What’s the Truth About Communism and Capitalism?
By Dennis Loo (4/10/14)
New material at the end added 4/11/14
Second Addendum added 4/12/14
Third Addendum added 4/14/14
Fourth Addendum added 4/24/14
Last night at Cal Poly Pomona, Raymond Lotta spoke about his just released eBook You Don't Know What You Think You "Know" About . . . The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future.
For those of you who were unable to attend the talk in person, a video is being prepared of the talk and I will notify you as soon as it becomes available.
Lotta’s talk introduced a new generation to a completely different view of communist revolutions and communism than what almost everyone has been previously been told is the truth.
“Everyone knows,” as so many people today in the US would say, “that communism has been a disaster.”
“Everyone knows that ‘human nature’ means that exploitation and ruthless competition shall always exist.”
“Everyone knows that the whole world wants to live like middle-class Americans,” even if that means that four more planet Earths would be needed to handle the gigantic resulting carbon footprint.
As a way to broaden and deepen the conversation and level of engagement in pursuit of what is true, we are starting a comments thread about his talk. Since this website is devoted to the pursuit and propagation of what is true, this topic is especially useful and the stakes, as I said last night, could not be any higher: the very viability of this planet is at stake.
We are interested in any and all sincere sentiments, whether in agreement or disagreement. The way to the truth is through contention and via a spirit of open-minded exploration.
Here are questions you might find useful as prompts. Feel free to respond to them or to approach it from whatever angle you would like. We look forward greatly to the unfolding interactions.
*What did you think of the way that Lotta discussed the failures and injustices of capitalism?
*Did his talk stimulate you to "re-think" what you had previously understood about communism and its history?
*Was there any information that you found especially interesting, that you want to learn more about?
*Were there particular points that you strongly disagreed with?
*If there was one question you would like to ask Lotta, now that you thought more about the presentation and discussion, what would it be?
Lotta will respond personally to specific questions and comments.
As a point of general orientation to the discussion and debate about these questions: a sure sign that someone is trying to fool you is if they tell you that the answer to any political question is simple. For example, if someone says that “communism is bad” and “capitalism is good,” they are trying to get you to stop thinking.
Similarly, anyone who says that public policy and systems are what they are because of “human nature” has either never studied anthropology or sociology or if they did study them, they did not grasp the fundamental principle that makes both anthropology and sociology sciences. Anthropology and Sociology are, after all, the only two disciplines that are exclusively devoted to studying and understanding human society.
What is this fundamental principle? Societies do not take on their character because of the individual personalities, attitudes, values, and behaviors of individuals within them. Societies are collectivities of individuals and groups that function according to logic and rules that are independent of and stand above that of the individuals within them. System logic overall dictates how people will behave within those systems. That is why they are called systems. To further illustrate this point: throughout some 95% of the approximately 200,000 years that human societies have existed, social classes did not exist. The very word, let alone the idea of, individualism, has existed in the English language for less than two hundred years. It first appeared in 1830 as a pejorative term.
The truth is something that is not something you can just hand someone and they can pick up that truth the way you can pick up a tool and forever more that tool will do whatever you need it to do. If someone hands you a sword - I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones so I’m using a sword analogy here - and says to you: “This sword is magnificent and you can slay all of your enemies with it. You don’t even have to learn how to use it nor do you have to practice all of the time and train really hard. You can drink all the beer you want and be as lazy as you want. Just carry the sword around with you and it will do everything for you.” Even if the person giving you this sword was right that it was a magnificent sword, the fact that he’s telling you that you don’t have to train incessantly with it would be a clue that you were being misled. What would happen to you the very first time you were challenged and had to use that magnificent sword if you didn’t train constantly with it?
There wouldn’t be another time for us to even speculate about beyond that first encounter.
