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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  April 2008

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE April 2008

Subject:

Re: Cuba, socialism, and a debate between sterile, demoralized "leftists"

From:

Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 30 Apr 2008 13:48:21 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (118 lines)

This is an excerpt from the Introduction I wrote to a now-famous
essay by Richard Levins, concerning the struggle for ecological
agriculture in Cuba, published in 1992 by the Red Balloon Collective:


Recent anarchist and green pundits are in danger of failing to
imagine what hoops people are forced to jump through, and what
happens to them when they refuse to jump.

Especially when it comes to Cuba. Not only to imagine what could have
been (and perhaps what could still be), in which case criticisms of
various Cuban governmental policies, the hierarchy and the like would
be very much apropos, but of what Cuba actually is: contested space
where contradictory efforts and policies wash over it, back and
forth, waves coming in and receding with the vast ocean surrounding
it, a little island alone in a sea of capitalist sharks.

It is no coincidence that it is in Cuba (as it was in Nicaragua when
the Sandinista revolution was in full bloom), that most highly
politicized of countries, that important ecological dreams are being
born: its new solar energy manufacturing industry promises to become
the cutting edge, especially for countries now dependent on expensive
foreign oil. Explorations into new non-intrusive agricultural
techniques, producing quality foods at higher yields per acre without
using pesticides, lift high the green vision of a different,
non-destructive relationship to nature, and are publicly funded and
promoted. Should Cuba's experiments in natural agriculture blossom,
they will pose an enormous threat to U.S. agribusiness, fertilizer,
petroleum and other related industrial domination, for it imagines
the possibility of countries, now caught up in the vicious cycle of
producing cash crops for export while their own people go hungry,
creating a way out of the IMF/World Bank "developmental" trap -- the
revolutionary implications of what is best in a green vision of an
ecological world.

Many leftists, though, have bought into the U.S. government's
demonization of Cuba. Left Green Notes, for one, has printed
vitriolic condemnations of Cuba for building a nuclear power plant
that go far beyond any legitimate critique, while failing to offer a
realistic alternative energy approach -- proposals that would be
welcomed by most Cuban agencies, some quite independent from the
national government, who are eager for skilled international input.
Fortunately, revolutionary scientists like Richard Levins and others
have been working steadily in Cuba to put into effect just such a
vision, and the following essay sketches some of that work.

Anarchists, marxists, socialist feminists and greens (O my!) need to
move beyond the academic critiques we're so good at from afar and
offer coherent alternatives, working with others to put them into
practice, by helping to form communities of resistance and nurturance
that alone can give rise to and sustain the required struggles over
long periods of time. Had we been able to work more closely with
revolutionaries in India and prevented the deforestation of the
Himalayas; and had we worked more closely with indigenous people in
the Amazon and saved the rainforest, we could have abated the regular
flooding of the Ganges river and the storms that tear through the
Caribbean with such devastation -- and all the consequent loss of
life. Had we even been able to construct cyclone shelters in
Bangladesh, or prevented the U.S. bombardment of Iraq -- all of which
involve a political dimension that too many ecology-minded people
shun -- hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved, and
horrible "natural" catastrophes avoided. When we fail to take direct
action to build up the kind of world we can only occasionally
imagine, we allow the ruling class, and particularly Western science,
to purse its profits with our lips, and spin its final solutions out
of our golden desires.

Solidarity with the Cuban revolution does not mean passive
endorsement of all present conditions and practices in Cuba, but an
active, critical and supportive engagement with (and through) the
revolutionary process. Through that engagement, we'll find surprising
new ways of framing the questions (and answering them) that will not
only help the Cuban people but generate conditions that enable us to
liberate ourselves! Radical ecologists, greens, must support and
involve ourselves in the experimental agriculture and alternative
energy projects going on in Cuba, and keep U.S. imperialism out of
there, for it is in such communities that our hopes for a new
relationship to nature and an ecological future are being worked out
and made to yield fruitful harvests.

- Mitchel Cohen, 1992



At 12:05 PM 4/30/2008, you wrote:
>What we are witnessing in the debate between Balter and Proyect is the
>sniping of two sterile, demoralized pseudo-leftists who cannot get over the
>obstacles presented by the history of the past several decades. In fact,
>Cuba is not socialist and never has been socialist. Modern-day Cuba was
>established according to the Stalinist model of state capitalism that was
>the outcome of the degeneration of of a failed attempt to build socialism by
>the Bolsheviks. Balter, who is a fool parading as an authority, sees
>nothing to do about this but offer us demoralized platitudes about how
>socialism is impossible, and therefore we must conciliate the US
>imperialists and prettify the meager "freedoms" we supposedly enjoy here,
>where workers are being driven to the wall by a looming economic crisis.
>Proyect, equally demoralized and sterile, continues to harp on the false
>picture presented by revisionist dogma, and apologize for what has happened
>in Cuba by insisting that socialism equals state capitalism and that
>inequalities between the elite and the masses in Cuba don't really matter.
> Both sides in this debate offer the real revolutionary left in the USA
>nothing but dead-ends.
>
>The need to build a new revolutionary and anti-imperialist movement in the
>USA is becoming more pressing every day. Besides the economic crisis
>referred to above, the people of this country are faced with murderous wars
>being waged by the US bourgeoisie in Iraq and Afghanistan, the danger of a
>war with Iran, and US support for Zionist domination of the occupied
>territories in Palestine, which has caused nothing but misery for the
>Palestinian people, as well as climate change and hunger brought on by
>predatory imperialist trade policies. Rather than getting involved in such
>sterile debates, I urge the members of this list to move on to building such
>a movement, sum up the experience of the last several decades from an
>anti-revisionist perspective, and devote their energies to rejuvenating the
>left and ridding it of the baggage demonstrated to us by this sort of
>debate. Only then can we begin to fight capitalism and imperialism the way
>it should be fought.

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