Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hasta La Victoria Siempre, Campanero Fidel

Article written by Comrade Aniket Alam for The Post

This line, which was supposedly spoken by Ernesto Che Guevara before his departure for Africa to fight with the anti-colonial revolutionaries there, is a fitting slogan to bid adieu to one of the greatest revolutionaries and Marxists of our times. This line would roughly translate as "Until [we achieve] victory forever! Comrade Fidel". Yesterday, Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, announced his decision to step down from the top post bringing to an end an entire era which he straddled like a colossus.

Clichés often belittle a person's contribution but it would not be incorrect to state that Fidel Castro is among those few world historical individuals whose contribution to human history will resonate long after the writer and the readers of these words have turned to dust.



Even when it happened, the Cuban revolution was a near impossibility. Situated just 90 miles from the mightiest superpower of the world – the United States of America – very few people expected Cuba's socialist experiment to survive under the hostile gaze of its dominant northern neighbour. Over the years, in a manner strangely reminiscent of the treatment meted out to its eastern neighbour – Haiti, Cuba has been sought to be economically strangled by one of the most stringent economic and political embargoes by the USA. Not only that, the US Government has tried to destabilise the Cuban Government every which way including sponsoring "invasions" by disgruntled Cuban expatriates living in Florida. The CIA's attempts to kill Fidel have taken on legendary proportions with 638 assassination attempts (you read that right!) having being documented over the past five decades.

One of the reasons Cuba managed to survive the economic blockade and the hostile attacks was the support given to it by the erstwhile Socialist State system led by the USSR. Close to 90 per cent of Cuba's foreign trade was with the Socialist states and almost all its fuel supplies came from there. But, ironically, even though the mighty superpower that was the USSR collapsed under the weight of its own mistakes and shortcomings, Cuba – which seemed to be dependent on the USSR for its survival – survived the collapse of the Socialist State system and continues to be the sole example of a mature socialist system of our times. This column had previously discussed the manner in which Cuba had managed to survive the collapse of the Socialist States in the last century ("The Anti-Growth Manifesto", 31 October 2007). There is one more, significantly more important, reason for Cuba's ability to not only survive economic blockade and political terror from the USA but to survive as a thriving socialist system.

Previously, this column spoke about how Cuban doctors have spread out all over the world, including in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake, providing relief and medical aid to poor people free of cost. The fact that these Cuban doctors, considered among the most capable of their profession in the world, have not "sought asylum" in America or European countries and become rich doctors, but continued to work in poor countries indicates that simple idealism is a reality in Cuban society. For someone living in a country where every second teenager "dreams" of migrating to the developed West, it is surely surprising that an overwhelming majority of Cubans do not leave their country even when they have a choice. But Cuban idealism does not end here.

Last year, Cuban doctors working in field clinics in rural Bolivia performed a free operation on a retired soldier of the Bolivian army who had lost his eyesight to cataract. A simple event, but for the fact that this soldier was the one who had shot Ernesto Che Guevara dead in 1967! Where does such generosity of spirit come from?

One of the founding principles of the Cuban communist party has been sacrifice. Cuban communist party members are expected to sacrifice and set an example to other citizens. Unfortunately, this word has been such a favourite of spin-doctors that it is normal for the readers' eye to glaze over with cynicism at seeing it here. In Cuba this translates into real practical steps. In all matters of benefits, communist party members are last in the queue while in matters of contributing labour and life, communist party members are first in the list. So if there are a certain number of heart surgeries which can be performed in a particular month in a given district, communist party members will be last in the queue for that and non-party members will be operated upon first. Similarly when food was rationed in the 1990s, communist party members would get food only after the non-members have gotten their share.

Not only this, Communist party members in Cuba are held to a higher level of personal morality and probity. I remember reading about a gang of four drug smugglers who were caught in the mid-1990s and found guilty of the charge. Three of them, who were not communist party members, were sentenced to life-imprisonment, while the one who was a communist party member was sentenced to death. This principle has led to a natural barrier to all sorts of opportunists and careerists joining the communist party for their benefit, as happened in all other socialist states.

But the Cuban Communist Party did not confine this simple, yet pathbreaking, principle to their party but worked to broadcast it widely in Cuban society in general.

In the early 1960s, when Cuba was grappling with the challenge of increasing its industrial and agricultural productivity it was counselled by its Soviet advisors that one way of getting people to work harder and produce more was by providing material incentives. So, for example, the best workers would be given salary bonuses or the best farmers given better shares of their produce. Che Guevara, with the support of the Cuban communist party, opposed this method, arguing that to promise material rewards for good work was to sow the seeds of a anti-communist ideology inside society and its individuals. It would encourage people to look at their self-interest and foster competition between workers and farmers, rather than encouraging people to foreground the common good and fostering collaboration and cooperation.

