Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 27, 2016

Was there an alternative to Fidel Castro’s “Stalinism”?

Filed under: cuba — louisproyect @ 9:42 pm

Today I was shocked by the torrent of denunciations aimed at the Stalinist “dictator” Fidel Castro. No, I am not talking about CBS or CNN, where it might be expected. Rather it emanated from FB friends, most of whom supported Tony Cliff’s theory of State Capitalism but with some anarchists as well. I was also shocked by the vehemence that exceeded anything that Sam Farber or Mike Gonzalez wrote for the occasion even though they were as bad as I might have expected.

Although I had originally considered writing a longer piece on Castro’s passing, I decided instead to focus in on the question of Fidel Castro’s “Stalinism”. For people such as Farber and Gonzalez, the solution to Cuba’s difficulties would have been a “revolution from below”. Farber puts it this way:

It’s certainly not a socialist society because the working class and the rest of the population do not have democratic control over decision-making. It’s one variety of what and I and others call “bureaucratic collectivism.” Bureaucratic collectivist societies, where a ruling class controls property politically through its control of an undemocratic state rather than individually or privately, differ from each other, but share a basic character — just as capitalist countries vary among themselves: Sweden is not Japan is not the United States.

It might be pointed out that Farber is an old-line Shachtmanite rather than a State Capitalist like the ISO that he frequently writes for. The distinction between bureaucratic collectivism and State Capitalism is hardly worth going into here since we should all understand that from their respective standpoints, Cuba’s government is rotten to the core and needs to be overthrown by an aroused proletariat.

Apparently, these comrades had a different idea of the kind of change that Cuba needed in 1959. Instead of a guerrilla army working in tandem with middle-class elements in Havana, it needed a party like Lenin’s that would have taken power on the basis of worker’s committees even if none had germinated in the struggle against Batista.

Let’s imagine that such a possibility had existed and come to fruition on the basis of a leadership rooted in the working class that had aligned itself with Tony Cliff’s international movement or some reasonable facsimile. Like the sainted Bolsheviks, it would have collectivized the means of production and developed the economy with democratically decided plans hammered out by the workers themselves. It would have been the Paris Commune raised to the tenth power.

Even more in keeping with Cliff or Max Shachtman’s theories, there was complete workers democracy with a free press, the right to assemble and form parties that would contest for power in elections. But above all, the government had to conduct an assault on the American domination of the economy as JFK himself admitted:

At the beginning of 1959 United States companies owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands—almost all the cattle ranches—90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions—80 percent of the utilities—practically all the oil industry—and supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports.

So, let’s not mince words on this. If someone as fearless as Sam Farber or Mike Gonzalez had been the Lenin of Cuba (I should mention that Farber believes that Lenin’s anti-democratic tendencies gave rise to Stalin), the first task would have been to seize American properties. Would Washington have been less determined to crush the government if it had been committed to democracy and “socialism from below”? I feel stupid even asking such a question.

You would also have to assume that the revolutionary socialist leadership of Cuba that passed Sam Farber or Mike Gonzalez’s litmus test would have been principled enough to denounce the USSR’s treatment of dissidents, its domination of the Ukrainians and other subject peoples, and its general betrayal of the original goals of the Russian Revolution.

So simultaneously you have Cuba nationalizing American corporations that had a stranglehold on the economy and issuing proclamations calling for the overthrow of the Soviet bureaucracy. Not only would you have Esso and ITT on your case; you’d have Khrushchev so pissed off that smoke would be coming out of his ears.

But none of this would matter because Cuba would prevail on the basis of its socialist principles. All of its enemies would melt away in its path. Workers would produce sugar and tobacco for the world market even if the USA imposed a blockade just as it did for the “Stalinist” Fidel Castro. Embargo? No problem. Just remind the capitalist marketplace that Cuba has a free press. That would assuage them, I’ll bet. The NY Times wouldn’t mind Esso being seized by communists as long as there was freedom of the press. Right.

Leaving such fantasies aside, imperialism would be just as committed to the destruction of a democratic socialist Cuba as it was to a Stalinist Cuba. How do I know? Because the USA was part of the 21-nation invasion of the USSR in 1919 that cost a million deaths and production to be reduced to 20 percent of its pre-Civil War level. In fact, Cuba suffered virtually the same economic losses even though the Bay of Pigs victory reduced the possibility of a major loss of life.

In a review of Salim Lamrani’s “The Economic War Against Cuba” on CounterPunch, Daniel Kovalik writes:

Lamrani concludes that the results of this relentless 50-year blockade have cost Cuba more than $751 billion, and has “affected all sectors of Cuban society and all categories of the population, especially the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and women.   Over 70 percent of all Cubans have lived in a climate of permanent economic hostility.”

The USA understood that economic suffering would perhaps turn the people against the government just as Ronald Reagan hoped that the contra war would make the Nicaraguans “cry uncle”. Lamrani quotes Lester D. Mallory, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, who wrote on August 6, 1960:

The majority of the Cuban people support Castro.  There is no effective political opposition.  . . .  The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection and hardship.   . . .   every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba . . . a line of action which . . . makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.

But it wasn’t enough for Cuba to have to put up with this. Farber and Gonzalez insist that the government had to publicly differentiate itself from the Kremlin, taking every opportunity to denounce it for its bureaucratic crimes. So not only would Cuba have to suffer 751 billion dollars in economic losses for its democratic revolutionary socialist measures against Esso, ITT et al, it would not be able to rely on the Soviet bloc for assistance. Indeed, we could be guaranteed that Khrushchev would have been just as anxious as JFK to get rid of the troublemakers who we must assume would be providing material aid and advice to like-minded revolutionary movements in Latin America just as Lenin and Trotsky did in the 1920s.

As it happens, the Castro brothers and Che Guevara were never likely to confront the USSR because they, like most of the Latin American left in the 1950s, regarded the Soviets as defenders of socialism. Keep in mind that the USSR enjoyed enormous prestige in the 1950s for having been primarily responsible for defeating the Nazis and for its ability to recover so quickly from its wartime devastation without any outside help. Young men and women would naturally be inclined to look to the USSR for help rather to alienate its top leaders, especially someone like Nikita Khrushchev who had made a speech just three years before Castro took power that stated:

Stalin acted not through persuasion, explanation and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed these concepts or tried to prove his [own] viewpoint and the correctness of his [own] position was doomed to removal from the leadership collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation. This was especially true during the period following the 17th Party Congress, when many prominent Party leaders and rank-and-file Party workers, honest and dedicated to the cause of Communism, fell victim to Stalin’s despotism.

But the Cuban press under an anti-Stalinist editorial board like the ISO’s or New Politics would have not been satisfied with these words. It would have written scathing attacks on Khrushchev for crushing dissent in the USSR and serving the interests of a privileged bureaucracy no matter what he said.

I think by now you get the point. People like Farber and Gonzalez don’t really care about such matters since their role politically is to differentiate themselves from all the evil Stalinists of the 20th and 21st century who have betrayed the principles of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Thank god we have professors like them to stand up for True Socialism. Imagine the fat FBI file that Farber accumulated writing such courageous articles. It is a miracle that Brooklyn College did not try to fire him.

Does it matter that a government that took their advice seriously would be snuffed within a year of its taking power? Obviously not. They don’t really care about the difficulties of wielding power in a world controlled by immensely powerful capitalist states, including one that was only 90 miles from Cuba.

That they and their supporters would take the opportunity of Fidel Castro’s death to raise their litany of complaints about Stalinism while his body was still warm really fills me with disgust. I should probably expect this by now after seeing all the junk written about Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution in their press for the past 25 years or so but I still can’t get over it.

