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Cuba: Radical face of Stalinism

By John Lister

Written: 1983 / 84.
First Published: January 1985.
Source: Published by Left View Books for the Socialist Group.
Transcription / HTML Markup: Sean Robertson for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Copyleft: Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line ( 2013.
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Cuba: Radical face of Stalinism CONTENTS


Part I: The Cuban Conundrum.

1. Introduction.

2. The Revolution and its Background.

3. The Cuban Communist Party – up to 1959.

4. The Cuban Communist Party – after 1959.

5. The Cuban State Machine.

6. Cuban Foreign Policy 1959-68.

7. Cuba's Stalinist Foreign Policy After 1968.

8. The Cuban Economy.

Part II: Some Answers – Right and Wrong.

9. Trotskyism and the Cuban Revolution: The Background.

10. Trotskyism and the Cuban Revolution: The Reactions.

11. Trotskyism and the Cuban Revolution: The Problems.

12. Trotskyism and the Cuban Revolution: The Alternatives, Then and Now.

Cuba: A Chronology

Select Bibliography


The bulk of the text for this book was completed by early December 1983, in the immediate aftermath of Reagan's invasion of Grenada.

At that time, however, the factional tensions of the incipient split in the British Workers Socialist League, of which I was then a member, made it quite impossible to proceed with any serious discussion on the text or allocate resources to its publication. In the event the split – during the Spring and early Summer of 1984 – and the eventual regroupment of the healthy forces in the Socialist Group (founded November 1984) proved to be a long drawn-out and energy-consuming affair. Only now, with newly-gathered resources and with the appetite for international discussion reawakened in the new group, is it possible to look seriously towards publication.

Few changes have been necessary to the text, despite the 12 month delay. Another leader died in the Kremlin, to be replaced by yet another acting bureaucrat of equivalent vintage – Chernenko. A few other small details have been updated. But even the introductory section on Grenada retains its relevance and has been only slightly altered.

For suggestions and contributions that have substantially improved the original text I would like in particular to thank David Keil, who himself conducted a long battle as a small minority on the Cuban question inside the US Socialist Workers Party.

Many of the lines of argument which I have pursued owe their origins or inspiration to earlier attempts by Keil and others to hammer out a serious analysis of Cuba. In particular articles by Tim Wohlforth, by Bob Sutcliffe and Adam Westoby have been vital starting points.

Above all, it is to my comrades from the old (pre-1981) Workers Socialist League and today's Socialist Group that I owe the conviction that a contribution along these lines is necessary. The more we probed the history and the current politics of the Trotskyist movement, the more we became convinced that only a struggle for a solid analysis and programmatic response to the immense problems of the post-war Trotskyist movement – centrally the problem of Stalinism – could lay a healthy basis to reunite the fragmented sections of the Fourth International and go forward to build serious Marxist parties on a world scale.

It is my hope that this book might contribute to a long-overdue discussion along these lines.

In this spirit, the book is dedicated to the militants of the liberation struggles in Central America, to those fighting the "contras" in Nicaragua, and to working class fighters the world over. In these real battles, where the stakes are so high, workers need and deserve a better political lead than warmed-over "radical" Stalinism. The task of Trotskyism is to offer them that lead: that is why Trotskyists must urgently put their house in order.

JRL, December 1984.

Thanks to Chris, Jenny and Ron for their help in the production of this book.

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