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Workers in the Russian and Cuban revolutions

Fidel Castro addresses a huge crowd in front of the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba, in 1959. 

By Chris Slee

October 4, 2010 -- This is a response to "Cuba: Stalinism isn't socialism", by John Passant, a prominent member of Socialist Alternative in Australia.

John Passant writes:

One of Marx’s unique and profound contributions to socialism is his idea that the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class. This is the very reason Cuba isn’t socialist... Castro took power, but the working class as the working class played no role whatsoever in the overthrow of Batista. In fact they ignored Fidel’s call for a general strike in 1958.

In reality the working class played a key role in the Cuban Revolution, through general strikes, mass demonstrations and by taking over their workplaces. For details, see my pamphlet Cuba: How the workers and peasants made the revolution.

Passant mentions the failed general strike of April 1958, but ignores the successful general strike of January 1959. According to historian Hugh Thomas:

Cuba: Economic changes and the future of socialism -- interview with Cuban professor José Bell Lara

Urban organic food garden in Cuba.

Dr José Bell Lara, professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Havana (FLACSO-Cuba), interviewed by Johannes Wilm. Bell Lara has written essays such as "Globalisation and Cuban Revolution" (2002) and "Cuban socialism within Globalisation" (2007), and is part of the international advisory board of the journal Critical Sociology. This interview was conducted in Havana in September 2010.

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic changes in Cuba, click HERE.]

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Johannes Wilm: The Cuban government recently announced some changes. Among other things, it will be possible for more people to work independently. What is it that Cubans expect from these changes?

The self-employment sector in Cuba

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic changes in Cuba, click HERE.]

By Leticia Martínez Hernández

September 24, 2010 -- Granma International -- On August 1 Cuba's President Raúl Castro Ruz announced to the National Assembly the decision to extend the self-employment sector and use it as an another option for workers seeking alternative jobs after the necessary reduction of the country’s inflated employment registers in the public sector. Various restrictions will be eliminated to allow the authorisation of new licences and the marketing of certain products, and greater flexibility to hire a workforce for certain activities.

Many people have been waiting a solution that, far from being improvised or ephemeral, makes it possible to increase the availability of goods and services, while assuring an income to those who decide to do this work. It will contribute to the state being relieved of the burden of excessive subsidies, while placing in non-state hands the production of goods and services which it has provided for years in spite of the difficult economic context.

Cuba: The drive for efficiency within socialism

Cuba's president, Raul Castro.

[For more analysis and discussion on the economic changes in Cuba, click HERE.]

By Helen Yaffe

Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society – after deductions have been made – exactly what he gives to it -- Karl Marx, 1875

Wages today are clearly insufficient to satisfy all needs and have thus ceased to play a role in ensuring the socialist principle that each should contribute according to their capacity and receive according to their work…the Party and government have been studying these and other complex and difficult problems in depth, problems which must be addressed comprehensibly and through a differentiated approach in each concrete case. -- Raul Castro, 2007

[We have] the dream of everyone being able to live on their salary or on their adequate pension… -- Fidel Castro, 2005

Venezuela criticises `market totalitarianism' at UN Millennium Development Goal summit

By Tamara Pearson, Merida

September 22, 2010 – Venezuelanalysis.com – In Venezuela, “social investment has become a national strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals”, said Jorge Valero, Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations, in his September 21 speech at the UN summit in New York analysing progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

In the year 2000, 189 countries agreed on Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. The current summit, which began on September 20 and closed on September 22, aimed to analyse countries' individual and global progress towards reaching those goals. Government representatives from 140 countries were present.

There are eight Millennium Development Goals, which are:

Cuba: Exporting revolution, revolutionary models and historical facts

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg (left) with Fidel Castro. Photo by Periodico26.

"I asked him [Fidel Castro] if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting". -- Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic blog, September 8, 2010

"In their ravings they pretend that Cuba is an exporter of revolutions. In their sleepless business and usurers' minds they believe that revolutions can be sold and bought, rent or lent, export or import as one more merchandise". -- Fidel Castro, February 4, 1962

`Orientalism' and Cuba: How Western media get it wrong

By Tim Anderson

September 14, 2010 -- Misunderstandings over Cuba run very deep, and not just among the enemies of socialism, or those who have had little contact with the country.