So, too, anyone who tells you things like the following is trying to fool you: your vote is what puts you, the people, in charge. You get to do it every four years and in the meantime you can just go back to sleep, as the people you vote for will take care of everything. We’ll wake you up every four years from your political slumber so you can exercise your political powers again. In the meantime, it’s best that you concern yourself with personal consumption and not worry your head about big questions. Lucky you live in America!
The official rhetoric about the nature of “democracy” in America is clearly fraudulent if you probe it and are not satisfied with repeating unthinkingly the familiar nostrums about it being the best of all possible worlds. In order not to be fooled you have to think all the time and analyze things – under any system. Anyone who tells you that you don’t have to do these things is misleading you. Anyone, on the other hand, who informs you that you need to stay alert all of the time, to make a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, emphasizes the importance of paying attention to evidence rather than just listening to authorities and what “everyone knows,” and that there is no “magic bullet” that will forever guarantee that things will be fine, is telling you things that are true and things that you need to know. Life is not like the big red EASY button that Staples advertises.
What follows isn’t going to be simple. Elegance exists in the world but elegance isn’t the same thing as simple. E = MC2 is elegant but it isn’t simple.
Politics is complex. Life in general is complicated so there is no reason why we should expect politics to be straightforward. Politics is not, however, obscure and impossible to grasp, even though it is complex. There are certain principles and there is science and theory that allow us to penetrate beneath the surface phenomena to the essence of things.
In evaluating different political and economic systems the first point to keep always in mind is that all social groupings are systems. All of the individuals within those systems are subject to system logic in that they cannot, even if they want to, simply by dint of their will, change the system. The only way to change a system is to get rid of the system and replace it through conscious collective action expressly aimed at destroying the existing system and installing a different system governed by a very different system logic.
Social psychological studies and the study of human history indisputably prove that humans are first and foremost social beings and that even societies such as capitalism that celebrate individualism and competition actually rest upon a foundation of cooperation without which they could not exist. If workers, for example, whose labor enriches that of the capitalists, behaved as bourgeois ideology claims that they should given “human nature” - as selfish, uncooperative individualists - they could not and would not produce the goods and services that characterize capitalist society. Assembly-line production, for instance, requires a great deal of cooperation to function. Without it as their foundation, assembly lines would fall apart immediately. Likewise, athletic and games competitions require as their sine qua non that people adhere to certain ground rules for those games, otherwise the competitions could not occur. If people did not cooperate first and foremost in order to carry out competition, then no competition on a sustained basis could occur. Those individuals who refused to cooperate by the rules of the competitions would be ejected from the group and forced to live and “play” alone. Fighting within families occurs because family members are strongly bonded to each other and those strong bonds include at times and under fairly common conditions, friction, but that friction occurs upon a foundation of a tacit agreement to stay together in order to continue to argue with each other.
The preceding goes to the first question in the following comments thread about the notion that many people have that the one thing that they can do is live a good life and raise good children. Revolutionary change and revolutionary movements, by comparison, seem to many to be too abstract and difficult. Here is the first problem with that well-meaning but mistaken perspective: it does not take into account the fact that we all are always inextricably connected to forces larger than ourselves as individuals and small groups. We are all parts of larger social and economic systems and those systems operate according to system logic that, as a whole, sets the stage for and the parameters of the dynamics that operate on the micro-scale of individuals and small groups such as families and couples. In other words, even if you are a “good” person, if you are living within an imperialist country like the US, you are participating wittingly or not in a system that is not “good.” Merely by living in this society, one cannot help but participate in systems of exploitation and degradation of others. Buying an iPad, for example, involves us in the system of terrible suffering for Chinese workers in the subcontractor factories that churn out those iPads everyday and that leads so many of them to commit suicide or suffer and die from diseases like cancer caused by working with benzene.
We might be a “good” person and might not do anything evil to those who we come in direct contact with everyday, but we are nonetheless involved in exploitation. This is not something that by refusing to buy products frees us from responsibility since it is impossible not to buy things, including food, clothing, energy, and so on. Buying “fair trade” goods doesn’t really change the system of imperialism. Imperialism is destroying the planet, and I’m not speaking figuratively here, and by modifying our buying habits we are not changing the nature of the overall system. That requires overthrowing imperialism. That is what one has to contribute to doing if you’re going to really be doing something effective and worthwhile. And in that struggle there are many different tasks and ways to contribute, such as doing things through one’s speech, writing, monetary contributions, and actions – through fiction, through art, through music, through letters to the editor, in comments threads and Tweets, etc. - that expose the true nature of imperialism and the nature of capitalist exploitation so that others can be woken up to those realities so that they in turn can wake up others and help to build a revolutionary movement.
More will be posted here, particularly when Lotta has lengthier responses to questions and comments posted in the comments thread, so please check back.
How does a socialist revolution avoid becoming at some point a system with a new set of oppressors?
This question has a number of different facets to it and an honest answer to it requires an extensive response. I am going to offer some observations about it myself and I fully expect Lotta to expand further on this in his own way.
Since I believe in trying to give the essence of an answer to a question in as brief a way as possible so that when you get into the details of it in the longer explanation, you can better understand the overall picture, this is what I would say to start with. It’s in two parts and the longer answer to this very important question will follow later on when I can finish composing a fuller response.
First, as long as there are still social classes and various other related forms of inequality such as male supremacy, racial and ethnic privilege, rich nations and poor nations, and so on, there will always be a material basis for capitalist relations of exploitation to emerge. You cannot abolish these differences in one fell swoop. The only way to get rid of this is by progressively “eating” it up through bridging and eventually eliminating these material differences over an extended period of time (i.e., over decades and generations). The gap that now exists between social classes, between mental and manual labor, between town and country, between men and women, etc., forms the material foundation for inequality and exploitation to occur. These differences and forms of exploitation cannot be eliminated or even significantly ameliorated under the current system of capitalism-imperialism because this system can only survive based upon exploitative relations among people and between people and the environment. So this system itself in its material relations and in the ideas that flow from those material relations must be overthrown for humanity to be able to begin fully addressing these core inequalities.
Second, to provide a proper sense of proportion here and underscore the urgency and necessity of the circumstances humanity finds itself in now, it is in fact the case that the planet’s very viability is in grave danger now through the ordinary functioning of capitalism-imperialism and that saving humanity and protecting and rescuing the planet from catastrophe confronts humanity as an emergency here and now in a very literal sense. Capitalism-imperialism is recklessly, heedlessly, and implacably destroying the planet itself because of its very nature as a system based upon the relentless and endless pursuit of profit. Even if it were the case, in other words, for the sake of argument, that one could hypothetically prognosticate with absolute certainty that a successful communist led socialist revolution in the US that overthrew imperialism was to go bad several decades down the road and a new set of exploiters were to emerge to reverse many of the gains accomplished by that revolution, it would still have been absolutely necessary to have had that revolution to prevent the near-term catastrophe of climate change and the literal destruction of the oceans as sources of life and oxygen and so on. The positive consequences in terms of that and the likely hundreds of millions of lives saved because of that revolution would outweigh even the most pessimistic scenario of a subsequent capitalist restoration.
This is an excerpt from Reading Notes on Chapter One of Globalization and the Demolition of Society. To see the whole thing, see here. They were written by a team of students in consultation with Dennis Loo.
The most common response of those who recognize the U.S.'s growing inequities and problems is that the solution is to control capitalism through regulation rather than conclude that there is something fundamentally wrong with capitalism as a system. Many people, for example, advocate a return to the New Deal economics of the F.D.R. years in which the government “provided a safety net for those that capitalism had temporarily or permanently cast off by supplying unemployment compensation, social security, welfare and so on.” (p. 31)
In response to that view Loo points out:
All systems have rules and inherent logic. You do not change those systems by putting different individuals in charge of them. Systems do not operate the way that they do primarily because of the nature of the people who occupy them. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, for example, the “guards” and “inmates” were all Stanford students. Yet they one and all readily and quickly adopted roles that eerily mimicked real prisons’ occupants and repressive atmosphere. To stop the Stanford students from behaving like prison guards and prisoners, Philip Zimbardo, the experiment’s lead investigator, brought an early end to the simulated prison. You change system outcomes, in short, by changing the system. (p. 31)
What is this system’s logic?
