A socialist revolution is a process of radical social change with its agency born in the womb of the old society. In Marx, it is a transformational process of the proletariat from a "class-in-itself" to a "class-for-itself." Or as Che Guevara put, the emergence of "New Man."  Or the "Socialist Man."  Existence of racist attitudes or sexist (macho) attitudes or homophobia in Cuba, like the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America (or the rest of the world) is part of the history of emergence and unfolding of "civilization," i.e. class society.  It is not an tribute of some "actually existing socialism" (an apologetic term used by the followers of Moscow or Beijing) or "State capitalism" (a term with unclear content in by socialist critics of the Soviet Union). (I have an accessible paper on this topic that you can read here). 

The socialist revolution in Marx is a historical process that begins with the coming to power of the working class in one or more countries and continues until it has secured a decisive balance of power across the world. The process is called the transition period. There are a number of theories of the transition period--but all deal with how class and market relations will be transformed to classless planned society of what Marx called free Association of Direct Producers.

Marx fully agreed with anarchist that the existence of any state is incompatible with socialism (or communism, he used the terms to mean basically the same thing).  He criticized anarchist among other things, for their refusal to understand that the state like all other class institutions cannot be abolished at will. The material basis for such institutions had to be undermined over a period of time--that is the "transition period." Of course, initiation of a (process of) socialist revolution does not guarantee it success--as the experience of the Russian revolution showed.  What is crucial to understand and engage in is that no socialist revolution will ever succeed in one country (not even in the most powerful); it means that it success crucially depends on internationalism--that is extension of the world revolution to other countries. That is perhaps why Che left Cuba for the Congo and then Bolivia and called for "one, two, three Vietnams..."  That is why the most severe revolutionary socialist  critics of Cuban revolution should begin with defending it against imperialism and what is more, to bring down their own bourgeoisie. 


On Tue, May 17, 2011 at 9:38 AM, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
If, as Sam explained in his previous email, it is not fair to compare racisim in Cuba with racism in the United States, there is the remaining question of whether serious racism continues to exist in Cuba as a problem of actually existing socialism; or if, as David Westman has argued, Cuba is not actually a socialist country but a state capitalist one and thus the remaining racism is a sign of capitalism.  This seems an important distinction to me, especially since recent reforms in Cuba could lead to an intensification of class differences. If so, that might make the struggle against racism all the more difficult.

But it is interesting to see that the problem is being publicly acknowledged.

And Sam, please don't call me right-wings names, as Larry also suggested. I am a left-winger, not a righter-winger, even if my views often appear at odds with many here. Tea Party people are racists, I am anti-racist, just for starters.


On Tue, May 17, 2011 at 10:49 AM, S E Anderson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Dear SftP Folk,


The Center for International Policy invites you to a conference on:
Questions of Racial Identity, Racism and anti-Racist Policies in Cuba Today 
University of California Washington Center
1608 Rhode Island Ave. NW
Washington, D.C.
June 2, 2011
9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Please RSVP to [log in to unmask], or (202) 232-3317 and ask for Fiorella Mejias
Both the United States and Cuba have African-Descent populations and thus share the democratic challenges of dismantling remaining barriers to full racial equality. We think it very important for Americans to have a better understanding of how Cuban citizens and Cuban policymakers are dealing with the issues of racial and national identity and equality. The recently completed 6th Cuban Party Congress concluded with a call  to “increase the presence of the women’s sector and that of the descendants of slaves from Africa. Both were the poorest and most exploited by capitalism in our country.”
This conference is designed specifically to convene key sectors of the U.S. civil society and policy groups involved in work with Cuban citizens and/or the Cuban government. The primary goal is to bring attention to Cuba’s internal discourses and negotiations on racial identity, racism, and government policies to address one of the most fundamental democratic issues in Cuba today and to foster proactive reflections and actions among these sectors in their respective work.

Please feel free to widely disseminate this conference invitation and encourage your constituents to attend. Please contact James Early ( 202-744-2682) to arrange for group specific one-hour conversations with our Cuban guests on June 3.
9:00 a.m. – Coffee
9:30 – 10:00  – Introduction – Wayne S. Smith, Center for International Policy and James Early, Director of Cultural Heritage Policy at the Smithsonian Center of  Folklife and Cultural Heritage
10:00 – 11:00 – Racial Identity, Racism and Racial Discrimination in Cuba Today. What are the issues and what is at stake for the nation?
·         Moderator – Emira Woods, IPS Foreign Policy in Focus Board Chair
         Panelist – Esteban Morales, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of  U.S.-Cuban Relations
 11:00 – 12:00 –State of Afro-Cuban Initiatives for Racial Equality in Cuba Today
·         Moderator –  Mwiza Munthali, Director of Public Outreach of the Trans-Africa Forum
         Panelist – Heriberto Feraudy, President of the Cuban Commission Against Racism
12:00 – 1:30 – Break for lunch
1:30 – 3:00 –  Race in Cuba Today. Implications for U.S.-Cuban Relations
·         Moderator – Sarah Stephens, Director, Center for Democracy in the Americas
         Panelists – Esteban Morales, Heriberto Feraudy, Luis Murillo (Phelps Stokes),  Julia Sweig (Council on Foreign Relations)
3:00- 4:00 – Reflections of  Various U.S. Entities
·         Moderator – Wayne S. Smith, Center for International Policy
         Panelists – James Early, Philip Brenner (Professor, American University), Congresswoman Karen Bass (if available)
4:00 – 5:30 – Wine and cheese reception
Interpreting services provided by Jorge Lawton of South-North Communications

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

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web:    michaelbalter.com
NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/

“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