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Cuba and the World Revolution

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The mass demonstrations in Cuba for food, vaccines, medical care, electricity and democratic rights raise class questions on the island and internationally.  Is Cuba socialist, a deformed workers state, state capitalist, restored capitalist or in the process of capitalist restoration? These are the questions socialist and workers are asking.  In the restoration process, are competing factions of the new bourgeois class trying to consolidate their alliances with either the US/EU or the Russia/China imperialist bloc?  Is there a path forward to secure national liberation from these two imperialist blocs and to build socialism?  Is US imperialism still the hegemon or has its power been eclipsed?  Does the NATO 2030 recognition of the bi-polar world order reflect a deepening  cold war between imperialist and anti-imperialist forces or a pending hot war between two imperialist blocs, or between their proxies in the nearer term? The need to answer these questions is posed by Cuban developments, among others.

The generation that made the revolution and sacrificed for decades is dying off and the youth with internet access see how their conditions are more akin to a semi-colony than an independent socialist state. They can see that both in the US and China the vast middle class have better living conditions.  The major gains of the revolution, except healthcare (guaranteed jobs, food, housing) are gone, swept away by the restoration of the Law of Value in relations of production. The state is no longer committed to defending these gains, but is  instead committed to opening up Cuba as a semi-colony to Chinese imperialism. This means rank exploitation no matter who the boss is, and a generalized decline in the standards of living consistent with a defeat of the revolution. Communism, let alone socialism, could never be achieved in one country let alone one island. What gains the population enjoyed in the name of socialism, were the result of the revolution that went beyond the nationalist intentions of its leaders, by necessity of survival abolished capitalism  and assimilated into the Soviet boc, have eroded after capitalist restorations in Russia and China and as the bureaucratized Castroist Communist Party charted the course to restoration. 

As everyone who attended high school in the US who was paying attention in 10th grade history class knows, the Monroe Doctrine expanded Manifest Destiny and the White Man’s Burden to the entire hemisphere and beyond into the Pacific. From nearby Cuba to Tierra del Fuego and as far as the Philippines, the expanding of the U.S. capitalist empire was secured by 1917 and with the postwar unrivalled economic dominance and nuclear monopoly  the “American Century” began with the victory in WW2. It meant US capitalist interests would be enforced by Capital flows, arms flows, cultivation of dictators, militaries and private armies. Invasions of Latin America by the US are far too many to be reviewed here but nary a year had gone by in the last 150 years when either US military overt and/or covert actions were launched from Washington.  

Following the Cuban revolution, prior to the ‘proclamation of Socialism in April, 1961, the CIA blew up the La Coubre cargo ship. Expropriation of US holdings quickly followed.    Cuba was never a terrorist threat, not even a military threat since Krushchev blinked, and “Create 2,3 Many Vietnams” was never more than an anti-imperialist slogan. Having been adopted into the Soviet bloc, teaching and practicing Stalinist misinterpretations of Lenin, Cuba, — despite its limited foreys into Africa— lacked a revolutionary socialist foreign policy and never became  a realistic threat to the world capitalist order. A dead Guevara sufficed for revolutionary credentials. As time went on the viva che sentiments had more to do with bringing in the sugar harvest than pretensions to effective internationalism.

So why the near 60 year blockade following the Bay of Pigs, the missile crisis and the hundreds of assassinations attempts on Fidel? Because Cuban independence from the clutches of US imperialism represented proof and hope that US sponsored dictatorships could be overturned. Noam Chomsky, an anti-Leninist liberal anarchist professor even called Cuba the “threat of a good example,” an example that liberation movements of workers and peasants could free themselves from US domination.

Cuba, a small island country with monocrop agriculture, faced the tasks of the unfinished national democratic revolution against imperialism and for agrarian reform. This came up against the limits proven by the theory of permanent revolution that those tasks cannot be successfully completed unless the socialist revolution triumphs under the leadership of the working class. But 1960 Cuba existed in a bi-polar world, without an internationalist revolutionary workers leadership, without links to a powerful revolutionary workers’ international and/or a healthy industrialized workers state with a revolutionary foreign policy. 