“Capitalism,” he states, “is a system whose governing logic is the pursuit of profit. Neoliberals and libertarians can speak of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ all they want, but profit as the economic system’s cardinal goal inevitably produces certain outcomes.” (p. 31)
Loo thus puts these issues into the overall framework of a systemic problem, governed by system logic, and not one that can be fixed by simply electing the right people or imposing term limits. This is in line with sociology's and anthropology's premise that social structures and social context determine people's actions more than individuals' personal values, attitudes, and choices. (In sociology this is reflected, for example, in Emile Durkheim's term "social facts" and in American sociologist C. Wright Mills' "sociological imagination.") This is certainly not the argument one generally hears in major media, in most books, or even in much of higher education.
As central as this perspective is to social science, even among many social scientists there is a tendency to be inconsistent about this when social scientists address themselves to public policy questions. Even most of those in the U.S. who express great misgivings about the direction of political and economic policy and who suggest change as a solution to that, tend to do so by seeking solutions within electoral politics.
When you think about it, it is not surprising that most people, wherever they live, will spontaneously tend to suggest reforms of the existing systems rather than revolutionary changes. It's much easier, for one thing, to envision small changes rather than big changes and to believe that small changes are more "realistic."
Events and conditions in the nation and the world, however, are propelling increasing numbers of people in the direction of seeking deeper answers and grappling with why things are the way that they are. This book is specifically designed to give people the level of understanding that they need in order to act effectively rather than acting based on the conventional and mistaken views about how economics, politics, and social dynamics operate.
Does the advice we get on health care over the mainstream media give us enough scope, depth and detail to allow us to treat ourselves and be our own physicians? Certainly not. Why would political advice dispensed via mainstream media and existing governmental institutions be any better? Is it reasonable to expect that reliance upon the major parties’ campaign pitches and the injunction “just vote” could possibly be all you need to know to change society? The richest 497 individuals in the world have more wealth than the bottom fifty percent of the world’s population. If you had such extreme wealth and power and enjoyed your luxuries more than justice, would you let your possessions be subject to the whims of the principle of “one person, one vote?” Would you let your extraordinary wealth be outvoted? You would be crazy to do so. (Pp. 23-24)
Following this prelude, Loo evaluates neoliberalism's theoretical godfather Frederick Hayek’s reasoning. Loo demonstrates that Hayek's theory’s central premise is fatally flawed because Hayek negates the very notion of society, treating it as a hindrance to liberty rather than the foundation for human life, and because Hayek in a more general sense spurns objective necessity's reality.
In the second part of the chapter, Loo illustrates some of neoliberalism’s devastating impacts upon society and the environment.
Neoliberalism stems from the same tenets advocated by economist Adam Smith (i.e., laissez-faire and the invisible hand). Society is better off, Smith argued, when each individual pursues his or her individual business interests unfettered by any regulatory agency such as government. The theory of neoliberalism introduced by Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek in the 1930s is largely based on Smith’s theory but brings it to another level.
Hayek argued that human rights are commensurate with property rights. He further argued that liberty means that one should be free to act according to his or her will with nobody, e.g., the government or other people, getting in his or her way. If only those who own “property rights” are entitled to “human rights,” however, then obviously not everybody is entitled to the right of liberty. Only those who have capital can be free; the others will be restricted in their ability to follow the course of action they strive for by their restrictive material conditions.
