In defense of Cuba

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By VALERIO ARCARY*

Social unrest on the island increased and life became even more difficult.

“What does it mean to say “unconditional defense of the USSR”? (…) It means that, regardless of the reason (…) we defend the social foundations of the USSR, if it is threatened by imperialism”. (Leon Trotsky, “Again and Once More”, About the nature of the USSR).

The demonstrations in Cuba pose a strategic challenge to the left, especially the Latin American one. Cuba's defense against imperialism is a matter of principle. The Cuban government's reactionary displacement project is counterrevolutionary. The restoration of capitalism would be savage, and Cuba would be recolonized and would become, in practice, a North American protectorate like Puerto Rico.

Cuba is fighting against time, and enthusing the world with scientific feats such as the autonomous development of vaccines against the coronavirus in record time. A favorable change in the Latin American context could lessen isolation. To a large extent this will depend on the outcome of the fight against Bolsonaro, and the possibility of a leftist government in Brazil.

Social unrest on the island increased and life became even more difficult. But the reasons that lead people to the streets, even when they are legitimate and understandable, are not a sufficient factor for characterizing these mobilizations as progressive. Being on the left does not oblige us to support any mobilization.

There are four criteria for judging the character of a protest, revolt or uprising in the Marxist tradition: what are the claims or program, who is the social subject, who fulfills the role of political subject and what are the likely results.

The idea, very popularized in a unilateral way, that a mobilization can be progressive, if the claims are fair and the social subject is popular, even if the leadership is reactionary, sometimes has an alms or grain of truth, but if you ignore the likely results is wrong. This is objectivism. Objectivism is the devaluation of the role of management and the disregard of the outcome, denouement or results that it causes.

The demonstrations in Cuba cannot be understood without the action on the social networks of nuclei articulated with bourgeois diaspora organizations and their satellites in Florida. Although they seem, superficially, no-brainers, they obey a plan to ignite a popular explosion and overthrow the government.

But a pandemic year has produced an economic contraction estimated at more than 10% of GDP. The health crisis reduced tourism to almost nothing, and exacerbated the shortage of hard currency, dollars and euros, essential for financing imports and controlling inflation.

The economic package “Tarea Ordinance” of December last year carried out a monetary reform that unified the two currencies in circulation, reinforced incentives for small businesses that already operate on the scale of half a million micro-enterprises, reduced subsidies for popular consumption, assumed more favorable conditions for opening up to foreign investment, and originated increases of prices of basic necessities. It also included wage increases of up to 500% to contain rising social inequality, and must be analyzed and criticized in the context of the historic siege imposed by the US embargo.

Defending Cuba in the face of imperialist interference and pressure is not the same as defending, uncritically, the positions and actions of the Communist Party government led by Diaz-Canel. On the contrary, an honest internationalist solidarity attitude must be critical, both in strategy and tactics. Which means that those who support the revolution must be able to exercise democratic rights of expression. There is a generational fracture in Cuba. The arrest of Frank Garcia and his three young companions, militants publicly recognized as Trotskyist revolutionaries, for example, is unacceptable.

The Cuban bourgeoisie in the US is much stronger today than it was during the revolution in 1959/61. She is a fraction of the Yankee ruling class, the most powerful in the world. Unlike the Chinese capitalists in the diaspora, it has refused any negotiations with Cuba and irreconcilably maintains its defense of the blockade. Discarding a military strategy that would result in a civil war, the bet is a cruel, slow, and inflexible economic strangulation to foment a social crisis with no way out.

But that is Washington's strategy. The recent vote against the embargo in the General Assembly of the United Nations confirmed that the USA, although not backing down, is isolated in this line, with the pathetic support of Israel and now of Brazil and Ukraine. The world order is structured, at least in the last hundred years, as an imperialist order does not authorize the conclusion that there is a “world government”. There are fissures, gaps and tensions.

Capitalism has not managed to overcome the national borders of its imperialist States and, therefore, rivalries remain between the bourgeoisies of the central countries in disputes over economic spaces and arbitration of political conflicts. Europe and Japan do not unconditionally follow Washington, because they are aware that the danger of a civil war is a worldwide wave of solidarity with the possibility of even internationalist brigades, as in the Spanish civil war.

The hypothesis of super-imperialism, discussed at the time of the Second International, was not confirmed: a fusion of the imperialist interests of the central countries. It is true that we are fighting an imperialist order. But disputes between the bourgeoisies of each of the powers, and the conflicts between factions in each country, remain intact. Ultra-imperialism, at least until today, has never been anything but a reactionary utopia.

Even in the post-war political-historical stage, in the context of the so-called cold war, between 1945/1991, when capitalism suffered the shock wave of a powerful revolutionary wave that subverted the former colonial empires. An unequivocal US political leadership was asserted, but this supremacy does not dispense with the need for negotiations.

Conflicts between the interests of the USA, Japan and Western Europe led Washington to, for example, partially break with Bretton Woods, in 1971, and suspend the fixed conversion of the dollar with gold, devaluing its currency to defend its internal market, and make their exports cheaper. Competition between corporations and competition between central states has not been annulled, although the degree to which they manifest themselves has fluctuated.

But it would be obtuse not to recognize that the bourgeoisies of the main imperialist countries managed to build a center in the international system of States, after the almost terminal destruction of the Second World War. It is still expressed, institutionally, thirty years after the end of the USSR, by the organizations of the UN system and Bretton Woods, therefore, through the IMF, the World Bank, WTO, and BIS of Basel and, finally, in the G7. The counterrevolution learned from history.

In this center of power is the Triad: the USA, the European Union and Japan. The European Union and Japan have associated and complementary relations with Washington, and have accepted its superiority since the end of World War II. The change of international historical stage in 1989/91 did not change this role of the Triad and, in particular, the place of the USA.

Although its leadership has waned, it still prevails. The size of your economy; the weight of its domestic market; the appeal of the dollar as a reserve or hoarding currency; financial dominance and military superiority; and a more active political initiative made it possible, despite a weakening trend, to maintain supremacy in the state system.

No state on the periphery has been accepted into the center of the state system in the last twenty-five years. Russia and China are states that have preserved political independence, although they have restored capitalism, they play a sub-imperialist role in their regions of influence. China's dynamic threatens US hegemony.

But changes occurred in the insertion of the States of the periphery. There are many “transitory forms of state dependence”, in Lenin's words.[I] Some have a situation of greater dependence, and others a lesser dependence. What prevailed after the XNUMXs was a recolonization process, albeit with oscillations. There has been a historical-social dynamic going on since the XNUMXs. And it is the opposite of that which prevailed after the defeat of Nazi-fascism, when most of the former colonies on the periphery partially gained political independence, albeit in the context of a semi-colonial condition.

Most states that gained political independence in the wave of anti-imperialist revolutions that followed the victory of the Chinese and Cuban revolutions lost this achievement: Algeria and Egypt, in Africa, Nicaragua, in Central America are examples, among others, of this historical regression , after 1991.

There are still, however, independent governments. Venezuela, North Korea, Vietnam, or Iran are examples, each with its specificities.

But no independent nation elicits solidarity like Cuba. The next revolutionary wave on the continent will rescue it from its isolation. Internationalism is the most beautiful flag.

*Valério Arcary is a retired professor at IFSP. Author, among other books, of Revolution meets history (Shaman).

Note


[I] LENIN, Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov. Imperialism, the supreme stage of capitalism, chap.VI “About dependent countries”. https://www.marxists.org/portugues/lenin/1916/imperialismo/cap6.htm

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