Chicago Workers' Voice's Barb reports from Cuba:

A desperate search for
"shoots of socialism"

by Mark, Detroit
(from Communist Voice #17, April 20, 1998)

. In the latest issue of the Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical Journal #14 (Feb. 18, 1998), Barb's "Report on trip to Cuba" contains her observations about conditions there based on a recent week-long trip. (See elsewhere in this journal.) Barb paints a very flattering picture of the Castro regime. She refuses to give any overall characterization of the social order built under Castro, but confines herself to cheerleading for whatever exists and hinting that it's sort of socialist. Barb does her best to omit information which would undermine this picture. She also tries to "spin-doctor" her observations so as to make Castro's policies seem as glorious as possible. Yet despite this, her own observations come back to haunt her. Even the information she presents shows that Castro has not been building a socialist society but a repressive, state-capitalist system run by privileged bureaucrats, not the workers.

. Barb starts off presenting herself as a non-partisan reporter of facts who holds that "comrades can incorporate this material into whatever view they hold of Cuba's economic and political character." By the end of her article, however, she is fuming against supporters of Communist Voice for writing in a Detroit Workers' Voice leaflet that "the repressive society in Cuba has nothing in common with genuine socialism or communism." Barb may as well fume at the realities of Cuba, as even the tidbits she describes contradict her conclusions. Barb goes on to announce that "even to bring up 'genuine communism' at this point in history" is "irresponsible." (Emphasis in all Barb's quotes as in original.) It's quite a confession that a self-styled Marxist-Leninist like Barb can't see the relevance of genuine communism today. But defending the Castroite system requires Barb to dispense with genuine communism.

"The Cuban workers do not control the society"

. Barb blithely comments that it's "the obvious fact the Cuban workers do not control the society." This is an amazing statement from someone who tries to paint Cuba as sort of socialist, much less someone who presents herself as loyal to Marxism-Leninism. Barb wants to evaluate the Castro regime without regard to the relationship of the regime to the working class. Indeed, in all her musings about everything in Cuba it is notable that she can't find a single example of how the workers decide anything of significance in Cuba or how the official institutions reflect the workers' will.

Prettifying repression

. Barb grants that some other force than the workers is ruling Cuba and at one point she acknowledges the existence of "the strata of Cuban bourgeoisie" and calls for an examination of how they amass wealth and manipulate the system. But she never brings up that this indicates there is a class rule over the workers in Cuba. Instead, time and again Barb tries to create the impression that the Castro regime is not politically repressive. For instance, she writes of the Cuban population that: "The Cuban masses certainly suffer from serious material deprivation, but I doubt that most feel they are living in a politically repressive society at this particular moment in history -- and now the Catholics will be happier and some political prisoners will be released, etc., etc."

. It's striking that Barb herself all but admits that even by her standards Castro has been repressive for most all of his reign. Hence, when she talks about the lack of repression she must confine herself to "this particular moment." Barb also considers it a great triumph that the masses are unhappy with the government, but allegedly not Fidel. Evidently Barb wants us to believe that Fidel is not responsible for government policy! But no sooner do we learn how beloved Fidel is, then Barb confesses that this doesn't apply to the 125,000 people who legally fled Cuba in 1980 or others who have made highly-dangerous illegal attempts since. (These are not the well-off "gusano" reactionaries who fled in the early years of radical reform.) These 125,000 left because Castro temporarily allowed it. Does she doubt that another mass exodus would be likely if it was permitted by the Cuban and U.S. authorities? Of course, one could justly argue that imperialist propaganda is a factor luring Cubans to the U.S. But Barb herself recognizes that it's also estrangement from the regime that motivates exiles.

. Now let us examine what is going on at "this particular moment in history." Barb informs us that film makers can only make officially-sanctioned criticisms of the government. She points out that films can criticize past government policies provided that the criticism is from the present standpoint of the Castro regime. Somehow it doesn't register with Barb that such things are a sign of the chill put on any serious disagreement with Castro. She also reminds us that Raul Castro was recently in China heaping praise on the "socialism" of the butchers of Tienanmen. It's well known that Castro thinks highly of the Chinese party/state methods of maintaining power, i.e., crushing all opposition. Still Barb can't seem to find anything repressive about the Castro regime these days.