Loo also points out that Hayek’s logic is flawed at another level. Hayekian logic is based on the premise that all that matters in life is what one wants, regardless of whether or not it reflects objective reality or violates the community's interests and needs and the common good. Objective reality, however, is something that one cannot simply dismiss. Objective reality compels us to distinguish between what is true and false. We are surrounded by examples that reflect the fact that human beings make decisions, not solely on the basis of our own desires, but also on the basis of objective reality. Loo writes:
If objective reality does in fact exist, and if science, medicine, navigation, exploration, and technology all rely upon objective reality’s existence to work (a fact evident to anyone using a car or airplane, for instance), then the ongoing effect to determine at any given time in society what the best ideas are … it not merely an idle intellectual exercise but one with powerful material consequences. … If what matters more than anything, on the other hand, is that individuals should have the right to pursue their ideas and plans based on their “own” ideas, then the question of what is true and its impact on the whole of society becomes moot. (Pp. 35-36.)
Objective reality must be considered before one can attempt to fulfill one’s desires, Loo argues. Necessity is one component of objective reality that must be taken into account. For instance, wishing that gravity did not exist so one could fly is not a sufficient condition for one to be able to fly. Similarly, the fact that one needs water and food to survive is not a sufficient condition for one to be able to drink and eat, for the water and the food must be available. Based upon first recognizing necessity and objective reality, humans have been able to create more freedom such as the ability to fly, but only because humans recognized that gravity exists, studied animals and insects that do fly, and developed the science and technical innovations that made human flight possible.
Another component of objective reality is that we are also social beings. Loo illustrates this as follows:
Individuals … can only exist because of groups .… We become human through this socialization process and we become individuals. Becoming human isn’t something that happens by our simply being alive. We do not become humans solely or principally because of our DNA. We become human through our interaction with other humans. (p. 36)
If we look at the course of history, Loo argues, it is obvious that individuals often have to bypass their individual desires and adapt to the group desires/needs in order to survive. If individuals had not learned to pool their efforts towards the group's needs, our species would not have survived, and all the amazing scientific achievements that we take for granted would have never occurred. This further illustrates the fact that, contrary to what Hayek argues, necessities are rarely created by individuals’ desires alone, but rather by necessities inherent in the fact that individuals are social human beings and the fact that we live in a world that is not the Garden of Eden but one in which objective laws, objective realities, and necessities exist.
The interaction between the individual and the group is “organic,” Loo argues. It is comparable to the interaction between a tree and its leaves: the tree needs leaves to remain alive, and the leaves need to remain attached to the tree in order to survive. Likewise, the individual and the group need one another to survive and function as a society. Even the most successful individuals within our society utilize and need the group to some degree. For instance, a leader (a legitimate leader) is appointed by a group of people to represent the group’s interests. A leader can have tremendous power, but his/her power is only as good as long as the group is satisfied with how s/he represents the group’s interests. The leader is not free to act solely upon his/her own personal desires because s/he is accountable for the group, and his/her legitimacy is based upon him/her fulfilling the role of leader. The group needs its leaders just as much as itself, Loo argues, for it “needs its leaders to protect, sustain, and retain them. Without leaders a group cannot organize itself and it cannot act” (p. 39)
As long as there will be (and must be) social groups, Loo asserts, the individual and the group will remain part of the same dynamic/dialectic, and so will freedom and coercion:
"It is impossible, for one thing, to have unanimity, and where there is disagreement, some people’s opinions and preferences must perforce be subordinated to the opinion that holds the day, if people are to remain in groups at all." (p. 41)
If one accepts this premise as true, then one can no longer presume, as Hayek does, that the group has no influence on an individual’s action, and that the individual is entirely free to act according to his or her own desires. Yet, many act as if this premise does not hold true. Neoliberals are among those people. Thatcher and Reagan were the first major national leaders to implement neoliberalism for they were both fervent Hayekians. (Chile's fascist leader Gen. August Pinochet was the first to implement neoliberal policies after his CIA-backed coup over the first elected socialist, Dr. Salvador Allende on 9/11/73).
As Loo points out, both Republicans and Democrats have embraced neoliberalism since the 1980s and this has been the trend internationally.
Neoliberalism’s advocates re-define government's role as that of supporting market policies at all costs. Loo summarizes the role of government under the rule of neoliberals as follows:
According to neoliberalism’s proponents, government’s role … isn’t to support and safeguard people, unless, of course, you are already one of the elect, in which case government’s role is to protect you at all costs. It is a free market for everyone except those who are already monopolists. For the monopolists, government’s role is to facilitate and protect your privileges rather than to regulate or curb your power, all the while invoking the name of the free market.” (Pp. 47, 48) … Since the 1980s, governments in the advanced capitalist centers have obliged the interests of globalization, vigorously carrying out successive waves of deregulation and privatization, shredding the social safety net, and opening the floodgates to merger mania. (p. 50)Those who most benefit from neoliberal policies are the “super wealthy,” aka the elite or 1%.
This should not come as a surprise, Loo points out, considering the fact the political candidates and the political arena depend heavily upon society's elite members' funding and that the very existence of government itself indicates that class divisions and class conflict exist. Loo further notes that neoliberal economic policies have widened the disparity between the rich and the poor to unprecedented levels. According to Loo, globalization, which is neoliberalism' political expression, is the main culprit. It compels workers (from the working and middle classes) to work harder for less, while bestowing the elite with an ever increasing amount of wealth and power.
Loo further adds that the level of insecurity and coercion has reached unprecedented levels in the U.S., but also around the world. Loo argues that coercion, or what Max Weber refers to as the “means of legitimate violence,” must be utilized more heavily and widely by neoliberals because neoliberal policies are systematically undercutting the people's living conditions and political rights. Force must, therefore, be used to contain the resistance and suppress uprisings.
In contrast to neoliberal rhetoric that claims that it promotes prosperity for all, neoliberal policies are driven by the logic of dispossessing wider and wider swaths of the people and therefore promote growing insecurity by their very nature and intention.
Globalization and neoliberalism’s mantra is to privatize that which has been public; outsource that which has been in-house and in-nation; deregulate so that the “free market” may be unfettered; ceaselessly downsize the workforce, cutting payroll and reducing benefits, making job security and a secure, guaranteed retirement things of the past. Not surprisingly, the inevitable outcome of these measures means that insecurity—the more, the better—is the ineluctable, inevitable, desired outcome. From the standpoint of corporations, the more perilous the jobs and the economic status of the labor force overall the better, since this will compel employees to accept less in return for working ever harder and longer. (Pp. 52-53)
This is also the institutional and organizational level foundation for the "war on terror." In other words, neoliberalism's intensification of insecurity in the domestic arena is directly related to its actually stoking the danger of anti-state terrorist attacks. Loo points out, for example, that several Republican public officials (such as former Senator Rick Santorum) have publicly welcomed the idea of another devastating terrrorist attack on the U.S. because it would reaffirm the value of the Patriot Act and other measures instituted in the name of the "war on terror." Neoliberalism is the greatest source of instability in the world. This is a theme that the book develops even further in Chapters Three and Four.
Loo notes that with the rise of neoliberalism, the funding of programs that support coercion and social control have taken precedence over the funding of social and public safety programs, not fundamentally as a choice but out of necessity given the nature of neoliberalism's undercutting of the basis for the public's willing co-operation. The level of funding for the criminal justice system in comparison to the level of funding for the educational system over the past decades is a prime example of that. The grievous mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina, both before the disaster and in its aftermath, also illustrates this point, as do many other examples he lays out in the book, including the numerous wars the U.S. has launched and continues.
