I would say that Sam's description of the depths of racism in Cuba was quite shocking. I hope he is wrong, because it would be pretty depressing if after 50+ years of "socialism" Cuba was still as racist as the United States or even more so.

Also, we are lately being told how long it takes to "build socialism" in countries like Cuba, ie they are supposedly still doing it. The problem is that in the meantime, all of the so-called socialist countries go capitalist before the construction process is complete. China is the other obvious example.

I disagree with Larry, however, I think there is nothing "sacrosanct" about independent parties if we are talking about democracy. Communists have long insisted that the working class needs only one party, the party that represents their interests, and the Communisty Party is it--period. But this is a tautology. Anyone who thinks that the Communist Party in question is not properly representing the interests of the working class is immediately branded as a counter-revolutionary, and often arrested and put in jail. That's what happens in Cuba today, and what happens in China, and what happened in the Soviet Union. David Westman will tell us that none of these are socialist countries, but unfortunately they are all ruled by Communist Parties (North Korea too) and so at the very least the brand is being badly tarnished by lack of democracy.

In response to this, we are told by Sam and others that vibrant, major debates and discussions are taking place all over the island, within the one-party framework. Perhaps this is true, perhaps it is just window dressing; but democratic centralism means that everyone has to shut up once the decisions are made. Can Sam assure us that they are not made in advance, behind closed doors? Because that, comrades, is how Communists have always done things.


On Sat, May 14, 2011 at 3:35 PM, Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Thanks for the summary of some of your experiences while visiting Cuba.  I had actually thought of Cuba, unlike other Latin countries, a being relatively free of racism.  So, it is interesting that it is still a struggle there.  I am interested other information from your time in Cuba.

Nothing is sacrosanct about independent parties.  However, I know nothing about how deep and heated the debate is that occurs within Cuban society or government nor do I know how that debate affects decision making.  Are votes taken?  By whom?  Are they decisive?  

I work in a sort of one party system, Rutgers University.  We are all really employees of the administration and that thing called "faculty governance" is not very powerful.  The faculty cannot see budgets without great difficulty and have little participation in budgetary decisions.  I am in the chemistry department and I have never seen the department budget beyond a short summary.  Same is true, I assume, within most departments.  We do not elect new university presidents and the president appoints the entire administration, some from the faculty,  so my understanding of a "one party system "is jaded by that experience.  We do, however, have a real voice in the hiring of new faculty members.

If the president and administrators of universities were elected representatives, then I could imagine oppositional groups developing and running candidates.  Those groups would be independent parties.

For these and other reasons, I like the idea of an independent opposition with power, but that does not mean a capitalist party.  If there is no wealthy class nor private control of major production (a neighborhood bodega doesn't count as a major industry), then an independent party would be another working class party.

Finally, I don't have access to current statistics about the percentage of women in science and engineering departments in the US.  My memory says that the percentage of women is well below 46% and that the percentage is different for the hard and soft sciences.  I would have to review published studies to be more specific, but the info is out there.


From: Sam Anderson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2011 18:11:17 -0400
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: provocateurs and Stalinists

Why? What so sacrosanct about a so called independent party if the political structure allows for deep and heated debate within it's present construction. The gay and lesbian issues are currently being thrashed out within the given political and social structures.

The government is even sanctioning surgery for those who desire gender transformation.

On the other hand, the race/racism issue is brewing from within the present structures... And it is even more volatile than the gender question.

Let just say that I have had that rare opportunity of being part of a lively discussion of these two issues from a Black Cuban perspective that the vast majority of Leftists from the West Could not have privy to... And these comrades, along with their fellow allies across the island in all walks of Cuban life, are slowly and confidently transforming Cuba's socialist goals from the inside and bottom up. You will most likely see a few of the results of their struggles over the next few years.

As for the specific battle against racism, the Cuban Communist Party has made great progress in seeing that Black Cubans are becoming key factors in the overall leadership of the party and government. (I.e. The head of the powerful Cuban Trade Union is a Black Cuban)

The head chef at the new hotel we staid at in Havana is a young (28 years old) Black Cuban.

Over the past decade, Black and Mestizo Cubans have moved into key positions in every aspect of the government and businesses. BUT, there's still a long long way to go when you realize that Cuba now is a mainly Black & Brown nation (thanx to the "white" Cubans running away by the thousands during the early stages of the Revolution). 

We cannot expect 500 years of racism/white supremacy to be eradicated within 50 years. The efforts to do so currently unfolding in Cuba along with the battle against sexism recognizes this and still pushes ahead to accelerate the undoing of racism and sexism. After all, there is no material basis for racism or sexism as one finds within a capitalist system. For the Cubans, it is the hard hard struggle against eons old racist and sexist IDEAS that is the challenge.

At some point, I hope to report back on my visit to their Computer University- which is actually a  self contained university city being built to accommodate about 20,000 students as well as thousands of faculty and staff. But, suffice to say in this context, they have made great strides in getting a cross section of youth from all over Cuba: Black, white, Mestizo and women. Their faculty is 46% women (I don't think there is a science & engineering college in the US that has that equivalent stat... Much less 10,000 students of color engaged in the computer sciences).

In Struggle,

Sam Anderson 

 What does "independent" mean?

Sent from Sam & Rosemari's iPad

On May 13, 2011, at 11:35 AM, Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


I cannot evaluate what is happening in Cuba in terms of social structures, but they probably need an independent media, does not need to be corporate, just independent, and independent political parties.  Is that possible?


From: S E Anderson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2011 08:38:24 -0400
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: provocateurs and Stalinists

SftP Folk,

I just got back from a week in Cuba. Haven't been there in many years. I was there during the collapse of the Soviet Union and a little while after that.... and over those years, kept in touch with ordinary folk we befriended as well as key party and government folk.

I remember the US Left back in those terrible days of postSoviet Cuba fiercely and arrogantly criticizing the Cubans for beginning to abandon socialism and head on down the capitalist road with their push for increasing tourism and attempts at what seemed to be privatizing farming. These Lefties were predicting the capitulation of the Cuban Communist Party to capitalism within a few years.

Obviously it did not happen. Obviously the Cubans still have a ton of social, economic and cultural issues to deal with. And obviously, after 50 years and almost three generations of folk, you have a different mindset among ordinary Cubans than you have here in the US over that same period of time. I believe that Cuban mindset is a better mindset to deal with the protracted struggle for equity and democracy than what has developed here-- even among the white Left here in the US.

I ask a simple question to my Leftist Comrades: What Should the Cuban leadership and people do to advance Socialism in Cuba? We criticize but offer nothing to help them along the Socialist Road.

Can we- the tiny discombulated and atomized Left in the US (and the West) be so arrogant as to just stand and criticize as all-knowing socialist gods?

In Struggle,

Sam Anderson

On May 11, 2011, at 4:01 PM, Larry Romsted wrote:


Ok. All generalizations are wrong (including this one). :)

My generalization about the view of Cuba by members of this list is now wrong. 

Sigh.  Hard to generalize without taking a poll and that will probably make things more complicated not less.


From: Mitchel Cohen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 15:46:46 -0400
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: provocateurs and Stalinists

At 03:33 PM 5/11/2011, Larry Romsted wrote:
Yes, but I think you mis read this list.  Virtually all the who respond about Cuba think of it as state capitalist, not including myself. I don't have a full understand about Cuba

Hi Larry,
Unlike the USSR, I do not think of Cuba as state capitalist. Cuba's system is a form of socialism.


Ring the bells that still can ring,  Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in. 
~ Leonard Cohen

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

Email:  [log in to unmask]

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith