The following excerpts discuss some of the political challenges facing the Cuban revolution today. The first two articles refer to an international symposium held in Havana by Casa de las Americas on the Peruvian revolutionary leader Jose Carlos Mariategui, on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
It is necessary to reanalyze and reassimilate Marxism. This involves understanding and assimilating its development prior to 1959, as well as examining its presence since socialism was established. Despite the obvious need to do so, this task has long remained in front of us. Today it cannot be postponed given the great challenges posed by the current reality.
And in this job of creating anew - daring and adventuresome like any other endeavor of this type, although never with greater risks than those imposed by historical circumstances - one must not and cannot ignore the history of Marxist thought in the world, and in Latin America in particular. This is especially true when in doing so one finds such outstanding individuals - both for the breadth and vigor of their work and for the self- sacrifice of their actions - as Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci, and Jose Carlos Mariategui. Paradoxically, these individuals are almost unknown among us.-
The Cubans who spoke at and who attended [the seminar] agreed to propose a reading of works by Mariategui in relation to the problems that the Cuban nation and Cuban ideas are currently going through:
What type of Marxism do we know? What conception of socialism we have held? How can Marxism and socialism be rooted in national traditions? How can the social conquests of the Cuban revolution be maintained at a moment when the country is being reinserted in the capitalist world? What ideas and currents of thought have influence in Cuba, and how should these be taken up from a Marxist standpoint? Is Marxism in Cuba undergoing a crisis? How can Cuban thought and culture contribute to maintaining the nation's identity and developing it under new circumstances?
It has become common today to recognize that the crisis of Marxism is neither of recent origin nor has it been caused exclusively by the collapse of "socialism in practice."
This disaster has undoubtedly been one of its most convincing manifestations, even for the most devoted followers of the alleged universal all-knowing character of Marxism. These people also sense that the failure involves more than just the practical experience of socialism. It is necessary, without prejudice, to revise - no longer with fear of utilizing this verb with the taboo of the suffix "ism" - the foundations of the very theory that served to sustain it.-
The crisis of Marxism today owes much to the lack of attention, and even the persecution, that entrenched orthodox Marxism has given to creative Marxists such as Trotsky, Gramsci, or Mariategui.
With regard to Trotsky the Peruvian [Mariategui] was able to adequately differentiate his errors from his merits, among the latter being his outstanding work during the October revolution, his analysis of a host of international problems such as the development of U.S. imperialism. But above all, Trotsky's critical vigilance that avoided "formalist bureaucratism," which Mariategui also criticized early on in the Soviet state, but which was ignored by other Latin American Marxists.
Influential newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, and The Economist have already openly called for an end to the blockade. When they do so it is because irresistible interests are moving in this direction. Wall Street knows that it is losing precious time in investing capital in Cuba. Despite a few recalcitrants in Miami who insist on an archaic and obsolete anticommunism, everything seems to indicate that the immense majority of emigrants are tired of the sterile verbiage of hate and are positioning themselves for reconciliation.
By the end of the century - a short span of time - the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States will be fully worked out. We must look ahead. What will happen in Cuba in the new century, which is only a few years away? Some tend to see the Miami group as a financial reserve for a new development of Cuba. They think that they can play the same role of capital suppliers that the Federal Republic assumed for East Germany, or that Taiwan did in the economic expansion of continental China. According to these people Cuba could imitate the role of Hong Kong, or turn itself into a Singapore: supplying labor power cheaper than in the United States, to attract industry and become an important market. The proximity of both countries would be a considerable factor in cheapening the cost of transport and reducing delivery times. Cuba has an extensive infrastructure of transport that would not require excessive investments to modernize, and it possess highly qualified personnel. As if this were not enough it is offering exemptions from taxes and facilities for exporting utilities without parallel in southeast Asia. Others think of an endogenous development as a preferable alternative, with a broad investment spectrum that would include Europeans and Japanese.
The demonstrated talent of Cubans to develop, their capacity of initiative, their dynamic spirit of enterprise could be motors for a future advance. The Cuban perspective is tempting for any investor who does not let himself be influenced by political propaganda and knows that the true homeland of capital is the bank vault.
The effects of the fall of the socialist camp and its impact on the world ideological context have also been felt in Cuba.- In a surprisingly relevant text written in 1950, Isaac Deutscher stated: "The intellectual ex-communist no longer throws out the dirty water of the revolution to protect the baby; he discovers that the baby is a monster which must be strangled. The heretic becomes a renegade." In Cuba some intellectuals - including some who have never even been heretics - reject these ideas today rather than seeking to revise them. Left-wing values, conceptions, and viewpoints tend to be perceived as totally and hopelessly antiquated.-
Nevertheless this "ex-communist syndrome" has other, explainable causes. One of the clearest is the scholastic, ritualized, dogmatic Marxism that, much earlier than the fall of European socialism, failed to provide us an intellectually creative perspective. It was this Marxism that several generations of Cubans were trained in.- Without ignoring the domestically produced anthologies, one could demonstrate that dogmatic Marxism in Cuba imitated that of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe - adopting in fact its presuppositions, logic, and implications. Although the central nucleus of Cuban revolutionary ideology has been, in great measure, the antithesis of dogma, there have been plenty of people who have tried to reduce it to an easily learned and immutable formula of truth.
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