In a somewhat bitter argument, Che and the Cuban party stood their ground over Soviet and East German advice. Che argued that good workers should be honoured publically rather than given material goods for working well. If people start working well in anticipation of material goods then it would lay the material foundation for the entry of bourgeois ideas of self-interest driven individualism. He argued that this would be the mortal enemy of socialist reconstruction of society. The demise of the Socialist State system of the twentieth century into a cesspool of renegade capitalism and the continued existence of Cuba as a standard bearer of Socialism probably is the greatest living proof of the correctness of this principle.

Today, when Fidel Castro – the leader of the Cuban revolution and Che's close associate – retires from the leadership of Cuba, it is a good occasion to salute these principles of the Cuban revolution which show the way ahead for socialists all over the world. The flame which was lit by the slave army of Haiti in 1804 has been kept alive by their compañeros in Cuba. Emancipation of the human being remains a practical possibility, a living reality.


24 comments:

Mahesh Panicker. said...

may be a new day of democracy might be there for the people of Cuba after 50 years of dictatorship in the name of ideology. well, regardless of all the eulogizing of the dictator, the facts are not that simple. the number of illegal entries to the USA every year itself is more than enough to understand the realities. who can forget the 4 year old who became the center of a storm in the dictator's search for 'SOCIALISM and EQUALITY?
didn't communist eulogizers had similar things to say about Stalin the great, and mass murder Mao?
and what a wonderful transfer of power in stor in Cuba??? perhaps, a new chapter in 'Democratic Centralism'.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

:)

You sound like one of the Miami based criminals who had lost out of their casinos and their gang rights 50 years ago in the big casino named Cuba run by the Cuban Mafia and the Americans!.

Cuba was liberated by Castro and his 26th July movement with the help of Che Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary. It is only apt that today after 50 years and 10 US presidents and 638 assassination attempts and a 46 year old blockade, Cuba has the highest HDI indicators in the whole region of Central and Latin America and health indicators that are even higher than the US of A.

Today, Healthcare and education is completely free in the country and Cuban doctors are the greatest exports in the world, in my opinion. Cuban doctors have changed lives of people in Haiti, in Venezuela and even in earthquake affected Pakistan . Too bad, your godfather mafioso George Bush didn't allow these doctors to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

And you call it a dictatorship!. A dictatorship, it is..yes..but the dictatorship of the proletariat, unbound by Soviet style bureaucracy and Chinese style authoritarianism, but run through mass mobilisation and evocation to the human ideal.

No wonder, today, the Cubans are the most productive nation in the world. Despite their third world status and despite being only 90 miles away from the bullying Goliath named the US, they have managed to bring about earth shattering changes in healthcare, in organic farming, in energy utilisation as well as grassroots participation.

If Cuba was a Soviet Union or a China, it would have crumbled years ago. It did not happen and credit to a large extent goes to one man, Fidel "El Commandante" Castro.

Yes, there were some problems. Yes, there were political prisoners, there were homophobic decisions, and there indeed was the Mariel boatlift (yeah..and Castro coolly sent all the criminals in Cuba to Florida only for them to wreak havoc.. Check the superb movie, 'Scarface' on this subject).

But that is everywhere in the world! Why single out Cuba? Within the Cuban mainland is an American territory called Guantanamo Bay which stands today as the symbol of illegal detention and prisoner atrocity (George Bush and his cohorts say that "waterboarding" is not torture, shameful louts!). Death sentence to criminals and seditionists are awarded even in the United States. Why should not Cuba want to protect its hard won revolution? What do you expect of a leadership that has been targetted by the CIA and the Cuban mafioso in exile in Miami umpteen times?

Either you are oblivious of facts or you are plain dumb.

I think its a combination of both :)

Mahesh Panicker. said...

hmmmmmm!. strong enough, and expected reaction from a good friend, who unfortunatly terned to be a eulogizer of dictatorship. so before getting too carried away, consider this.
eeven the PRC has wonderful achievements on the economic front. now its the fastest growing economy in the world, and sooner than later, they would able to match the US on that front. Stalin's USSR also had similar economic wonders those days.
but Tiananmen and Leon Trotsky tell you the other dark side of the story. the Indian 'Marxists' would have all the great things to say about Fidel, and nothing better is expected of the State Sponsored Terrorists of Nandigram, and supporters of such mass murderers like Stalin and Mao. and your running away from the question of transfer of power has its own story to tell!!. anyways, calm down, younger Castro might continue the glorious Marxist Dynasty for some more time!!.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

:)..There you go.. You seem to be a great advertisement for walking ignorance!. I pity your students at LSR.