. After all, Barb argues, things have loosened up a bit recently. She notes that: "Tourism has and is continually changing the society. As mentioned, the ease-up on religion, culture, homosexuality, etc. has a lot to do with encouraging tourism." According to Barb then, Castro isn't repressive (right this minute, anyway!) because he responds to the pressure of foreign tourists and the Pope's request to release prisoners. But if it takes the clout of foreign tourists and capital and arch-reactionaries like the Pope to get the changes Barb is excited about, then this shows that these decisions are not made by the masses. Moreover, the fact that the regime responds to the Western bourgeois forces will not be lost on the masses. If change only takes place with the assistance of foreign capital, this will help drive the Cuban people into the arms of the Western bourgeoisie as the alleged force for change.

. Barb does cite an instance where the government eased up somewhat on its persecution of "punk-rocker youth," but only after 100 of these young people attempted suicide by injecting themselves with the HIV virus. She considers this an example of how the Cuban masses can influence the government. In effect, Barb is arguing that the regime is responsive -- all you have to do is kill yourself!

. As we have seen, Barb contrasts the "serious material deprivations" of the Cuban masses with the allegedly great political atmosphere. Evidently, Barb doesn't think that a political order that enforces austerity for the masses (but not the elite) is repressive. But what of the political process in Cuba? Barb fails to mention that while there are elections in Cuba, real political debate is banned. No serious political issues are dealt with in elections to local assemblies because the only "political" activity allowed is the posting of the biographies of various candidates explaining who they are, but not their political views. Supposedly, these local representatives are to have something to do with determining candidates for higher regional or national assemblies.However, there are mechanisms in place that assure that it is next to impossible for anyone other than the hand-picked candidates of the regime to get elected to higher posts. For instance, Castro loyalists from the mass organizations automatically get dominant representation on committees that put forward the slates of candidates for the provincial and national assembly elections.Incidentally, this is not the opinion of some "gusano" or Jesse Helms. This description is repeated by various leftist travelers to Cuba who generally think highly of the Castro regime.

. Of course, Castro argues that his political system is superior to the bourgeois democracies where, he correctly notes, wealth allows political clout and the rich manipulate the system to their advantage. He ridicules the circus of bourgeois parties clawing at each other while pretending to care about the masses. But his alternative is not workers' democracy, but a suffocating bureaucracy that effectively renders the workers powerless. Yes, private wealthy groups don't dominate Cuban politics. But the privileged bureaucratic elite controlled by Castro does. They are the only ones allowed the means to carry out political activity. They are the ones that even Barb must backhandedly admit have historically banned all significant political opposition. Nor can there be any doubt that should a genuine proletarian revolutionary trend develop in Cuba, Castro would find it intolerable. If Barb can't find repression in Cuba, it's because she's not looking.

Reducing "socialism" to free services

. Barb doesn't care if the workers rule and tries to dance around the question of political repression. But for Barb, Cuba is sort of socialist anyway because it allegedly has various "shoots of socialism." One of these "shoots" is the "extensive free services that Cubans enjoy, no matter how cut back." Reducing socialism to having a certain amount of free services is a complete abandonment of Marxism. Just how arbitrary such a standard is can be seen by the fact that while Barb attaches socialist labels to the Cuban social programs, she curses the revisionist regimes of Stalin and Mao as oppressive despots despite the fact they implemented wide-ranging social programs similar to those in Cuba. Indeed, once such an arbitrary standard is used to decide what is and isn't socialist, then there's no grounds to oppose those who want to argue that to the extent that social programs exist in the openly capitalist countries, socialism exists there as well.