Naturally, people are influenced by the corporate media, which wages a ferocious and relentless propaganda campaign against the little independent island. As Salvador Allende told the Chilean Senate in 1960 “day by day and minute by minute ... they [the corporate media monopolies] misrepresent what is happening in Cuba”.

However, we can also see elements of what Edward Said called "orientalism" – a series of false assumptions about the country, conditioned by cultural prejudice.

For example, the constant moral pressures of the revolution are often misinterpreted as state "coercion"; while a well-coordinated and caring health system has been derided as "paternalistic" and denying "choice" in health care. These are the results of trying to understand Cuba through a set of individualistic, liberal assumptions.

Let's look at some recent misinterpretations.

Disaster management: New Zealand, Haiti and the ‘Cuban way’

Earthquake damage in Christchurch. Although similar in magnitude to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed 250,000, nobody died in the September 5, 2010, New Zealand quake.

By Reihana Mohideen, Manila

September 8, 2010 -- Comparisons must be made between the impact of the September 5 earthquake on Christchurch, New Zealand, and the quake that hit Haiti in January. The nature of a global system that maintains these inequalities should be exposed over and over again. In Haiti – with a population of around 9 million – some 250,000 people died in the earthquake and (according to government figures) 200,000 were injured and 1 million were made homeless. Some eight months later disaster still grips peoples lives. Fortunately, but in a staggering contrast, no lives were lost in New Zealand, although the earthquake was of a similar -- but slightly more powerful --- magnitude (7 on the Richter scale).

Marxism, socialism & religion

By Dave Holmes

Despite the apparently secular nature of so much of modern life, religion is a long way from being a spent force. For revolutionary socialists aiming to mobilise the masses for a fundamental transformation of society, religion is a question which cannot be ignored.

1. While each country has its specific situation, in the West it is undeniable that the traditional religions are considerably diminished compared to even a few decades ago, with church attendances down and religious identification increasingly nominal for wide layers of the population. Moreover, the churches are being shaken by multiple and ongoing controversies and crises — over the role of women and gays, especially as priests; over revelations of past and present sexual abuse of women and children in their institutions; over financial scandals; in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, over damaging exposures of leading clergy flouting their own code of celibacy; over clashes between their conservative and more liberal wings; and over their increased integration into the activities of the state through government funding for charitable and welfare work.

Split amongst Cuban contras, cracks in the blockade

By Tim Anderson

June 11, 2010 -- A major split over the US blockade of Cuba has emerged between domestic "dissidents" in Cuba and their former partners in Miami. The US corporate media is paying attention to what appears to be a new anti-Cuban strategy.

A letter signed by 74 of the "dissidents" on the island calls for an end to Washington's ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba. On the other hand, most of the Cuban-American members of Congress are fiercely defending the nearly 50-year-old economic blockade, in all its forms. The "new contras" are now up against the old.

The split represents a genuine difference in counter-revolutionary tactics, but is also linked to squabbles over money. For many years "dissidents" in Cuba have privately complained that most of the millions of dollars pledged by Washington -- for a "transition" to capitalist "democracy" in Cuba -- is snapped up by Miami.

There have been scandals over the misuse of the millions of US government dollars funnelled into propaganda channels aimed at Cuba. Miami-based Radio Marti and Television Marti were recently criticised by US Foreign Relations Committee chair John Kerry as corrupt, ineffective and of little interest to young Cubans.

The battle for the world food system: an interview with Raj Patel

The battle for the world food system: an interview with Raj Patel from Jill Hickson on Vimeo.

June 3, 2010 -- Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing and Stuffed and Starved, interviewed by Jill Hickson and Simon Cunich for Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Patel discusses corporate dominance of global food production and battles to create democratic and sustainable food systems.