As Aniket Alam points out, the Cuban revolution has survived precisely because it broke off from the bureaucratic nature of the Soviet Union and the authoritarian impulses of Maoist China.. Obviously your head is too dense to even notice that point and analyse its validity. The response that you provide clearly dwarves even the ranting nonsense that the Miami Mariel Mafia has to offer.

Nandigram and Cuba!..wow :)

Grow up, Mahesh.. try to get out of your "Karunakaran Congress" mentality.

deepak said...

Bull of the highest order; this article.
An amazingly high degree of ignorance and a penchant to be blinded by rhetoric characterize this.
Having just been from a visit to Cuba, i can safely vouch that none of the ideals of the communist revolution exist in day to day CUba- but a desperation to break out of the chains that they have been in for the last fiev decades.
As of now, an avergae Cuban, even if he is a doctor, earns a princely salary of USD 15 per month (yes, you read that right), has to struggle to make ends meet, and ends up doing all sorts of stuff to earns those few more CUCs. No communism here.
And why people cannot go out of Cuba- it is well neigh impossible. And with the kind of money you make (USD 15 a month) , you can expect to get to the next Cuban village, least of all anywhere else. The restrictions are so so high that getting out of the country is a pipedream for most of the people, and they need to get out of the nonsense surrounding this 'revolution' to be able to rediscover themselves

Srinivasan Ramani said...

Thats but obvious. The USA has a strict Economic Blockade that has lasted 46 years now. And that includes travel restrictions and remittance restrictions from not just the USA, but from any firm that deals with the US.

It is only obvious that such a blockade will depress real wages and create excruciating conditions for Cuba.

Aniket Alam has written extensively on Haiti and its failed revolution because of the French/US blockade very evocatively:

http://leftwrite.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/the-first-revolution-of-the-third-world-haiti/

http://leftwrite.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/the-successful-failure-of-haitis-revolution/

http://leftwrite.wordpress.com/2008/01/31/the-destruction-of-haiti/

http://leftwrite.wordpress.com/2008/02/05/can-socialism-survive-human-nature/

Considering this story of a northern neighbour, Cuba's successes in health and education are not just fantastic but unprecedented.

Not just this, the Cubans despite their minute geography have managed to transcend generations because of their help provided to scores of countries such as Namibia, Angola, and even Vietnam achieve their freedoms and fight colonialism.

Nelson Mandela has publicly thanked Cuba for their help in removing apartheid, at a time when the rascal Ronald Reagan punished Africans in S.Africa by supporting the apartheid regime.

Today, Cuba faces new challenges and newer struggles. They can very well throw away their socialist achievements and go back to becoming America's favorite casino after Las Vegas or struggle to keep up their revolution intact through the dint of mass mobilisation, hard work and inspirational struggle.

They have chosen the latter and no wonder Fidel remains immensely popular.

Obviously this would not be understood by someone who judges the strength of human achievement by the amount of money one spends in a casino, innit? ;-)

Mahesh Panicker. said...

again Srini, you are missing the point, or is it usual deliberate act of a rhetorical 'Marxist'? I still don't think you are that degenerated. so tell me,
when has it become part of Marxism Leninism and whatever else that cult politics becomes the order of the day? all the eulogizing of Fidel Castro do not
tell another story. and let me repeat, what about the power transfer?? another deliberate running away from the obvious reality? Srini, arrogance is ignorence,
even more dangerous is looking at things through a red coloured glass all the time.
you talk about US sangtions on your Castro Kingdom. but 'King Castro' is a Real Democrat? thats what you are saying? democratic centralism, whatever else
that crap might mean, one thing it can't be is civil rights, and freedom. and another poster has already pointed out the real nature of the empty rhetoric
in the eulogizing article. you have responded with the whole theory of economic sangtions. but life in a society is not just about economy. its about people
having the basic rights. that Marx didn't realize, that is what super man Stalin, leader Mao, and King Castro didn't realize. thing is not just about King
Castro. its about the basic principle of 'Democratic Centralism', of which, the latter has been the norm in all communist countries, including the kingdom
of cuba. its continued survival beyond 91 do not prove the availability of civil rights and freedom. PRC also survive even today, even after Tiananmen.
Stalin was glorified as the champian of anti-hitler, but then the Marxists forgot his labour camps were no different to that of the terrible dictator.

please read Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 'Gulag Archipelago'.
smel reality, and come out of cult politics. at least try to be a Marxist.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

;-)

You still prove to be completely ignorant..thats the main point here.

It doesnt' get into your pea-brain that one can be a critic of Stalin and a Marxist and a supporter of Fidel Castro's Cuba. Atleast thats where I position myself.

To call, Cuba a cult-land of Castro is pure nonsense. Fidel Castro does not and has never instituted any cult of his as much as a Stalin or a Mao did. Castro is for Cuba as Gandhi is for India. Immensely popular, solid revolutionary who has led by example by taking part of every revolutionary step that Cuba undertook.