. Meanwhile, Barb's own report chronicles the shabby state of these now cut back services.There's subsidized housing, but "the shabbiness of the apartment buildings is shocking." There's not outright starvation, but "there is a shortage of vegetables and fruits" and "what isn't rationed is often beyond the means of ordinary workers," even sugar. "The public transportation system looks nightmarish." Barb even talks about how people are begging in the streets for "pencils or pens for schoolchildren" and how it's a good idea for tourists to pay people who help them with soap, shampoo, or toothpaste. Meanwhile, while Barb boasts of all the high-tech health industry developed to serve rich tourists, "common 'drug store' medicines are in critically short supply." Indeed, Barb reports that the group she went to Cuba with "actually suffered food deprivation" and had to go to restaurants to survive. But if it took Barb only a few days to become disgruntled, imagine what it is like for the Cuban masses who have lived this way for decades. And unlike Barb and her traveling companions, the masses cannot afford to regularly eat at restaurants.

. Barb tries to dismiss the misery of the masses with semantical games. She roars against using the term "safety net" to describe the social programs and insists they are "considerably more" than that. But, as we saw above, Barb admits that despite the social programs, "the Cuban masses suffer from serious material deprivation." Call them what you will Barb, the issue is they do not lift the Cuban masses beyond severe austerity. It should also be noted that while the collapse of the Soviet Union certainly helped create a disaster, chronic shortages of necessities, bad housing, etc. have existed throughout Castro's reign.

. Barb pleads that since things were even worse for the masses before Castro came to power, this proves that "the 1959 Revolution is still very much alive." This is another tired straw man erected by apologists of Castro. No one can deny that the 1959 revolution brought positive changes. Revolutions do change things. But revolutions also die. The February and October revolutions in Russia brought positive changes. Certain of the social programs lasted, "no matter how cut back" at least through most of the 1980s. But that did not change the fact that the revolution died 50 or more years earlier. The masses in Cuba today may still feel good about things their revolution accomplished. But that doesn't show the revolution is still on. In fact, if the masses want to preserve what's left of the social programs they won, they are going to have to develop their own class trend to fight against the regime.

Castro's ideological cesspool: another "shoot of socialism"?

. Barb considers the ideological training in Cuba another example of the "shoots of socialism." She correctly points out that there have been some positive changes, for instance the better treatment of black Cubans. But neither this example or others cited by Barb shows that Castro has established "shoots of socialism." She also points to the treatment of women, but her own description merely says that it is better than the extreme machismo attitudes in some other Latin American countries. Later we'll see how Barb acknowledges that prostitution is making a comeback.

. Barb talks about "a certain honesty in interactions." But no matter how honest the Cuban masses are with each other, this doesn't mean that the regime is honest with the masses, much less that Castro is developing "shoots of socialism." Actually, like in other class societies, the social conditions force the Cuban masses to be less than honest with the authorities in order to survive. For instance, they must continually wriggle around government regulations, undermine work rules, and participate in black market activities. This sort of conflict between the masses and the regime is anything but a "shoot of socialism."

. Barb is even excited about how Castro's ideological training has taught the people "sharing out scarce goods." Barb holds that this is "not the ideology of capitalism." But shared austerity, as practiced by the Cuban government, is not some anti-capitalist ideology but a policy forced on the masses who resent it. Barb doesn't mention that it is the masses, not the elite, that have shared scarcity for nearly 40 years. If this is anti-capitalist ideology than so is the shared scarcity advocated for the masses by the ruling class in the openly capitalist countries.

. On the question of ideology too, Barb's own observations slap her in the face. At one point she hails the promotion of Che. But then she has to admit that "the youth I've talked to have little idea of what Che actually did or what he stood for." Barb says "In spite of the way Che may be manipulated these days, is that such a bad image to hold up?" So Che's image is "manipulated" by the regime and no one understands what he actually stood for -- but that's socialist ideological training according to Barb.

