Cuba: Socialism and democracy

Cuba: Socialism and democracy

SOCIALIST PARTY general secretary, Peter Taaffe’s new book, Cuba: Socialism and Democracy, is a timely explanation of the processes that led to the Cuban Revolution, the development of the Cuban regime and its perspectives for the future.

Kevin Parslow

Cuba has recently attracted international publicity around the case of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the centre of the conflict between his father in Cuba, and his relatives in the Miami exile community and their supporters in the USA who wish to keep him. In addition, the possibility of scrapping economic and trade sanctions imposed by the USA to strangle Cuba has been raised.

Also some of those entering the socialist movement are searching for ‘models’ to compare ideas. With the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and the drive towards capitalism by the Chinese ‘communists’, the example of Cuba, which has apparently maintained a ‘socialist’ government in isolation and against huge odds, may seem attractive.

This new book explains that socialists supported the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But our forerunners in the Militant and before were critical of its leaders, prominently Fidel Castro, who was not a ‘Marxist’ before the revolution. They were forced later, through the US blockade, into measures such as the nationalisation of the economy which were undoubtedly progressive.

We argued that without the necessary workers’ control throughout society, then the Cuban regime would tread a similar path to those regimes in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, run by a bureaucratic caste at the top of society, with most elements of democracy eliminated. Unfortunately, as the book explains, this was the route chosen by the Cuban regime, particularly as it became economically dependent on the Soviet Union.

This book is an answer to those in the international labour movement who have become almost uncritical adherents to the Castro regime, and even compare its leaders and the processes involved with those of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution in 1917. These groups have mistaken a thin veneer of workers’ control and ‘popular power’, particularly in the early days of the Cuban Revolution, for the necessary requirements of a healthy socialist democracy. The Cuban regime today relies on a level of repression, a lack of democracy and the introduction of elements of capitalism to survive. Peter Taaffe’s book critically analyses these developments.

The Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International’s criticism of the Cuban regime has been attacked from many quarters, including the Democratic Socialist Party in Australia, whose ideas this book refutes.

All socialists, whether new to the movement or familiar with genuine socialist ideas for decades, will benefit from buying and reading this important new addition to the catalogue of modern Marxist works.