22 Comments »

  1. […] über Was there an alternative to Fidel Castro’s “Stalinism”? — Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Mar… […]

    Pingback by Was there an alternative to Fidel Castro’s “Stalinism”? — Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist | psychosputnik — November 27, 2016 @ 10:36 pm

  2. Fuckin’ A.

    Comment by Greg McDonald — November 27, 2016 @ 11:19 pm

  3. I really like what you are saying here. But isn’t still fair to question the necessity of Castro’s governing philosophy for the 25 years following the cold war?

    Comment by Alain Wittman — November 27, 2016 @ 11:30 pm

  4. The issue is not questioning. It is instead whether “socialism from below” would have lasted more than a year.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 27, 2016 @ 11:41 pm

  5. Good post, Louis. We should remember that “3rd Camp Socialism” was pro-imperialist at the outset — still pretty disgusting that they should use Castro’s death to spout their views.

    Comment by Rich Lesnik — November 28, 2016 @ 12:06 am

  6. Liked your piece below very much. Why not edit it for folks not in the organized left? I think it would work well generally.            B e t t i   at  C a s a  Mo j a n d a  E c u a d o r                      

    Comment by Betti Sachs / Casa Mojanda Mountainside Inn and Farm (TM) — November 28, 2016 @ 1:28 am

  7. Wow, great post. I liked the tone of it the best 🙂 Tony Cliff really has a lot to answer for!

    Comment by Andy Jennyotis — November 28, 2016 @ 3:39 am

  8. Very good! A minor point om Guevara, the Che. He despised Stalinists.
    Strongly.
    Lots of examples available.
    Among his belongings, after his murder, a copy of LDT’s History of Russian Rev was found.

    Comment by NMG — November 28, 2016 @ 3:48 am

  9. Excellent, brother Louis. I have some fools ranting about Castro’s multiple perfidies on my Facebook page. They suffer from that infantile disorder Lenin wrote about. Plus they are ugly jerks too.

    Comment by michael yates — November 28, 2016 @ 3:51 am

  10. This was a very useful contribution. Thanks, Louis.

    Comment by Jon Flanders — November 28, 2016 @ 4:55 am

  11. Great and timely polemic Louis. Keep up the good work. Cada quien en su trinchera

    Comment by Pedro Gellert — November 28, 2016 @ 7:06 am

  12. We grew up politically with Fidel and Che’s writings (besides Marx and Lenin’s) in Iran, as teenagers learning about socialism and standing up to imperialists of all kinds: American, British, German, Russian, or whatever.

    Academics can pooh-pooh really existing socialist attempts all they want. Academics can, at best, merely reflect on what the practitioners have achieved, or even mis-achieved; academics will forever be reflecting and not doing much else beyond that.

    Future revolutionaries however will benefit from the attempts made. That is for certain.

    So … Thank you Fidel and your kindred spirits for having tried. ‘Purist’ pricks who’ve done nothing to enhance the cause need to learn a thing or two, first and foremost, about humility; then, about imaginative intelligence.

    Comment by Reza — November 28, 2016 @ 8:01 am

  13. Dear Luis, what a disappointing article.
    The title was “Was there an alternative to Fidel Castro’s “Stalinism”? “
    I understand that you are commenting another article from those who are criticizing Castro from the left position. But I think that “bureaucratic collectivism” is proper definition of the political system in Cuba. I lived 40 years in so called socialist country Yugoslavia under our dictator Tito, who was also the Stalinist , but he changes his Stalinist polices applied at his first years when he copied totally all Stalinist policies to Yugoslavia, which obviously he did not need that. Every country is different in so many ways and economic policies and political organization should really reflect that. He, to our luck, abandoned that, when he come in confrontation with Stalin ( I do not want to come in discussing why?). He was also under tremendous pressure from Stalin but he successfully played that difficult situation for our country. That means there are always other ways, other alternatives. I could understand his behavior or his policies in first years trying to survive under enormous threat from USA. But not to try after years of total control to involve more his people to have more democracy and freedom in making decisions. Workers should have more rights in the management of the factory or in the organization and managing of collective farms, normally in organizing all forms of life, local government and in workers councils. I know there are some kind of that but that was very fake as was in my country Yugoslavia. . We forget “All power to the soviets” , which was abandon by Lenin with similar excuses as you doing for Castro. . It can be the one party state, but in that case the party must be highly democratically organized, otherwise by default the party and all system becomes corrupted. The problem of the Yugoslav system of self-management, delegate control, direct self-government, is that all of these ideas on the involvement of people in managing their lives and freedom of choice to personal development, which should be socialism (without individual freedom no socialism), was spoiled by one undemocratic party interference in all and denying people the right to freely decide. Despite the international situation in which was Cuba, there should be given more opportunities to people, especially younger one, educated and raised in this new Cuba, to be freer in making decision in which direction Cuba should goes and not that everything should be served to them from the above and that the brothers Castro making all that decisions for decades. I can understand it for the first 5 years or for other fifty for such a policy there is no justification. I understand the pressure on Cuba from USA which is working all time to the change the regime, but is it the only possible answer to that the dictatorship of Castro brothers ? For fifty years they did not succeed to educate and grow capable generation to replace old revolutionaries. When Fidel was replaced by his brother, it does not matter how much he was capable and deserving of a revolution, it said all about the nature of the system. Both of them should be retired long time ago, writing opinion articles in newspapers for at least the last 20 years, as should be the case with my beloved undisputed dictator Tito.
    Sorry for my bad English, there is no excuse for that.

    Comment by Yugoslav — November 28, 2016 @ 9:35 am

  14. Dear Yugoslav,

    what is it that makes you say that there is no public participation in Cuban decision-making and that all is determined and decided by the Party? In fact, there is literature on the subject that you might find interesting, such as, for example, Arnold August’s “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion”. This literature suggests that there is significant popular participation in policy-making. Perhaps, also, it would be preferable if, instead of holding an abstract “All Power to the Soviets” standard (which as you know did not survive the imperialist-imposed monstrosities of the Russian Civil War), you compared Cuba to the various capitalisms around it. Compare it then to Mexican capitalism, Haitian capitalism, Colombian capitalism, Guatemalan capitalism and so on and so forth. I think you get my point.

    Keep also in mind that when the Eastern bloc collapsed in 1989-91 (an event by the way that would have depressed Trotsky immensely had it occurred in his own lifetime, but which was accepted with joy by quite a few of so-called ‘Trotskyists’ [though by no means by all of course]) Cuba was left nearly alone in the international division of labour. Her foreign trade collapsed and her GDP fell by almost 1/3. This is the so called “special period” of Cuban history, a period whereby the Cuban people suffered enormously. The situation was, I think, even more serious than in the first years after the revolution.

    Personally, I think that Cuba was fortunate enough that in this period the Old Guard was still around, opting for doses of capitalism in an effort to reintegrate Cuba in the international division of labour. Capitalist presence on the island is, post-1991, a material need, not a betrayal. This should be evident for any proponent of historical materialism. In the modern industrialized world there cannot be a mode of production in just one country (whether it is socialism in one country or capitalism in one country). It was necessary to opt for some trade-off between capitalist infiltration and preservation of the main pillars of the socialist revolution, like the much-praised health system for example. Of course, this is not without problems. Capitalism is like cancer, very hard to control. What will eventually happen on the island, that is, whether capitalism will eventually reign supreme or not, depends not only on the Cuban people but on developments in the international arena. And you have a valid point when broaching the matter whether, after Raul goes as well, there will be a new guard capable of holding on.

    Yet, imagine what would have happened had it been the case that, in those crucial years after the fall of the USSR, governmental power was exercised by Gorbachev-type ‘reformist’ scoundrels eager on reinstating capitalism full scale. Imagine the combination of neoliberalism with the invasion of the Miami-type human material on the island. I think then that the situation would be even worse than the immense humanitarian crisis that capitalism had in stock for Russia in the 1990s (and afterwards).

    Criticize Fidel, Raul (and Che and everybody)? Of course. Marx’s dictum “ruthless criticism of all that exists” is surely valid as ever. But based on which premises and conducted from which standpoint? If it is to be from a historical materialist standpoint then it better be based on “the concrete analysis of the concrete situation” as Lenin long ago advised.

    Comment by Stavrogin — November 28, 2016 @ 11:52 am

  15. TERM LIMITS. It is a useful concept that goes back thousands of years. Fidel could have been in charge from 59 to 71, Raoul from 72 to 84. That would have been 24 years to consolidate the Revolution. They could have then taught at Havana University if they did not want to retire. OLIGARCHY as exemplified by a CENTRAL COMMITTEE is another useful concept that goes back thousands of years. I do not know enough about Cuba to know if Cuba was formally ruled by a central committee or not. Committee rule means EQUAL power among the committee members That means rule by a team, not rule by a charismatic, or ruthless personality. It seems to me that Fidel and Raoul have done quite a bit since 1960 with very little to work with. Unlike Mao and Stalin they did not make mistakes that cost millions of lives. Therefore these criticisms could be seen as trivial. I do not know what the Cuban people think, nor do I care. Democracy is sentimental bullshit.
    Balances of Power are not sentimental bull shit though.

    By the way, a seven hour speech seems like an abuse of power. I was not there though. Had I been I might have wanted it to go on even longer.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — November 28, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

  16. Vergleich zwischen der Diktatur im Polizeistaat Kuba und der Demokratie im freien Haiti
    Haiti Kuba
    Einwohner (in 1000) 10.317 11.266
    Jährliches Bevölkerungswachstum (in %) 1,4 -0,1
    Städtische Bevölkerung 56 75,1
    Lebenserwartung (in Jahren) 63 79
    Anzahl der Geburten (auf 1000 Personen) 26 9,6
    Fruchtbarkeitsrate (Geburten pro Frau) 3,2 1,5
    Anzahl der Todesfälle (auf 1000 Personen) 8,7 7,6
    Kindersterblichkeit (auf 1000 Lebendgeburten) 76 6
    Säuglingssterblichkeit (auf 1000 Lebendgeburten) 56,5 4,3
    Bevölkerung über 65 Jahre 4,5 13,3
    Bevölkerung unter 15 Jahre 35,4 16,6
    Sanitärzugang 24 93
    Trinkwasserzugang 62 94
    Schüler (Grundschulen) 22 96
    Schülerinnen (Grundschulen) 23 97
    Alphabetisierungsrate Frauen (über 15 Jahre; in %) 44,6 99,83
    Alphabetisierungsrate Männer (über 15 Jahre; in %) 53,36 99,84
    Bruttonationaleinkommen (in Mio. US-$) 8.521 67.241
    Bruttoinlandsprodukt (in Mio. US-$) 8.459 68.234
    Bruttonationaleinkommen pro Kopf (in PPP-$) 1.710 18.520
    Bruttonationaleinkommen pro Kopf (in US-$) 810 5.890
    Armut 58,7 –
    Landwirtschaft: Anteil am BIP (in %) 27,4 5
    Industrie: Anteil am BIP (in %) 17,3 20,5
    Dienstleistung: Anteil am BIP (in %) 55,3 74,5
    Gesundheitsausgaben 7,9 10
    Verteidigungsausgaben 0,1 3,3
    Entwicklungshilfe (in % des BNE) 16 0,1
    Entwicklungshilfe pro Kopf (in US-$) 125,34 7,79
    Erwerbspersonen (in 1000) 4.314 5.331
    Erwerbstätigk. Landwirtschaft 65,6 19,7
    Erwerbstätigk. Dienstleistung 22,8 63,2
    Erwerbstätigk. Industrie 8,8 17,1
    Frauenerwerbsquote (in % der Erwerbspersonen) 47,5 38,2
    Arbeitslosigkeit (in % aller Erwerbspersonen) 7 2,4
    Arbeitslosenrate Männer 6,1 2,2
    Arbeitslosenrate Frauen 8 2,9
    Exportgüter u.a. Textilien, Öle, Kakao, Mangos, Kaffee v.a. Erze, medizinische u. pharmazeutische Erzeugnisse, Zucker, Tabakprodukte
    Baumwollfasern (in t) 396 4.700
    Fischfang-Erträge (in t) 5.000 110.330
    Fleisch gesamt (in Mio.t) 0,107 0,283
    Getreide gesamt (in Mio. t) 0,4 1,002
    Hühnerfleisch (in Mio. t) 0,008 0,035
    Kartoffeln (in Mio. t) 0,015 0,131
    Mais (in Mio. t) 0,202 0,36
    Milch (in Mio. t) 0,065 0,604
    Orangen (in Mio. t) 0,026 0,094
    Reis (in Mio. t) 0,106 0,642
    Rinder: Bestand (in Mio.) 1,465 4,084
    Rindfleisch (in Mio. t) 0,046 0,067
    Schafe: Bestand (in Mio.) 0,154 2,102
    Schaffleisch (in Mio. t) 0,001 0,011
    Schweine: Bestand (in Mio.) 1,001 1,545
    Schweinefleisch (in Mio. t) 0,035 0,166
    Tabak (in Mio. t) 0,001 0,02
    Zucker (in Mio. t) 0,01 1,4
    Energieverbrauch pro Kopf (in kg Öleinheiten) 320 992
    Stromverbrauch (in kWh pro Kopf) 25 1.297
    Schiffsbestand der Handelsflotten (Anzahl) 1 10
    Schiffsbestand der Handelsflotten (in Mio. BRT) 0,002 0,014
    Schiffsbestand der Handelsflotten (in Mio. dwt) 0,001 0,019
    Luftfracht (in Mio. Tonnen-km) 3,9 17,1
    Flugpassagiere (in 1000) 10 1.366
    Mobiltelefonverträge (auf 1000 Personen) 694 177,1
    Internetnutzung (auf 1000 Personen) 106 257,1
    Einreisende Touristen (in Mio.) 0,295 2,815
    Tourismus-Einnahmen (in Mio. US-$) 170 2.614
    Ackerfläche (in 1000 ha) 1.000 3.550
    Ackerfläche pro Kopf (in ha) 0,1 0,315
    Waldfläche (in % der Gesamtfläche) 3,6 27,3
    Wasserressourcen (erneuerbar, pro Kopf in m³) 1.297 3.381

    Comment by jsbielicki — November 28, 2016 @ 12:48 pm

  17. Tribute: Eduardo Galeano on Fidel Castro

    His enemies say he was an uncrowned king who confused unity with unanimity. And in that his enemies are right.

    His enemies say that if Napoleon had a newspaper like Granma, no Frenchman would have learned of the disaster at Waterloo. And in that his enemies are right.

    His enemies say that he exercised power by talking a lot and listening little, because he was more used to hearing echoes than voices. And in that his enemies are right.

    But some things his enemies do not say: it was not to pose for the history books that he bared his breast to the invaders’ bullets, he faced hurricanes as an equal, hurricane to hurricane, he survived 637 attempts on his life, his contagious energy was decisive in making a country out of a colony, and it was not by Lucifer’s curse or God’s miracle that the new country managed to outlive 10 US presidents, their napkins spread in their laps, ready to eat it with knife and fork.

    And his enemies never mention that Cuba is one rare country that does not compete for the World Doormat Cup.

    And they do not say that the revolution, punished for the crime of dignity, is what it managed to be and not what it wished to become. Nor do they say that the wall separating desire from reality grew ever higher and wider thanks to the imperial blockade, which suffocated a Cuban-style democracy, militarized society, and gave the bureaucracy, always ready with a problem for every solution, the alibis it needed to justify and perpetuate itself.

    And they do not say that in spite of all the sorrow, in spite of the external aggression and the internal high-handedness, this distressed and obstinate island has spawned the least unjust society in Latin America. And his enemies do not say that this feat was the outcome of the sacrifice of its people, and also of the stubborn will and old-fashioned sense of honor of the knight who always fought on the side of the losers, like his famous colleague in the fields of Castile.

    you’ll find the spanish original here: https://www.taringa.net/post/apuntes-y-monografias/1698220/Fidel-Castro-por-Eduardo-Galeano-.html

    Comment by Thomas Siepelmeyer — November 28, 2016 @ 1:54 pm

  18. Dear Stavrogin,
    You wrote:
    “Personally, I think that Cuba was fortunate enough that in this period the Old Guard was still around, opting for doses of capitalism in an effort to reintegrate Cuba in the international division of labour. Capitalist presence on the island is, post-1991, a material need, not a betrayal. This should be evident for any proponent of historical materialism. In the modern industrialized world there cannot be a mode of production in just one country (whether it is socialism in one country or capitalism in one country). It was necessary to opt for some trade-off between capitalist infiltration and preservation of the main pillars of the socialist revolution, like the much-praised health system for example. Of course, this is not without problems. Capitalism is like cancer, very hard to control.”
    If the Castro Brothers would have retired from formal power in 1984 those who had formally taken over after that might have done the very same things that were done. Furthermore if there had been any doubt about what path to take, the formal leaders could have gone and knocked on Fidel`s door or Raoul’s door and asked their advice. Now when the old guard passes, those who take over will not have gained much official experience. Unless the old guard has been acting as mere figure heads of those really making the decisions for security reasons. (Would you like me to clarify that?)
    How something is done is important. What gets done is even more important. The Castro’s get a B plus from me. That counts for something because I am a world juror.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — November 28, 2016 @ 2:54 pm

  19. He was a revolutionary to the core. His view was too authoritarian for my taste, however. May he rest in peace with the saints in light.

    Comment by Kurt Hill — November 28, 2016 @ 7:12 pm

  20. Outstanding! Thanks for writing this. “It’s not enough for the truth to be true, it must also be spoken.” Fidel

    Comment by Bill Breihan — November 29, 2016 @ 12:31 am

  21. A short piece appeared on the site of the NZ ISO, which is linked to the American ISO (and Sociaist Alternative in Australia). In it, veteran ISO leader Andrew Tait, declared “We mourn his death from the bottom of our hearts, we honour and we love him.” It said we need more than what was achieved in Cuba – fair point, I think the Cubans would agree with that! – and it made the mistaken comment that it was all guerrilla warfare, but overall it was a remarkably sympathetic piece.

    Comment by Phil F — November 29, 2016 @ 4:38 am

  22. Only a person of limited intellectual capabilities could continue to think that a revolution from below is possible in a capitalist society like the USA or Italy. I would be willing to bet that in the future if a person were to witness what appeared to be a popular revolution from below in a country with advanced surveillance capabilities it is actually a revolution manipulated from above. This could actually be a good thing. The fact of the matter is the masses have no more business judging their rulers than patients with no medical training have judging their doctors. To understand how all the economic, social, and environmental facts fit together to make our reality and potential realities is something that requires talent, and years of specialized TRAINING. Any potential revolutionary leader that would encourage democratic aspirations among the population of a country is a flat out irresponsible leader. Castro can not be faulted for not being democratic. Perhaps he can be faulted for not delegating authority fast enough. Perhaps he can be faulted for failing to train and indoctrinate Cuba’s following generations to meet the challenges ahead. But no one can honestly say that he ruled Cuba for his own benefit. Worse yet no one can honestly say that in most countries of the world the government is run for the benefit of the masses.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — November 30, 2016 @ 4:59 pm


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