The key issue is to try to learn from the failures of socialist experiments
how best to bring socialism about. Eg the lesson I draw from Sov Union,
China, and Cuba is that it can't happen without democracy and without
allowing differing opinions to be expressed; instead, all different opinions
have been branded counterrevolutionary, very self-serving for those in
power. If all we do is say, don't criticize, it could be worse, don't
criticize, it only helps the imperialists, don't criticize, you're playing
into the hands of the enemy, then there  is no scrutiny, no critical
analysis, no progress possible. I always find it surprising how some
otherwise perceptive leftists sometimes leave their critical faculties at
the door when it comes to situations like Cuba. For the same guy to be in
power for 50 years, and then for his f----ing BROTHER to take over when he
is sick, should have been a dead giveaway to leftists what kind of society
Cuba really is--a nepotistic and paternalistic dictatorship.


On Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 12:08 PM, Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> During the U.S. assault on Serbia a woman from Bulgaria posted for
> awhile on the marxism list. She had been a Dissident under the Communist
> regime, but wanted to warn Serbians that things could get a lot worse
> under full-fledged capitalism: she was also a strong dissident under the
> current regime!
> The way I once put it is that the new regimes in Russia and eastern
> Europe showed that a corrupt, tyrannical, pseudo-socialism was far
> better than no socialism at all.
> But I think most or all "criticisms" of the great Revolutions of th
> 20th-c, as well as criticims of their return to capitalism are grounded
> in a false cnception of what was possible. There was an article around
> 15 years ago in NLR with a title somethng like, "All Praise and Glory to
> the Jacobins" -- and by Jacobins it meant Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, et
> al: The argument was that these regimes had brought their natins into
> the 20th- century, and though they were now 'returning' to capitalism,
> still their contributions had been great, and that only by aiming at
> socialism (howver impossible under their conditions) could they even
> achive a 'modern' capitalism. It remains for the present century (one
> hopes) to struggle for actual socialism. (Rosa Luxemburge, incidentally,
> meant by her slogan, "Socialism or Barbarism" that _both_ were quite
> possible. There are no guarantees of success. Certainly 90 years since
> her death have been, viewed from a global perspective, barbaric indeed.
> Someone once said of Mexico: Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close
> to the United States. In the last 60 years that could be said of the
> whole world.
> Carrol
> Claudia Hemphill Pine wrote:
> >
> > Good points, Michael, especially as regards whether Cuba's literacy
> > and health care resulted from socialism or paternalistic dictatorship.
> > It's not hard to find many historical examples in the U.S. of
> > outstanding health care, schooling and housing going to the workers
> > whose lives were all but owned by certain paternalistic corporate
> > 'dictators.'  Examples include Hershey, PA; the beneficiaries of
> > Andrew Carnegie, and of Kaiser - of later HMO fame.  Many other
> > company towns gave their workers the first decent standard of living
> > they'd experienced in the U.S., particularly for some immigrants. None
> > of these, however, were democracies.
> >
> > I agree with Chandler too, though, that it will be good if in the U.S.
> > rush (no doubt) to cackle at Cuba's change (or collapse), some take
> > care to remember what Cuba has done right. There's much about health
> > care, housing and literacy that the U.S., for instance, could benefit
> > from!
> >
> > I will never forget when I went over to Bulgaria in the early 90's, 4
> > yrs after the end there of Communism. My mom had been working there
> > since 1991. Staunch Republican that she is (or was, till Bush Jr. let
> > so many outrages accumulate), she showed me around Sofia and Plovdiv
> > with their Stalin-blocks and said "See? No one here has ever managed
> > to become rich under Communism. That's why it's bad: it stifles
> > people."
> >
> > And I looked at the glass from the opposite point of view and said,
> > "What I notice is no one homeless in the street. No one unable to find
> > a job, no one barred from school or health care because they aren't
> > rich enough. That's what they've now lost that was good: a system in
> > which few became rich, but at the same time, masses of people weren't
> > condemned to hopeless lives of poverty."
> >
> > Most of our Bulgarian friends were unhappy quite soon with the loss of
> > the social welfare they had under communism. Although many have
> > enjoyed starting their own businesses, they've all expressed concern
> > as well over how insecure life quickly became. Unemployment and
> > underemployment are rampant; for many, the standard of living has
> > declined, while basic nutrition under market capitalism hasn't become
> > any better and is definitely distributed more unequally.  So some of
> > my Mom's old friends there, even some of the most anti-old regime,
> > have now reverted to supporting neo- or retro-communism (or rather,
> > statism).
> >
> > Now Cuba goes from one extreme to another - the U.S. or Chinese
> > brutal-capitalism extreme, it looks like.  What does the world have to
> > do to find a safer, more socially and environmentally sustainable path
> > down the middle???
> >
> > Claudia
> >
> > On Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM, Michael Balter
> > <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> >      A revolution against the Batista regime and US imperialism's
> >      stranglehold on Cuba was absolutely necessary. The
> >      accomplishments of that revolution in areas such as health
> >      care and literacy were significant. But many (including many
> >      on the left) are now questioning whether those improvements
> >      were the result of socialism, or the result of a
> >      paternalistic dictatorship. The truth is probably somewhere
> >      in between, but where in between is a big question. There is
> >      no true socialism without democracy and personal freedom; no
> >      one on this list would be willing to live under the
> >      political and economic conditions that the average Cuban
> >      lives under.
> >
> >      MB
> >
> >      On Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 5:40 PM, Chandler Davis
> >      <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> >           Thanks, MB, for circulating Marc Cooper's opinion
> >           piece on the
> >           proposed Cuban transition.  The title "Crash
> >           Landing" sounds
> >           appropriate for world capitalism, which on a
> >           slightly longer
> >           time scale is riding for a fall.  (I am working on
> >           an article
> >           to be entitled "Splashing Down Safely": must try
> >           to maintain
> >           some optimism.)  As Cooper says, the Cuban system
> >           has sort of
> >           flopped already, with its fission into a
> >           "domestic" and a
> >           dollar economy.  I don't know what advice to give
> >           the Cubans,
> >           aside from the earnest plea to try democratic
> >           decision-making
> >           (with the concomitant welcoming of dissent).  That
> >           plea has
> >           already been heard by the Cubans, to the extent
> >           that they read
> >           my posts to this list.  On the other hand, I have
> >           advice to
> >           give the rest of the world: pay attention to the
> >           things Cuba
> >           has done right and try to adapt them to our future
> >           system
> >           whatever it may be called.  Monthly Review and
> >           Stuart Newman
> >           and many others are able to think about this
> >           difficult task,
> >           but I wish I could hope Michael Balter & Marc
> >           Cooper could
> >           work on it too.
> >                                  Chandler
> >
> >      --
> >      ******************************************
> >      Michael Balter
> >      Contributing Correspondent, Science
> >      Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> >      New York University
> >
> >      Email:  [log in to unmask]
> >      Web:
> >      NYU:
> >      ******************************************
> >
> >      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I
> >      ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." --
> >      Hélder Pessoa Câmara
> >
> > --
> > The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off
> > a revolution.  -- Paul Cezanne

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor
have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara