Analysis of the current crisis and revolt in Cuba from a radical communist perspective
The facts and their false versions from the right and the left
Through direct and spontaneous mass actions ranging from marches and self-convened assemblies to overturning police cars and looting stores, the proletariat of the Cuban region is rising up in the streets against hunger and State tyranny, that is to say, against the miserable material conditions of existence imposed by capitalism and its current crisis, just as the proletariat of the Colombian, Burmese, Iranian and South African regions has done this year, and just as the proletariat of the Ecuadorian, Chilean, Haitian, French and Iraqi regions, among others, did two years ago.
With all its weaknesses, limitations and internal contradictions (patriotism, interclassism, lack of revolutionary autonomy, isolation, etc.), the proletarian revolt of these days in the Cuban region is one more link or episode in the trend towards the recomposition of the international proletarian revolt that began in 2018-2019 and was “interrupted” by the pandemic and the counter-insurrectional health dictatorship or the preventive counter-revolution of 2020-2021 by all the States of this planet.
First of all an anti-capitalist ABC in this regard: since they have existed for several centuries, capitalism, the crisis, the proletariat and the class struggle are global. The differences of these in/between each historical epoch and each geographic region are only of degree and form, not of nature or substance in their fundamental conditions, relations and categories. Which, mainly wage labor and capital accumulation, have rather spread and deepened over time everywhere. So both “Cuban socialism” and “capitalist restoration in Cuba after the fall of the USSR” have always been myths: in reality, what has always existed in Cuba is capitalism and class struggle, but in another form and to another degree, just as in the former USSR and throughout the world. The only thing that has really changed from the fall of the Soviet bloc until now is the predominance of private capital with respect to State capital over the proletariat, today more precarious and exploited.
Therefore, the two points that follow in this part of our analysis are the two versions of the false dichotomy between the imperialist right of Capital and the anti-imperialist left of Capital, that is to say between the two political tentacles of the same monstrous and gigantic octopus that is the world-historical capitalist system.
On the one hand, the Cuban petty-bourgeois right wing and U.S. imperialism are capitalizing politically and mediatically on this emerging conjuncture, on the material basis of the current economic, ecological, health and political crisis, as well as in the absence of a revolutionary historical situation and therefore of an autonomous revolutionary direction of the masses in revolt.
Therefore, their version of these mass protests is the dominant version or that of the dominant fraction of the capitalist class in the media, with the purpose to publicly declare that “socialism does not work” and that it is necessary to intervene in Cuba militarily, politically, technologically and “humanitarily” to “restore democracy, freedom and social peace”, as in Haiti or Syria.
On the other hand, the Cuban “socialist” government and the left-wing of international Capital purposely focus only on its right-wing imperialist opponent, in order to hide the really existing capitalism and class struggle inside Cuba, so as to preserve its power and its image of false revolution and false socialism/communism, in the classic Stalinist-Orwellian style but in Latin American version.
That is why the Diaz-Canel government and the pro-Cuba left disqualify or slander these massive protests as “ordered and directed by imperialism”, “coldly calculated”, “manipulated”, “sold out”, “with an interventionist agenda”, “with a coup and colonialist project”, “worms”, “shit-eaters”, “mercenaries”, “reactionaries”, “fascists”, “counterrevolutionaries”, etc. Which, in fact, is false, absurd, conspiratorial and cynical.
And that is why the Cuban State is facing this mass revolt by combining police and military repression (in spite of the existing “information blackout” or communication blockade, as of the publication time of this edition it is known that there are already 5 dead, dozens wounded and more than 150 detained and disappeared) with the mobilization of the ideologized and captive social bases that still remain, as well as forcibly recruiting young people to join them. By making equally repressive counter-marches (police in red) where they shout the usual stale patriotic slogans and carry national flags and banners with pictures of Fidel Castro, reminiscent of the cult of personality in Stalinist Russia, as well as public declarations of “anti-imperialism, national sovereignty and socialism”.