He fought from the Sierra Maestra mountains.. got Cuba independence from the American lackey Batista. He then, fought out Kennedy's lackeys in the Bay of Pigs by being in front of the cannon as he led the fight against the invaders.

He gave up his family's land as part of land reform and sharecropperised his own elder brother Ramon Castro. He took part himself in the drive for cultivation of sugar at a time, when the Cuban economy needed a boost because of the American embargo.

He and Che themselves set up the multiple health and literacy missions.

He has been the target of a the CIA admitted 638 attempts at assassination. His ambassadors, his construction workers and his doctors have been killed by innumerable CIA conspiracies.

And you have the gall to call him a petty dictator?? Your own Congress wallahs hailed him as the leader of the third world.

Nelson Mandela called him the inspiration for the Third World and the hero for the fight against apartheid. He sent troops to Angola to rebuff the South African army. Sam Nujoma called him the father of the Namibian nation!. He sent troops to Vietnam to help the Ho Chi Minh inspired Viet Cong to fight the marauding napalm throwing Americans.

Cuban doctors today work in Haiti,in Venezuela, in Peru, in Chile, in Argentina, in the Andes and the Amazon to help indigenous people and train them. They even worked in Pakistan to help earthquake victims.

He has tried political prisoners under a constitution and public trials to protect the revolution which has clearly been under the attack of the Cuban Mafia under Sam Giancana and the American goons of the CIA from Allen Dulles to George Bush to George Tenet.

And the power transfer? What's wrong with Raul Castro, eh? He was part of the Sierra Maestra group that brought victory for the 26th July Movement. He has been elected by the National Assembly which elects itself through the grassroots organisations that exercise democratic power. Civic Participation includes non-members of the Communist Party. And as Aniket points out, the Communist Party is supposed to be at the vanguard of the revolution but at the last of the line when it comes to benefits unlike the Soviet apparatchiks or the post-Mao leadership in China.

Surely someone can make a case that America is a dictatorship just because it has been ruled by Bushes and Clintons since 1978? Can they?

Or that India is a dictatorship because we have been forever ruled by the Gandhi-Nehru family within or without power..could we?

But I am sure you will never get that into your head..for its filled with too much nonsense on anti-Left hatred and pro-American bullshit.

Mahesh Panicker. said...

Castro has been.........
hopeless, just hopeless man. and what about elian Gonzalez? a 4 year old gangster? and oh!. public and open trials? , please read Solzhenitsyn. even when Bukharin was brutalized, similar things were said by the boot lickers of Stalin. and didn't your own Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury put on the China mask, and tried to glorify Tiananmen? might have heard of SFI wash out in JNU in 1989?

and 'Dialectical Method' need not answer everything. if I say Castro is a dictator, that do not mean I am with America. ultimately, what is the difference between the man who proclaimed, "either you are with us, or your with the terrorists"?

so come out of the rhetorical framework of 'Pink Socialism', and eulogizing. and give a moment of thought to circumstances that might have led Elian and other similar people to run away from this heaven of yours.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

There you go ..ad hominem.. like a raving nincompoop about stalin and Tianenman..when Cuba..is being discussed :)

I will stick to the point though..(unlike your incapability :))

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_feet,_dry_feet_policy

Check this out.. You will understand why Elian's mom and others have used shark infested waters to go to America.. And how the US has enforced a travel embargo..

For your numbskull's better understanding, even an American court felt that Elian deserves to go back to Cuba :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elian_gonzalez#Eli.C3.A1n.27s_journey_and_the_beginning_of_the_custody_battle

Elian's mom was tried to be smuggled by a Cuban-American (it is a policy endorsed by the American government). Gonzalez in the end went back, because of the clear case of violation of international law.

I am trying to put it across your numbskull again..Don't look at Cuba through the lens of Stalin or Mao. Tough Job, I think.

Mahesh Panicker. said...

"I am trying to put it across your numbskull again..Don't look at Cuba through the lens of Stalin or Mao. Tough Job, I think.".

indeed it is. especially when one consider the fact that Cuba also had a history similar to that of former USSR, and Maoist China, and when one add to that the help that King Castro got from USSR, and his extensive trade relations with the country. but more importantly, a shared belief in 'Democratic Centralism', and lack of civil rights, which again is a shared character in every totalitarian system, and a whole bit of nasty eulogizing that goes around the place!.

