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Cuba: Socialist or Revisionist?

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Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 27 Apr 2012, 21:00
Quote:
Do you even accept the notion that the USSR was to Cuba "a new foreign imperialist master" which had "restored capitalism in the mid-1950s"?

Not neccessarily, but there are signs which point out to conclusion that Cuba was but a neo-colony of the USSR. A socialist country one third of whose economy is based on sugar cane?

Quote:
I will agree that Cuba would have done well to diversify its economic base, which would have lessened the harsh effects of the destruction of the Soviet Bloc, but how was Castro supposed to predict the coming to power of the likes of Gorbachev?

Well, that's the whole point IMO. Cuba was made totally dependent on the USSR. They barely produced anything except sugar. Khruschov and Co. had similar plans for Albania as well, but Albanians resisted that.

Quote:
Lack of diversification was partly the USSR's fault, given that they decided to buy Cuban sugar at subsidized rates above world market prices, but how this constitutes 'social imperialism' I just can't understand, given that the aim of imperialism is to take from poor countries and to give to the rich.

Not really, at least not according to the Leninist definition of imperialism. South Korea and Japan are still, in a way, even under imperialist occupation, but look at how these countries transformed themselves in the last 50 years.

Quote:
Up until the mid-1980s the Soviet leadership had always felt an internationalist obligation to give based in the fact that the USSR was a socialist counterbalance to global imperialism, and this bears out not only in relation to Cuba, but to pretty much every other nation which the USSR was on friendly terms with.

The US also had its "globalist" obligation to aid anti-communist regimes and movements.
Of course that doesn't mean the USSR was the same as the US (as Maoists claim), but i don't think this fact alone is a sufficient argument against the theory social-imperialism.

Quote:
I don't know how much really needs to be said about the kinds of demagoguery, stupidity and quackery in calculation found in points like these. Yes, Castro has taken points from Thatcher, has consciously decided to starve his people, and has failed to make his country exist outside the confines of the standards of global international trade. How could he consciously trade away Cuban economic output to the USSR when he could have kept it all, while continuing to receive Soviet imports and aid?

Stalin's USSR sent millions of dollars in gold and various other goods to Albania ( and Yugoslavia for example received 100 million gold dollars before 1948) in the 40s. At that time they didn't ask for anything in return.

Castro's Cuba did not industrialize. I think that it's absurd for a supposedly socialist country not to strive towards real modernization and real development of productive forces.

Quote:
Yes, and the USSR should have gone to war with the United States in the 1950s instead of traitorously calling for peaceful coexistence.
Typical Maoist fanaticism. It's easy to do some armchair philosophizing when you're not actually in charge of a small bastion of socialism, with few allies, a hostile and powerful northern neighbour, and a population that has to eat and live.

The way i see it, it's not about going to war with the west at this or that (which China also tried to avoid during the Korean war), but in recognizing that capitalism and socialism simply cannot "peacefully coexist" in the long term.

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I'm sure a revolutionary protracted people's war would work out real well for Cuba, with absolutely no danger of foreign intervention and the restoration of imperialist hegemony...

The danger of foreign intervention is ever-present. But i don't think that should scare off the revolutionary masses.
Better to have a revolution than slow restoration of capitalism which is ongoing in Cuba as we speak!


Quote:
In 2005 I was not fully informed of the details of the Maoist arguments against the Kosygin reforms, but today I can say with confidence that they are built on as much demagoguery as the rest of their debating points. The 'profit' indicator had always existed in the Soviet planning system from the implementation of Stalinist industrialization and collectivization efforts which converted the country into a 'fully planned' economy (i.e. from 1928 on). The reforms associated with Kosygin's name attempted to play around with indicators, increasing the importance of the profit indicator in an attempt to improve economic efficiency. These reforms neither planned or succeeded in introducing elements of the market economic system into the Soviet economy, because prices remained state controlled, there were no 'owners' or even CEO-style managers to take economic advantage of these reforms, and most importantly because the ministries successfully resisted any attempts at reform. The Maoist obsession with the profit indicator in a socialist context leads me to conclude that they have no comprehension of the differences between its use in a socialist economy, whose goal remains to serve the national interest in the most efficient way possible, and a capitalist one, where it is used to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie. Perhaps Red Rebel can explain to us the structure of the Cuban economic system prior to 1991, but I am extremely weary of trusting the Maoist critique here just as I am in virtually any situation.