But facts are stubborn things and, no matter how hard the rulers and their henchmen try, mass hunger and rage cannot be hidden.
The conjunctural causes and their data
On the one hand, it is the current economic and health crisis; more concretely, the resounding fall of the GDP by 11% –the worst in the last three decades–, of the trade balance –a deficit of 9 billion dollars, considering that 80% of consumer products are imported–, of the foreign currency from tourism –the 2nd source of income for the Cuban economy and population, after the export of professionals or “human capital”– and of the production and export of sugar –due to lack of fuel and machine breakdowns–, due to the pandemic, and also due to the monetary and exchange rate reform decreed at the end of last year by the Díaz-Canel government –called “Tarea Ordenamiento” – which, instead of counteracting the crisis, worsened it (the cure turned out to be worse than the disease).
The result of the above is that there is currently unemployment, shortages and inflation: there is a shortage of work, money, food, medicines and basic services for the majority of the population in Cuba (we say for the majority of the population, because the Cuban bureaucratic-military bourgeoisie and foreign tourists enjoy all kinds of privileges). As it has always been under that regime, but today more than yesterday, with the aggravating factor of the resurgence of Covid-19 (a sign of the failure of the overvalued and mystified Cuban medical system, by the way) and its highly negative impact on health, the economy and daily life.
Even more concretely: in October 2020, 8 out of 10 Cubans were surviving with just enough, 67% of the families rated their daily food as deficient, while 6 out of 10 families had only 5- to 10-day supply of food per month. After the “Tarea Ordenamiento” in December 2020, the situation worsened: unemployment in the public sector increased at the same time as proletarianization and the rate of exploitation (“cheap labor”) in the private sector; services and goods of the basic food basket rose between 500% and 600% (electricity, water and medicines became practically unaffordable), and both remittances from families abroad and local bank deposits were “withheld” or “frozen” partially and temporarily by the State. In addition to all this, there has been an increase in the number of cases of infection (more than 275,000 people) and death (more than 1,800 people) due to the resurgence of Covid-19 on the island. It is also quite possible that cases of depression and suicide have increased.
In other words, this is a social malaise that has been accumulating daily for decades, worsening since last year and exploding this year, for the reasons mentioned above. The majority of the population of that country today is hungrier, sicker and more desperate than ever before.
That is why today, to the cry of “food, electricity and vaccines”, the dispossessed and hungry of Cuba are taking to the streets to protest massively, as they had not done for decades. It could be said, then, that this is a “hunger revolt” so far this year, like those that broke out around the world during 2008, the year of the food crisis. All this, in the context of the crisis of valorization that characterizes the current crisis of capitalism, as a backdrop.
On the other hand, it is the political crisis; more specifically, the “lack of democratic institutions” or “popular power” to channel and cushion social demands. This is not an “error in the construction of socialism” or a “contradiction of the revolution”, because in Cuba there is no such revolution, but rather, even from the political and democratic point of view of “governability” and “hegemony”, the Cuban regime is no longer legitimate or sustainable, if not through institutionalized repression and lies (e.g. using the “Committees for the Defense of the Revolution” – CDR).
Now, from an anti-capitalist and anti-State perspective, the other conjunctural cause –with elements of structural cause– of this revolt is the totalitarian power that the privileged State bureaucracy exercises over the population in that Caribbean concentration camp or tropical gulag that is Cuba. Or rather, the capitalist and bureaucratic-military dictatorship of the Cuban “Communist” Party (PCC) of the wealthy and powerful Castro family and the Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A. (GAESA) of other military leaders –who are owners and shareholders of more than half of the companies, profits and even “Panama Papers” of that country– over the proletariat –increasingly precarious, exploited, alienated and oppressed–, as in its time was the USSR of Lenin and Stalin, as well as Mao’s China (the latter up to the present day, together with North Korea and Venezuela).