if the debate do not stay within the 'Conveniently' limited space of Cuba, which is as big as a football ground, it has reasons in the international communist movement's search for a universal applicability.
leaving apart your nonsensical comparison with Gandhi, let me try to clarify. the problem is not just with Castro. there is no denying Castro's strong stands against USA. but unlike rhetorical Marxists, my method of evaluation of any state is not based on a states ability to stand up to the US. for me, the civil rights that are available to its people internaly is much more important. the whole rhetoric about US and capitalism had been often used as coverups against the state failures in former USSR and the eastern european belt. same is the case with Castro. that is why a broader international level understanding of the whole thing is needed.
I don't think Fidel Castro, or for that matter, any individual including Karl Marx are born with the key to the universal trajectory of history, and therefore has no right to make absolutist judgments about right or wrong.
please read Karl Popper, 'The Open Society and Its Enemies'.
neither Marx, nore Castro can be the ultimate custodian of human morality, and right. so the right to disagree is important, and any state that prevent expression of this right in normal circumstance is dictatorial. whether or not the ruler stands up to the US, and other such external factors comes later!.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

aah..

here is something to debate about.. Rather than the bullshit that you have been writing such as Elian escaping Cuba :) and "King castro" or other such pure bile.

Okay.. the problem is that you try to impose "democratic centralism" to a nation..Thats another instance of pure nonsense.

"Democratic Centralism" is something that pertains to the Communist Party and not to the country. And the Soviets made the mistake of the "Dictatorship of the party"; not the Cubans. So to say that Cuba is same as Soviet Union as China is basically talking bullshit without understanding the different histories/ different circumstances in which these states have existed.

On the question of civil rights, the Cubans argue (and rightly so) that the primary human rights are a) Right to employment, b) Right to Education and c) Right to health. The Right to political activity, for the Cubans is subsumed under the overall protective umbrella of protecting the revolution which is said to provide those three rights.

Without taking recourse to bourgeois democracy, lets examine these claims. After 1959, the Cubans have embarked upon providing universal education and health and they have succeeded tremendously. Now where have they failed?

* They have failed to evaluate a strong political system that acts as a counter check to the dominant Communist Party.. But again..they provide the right to dissent and discuss and debate within the National Assembly, which is elected at the grassroots levels for all individuals independent of the party system. So, their system of democracy is a party-less grassroots electioneering process that feeds into the governance system.

Next, they dont' have a right to property which is guaranteed in liberal democratic systems. And that is fair enough for this was one of the major attributes of their revolution to create an egalitarian society.

Now, the USA has time and time again tried to undermine all of these well established rights of the Cubans. They have tried to deride the Cubans' right to own their own resources by cutting their sugar quota for nationalising American assets. They have tried to undermine the health success and the Americans have also tried to undermine the Cuban education system.

The Americans have also tried to penetrate into dissident groups and foment rebellion/ killing of key leaders of the revolution: the Castros, Juan Almeida Bosque, Che Guevara, Vilma Espin and almost everyone else. It is only natural that the Cubans would invoke martial norms to protect their revolution by cracking down upon the Antonio Vecianas, the Oswaldo Buschs and other Ahmed Chalabis in the payroll of the Americans.

Now this crackdown is criticised as denial of civil rights!. What nonsense?!

Having said that..over the years, the Cubans have been progressing to a strong socialist democracy with limited liberalisation while protecting their socialist achievements in providing for a well rounded citizenry. No wonder their HDI achievements tower over other countries elsewhere despite the daunting odds that they have faced in their entire life of existence.

As for Gandhi, we all know how he imposed Pattabhi Sitarammayya over Subhas Bose over the Congress leadership..don't we? ;-)

Mahesh Panicker. said...

'The Right to political activity, for the Cubans is subsumed under the overall protective umbrella of protecting the revolution which
is said to provide those three rights.'.
well you almost said it!. if you change Cubans with Castro and his party, much of our disagreement can be put to rest.
as John Rawls says, state is there to ensure a public domain that works on the basis of an 'overlapping consensus' which is outside any 'Comprehensive Conception of the Good'.
now when a state or the ruler impose his or her conception of the good on other individual, that becomes totalitarianism. if you consider another dimenssion of the issue, in a Marxist system, people are supposed to have a communitarian attitude. Marx argues that such an attitude can be created ones the economic structure gets changed. now had that been the case, no crack down would have been needed. so people have different conception of the good, but the totalitarian arm of the Castro-state crashs all that down. in that respect, Cuba has been no different from any other communist state. its not just the falt of Castro. the principle of 'Democratic Centralism' has been invented by V. I. Lenin as the political form of Marxist concept of 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat'. when the 2 class analysis of Marx is not commonly accepted, any principle that would give one of these class the supreme position in any socio-political system itself is wrong, and therefore the very idea of the 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' is inhuman and undemocratic. I don't think any sensible person need any more explanation to consider Fidel Castro a dictator.
one more clarification from my side. if you want an academic/theoretical argument, I don't think eulogizing is the way. I understand you have posted another person's views, to which you are also closer. but that language is all about that of an activist, and therefore is not entirely rational. so it don't deserve an academic counter. it can be from the side of an activist.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

Nonsense.. Mahesh..

