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International Socialism, Winter 1960/61


Notes of the Quarter

3. Revolution in Cuba


From International Socialism (1st series), No.3, Winter 1960/61, pp.4-5.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


As this editorial was being written news was coming in of American preparations for the invasion of Cuba. By the time it is read the history of the Cuban revolution will have been taken a stage further. But some of the key reasons for defending the Cuban revolution will remain as valid as they are now.

First of all, the revolution is an important defeat for American imperialism, both in Cuba itself and in the effect it will have throughout Latin America.

Cuba is an immensely rich country. Under Batista, its natural resources which might have been developed in many directions were all sacrificed to the profits from the sugar crop. Its people were also sacrificed. In 1956 US banks held one quarter of all Cuban bank deposits. American capital owned 40 percent of the raw sugar production, half the railways and most of the electrical services. Native Cuban capital was closely linked to the United States. The function of the Batista regime was simply to suppress political opposition to this economic pattern. In 1954 the average per capita income in Cuba was £2 a week. Most of the peasants had a good deal less.

Secondly, whatever doubts we may have about how to characterize the present social forms, this is clearly a whole people in revolt. The Cuban revolution was not a putsch. (12 badly armed men have no more chance against 30,000 well-armed men in Cuba than they have anywhere else.) Castro identified himself with the peasants and the peasants identified themselves with Castro. The revolution that they have made is unlike all bourgeois revolutions in its passing beyond private property. It is unlike a socialist revolution in that there is present in Cuba neither an effective industrial working-class nor an effective national bourgeoisie. It has not yet created the kind of political institutions which would permanently express the mass participation which has already occurred. The political parties only joined the revolution after it was already going to succeed, and the Communist Party, for example, opposed Castro for several years.

Thirdly, both the Communist Party and the State Department will try to identify the struggle of the Cuban people against imperialism with the Cold War. The Cubans have found it as unavoidable to accept Soviet aid as the Jugoslavs found American aid necessary in 1948. The pressures on Cuba towards integration into the Soviet Bloc will exert pressure towards bureaucratization of the revolution. But this, so all the evidence seems to show, has not yet happened. What has happened is that the non-Communist Party left has been remarkably slow in acquiring facts about Cuba, let alone publicly defending the Cuban revolution. This slowness is itself a symptom of the absence of any genuine working-class internationalism on a world-scale. The Cubans only turn to Russian power because there is no power of the international working-class for them to turn to. Our defence of the Cuban revolution could itself be a step, even if a small one, towards creating such a power.

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