cuban Revolution will endure and remain permanently carrying out the interests of the working class to the end.