You seem to completely forget the fact that Castro's Cuba wanted to be a representative democracy but adopted a one party rule only after the Americans put up the blockade..a very same blockade that destroyed Haiti.

When the state itself is under threat and is made to be subserviant to the primary contradiction of imperialism, there is definitely going to be a protective umbrella from the founders of the revolution.

Now the point is whether the revolutionaries can sustain this nation-state which is under constant threat and do it with "repression alone" as the Americans and their cronies such as yourself put it out to be. No is the easiest and most logical answer. The reason why Cuba exists united today and has resisted embargos and bans and assassination attempts is because of mass mobilisation of the Cubans in their development and their societal development.

And the contrast is very much clear: either lose your achievements and go back to a Batista's Cuba with your country turned into a giant casino and a playground for overseas commercial interests looting your natural and public assets

or..fight on.. keep up the revolution going and improve the standard of living even further.

It is remarkable that the Cubans were able to achieve the latter.

John Rawls' conception of a nation state replete with liberal laws and rules of justice were confined to a nation-state whose citizens were not under perpetual threat and whose revolutionary yearning to live civilised lives was not thwarted by imperial interests.

Next, you seem to have forgotten your Marxism 101.

Dictatorship of the proletariat, is a Marxian concept (and not just Lenin's)where the proleteriat after achieving an overthrow of the bourgeois system enforces a rule that is driven by the interests of the long suppressed proletariat and guided by the interests of equity and release of productive forces, very much tied to the communitarian aspect of involvement and participation.

Lenin incorporated the concept of Democratic Centralism for the Party to be able to achieve a revolution in the first place and to sustain the fruits of the revolution through concerted party activity as the vanguard of the proletariat.

The eulogising of Fidel the person is not just to heap praise on his personality but to emphasise the strengths of the Cuban revolution led by him. Fidel as the subjective force that got rid of Fulgencio Batista, supported Mandela/ Nujoma to achieve a rights-based society, inspired Salvador Allende to talk of a pro-people democratic socialist republic Chile/ helped the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese reject American aggression and achieve independence, and as the voice of the third world in numerous fora on issues such as the Palestinian problem, as the guide of the Cuban revolution in medicine/ education and today, organic energy generation systems, the achievements are too many not to heap praise on the main protagonist of the revolution. Fidel, through the communitarian success of the Cuban people in mass mobilisation to eradicate the plagues of illiteracy/ ill-health and superstition, is a legend for all to see.

In essence, in contrast to your cynical dismissal of the above mentioned major achievements and toeing of the Miami Mafia driven drivel that has painted Castro as a man-eating monster, my praise is both objective and just.

Mahesh Panicker. said...

oops, I missed out on that last bit on Gandhi/Bose. Gandhi didn't exactly impose himself on congress. there had been ideological difference between the 2, and therefore Gandhi submited to the congress that the 2 of them with such different views can't continue in the same platform. so that resulted in Bose'' giving up his post, and forming the FB!. so it was very much a democratic process. not like what Stalin did to Trotsky, or any other Marxist champs have ever done.

Mahesh Panicker. said...

"When the state itself is under threat and is made to be subserviant to the primary contradiction of imperialism, there is definitely going to be a protective
umbrella from the founders of the revolution.".

here is the problem. the ultimate considerations about right and good is the choice of the individual. when you talk of the 'protective umbrella', it sounds very paternalistic. by that you seem to suggest inaction for the masses, as far as deciding their ultimate conception of what is right and what is good is concerned.
and read carefully, I said DC is a Leninist contribution, which is a political adjustment of the Marxian conception of 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat. therefore my argument against DP stands, basicly against Marx, and not Lenin.

well, to get an alternative position on these things, reread your Popper, if you have read it already. and before taking all those ideas about open trial and so on to your heart just like that, please read Solzhenitzyn!.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

The very fact that Fidel has been able to resist the Imperialists from taking over the island of Cuba is because the Cuban people have participated in the endeavour to achieve a socialist state and have succeeded.

In essence, there is no paternalistic drive as you make it to be, but a participative drive. Without Civic participation, it is not possible to achieve 100% literacy, nearly 0% unemployment, 0% hunger and 100% free health and all these achievements. Essentially therefore your very "formal" argument falls way flat.

Solzhenitsyn never wrote a word against Cuba, for all I know. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel winner, has written acres about the achievements of the socialist republic, though..and thats proof enough for me.

Mahesh Panicker. said...