Cuba would either succumb to the imperialist onslaught with mafia power restored, or as they did, list uneasily into the port of the Soviet bloc. This union of “revolutionary Cuba” and world Stalinism bolstered the Pabloists of the Fourth International, giving more reason to devolve theoretically from nominal Trotskyism. Pabloism took hold, as the Leninist International and orientation to the working class was replaced by sectoralism on the one side and orientation to continental guerilla warfare on the other. Trotskyism as embodied in its various organizational forms had lost its relevance and in many cases reduced itself to being cheerleaders for the best aspects of the Cuban revolution.

Because capitalism was overturned and the capitalists run off the island no social revolution was necessary.  Indeed if, as the Pabloists said, the Cuban Revolution was “healthy” then no political revolution was necessary; cheerleading and gentle nudges for expansion of workers’ democracy were all that was left to do. And even until today there is no lack of outfits to compete for their franchise.  Cuba cheerleaders would have you believe they proved that the working class was not the decisive force in the leadership of the socialist revolution, so the concept of multiple vanguards was adopted in the emerging New Left, among them Herbert Marcuse, who claimed the working class was “bought off.”   

The Pabloist revision of Trotskyism abandoned the permanent revolution, the critique of Stalinism as the foreclosure of the Marxist program for world revolution, and abdicated the fight for the leadership of the working class and a democratic centralist international.  Unable and unwilling to mount a fight for Che’s “2, 3, Many Vietnams,” the Fourth International lost the race Trotsky explained in “Revolution Betrayed”. Either the political revolution restores soviet democracy and defeats and controls the bureaucracy or the bureaucracy will restore capitalism if the fascists do not do so first. 

The Fourth International was plagued with two wings of Pabloists, the Stalinophile and the Stalinophobes.This was the basis of the 1953 split into the “entryist” Stalinophile Pabloists of the International Secretariat and the ostensible Stalinophobes of the International Committee. It was exactly the Cuban revolution that permitted their reunification in 1961. Each had adapted to Castroism and the factions became two models of stalinophilia. This only explains the United Secretariat.

Still other would-be Trotskyists rejected this reunification. They style themselves as anti-Pabloist, but their own contradictory Stalinophilia led to their uncritical support of the repressions and military invasions meted out by the Stalinists. Likewise many of these defend the CCP regime in China and refuse to acknowledge capitalist restoration there. Their calls for political revolution ring hollow as they never find sufficiently revolutionary forces to support. 

While the Mandelites buried themselves in the Stalinist milieu earlier and the Barnesites in the Castroists-Guevarists milieu later, the latter day anti-Pabloists turned “unconditional defense of the USSR” into unconditional defense of the bureaucracy, They continue in the same pattern defending the Xi regime today against all the post Tien An Men upheavals.

The Marcy-led split from the SWP in 1956 were the original “tankies” who faced off over the Hungarian uprising.  Where the SWP/International Committee Cannonists and International Secretariat Pabloists saw workers’ political revolution, the Stalinists and those developing toward Stalinism in Marcy’s WWP saw counter-revolution and Horthyite fascism. 

Divisions in the workers movement would continue across events in Czechoslovakia 1968, Poland 1981, and Tienanmen 1989. The Trotskyist movement left the working class ill prepared to defeat Stalinism and incapable of advancing the political revolution in time to prevent the Stalinists from restoring capitalism– ergo counter-revolution prevailed across the so called communist bloc. We can say capitalist restorations have followed two models: the Chicago School of Business “Shock Therapy” fast road or the Chinese “slow road” restoration, where the party monopoly of political power is maintained. Cuba has followed the Chinese slow road model.

Today, with the Soviet workers’ state having long since collapsed and the Cuban Communist Party courting Foreign Direct Investment, China is winning the competition to make Cuba its semi-colony while the rest of the imperialist west remains restrained by the US sanctions against blockade breakers.