The obvious differences between Cuba and Russia or China is that in the middle of the last century the former became the new small sugar colony, with a “charismatic” military leader at its head, of those great Asian capitalist-imperialist powers that disguised themselves as “communists”. Unlike the latter, which today are still powers but already hyper-modernized, the former remained petrified or rusted in that past, and hence it became nevertheless a tourist capital for the European and North American upper-middle class, as well as a fetish of nostalgic emotional attachment for the also middle-class Latin American left of Capital that religiously and viscerally defends the myth of “Cuban socialism”.
On the contrary, the anonymous proletariat of the Cuban region is sick and tired of living in this way. It is fed up with so much misery and State oppression. That is why these days they have taken to the streets en masse shouting “down with the dictatorship” and “freedom”.
In this sense, it is no longer only a “hunger revolt” but also a political revolt, in which unfortunately, in the absence of a revolutionary historical and international situation, class instinct and spontaneity are not enough. The Cuban proletariat has also been underdeveloped and repressed in matters of revolutionary struggle by the Cuban State. For this reason, this revolt is being politically and mediatically capitalized by the right-wing and imperialist faction of world Capital, while it is physically and symbolically repressed by the left-wing and anti-imperialist faction of the same world Capital.
In other words, the proletariat in revolt of “The Island” is literally isolated, disarmed and attacked in every aspect. And, as the history of the class struggle shows, isolation condemns every revolt –and every revolution– to defeat.
The structural causes and their data
It is NOT the “imperialist blockade” –as the fanatics of the Castro-Stalinist regime repeat–: the U.S. is the 9th supplier of imported goods to the island. As of 2019, there are 32 large Yankee companies (such as Visa, Accor, Mastercard or Amazon) investing in that country. In addition, Cuba trades with 170 countries and currently 40% of its exports are “assisted” by China.
Neither is it a non-existent “degenerated workers’ State” nor a “capitalist restoration” in Cuba since the 1990s –as the Trotskyists argue–, because Capital –understood as an impersonal and fetishist relation of production and social reproduction, and not as simple juridical or formal property over the means of production– cannot be restored where it has never been extirpated, and because the only thing that really changed since then is the predominance of private capital with respect to State capital over the increasingly precarious and exploited proletariat.
What then? It is the economic, political and social crisis of the underdeveloped Cuban State Capitalism [*] which, in turn, is dependent on the world market. It is the myth of “Cuban socialism” that is collapsing in facts by its own weight or by its capitalist contradictions and internal class struggles, not since the fall of the USSR, but since it began in 1959 and even more so today in the second decade of the 21st century, because of the general and multidimensional crisis of world capitalism, concretely manifested in the current economic and health crisis, and accompanied by increasingly frequent and explosive proletarian protests and revolts but, at the same time, ephemeral and without autonomous and forceful revolutionary direction of the masses by themselves, in the absence of a revolutionary historical situation.
This historical-structural and global context of generalized capitalist catastrophe and non-revolutionary class struggle, marked by unequal development, chaos, unrest and uncertainty, is what really explains the crises, protests and revolts in all nations of the planet in recent years, of which the current revolt in Cuba is just one more episode, with its aforementioned particularities.
Conclusions and fundamental perspectives
Given the current world context of economic and ecological-sanitary catastrophe, preventive counterrevolution and ephemeral revolts without autonomous revolutionary direction of the masses, which today manifests itself most acutely in countries like Cuba, the most probable thing is that this proletarian revolt against hunger and State tyranny will continue to be capitalized politically and mediatically by the petty-bourgeois right wing of that country, US imperialism and its international cronies; that the “socialist” State bourgeoisie will continue to slander and repress it until it is defeated, under the pretext that it is “counterrevolutionary”, also with the approval of its international left-wing cronies; and, that the exploited and oppressed masses of the Cuban region continue accumulating hunger, disease, desperation, rage, experience of struggle and lessons from it until a new cycle of social outbursts of the international proletariat against world capitalism (which, according to the IMF itself, is likely to occur as of 2022).