Can you provide some (preferably available online) material about the issue? I really can't say that i'm informed about this at all. So i can't exactly debate you here.

However i'd appreciate your comments on this, from "The Economics of Revisionism"
http://www.mltranslations.org/Ireland/ico.htm

Quote:
Reading Kosygin's report on, "New Methods of Economic Management" (Report to the Plenary Meeting of the CPSU Central Committee September 27th, 1965) is like reading a bourgeois company report. Even the terminology is identical to that used by bourgeois economists. According to Kosygin the main task in the Soviet Union is the achieving of "rational and economic management of the national economy" (p. 11), and the "rational use of manpower resources" (p. 20). Hence rationalisation is the main problem. Bukharin, who tried to lead the Soviet Union on to the capitalist path over 30 years ago, was the precursor of Kosygin. For him too the task was merely one of "rationalising" production.

What is at the centre of the economic problems of the revisionists? It is this:

"...calculated per rouble of fixed assets national income and industrial output has somewhat declined in recent years... our fixed assets are not sufficiently utilised" (p. 12). There has been a "decrease in output per rouble of fixed capital"... It is important to interest enterprises in... raising not only the sum total of their profits, but also the percentage of these profits in relation to productive assets." (p. 38)

In short we have the old capitalist problem of saving on constant capital in order to increase not only the mass of profit but also the rate of profit. This is a problem of getting the worker to use raw materials and machinery as efficiently and economically as possible.

This is an endless problem for the capitalist because, under capitalism:

"...the labourer looks at the social nature of his labour... at his own combination with the labour of others for a common purpose, as he would at an alien power; the condition of realising this combination is alien property whose dissipation would be totally indifferent to him if he were not compelled to economise with it... Insofar as the means of production in capitalist production processes are at the same time means of exploitation of labour, the labourer is no more concerned with their relative dearness or cheapness than a horse is concerned with the dearness or cheapness of its bit and bridle. The situation is quite different in factories owned by the labourers..."

"The capitalists fanatical insistence on economy in means of production is quite understandable. That nothing is lost or wasted and the means of production are consumed in the manner required by the production process itself, depends partly on the skill and intelligence of the labourers and partly on the discipline enforced by the capitalist for combined labour. This discipline will become superfluous under a social system under which the labourers work on their own account." (Marx: Capital, Vol. 3, pp. 85, 83)

Yet Kosygin's main problem in a society where large scale socialist industry, industry owned by the workers, was established over 30 years ago, is the efficient use of the means of production - the typical problem of the capitalist, whose workers by using the means of production more efficiently only intensify their own exploitation. In a socialist system, where the means of production are owned by the workers, the workers themselves will be continuously on the look-out for ways of using them more efficiently. And every worker knows that, even with the existing means of production, he could expand productivity enormously if it was in his interest to do so: if by doing so he were not at the same time increasing his own exploitation. Kosygin's main problem is the last thing that should be a problem in a society which is in the stage of transition to Communism, as he would have us believe Soviet society is. Why is this?

It is because labour power in the Soviet Union has again taken on the character of "variable capital", which it has in bourgeois society. If this were not the case it would be inconceivable that the main problem in Soviet society should be the efficient use of labour power.