Miami Gusanos and Wall Streeters salivate at the prospect of subordinating Cuba to the USA again. In the face off in the Caribbean between two competing imperialisms, China and the US, the people of Cuba have no way out other than socialist revolution.   

The Restoration of Capitalism in Cuba

In Cuba For Sale (2011) we observed that,

 “…The 6th Cuban Communist Party Congress held in April, 2011 resolved to make major changes for the Cuban economy to overcome its stagnation. These changes represent a wholesale embrace of the capitalist market…..Cubans are now being encouraged to adopt market practices such as buying state property as private property and employing wage workers. Thus the capitalist market will replace state allocation of resources as the main mechanism of the economy. Marxists analyze this as a shift from state planning to the law of value, and hence a shift from a Workers State, albeit deformed from its birth in 1959, to a Capitalist State.

To avoid the fate of the USSR which opened itself up to capitalism by means of rapid “shock treatment,‟ Cuba looked towards China‟s gradual restoration of capitalism. It began to open a sector of the economy to foreign private investment and found that the new market relations with imperialism were much more lucrative for the bureaucracy than trying to defend the planned economy. So it now seeks to complete the process and turn itself into a new bourgeois class.

…Cuban bureaucracy, desperate to become a new bourgeoisie, has “sold‟ capitalist restoration using the same language as that used by the Chinese CP to cover its restoration of capitalism –(as) “market socialism.‟ 

We further developed our analysis in Cuba Sold Out (2013), which stresses the method which allows us to recognise that Cuba has restored capitalism without fully reverting to private ownership of the means of production. The Law of Value has been reinstalled as state capitalism. What Trotsky predicted as the most likely route to restoration has been confirmed in the ex-Soviet Union, and most clearly, China. Cuba follows China with its ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ i.e. state capitalism, behind the mask of Cuban state socialism. This is why we make the point that Cuba represents the future of ALBA, as all the Bolivarian states fall into line behind the international popular front with China. Cuba is the ideological flagbearer for the state capitalist Bolivarian regimes, notably Venezuela and Bolivia, in this global popular front. 

Here is the prediction we made in Cuba Sold Out: 

Thus, the current situation in Cuba is critical in determining the future of the socialist revolution not only in Latin America but globally. Opposition to US imperialism is widespread in Latin America, but while this opposition is subordinated to the Bolivarian popular front with China, there can be no break with the bureaucracy or bourgeoisie throughout the sub-continent. To smash the hold of the Bolivarians on the anti-imperialist struggle, our first task is to convince the workers, the unemployed and poor self-employed, that China is imperialist and that for the workers movement to be independent of imperialism they must fight to take the leadership of the socialist revolution from both the pro-China bourgeoisie and the Castroist/Bolivarian bourgeoisie.  

“Both private sector FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and Cuban expatriate capital are extremely impatient for the US to lift its economic embargo on Cuba. Neither is able to make a sufficient profit that justifies investing in a backward, closed economy where China’s influence is dominant. If the US drops the embargo will it be satisfied with investing in tightly managed export zones while China, having moved into the driver’s seat left vacant by the Soviet Union, is able to exploit Cuba’s best resources, or will it look for a neo-liberal faction in the Cuban bourgeoisie to remove the pro-China faction and push the usual demands of a FTA (Free Trade Agreements) to create an open economy that can be dominated by the US?” 

So what we see on the streets of Cuba today is the predictable outcome of the restoration of capitalism in what is now a small, weak, semi-colony. One section of the bourgeoisie is loyal to China. Yet China is only interested in super-exploiting its ally in the name of ‘market socialism’. China has not provided aid to enable the working class to escape poverty. The other section of the bourgeoisie is based on the ‘Gusanos’ and new petty bourgeois that has been allowed to expand by the regime. Its interests are to eclipse China’s influence in the name of ‘democracy’ and open the country to the full force of US imperialism. Among these forces are the Miami fascists/revanchists who seek a war of reconquest to punish all associated with post-1958 political power on the island. Of course any one variety of this reaction would create even worse conditions for workers, such as we find in every US semi-colony or colony. We take no sides in this rivalry between bourgeois factions and call for socialist revolution based on the formation of a real Marxist revolutionary party based in the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky. 

