Meanwhile, in some good news…

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 am, September 28th, 2010 - 11 comments
Categories: democratic participation, International, socialism, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

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.)

11 comments on “Meanwhile, in some good news…”

  1. Juan Manuel Santos 1

    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

    Thanks for this. For all Chavez’s faults I still find it incredibly frustrating to read stuff in the mainstream press that I know for a fact is lies and agitprop. It’s quite simple why it happens – in a horribly unequal and class-ridden society like Venezuela’s, foreign journalists tend to associate only with the wealthy elite who despise Chavez, and frequently don’t even leave their hotels. Very few reporters go into the barrios and talk to ordinary people or their community leaders. Hence we get this one-sided caricature of the Bolivarian revolution, entirely narrated by the quasi-fascist Venezuelan elite.

  2. Justin 2

    Hugo Chavez has so much faith in democracy, that he gerrymanders the electoral system in his favour, politicises the police and military, confiscates private property, shuts down opposition and offers cheap appliances to the poor as part of his election campaign, as support falters. All while Venezuela’s economy is the poorest performing in the region (-2% annual growth), and inflation runs at 30%, and it has record levels of crime, and increasing social unrest.

    Brazil taking a market-led centre-left approach looks at 6.5% growth and sustainable poverty reduction from 12% to 4% of the population, as 25 million people have moved into the middle class ( The success of its neighbours will hopefully in my view provide Venezuelans with gentle inspiration to look beyond the failure of extreme market-capitalism and far-left socialism.

    • Bill 2.1

      And just as you, Justin hope that Venezuelans will receive gentle inspiration to look beyond the failure of extreme market-capitalism and far left socialism, not realising for one moment that that is in fact what the Bolivarian Revolution is all about, I hope something will provide you with gentle inspiration to think beyond the face value of the mainstream reportage and beyond the unquestioned swallowing of simple spoon fed orthodoxies.

    • Augustus 2.2

      And how many of the poor have appliances in Brazil?

    • Bored 2.3

      Having read a bit of history of South and Central America you note that the indigenous inhabitants and the poor have since the conquest been exploited in the most deplorable way, everywhere. To see in Venezuela and Bolivia the “Indians” in charge gives me some hope that they can overcome the historic repression and exploitation that has come with colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. Non of these “isms” has done native Americans anything other than injury, why would they regard “market capitalism” afresh with any justified hope? I suspect they might just use their own constructs, perhaps reclaiming stolen land for their own use trumps any need to “grow” GDP etc.

    • Bored 2.4

      Actually reading the Guardian article is somewhat alarming. It appears that as we head towards declining oil and gas the energy rush has headed for Brazil, on top of the bio deisel rush to clear and replant the Amazon rain forest. One thing can be predicted for sure, the money that comes in will go out with the energy resources, the locals will get a little and soon it will all be gone, and they will be left with zippo living in a desert. Marvellous thing industrialised man, centrist, extreme left or right, same result.

      • Bill 2.4.1

        Here’s a thought.

        What if we had, instead of the so-called ‘alternative’ of a parliamentary and corporatised Maori Party, a vehicle that encouraged the development of a genuine synthesis of the highest (ie the most democratic and equitable) denominators from Maori/Pasifika cultures and socialist ideals; ie, a Pacifika version of the Bolivarian Revolution grounded in Pacific rather than Latin American indigenous cultures?

        Where’d you stand? For or against?

        just asking

        edit. To avoid confusion, I should point out that that’s intended as a general question and not aimed at you Bored….or any other specific person.

        • Draco T Bastard

          There’s no real point in us holding on to British/European culture but to be able to answer the question I’d have to know more about Maori/Pasifika culture.

        • Bored

          No issues Bill, I did not want to open that debate but it had occured, as it has to you what the parallels are between the American Indian experience and that of Pasifikans. I hope to hell we can achieve the cultural blend here that has not happened there.

  3. Puddleglum 3

    One of the most trashed and unequal parts of the globe is South and Central America – that comes with being America’s back yard. Good luck to them and here’s hoping they can keep the wolves’ snouts out of their affairs for long enough to try their own solutions. it can’t be worse than what they’ve been through with all our ‘help’.

    Forever the optimist.

  4. Malcolm 4

    Bill, I really don’t get your cheerleading for Chavez and the so-called Bolivarian revolution. It’s an anti-working class, populist statist regime. The articles below show the real nature of supposed socialism for the 21st century. Most are from Venezuelan libertarians (not Trotskyists!). Real socialism involves destroying the social relation of capital, destroying the system based on commodity production, money, and wage labour. Self-management does not automatically lead to a transcending of capitalist social relations.

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