Chapters:

Support Tamils not Sri Lanka’s war-criminal government -- Eva Golinger misinterprets solidarity

By Ron Ridenour

June 1, 2010 -- Eva Golinger is known for her analysis in the service of Venezuela’s peaceful revolution against the local oligarchy and the United States empire. She is a noted author (The Chavez Code: Cracking US intervention in Venezuela). A dual citizen of the US and Venezuela, she is an attorney, and a personal friend of President Hugo Chavez. She is a frequent contributor to left-wing media around the world, and is the English-language editor of the Venezuelan newspaper, Correo del Orinoco.

Justice in Wonderland: The untold story of the Cuban Five

By Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba’s National Assemby

I. Remember Elian?

“It takes all the running you can do,
to keep in the same place” -- Through the Looking Glass

May 29, 2010 -- The case of Elian González, a six-year-old boy abducted by his unknown-to-him great-uncles and against the will of his father, in clear defiance of US law and decency, was widely reported by the media around the world. Miami, the place of the kidnapping, became a kind of secessionist city in North America when the mayor, the chief of police, the politicians, every newspaper and local radio and TV broadcasters, together with religious and business institutions, joined notorious terrorist and violent groups in opposing court and government orders to free the boy.

It was necessary for a special forces team sent from Washington DC to launch a surreptitious and swift operation to occupy several houses, disarm the heavily armed individuals hidden there and in the neighbourhood to save the child and restore law.

Everybody followed that story. Day in and day out.

But practically nobody knew that, at the very same time, in exactly the same city, Miami, five other young Cubans were arbitrary deprived from their freedom and subjected to a gross miscarriage of justice.

Hugo Chávez and Cuba condemn Israel's brutal massacre of aid activists

Chavez is a hero in the Middle East.

Ministry of People's Power for Foreign Affairs, Caracas

May 31, 2010 -- The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Commander Hugo Chávez, emphatically condemns the brutal massacre perpetrated by the State of Israel against the members of the Liberty Flotilla, as a result of the war action started by the Israeli Army against defenceless civilians, who tried to carry humanitarian aid supplies to the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip, who are victims of the criminal blockade imposed by the State of Israel.

President Hugo Chávez, on behalf of his government and the Venezuelan people, expresses his deepest regret and sends his deepest condolences to the families and relatives of the heroes who have been victims of this state crime, and commit to honour their memory and to give the necessary help so that the responsible of this murderers  are severely punished.

The revolutionary government of Venezuela will continue denouncing the terrorist and criminal nature of Israel, and it reaffirms, today more than ever, its unbreakable commitment with the fight of the Palestinian people for freedom, the sovereignty and the dignity.

Raúl Castro at Venezuela's bicentenary of independence: `We have only one alternative: unite, fight and overcome'

Bicentenary of Venezuela independence celebrations. Photo from Correo del Orinoco.

Speech by Raúl Castro Ruz, president of Cuba's Councils of State and Ministers, delivered at the 9th ALBA-TCP Summit, Venezuela

April 19, 2010 -- It is very moving for us to be in Venezuelan today, April 19, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the independence struggle, which represented the battles for independence in the Spanish colonies in the Americas.

It was the embryo of a first integration process in Latin America, as Simón Bolívar understood the destiny of the peoples of our region very early on. Everything that we do now for the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean began precisely here, on a day like today, two centuries ago.

Marta Harnecker: `Socialism is a search for a fully democratic society'

Bolivians mobilise. ``If our government officials are to be wise, they must be pushed by popular initiatives so that the people can feel they are doing it themselves. The state's paternalism, in building socialism, may help at first, but we must create popular protagonism.'' Photo by Ben Dangl.

Marta Harnecker interviewed by Edwin Herrera Salinas, for the Bolivian newspaper La Razón. Translation by MRZine's Yoshie Furuhashi. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission

[Click HERE for more articles by Marta Harnecker.]

After Copenhagen: Can we save the world? Video: Is the climate sick of us?

Ian Angus interviewed by Esquerda.net during the conference O Clima Farto de Nos? (Is the climate sick of us?), held in Lisbon, March 26-27. The three questions, shown in text in Portuguese, are: Is the climate sick of us? What must be done internationally about this situation? What message would you like to give to the Portuguese people?The video, which is in English with Portuguese subtitles, has also been posted on the website of Portugal's Left Bloc, and on the Esquerda.net channel on YouTube.

 

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