Permanent Revolution vs. Stalinism 

Cuba was the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean that was victorious in the revolution and expropriated the bourgeoisie. Cuba became a Deformed Workers’ State; it had no soviets nor a Bolshevik party. Its petty bourgeois leadership led by Fidel Castro was pushed by the threat of American imperialism to expropriate the bourgeoisie and ally with the USSR to remain in power as a parasitic bureaucracy. The leaders of the Cuban revolution had no intention of completing the permanent revolution and internationalizing it. As Fidel said on the occasion of the Nicaraguan revolution, “we do not want Nicaragua to become a Cuba”.

The Cuban revolution challenged the Soviet Union’s credibility which was on the wane and it had to answer to the cries of revolutionaries in Algeria, Vietnam and Cuba where the popular movements expected (and rightly so!) internationalist support.  But the Stalinist movement worldwide abandoned the socialist revolution and made its peace with imperialism long ago, leaving the masses to suffer the effects of the stalled permanent revolution. 

The world Stalinist movement was caught, because they were not promoting socialist revolution, and as  Cuba’s nationalizations of imperialist property resulted in the blockade and the missile crisis, Cuba became dependent on the USSR, the east bloc and the non-aligned. 

With the collapse of the USSR, Cuba became even more isolated and strangled by the US which kept the smaller imperialists from trading with Cuba.  The Stalinists turn away from world revolution, their  accommodation to imperialism, the Kruschev revelations, barricading the workers revolution behind the theory of  socialism in one country and the popular front exposed again  the crisis of the leadership of the working class as Socialist and Communist Parties  signed on to help administer capitalism in the west and in the semi-colonies,  breaking the hopes of workers that the “Soviet motherland” would lead us out of the nightmare of imperialism.

In turn the Castroists followed suit and abandoned any pretense of a revolutionary foreign policy, limiting their foreign interventions to aiding reformists and nationalists  and then they restored capitalism which they administer while waving the perfunctory red flag. No wonder the youth are out in force-the promise of socialism has been stolen by the fake Communist Party.  From Cuba to Nicaragua to South Africa, Venezuela and Hong Kong the Stalinists have failed to defeat capitalism and where it was defeated they restored it. So the left has no obligation to cover for the Stalinists, Castroists, Bolivarians and sellout Sandinistas.  

Despite being a deformed workers’ state, the gains of the revolution were undeniable. In a miserable, violent, illiterate and unemployed Latin America, Cuba has reached levels of social development unthinkable in other countries in the region. However, if the permanent revolution does not advance, the retreat is inevitable. The embargoes of American imperialism were a great attack against the revolution and its development, but the fall of the USSR and the workers’ states in Eastern Europe strongly shook the Caribbean country and measures to open up the economy began to be adopted for more than 20 years, having in the 2010’s completed the restoration of capitalism. In the last decade, hunger, unemployment and other capitalist ills are advancing on the island. The setback in working class consciousness caused by the Stalinists and fakeTrotskyists is enormous and a great betrayal. In addition to pushing back the revolution and restoring capitalism with their own hands, they do it in the name of “socialism”.

All over the world, but in Latin America and the Caribbean in particular, activists and left-wing organizations have been divided over the July 11 demonstrations. The Stalinists (who have always defended bureaucracy and socialism in one country) and the fake Trotskyists are against the demonstrators, accusing them of being manipulated by the US and defending Cuba as a workers’ state, leaving only the imperialist embargo responsible for the setback of the revolution. These “Trotskyist” currents defend China as a workers’ state too. Clearly, these currents capitulate to Stalinism. Unlike Russia, the Communist Parties’ permanence in power and the one-party regime is crucial for analyzing the character of these states.