Since the basis for people to cooperate, to behave normatively (for example, to abide by the law) is constantly and deliberately undermined under neoliberal regimes, and since, for the most dispossessed, even less of what was available to them in welfare states with Keynesian economic policies is now offered, governments must increasingly rely upon coercive means with spending on “security” (law enforcement, military, immigration control, prisons, surveillance and so on) rising inexorably. This point bears underscoring: more repression and more coercive means of social control are not principally a policy choice in the sense that people might think of the GOP favoring more coercion and the Democrats less. The overall direction of neoliberal regimes dictates that more coercion will be required, regardless of the party in power and the individuals in office. (Pp. 53-54)
In a passage that reads as if it's a description of how the Occupy Movement got underway (but was written before Occupy appeared), Loo describes the effects of neoliberal policies on the various strata:
The net results under neoliberalism are extraordinary increases in wealth for the upper class, a shrinking middle class, and swelling ranks of the working class (who in turn find it harder and harder to find work) and of the indigent. As outsourcing of work continues apace, and in recent years as even intellectual and white-collar labor is now being exported to places like India, reversing the long-standing brain drain to the US from elsewhere (notice where people live who are giving you most of your technical support now days), the middle class finds itself under siege in ways unprecedented in US history.
Social order in neoliberal regimes becomes more precarious because the guarantee or at least reasonable assurance of work at livable wages for people becomes more and more elusive since those jobs are increasingly disappearing. Persuasion based on actual rewards for going along consequently becomes less and less of a practical tool. Neoliberalism and globalization dictate that positive incentives will be systematically whittled away to make the workforce more adaptable and more “flexible." (Pp. 63-64)
Raymond Lotta writes:
A number of students asked if Cuba is a socialist society. It is not socialist, and here is why.
Between 1898 and 1959, Cuba had been under the thumb of U.S. imperialism. Its economy was geared to sugar production for export. U.S. companies and banks dominated key economic sectors. Cuba was a “playground for the rich.”
In 1959, Fidel Castro led a mass and just revolutionary uprising that overthrew a terribly oppressive regime propped up by the U.S. But Castro was not guided by the communist vision and scientific outlook of overcoming the division of society and the world into classes and mobilizing and unleashing the masses to make a “total revolution”: in economics, politics, social relations, culture, ideas, and values.
Cuba needed to diversify the economy and create the foundations for a sustainable economy that could achieve food security. Instead, the Castro government simply instituted state ownership of sugar production and turned to the Soviet Union (which was no longer socialist) to buy the sugar crop.
So sugar remained the anchor of the economy. This perpetuated Cuba’s dependency on the imperialist world economy. It perpetuated Cuba’s distorted economic-social structure. Most importantly, it meant that the energy and creativity of the masses of people—workers, agricultural laborers, professionals, and others—were subordinated to the capitalist logic of sugar and more sugar production.
The Castro leadership did not unfold a profound social revolution. For instance, equal rights and opportunities for women were legally recognized. But oppressive social-ideological relations--like the whole macho outlook, beauty ideals, and women’s role in the family were not radically challenged. Today, prostitution is spreading--catering to tourism that the Cuban leadership is promoting as a “quick fix” for the economy
After 1959, there were great improvements in education and health care for the Cuban people. But this is a top-down “welfare state” where the masses are kept powerless and passive. This is not genuine socialism.
In Cuba, political life is extremely constricted, the government keeps tight control on things, and dissent is treated harshly.
*A genuine socialist society moving towards communism would be opening up and drawing people into great debate over the big questions of society and the world. It is a society where revolutionary leadership is mobilizing the masses to carry forward the radical transformation of society and their own thinking, and to take increasing responsibility for the direction of society. This is what happened during the Cultural Revolution in China from 1966-76.
*A genuine socialist society would welcome and foster dissent, even views and platforms opposing socialism. Dissent contributes to the struggle to discover deeper truths about society and the world—and to the critical spirit. This understanding is a vital element of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, learning from the shortcomings and problems of the Soviet and Chinese socialist revolutions.
To learn more about why countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea are not socialist and what genuine socialism is, people should look at “Three Alternative Worlds” by Bob Avakian: www.revcom.us/a/071/ba-threeworlds-en.html.
One last point: the U.S. embargo on Cuba and its attempts to weaken or overthrow the Cuban government are totally unjust and must be resolutely opposed.