And from "Restoration of capitalism in the USSR"
http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/RCSU75.html

Quote:
...
This breathtaking piece of brazenness -- as if there had been no economic growth in the USSR under Stalin's leadership! -- and of metaphysics ("immutable law") served as a warning signal to the NVP-advocates that, if they persisted, they would go the way of the so-called "antiparty group" into oblivion. Under these circumstances the "liberals" emerged triumphant. They were granted an experimental trial of some of their ideas in a series of light-industrial enterprises producing for the consumer market (the Bolshevichka-Mayak experiments), while the experiments of their opponents were discontinued.

Nikita Khrushchev, however, did not remain in power long enough to tend the fruits of what he had sown. In October 1964 he was out-maneuvered and deposed by his colleagues, headed by Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin. A harvest failure due largely to Khrushchev's "virgin lands" scheme, the unworkability of some of his tactics such as splitting the party into agricultural and industrial regions, his blunders in foreign policy vis-a-vis Yugoslavia, Cuba, China and Albania, and to a large extent the vulgarity of his style -- notably banging his shoe on the podium at the United Nations -- had made Khrushchev into a figure of scorn and ridicule who threatened to bring discredit on the class he represented.

His successors criticized him for "subjectivism" and for "going ahead too fast;" and made a number of minor adjustments of substance and style in Soviet policy, domestic and foreign. But they were quick to announce, in early November, that his economic reorganization would continue and spread along the same basic lines. (Linden, Khrushchev and the Soviet Leadership, Baltimore 1966, p. 225) At the end of the year they extended the scope of the Bolshevichka-Mayak experiments, injecting the new system for the first time also into heavy industry. (Felker, p.51)

Things then began to move very quickly. In March, a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the party declared it was time to "begin devising measures to improve the rationality of the system." In June, an important conference was held in Moscow, bringing together economists, enterprise directors and planners from all parts of the USSR, to actually "devise measures." The consensus of the meeting, according to Pravda's report, was that "the time had come . . . to decrease detailed planning from above and to reduce the quantity of indices assigned to the enterprises, and, in so doing, to provide conditions for operational independence and for developing healthy economic initiative on the part of the enterprise."

The time had come also "when the role of profits in appraising enterprise operations could be elevated to a more prominent position among the set of indicators and that profits themselves should provide the principal sources for the formation of enterprise funds. . . ." There was also agreement that the time had come to tackle what was called "the market problem," which, Pravda said, "exists not only for consumer goods but also for the means of production. There is no end of work in this sphere." (Quoted in Felker, pp. 91-92)

Toward the end of September 1965 the Central Committee met again. At the end of it, Premier Kosygin, in a lengthy speech, announced a series of economic "reforms," which one writer rightly termed "certainly the most prominent [measures] in the economic sphere since Stalin's . . . reforms in 1928 that terminated NEP." (Felker, p.93) These measures, however, went plainly and clearly in the opposite direction. Instead of subjecting the enterprises to planning, they virtually (and eventually, completely) subjected planning to the enterprises; instead of eliminating the market in means of production and labor power, they expanded, legalized and strengthened it; instead of eliminating profiteering, they raised it to a principle -- in short, instead of constructing socialism, the Kosygin reforms restored capitalism.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 15 May 2012, 01:31
Sorry I hadn't replied earlier Loz. I had forgotten what thread our discussion was in.

Loz wrote:
Not neccessarily, but there are signs which point out to conclusion that Cuba was but a neo-colony of the USSR. A socialist country one third of whose economy is based on sugar cane?


Loz wrote:
Well, that's the whole point IMO. Cuba was made totally dependent on the USSR. They barely produced anything except sugar.


But couldn't you also just consider this as a mistake on the part of Castro and the Soviets, Castro taking the path of least resistance and the Soviets subsidizing their purchases without thinking about the negative long-term effects? The term neo-colony is usually associated with direct or indirect economic exploitation, neither of which occurred in the Cuban-Soviet economic relationship.

Loz wrote:
Khruschov and Co. had similar plans for Albania as well, but Albanians resisted that.