Other sectors of the left, such as the reformist currents of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) and the United Socialist Workers’ Party (PSTU) in Brazil, defend the demonstrations for “democracy”. Their positions are a capitulation to US “democratic” imperialism. For them, capitalism has been restored in Cuba, the Communist Party regime is a bourgeois dictatorship and the struggle for “democracy” is defended. The PSTU had a similar policy in the fall of the Eastern European and USSR regimes, instead of defending the workers’ state and the political revolution against the bureaucracy, it supported the end of the biggest victory of the working class to replace it with a bourgeois “democratic” regime. 

It is true that the Cuban people are proud of the revolution and have defended it a lot, but today they see the regression of the revolution and the restoration itself as a “socialist” measure, creating illusions with capitalism and bourgeois democracy. Defeating the reformist leaderships and the popular front is an urgent task for the revolutionary vanguard and the workers. Cuba today needs a new revolution that defeats both the imperialist blocs and the ruling bourgeoisie.

Revolutionary workers and the international labor movement  must oppose all imperialist intervention and the blockade and stand with the masses and advocate for popular assemblies, workers control and socialization of production, and the implementation of a worker-led central plan, the monopoly of foreign trade and expropriation of foreign capital. But first workers have to be convinced that Cuba has restored capitalism, and that China is an imperialist power and will not lead the anti-imperialist struggle. For actual anti-imperialism the permanent revolution is necessary. 

We demand the U.S. close and abandon the Guantanamo military base and prison. We are not looking for a Reiss Faction to save the day in a ‘political revolution’ led by an uprising exclusively led by Communist party members. We are for a Bolshevik-Leninist party of the authentic proletarian membership model with its revolutionary socialist program. The pretensions of the Castroists do not measure up, and behind those pretensions there is only the desire to maintain their exclusive political power by breaking the blockade. Socialist revolution is called for, in Cuba, throughout the Caribbean the Americas and beyond to world socialism! To prepare and lead this world revolution we call on workers in Cuba to build their democratic centralist Revolutionary Workers Party as part of a new Workers’ International based on the program and method of Trotsky’s 1938 Transitional Program. Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains!

  • Defeat all  imperialist overt and covert  interventions. Defeat the Blockade!
  • For international workers’ defense of Cuba! 
  • For the return of Guantanamo to Cuba. 
  • For workers councils to take control of production and to coordinate and control a socialist central plan.
  • For workers democracy and free speech for workers and oppressed in all trade unions, workers committees, councils, public assemblies, in the press, the arts, on the internet, in academia and historic institutions of the revolution.
  • For workers and farmers  sliding scale of prices and wages.
  • End corrupt and bureaucratic control of resources
  • For socialist distribution of  Food, Jobs, Housing and Healthcare for all!
  • Form up workers committees and councils in every workplace and community!
  • Establish the right to immediate recall of workers  delegates. 
  • For workers committees to set prices  control food and medicine distribution!
  • For Socialist Revolution to smash the Stalinist bureaucracy that has restored  capitalism 
  • No to the capitalist restoration and the restorationist program of the PCC
  • Stop counter-revolutionary privatizations and special zones and deals with foreign capitalist profit takers.  
  • Build workers self defense guards that fight for socialism. Down with the PNR and CDR that defend the restorationist policies.
  • Down with the Dictatorship of Capital
  • No to fake bourgeois democracy. 
  • Expropriate Foreign Owned Means of Production
  • For a revolutionary foreign policy, turn all anti-imperialist uprisings socialist!
  • Form up workers councils to initiate workers democracy!
  • For a workers government  –the Dictatorship of the Proletariat! 
  • For the Construction of the World Party of Revolution.

August 1 2021

International Leninist-Trotskyist Tendency

Written by raved

July 31, 2021 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized