- Date published:
7:40 am, September 28th, 2010 - 11 comments
Categories: democratic participation, International, socialism, workers' rights - Tags: Bolivarian Revolution, cuba, socialism, venezuela
Over the past few weeks there have been a few mainstream reports on Cuba (e.g. here, here, here and here). They all report that the Cuban state is going to lay off about half a million or a million employees. And this is reported in terms of that final victory (yawn…yet again) of market capitalism over the failed idea of the command economy.
And as such, sorely and completely misses the point.
Cuba isn’t about to become a repeat of 1990’s Russia. And it isn’t about to become a miniature China where economic freedom is exercised within the constraints of a political straight-jacket.
The laid off government employees will be receiving training and education on industrial democracy. That is, on how to take control. And on how to form and operate worker collectives and cooperatives and (presumably) on how to take control of other formally state controlled aspects life. In other words, the Cuba state is embarking on a journey towards levels of decentralisation and democratisation inspired by the Bolivarian Revolution, that our state here would meet with truncheons, tear gas and rubber bullets at a bare minimum were we to demand anything remotely similar.
And while Cuba sets out on its journey from the starting point of a command economy, Venezuela has already embarked on the same journey from the very different starting point of market capitalism.
Which could be read as having a bob each way. Which is just fine by me. The challenges and obstacles that each population will encounter will be different. For example, I assume that unlike in Venezuala, Cubans will not have to contend with Trotskyist elements vying to impose their particular vanguardist agenda on the revolution or with a belligerent bureaucracy pulling the chain at every turn. Neither will they have to deal with an old but still powerful elite engaged in well funded and widespread monkey-wrenching as it hankers after a return to ‘the good old days’.
But as well as the various challenges, there are unique possibilities arising from the make-up, motivations and relative strengths and weaknesses inherent to the respective populations given their recent divergent socio-politico cultures and history.
I’m just quietly hopeful that one or the other, or even both populations can successfully negotiate whatever hazards lie ahead and achieve that holy grail of a withered state and 21C socialism.
In the meantime, I don’t expect to see any positive reporting by our msm on events as they unfold. Rather, I just expect the tried and tired same old, same old by way of media reports. That is, I’ll have to continue reading between the lines of anything connected with the Bolivarian Revolution as though I was alive in the old Soviet Union and relying on Pravda for my information from abroad instead of living in a Social Democracy with a supposedly free (ie informative) press. Oh, and I’ll take an occasional on-line gander at the English Correo del Orinoco (which yes, is page after page of Chavez in what some might see as a ridiculously over the top positive light. But given that the majority of the press in Venezuela is rabidly anti-Chavez, I can kind of excuse that as an editorial line.)