Khrushchev's plans for a COMECON based on a form of 'comparative advantage' never matured, and it could even be argued that the Eastern states of the Eastern Bloc duplicated quite a bit of effort in building up their industrial bases and consumer goods produced from heavy industry (goods like cars, which I think we've debated about before) to maintain relative economic independence. By the 1970s the COMECON had given so many rights to each member state (including the need for unanimous voting for key plans for economic interaction) that its practical use was very limited, each country usually resorting to bilateral trade agreements instead.

Loz wrote:
Not really, at least not according to the Leninist definition of imperialism. South Korea and Japan are still, in a way, even under imperialist occupation, but look at how these countries transformed themselves in the last 50 years.


The East Asian tigers are a complicated case yes, but I would argue that they have joined (or in South Korea's case, come very close to joining) the 'golden billion' for which military and financial imperialism operate. Germany is also home to American military bases, but the country is a full-fledged member of a Western Alliance which polices the world and fights for global markets and to keep the third world labour and resources cheap and plentiful.

Loz wrote:
Stalin's USSR sent millions of dollars in gold and various other goods to Albania ( and Yugoslavia for example received 100 million gold dollars before 1948) in the 40s. At that time they didn't ask for anything in return.


They sent aid to Cuba too, and their subsidization of sugar was also a hidden form of aid, but the USSR was not a country that had defeated the concept of scarcity. They could not just give away all their resources with no economic return.

Loz wrote:
The way i see it, it's not about going to war with the west at this or that (which China also tried to avoid during the Korean war), but in recognizing that capitalism and socialism simply cannot "peacefully coexist" in the long term.


But what is the long term, and what is an appropriate way for peaceful coexistence to end? Should the communists have consciously worked to create some provocation, or react unreasonably to one, going to war in order to end the contradiction between the two systems once and for all? With the existence of nuclear weapons this wasn't possible, and even without them it would not be desirable, given that it is better for socialism to mature within each society instead of simply being forced on it. For socialism to mature in the countries of Western Europe and North America the countries of the third world which provide their proletariat with a high standard of living would first have to decouple themselves from global economic imperialism. To this end the USSR was working to find new allies in the third world and to aid those looking for economic, political and military alternatives to the West. There were setbacks, and the rate at which socialism advanced was slow and sometimes painful, but it was undoubtedly advancing well into the 1980s.

Loz wrote:
Better to have a revolution than slow restoration of capitalism which is ongoing in Cuba as we speak!


This is something I'm not sure of. As far as revolution goes, my view is that as long as the CPC rules the country, there will be hope for checks, balances and reversals of any reforms that may be leading the country to capitalism.

Loz wrote:
Can you provide some (preferably available online) material about the issue? I really can't say that i'm informed about this at all. So i can't exactly debate you here.


I can only remember a couple things, based on this thread:

http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/viewtopic.php?f=128&p=790627

http://www.fact-index.com/e/ec/economy_of_the_soviet_union.html#Calls%20for%20Reform

http://www.answers.com/topic/kosygin-reforms

With regard to the Bland article, I remember arguing with a Maoist and doing a nearly point-by-point rejection of many of his points, but I can't seem to find it. It's just that a lot of it prays on lack of insider knowledge of the Soviet system (not just at the high level, but even all the way down to the consumer level) which is why I couldn't stomach it. With regard to the ICO article, it sounds really dramatic when they define the reforms as the restoration of capitalism, but the reality is that the USSR did have problems with the rational use of manpower and resources all the way into the perestroika era, and that tinkering with the position of the profitability indicator among economic calculations just cannot be equated to the restoration of capitalist production relations.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 May 2012, 00:32
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 30 May 2012, 06:27
Cuba is socialist!
Cuba is revolutionary!
You will never have Cuba!

!Aqui no se rinde nadie, carajo!

!Que vivan Fidel y Raul!
!Socialismo o muerte!
Hasta la victoria siempre
The Paris Communards struggled and died in the defense of their ideas. The banners of the revolution and of socialism are not surrendered without a fight. Only cowards and the demoralized surrender — never Communists and other revolutionaries.
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