But, for those of us who make the effort to see reality without ideological or mystifying blinders, this spontaneous proletarian revolt has at least the merit of destroying, in facts and in the 21st century, the myth of “Cuban socialism” and its ideological basis which is Marxism-Leninism, because in reality they are nothing more than capitalism and “radical” social democracy, respectively. In one word: they are not the revolution, they are the counterrevolution. The political-military-entrepreneurial regime of the Cuban “Communist” Party and its holding GAESA does not defend any revolution. It defends the capitalist counterrevolution and its dictatorship over the proletariat of that region. It is the leftist, Statist and anti-imperialist faction of world Capital in the Caribbean. Those who defend this regime are, therefore, just as counterrevolutionary, although they believe and claim to be the opposite.
To make it even clearer and not lend itself to gross and malicious misrepresentations by both right-wingers and leftists of Capital: the cause of the current crisis and revolt in Cuba is NOT that “socialism does not work” and it is NOT “the imperialist blockade” of the U.S. either. In the face of so much fake news and analysis from both sides, which is typical of the false left/right dichotomy, it is time to stress the autonomous anti-capitalist ABC in this regard: what exists in Cuba is NOT socialism or communism, it is pure and hard capitalism; more specifically, it is an underdeveloped State Capitalism that participates in a subordinated and dependent way in the world market, and that today is in crisis because historical and international capitalism is in crisis.
Why? Because there can be no “socialism in one country”, since capitalism is global. Because the State ownership or nationalization of agriculture, industry, commerce and banking is not the same as the real abolition –not only formal or juridical– of private property over the means of production, distribution and consumption. And, above all, because in communism there is no commodity production, wage labor, extraction of surplus value, law of value, market, competition, enterprises, accumulation of capital, money, social classes, State, patriarchy, mafias, corruption, prostitution or national borders. On the contrary, in Cuba all this exists, not as abstract categories but as very concrete and daily realities. Yes, in Cuba there are social classes: exploiters and exploited, oppressors and oppressed, dominators and dominated. That is why there is class struggle in Cuba, irrefutable proof of which are the protests of the proletarian masses of all sectors, sexes, “races” and generations against the capitalist State disguised as “socialist” in that country, during the last few days.
In the end, in any of its versions, forms or appearances, the system that in reality no longer works is capitalism. However, it still survives in the midst of its decomposition, due to the lack of revolutionary conditions and situations that only the very structural contradictions of capitalism and the real class struggles in process can produce –which are material and spontaneous mass phenomena, which also have been for several generations–, and not the consciousness, ideology, propaganda, will and political activism of a few organizations and people of the left and ultra-left.
The radical communist perspective contained in this analysis of the conjuncture is the product, not of a few brilliant and delirious minds, but of the world-historical class struggle itself and of our concrete situation of life and struggle. In this framework, the anti-State and internationalist communists are on the side of the exploited and oppressed who fight for their lives without representatives or intermediaries and regardless of their nationality, because we proletarians have no homeland. In fact, one of the most counterrevolutionary slogans there can be is that of “fatherland or death,” as automatically repeated by the current leftist Cuban government and its uncritical followers there and everywhere. On the other hand, we are against all forms of capitalism and Nation-State, including the “socialist State” which in reality is State Capitalism, determined in turn by the world market. Therefore, we are against both the right and the left of Capital, since both are not opposites but complementary and alternating competitors in the administration of the capitalist State and Economy. In the Cuban case, the left of Capital in the State is a political-military-entrepreneurial bureaucracy that exploits or extracts surplus value from the proletariat, monitors and brutally represses it, does juicy business with transnational companies, and has supported bloody dictatorships of other countries both left and right.
In short, we are against capitalism, its right-wing defenders and its false left-wing critics. At the same time, we are in favor of proletarian autonomy expressed in direct action and mass self-organization, of revolutionary rupture and world communist revolution. Because the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves or it will not be. Because without a break with the false criticisms and false alternatives to capitalism there will be no revolution. And because the revolution will be anti-market, anti-State and international or it will not be.
That is why, in the present historical and world context which is still counterrevolutionary, we are in favor of proletarian protests and revolts everywhere against the miserable material conditions of existence of our class and against all the governments of Capital, as is the present revolt in Cuba, in spite of all its weaknesses, limitations and contradictions. Because the best “school of formation” for the proletariat is the class struggle itself, and this, in turn, is the only way to produce revolutionary crises and germs of communism and anarchy. Above all, we are in favor of those struggles that show germs and tendencies of class autonomy and of rupture with capitalist conditions and, especially, with its own condition of exploited and oppressed class. Germs that can be glimpsed in the revolts of recent years. Without ceasing to be objective and critical of them. With the perspective that the contradictions and social conflicts become more acute, that the balance of forces is reversed, that the global proletarian revolt comes back, and that it criticizes and surpasses itself so that it becomes an international social –not political, social– revolution.
Revolution in which all that exists is insurrected and communized, in order to put a stop to the current capitalist catastrophe and to create a life worth living for everyone everywhere, including the Cuban region. Revolution which, on the basis of the abolition of wage labor and commodity exchange, will bring about the abolition of the society of classes, genders, “races” and nationalities. Replacing it by new and multiple non-mercantile, non-hierarchical and non-hierarchical social relations between individuals freely associated without separations or frontiers of any kind, in balance with nature.
Meanwhile, capitalism and class struggle will continue to develop unevenly and catastrophically all over the planet, until humanity will have no choice but communism or extinction. And from this, nothing and no one will be safe. Cuba today is just one more critical episode in this ongoing world-historical drama.
Quito, July 2021
 “Tarea Ordenamiento”: financial reform that aimed at increasing government’s dollar reserves –down because of Covid-19 impact on tourism and on ability to send Cuban doctors abroad– by devaluation of peso and converting all private savings in State banks from dollar to peso, prohibiting dollar purchase to private citizens and charging in dollars for goods in State shops. [Translator’s note]
[*] Here we must specify that “State Capitalism” is an expression coined and used by some sectors of the historical communist left to denounce the capitalist character of “communist countries” like the USSR, misnamed as such by both the left- and the right-wing of Capital, since capitalism is world-wide and, consequently, communism can only be world-wide. And above all, because in those countries the fundamental capitalist relations and categories (value, market, enterprise, wage labor, accumulation of capital, money, social classes, State, ideology…) never disappeared but remained intact and continued to develop. In reality, Capital and State are inseparable: in this society, the State can only be the State of Capital, since it is the synthesis or institutional apex of the basic capitalist social relations which, in turn, administers with violence and other apparatuses of domination such relations, even if it may adopt different forms, degrees and administrators, as in this case a self-proclaimed “communist” or “socialist” bureaucracy on the basis of State ownership of the means of commodity production and surplus value. Therefore, from the communist perspective, it is strictly correct to speak of capitalism pure and simple and not of State capitalism. But in this article we use this imprecise expression because of its aforementioned specific historical burden, as well as to emphasize the communist critique of all types of State. Considering also that many readers are not familiar with these concepts and these debates.
The same underlying logic applies, by the way, to the equally false expression of “neoliberalism” or “free market capitalism”, which is instead used and abused by anti-neoliberal and neo-Keynesian social democracy, when in reality “the invisible hand of the market” cannot function without “the iron fist of the State” and vice versa. Another example of the false left/right dichotomy that the communist perspective criticizes and breaks down by affirming that communism is the living counter-position and abolition/overcoming of both the market and the State.
English translation: Los Amigos de la Guerra de Clases