"The very fact that Fidel has been able to resist the Imperialists from taking over the island of Cuba is because the Cuban people have participated in
the
endeavour to achieve a socialist state and have succeeded."
 
this is the problem of a bit careless reading. I have already answered it in the context of international communism. leave apart Stalinist USSR, the PRC
still survives, and it has wonderful Macro economic indicators, which is very significant in the context of its large population. the east asian countries,
the countries of the gulf, all have very sound macro economic conditions. I would say the Castro State is as democratic or dictatorial as these states
are.
you have wrote that Castro didn't adopt representative democracy because of the USA. so you are admiting he is a political opportunist, who took to Marxism
because of convenience? I am not sure you mean to say that. so my general critique against Dictatorship of the Proletariat stands against Fidel as well.
either ways you look at it, the entire rhetoric seems to be rather misplaced.
 
 
and all your 100 percent accounts are also not commonly accepted. there is already another poster who has given a different perspective.

Mahesh Panicker. said...

in a previous reply you said something about 'Social Democracy'?
Marx was very critical of this idea if you remember. his suggestion was 'Communism, or the stateless Classless Society, which has to be setup by a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. so if the social democracy remark was not a slip, you are suggesting Castro is not a Marxist. again I am not sure you mean it that way. so again all the critiques against DP, and its Leninist verssion stays with the Cuban Dictator as well. now before jumping up and down, just consider this much more. the ontological priority that Marx gives to the working class itself is problematic. consider the question of Disability. now, to which of the 2 classes do the disabled belong to? it depends on the context. same is the case with all oppressed sections of the society. so at the outset, Marxism is a reductionist idea. so the dictatorship of the proletariat, which has nothing of the otherwise present humanitarian impulses within marxism is to put in your language, is pure nonsense. so anyone who supports or adopts such a form of government is a dictator. so if Castro is a Marxist, then he is a dictator for sure, and in the unlikely situation of you granting his political opportunism, then tell me what he is not!!!.

and would you kindly tell me what is wrong with my reply on the 'Gandhy Remark'? is it some form of Marxian censorship?

Srinivasan Ramani said...

You keep spewing nonsense after nonsense despite knowing zilch about Cuba or the Cuban economy or the Cuban political system.

It seems that you haven't read Aniket's article...and have vomited your nonsense just after seeing the name, "Fidel Castro".

There is a qualitative difference between Stalinist Russia or Maoist China and Cuba. Cuban socialism has a strong participatory element which does *not* give prior importance to "growth" or "release of productive forces" than empowering citizens and to achieve egalitarianism.

Aniket has written on this in his post, "Anti Growth Manifesto" (archived at www.leftwrite.wordpress.com ). Aniket has also written extensively about Stalinism and its role in killing the communist dream of an egalitarian humane society. And I know for sure that he is no Trotskyite or any "ite". He is an objective communist who has stood up for the values that were talked about by Marx when he took up that garb of a philosopher who wanted to change the world.

So, to keep on going about such bullshit proves how under-read you are about Cuba.. in fact ..you haven't read a word at all or known a thing at all about the nation.. which shows in your rank ignorance and continuing nonsensical rant.

Cuba has been subjected to international terror for years now and it is only obvious that the Cuban leadership have taken all the measures necessary to protect their revolution, which has meant prison terms for those who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion or indulged in counter-revolutionary activity during the Moncada invasion and other.

And no one is making a case that Cuba is 100% perfect. But to say that the US which was segregationist till the late 1960s and which still supports death penalty and does not allow progressive candidature in its presidential elections and which is the same country which has embarked upon sabotage after sabotage in Chile, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Grenada, Haiti, Bolivia, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Pakistan, the list goes on and on and on; is made out to be a paragon of virtue while Cuba struggles to build an egalitarian society through the dint of hard work and mass mobilisation is called a fiend..is something that cannot be digested for the sake of objectivity.

Obsequious wimps and US toadies such as you can go on about making Fidel Castro a monster, but the truth remains: Castro is a legend and one of the greatest revolutionaries ever in the history of mankind. The millions of Cubans, Cuban-Africans, Africans, Vietnamese, Latin Americans, and Indians (ask Natwar Singh) who are inspired by his hard work and dedication to an egalitarian world are testimony.

No wonder, the United States tried 638 Documented ways to kill him and his country's endeavor to grow from being a casino into a humane society and LOST.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2695497521595164067

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=426887276676353148

Viva Fidel. Hasta La Victoria Siempre.

Lastly, on Gandhi... Whatever spin you might provide...this man used all the tactics in the book to skew up the elections against Bose in favour of that nobody Sittaramayya. :)

Srinivasan Ramani said...

Marx's notion of the dictatorship of the proletariat was a concept that he envisaged for an industrial society.

It is not a hard and fast rule to just imbibe Marx's concepts as it is for a society where financial capital predominates and industrial capital is reduced to the background of the play on the supermarkets.

To reduce Marxism to merely a class game between the proletariat and the Bourgeoisie is Crass reductionism which seems to have blinded you.

Marxism identifies that in a capitalist society, there exists exploitation that emerges from dialectics of class conflict. The dominant classes, the bourgeoisie exploits the oppressed classes, the proletariat in an industrial economy..

Now, primarily the idea that is derived from Marx's writings is the use of dialectical materialism and the identification of principal contradictions. It is not the same to say that dictatorship of the proletariat is the only system that will work in a society like ours today. Acres and acres of debates exist on the mode/ role of revolution, nature of society/ state, principal contradictions/ mode of exchange etc which have occupied Marxists for more than a century.

Today, socialists talk of "socialist democracy" as not being incompatible with the dictatorship of the proletariat and mind you, this form of socialist democracy is not reducible to "social democracy" of the Bernsteinian or the Labour Party types. It involves decentralisation/ radical grassroots participation/ worker cooperative formations.. and to quote an example, the Venezuelan Bolivarian revolution is close to this ideal.

The Cuban model has seen high levels of participatory democracy and civic participation on matters economic and "social justice" reigns supreme.

That is why, disabled people, people who have suffered centuries of slavery, the Cuban-Africans, the landless labourers on the sugar plantations, have been the biggest supporters of the Cuban Revolution, for these people were part and parcel of the necessary changes made in the mode of production.

Prioritisation of health care/ literacy/ education/ and even productivity through mass mobilisation instead of enforced collectivisation or commune formation has characterised the Cuban socio-economic model.

Instead of merely focussing on the 5 year charade of "vote dhalo, so jaao" liberal democracy, which persists with the inequalities in society and which skews society in the favour of the haves against the have nots, the Cuban model forces the society to break away from inequality and state bias toward the dominant classes. It is not merely a fight therefore between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, as the Cuban economy was constrained by colonialism and not just capitalism.

The flowering of a full socialist democratic model would have been the pinnacle of the Cuban revolution. Such a culmination is on the way to be achieved, as Raul Castro has called for greater participation and critical introspection from students, workers and other sections of Cuban society.

Having said that, to completely dissociate the role of imperialism in destablising Cuba and trying to force Cubans to reject their hard won socialist gains just in the name of building a liberal democratic "formal election model" in the lines of unequal United States, is pure nonsense.

Last word: That I have wasted hours answering a dogmatic McCarthyist is indeed hurting, when I think back in hindsight.. but in the highest regard to Fidel's legacy of trying to build bridges even with the devil (the US), it is only apt that I spend some time even answering right wing nincompoops.

unni said...

"his suggestion was 'Communism, or the stateless Classless Society, which has to be setup by a Dictatorship of the Proletariat."

When and where did Marx say that "'Communism, or the stateless Classless Society" would be set up by "a Dictatorship of the Proletariat�? Classless society under the dictatorship of a class?

It is quite ridiculous that those who doesn't even try to read Marx spend volumes debating the merit of Marxism and socialist states. I am not sure if such flippant remarks deserve a detailed reply from Srini.

Thisis said...

It seems Marx did say the following:

a)class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

b)and this dictatorship constitutes (no more than) a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.

this is the reference i got form the wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictatorship_of_the_proletariat

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/letters/52_03_05.htm

To me the most important question is how *exactly* one would manage this "transition" to a classless society ? How denying various rights (as seen in various communist-party-ruled countries) will lead to a classless society (eg. right for forming political parties)?. You can keep blaming US for everything. But in a *real* world (opposed to a world in a Gedanken experiment!) groups like US ought to exist(whether they are good or bad). And your theory should tell you how to deal with such groups effectively rather than cribbing about it. If you don't know how to deal with US-like groups effectively, the theory you embrace is not capable of succeeding in a real world. That is the basic message of science itself.

Everybody wants a classless society; but how to get there is not very well understood.

Srinivasan Ramani said...

Good point.

Aijaz Ahmad in his essay in the Frontline talks on the same lines. The only way one could resist imperialism is by adopting socialism and not just bureaucratic state rule that could be used to be called as "socialism", but to change the forces and relations of production as well as inculcate the social nature of man, as Guevara called, "the New Socialist Man".

And that is precisely why Cuba, which lies at the doorsteps of the United States and which has been subjected to a crippling economic embargo has been able to continue its socialistic policies of food for all, employment for all, and a house for all (the basic human rights and necessities) while trying to export doctors and teachers to other poor parts of the world. And that is precisely why inequality is on the rise in China (it abandoned the moral aspects of a socialist society in the late 70s) and that is precisely why the Soviet Union collapsed, while Cuba miraculously still survives and inspires Latin Americans all over the continent of south America.

You should read the article by Aijaz Ahmad and to know more about imperialism, must read stalwarts such as Prabhat Patnaik.

the Aijaz Ahmad article:

http://flonnet.com/stories/20080314250500400.htm