. Barb also notes the growing influence of the Catholic Church among younger people. True, even in a genuine socialist society, religious influences cannot be decreed away and may linger on for a protracted period. But in this case, Castro's ideology reinforces religion. Thus Barb quotes Castro saying "Catholics can be Communists." When Castro says such things, he is not merely arguing that a person with religious beliefs may support a revolutionary cause, but is attempting to reconcile communist ideology with religious doctrine and kissing up to the reactionary Church hierarchy. Thus, it was no accident that during the Pope's recent visit, Castro tried hard to portray the Pope as an anti-imperialist rebel and an enemy of the capitalist powers.But Barb raises no objections to such Castroite ideological hogwash.

. Moreover, she ignores that the official ideology in Cuba has twisted Marxism into an ugly caricature in general. One could write an endless list of the pseudo-Marxist nonsense emanating from the Castro regime. We could begin with the petty-bourgeois theories of Fidel and Che belittling the proletarian party and the historic role of the working class, continue through the regime's apologetics for Soviet revisionism, and end with the attempts to dress up the present bloody Chinese regime and the reemergence of market capitalism there as the last word in "socialism."

. Far from an effective antidote to capitalism, Castroism has time and again led the oppressed masses astray. If Barb does not consider our opinion worth consideration, let's quote another source. "In my opinion, the Cuban leadership, while it has stood at the head of many progressive measures in Cuba, has overall played a bad role. . . . In particular, it has played a bad role in regard to revolutionary theory and what direction the various revolutionary movements should take. They have promoted reformism and in some cases have hamstrung the movements in various countries."(1) Who said this? None other than another member of Barb's Chicago Workers' Voice group, Sarah. Sarah admitted this despite the fact that overall she too tries to prettify Cuban revisionism as sort of socialist.(2)

Land ownership and foreign capital

. In her consistent efforts to fight off any exposure of what's actually going on in Cuba, Barb naturally has to deal with the question of the ever-greater role of private capitalism in the Cuban economy. Barb writes:

. "There are many types of foreign investment allowed but, in all, the foreign investors do not own the land, nor, in my understanding, are they sold existing businesses or structures.They are `given' them to run and make a profit from. A recent Granma article featured Raul Castro in China learning how to set up free-enterprise zones and industrial parks, while flattering the Chinese that Cuba and China represent the last bastions of 'socialism'.The government has vowed to offer investors a more attractive proposition than they can get elsewhere."

. Barb admits that the Cuban rulers are looking to private capitalism for salvation like the Chinese leaders. She notes that Castro is making Cuba as attractive as possible for private profit-making. But for her, the essential thing to remember about foreign capital in Cuba is that "the foreign investors do not own the land." Barb has written reams supposedly describing the Leninist position on the agrarian question in general and land reform in particular. But evidently she has yet to grasp that Lenin, like Marx and Engels, held that lack of private land ownership in no way precludes the development of capitalism. If a foreign capitalist firm sets up shop on state-owned land in Cuba, it's private capitalism all the same.

. Likewise, Barb says it's OK that Cuban enterprises are "given" to foreign capitalists "to run and make a profit from" because they are not "sold existing businesses." Why giving away the state enterprises to foreign capital is better than selling them is anyone's guess. Note also that Barb never says foreign businesses cannot have 100% ownership of new businesses they establish but only that allegedly they cannot own existing state enterprises. But she is wrong about the ownership of state enterprises, too. In 1982, the Cuban government approved a joint venture law whose article 15 allows 49% ownership by foreign investors in such enterprises. This law also makes it possible for majority foreign ownership of these enterprises in certain cases. Since then, foreign investment rights have been further expanded.

Fidel's people's capitalism

. Elsewhere we learn from Barb more positive things about the influx of private capitalism into Cuba. She creates the impression that so long as Fidel's watchful eye oversees private capitalist development, the evils that arise from it aren't so bad after all. Barb reports that private capitalism, especially in tourism, is "taking up the slack in employment" while failing to mention that Castro is hoping that the private sector will absorb those who will be fired from the state sector which is being slashed. The same thing is happening now on a more drastic scale in China where the private sector is also supposed to be the savior, but everyone agrees mass unemployment is what lies ahead.

. But we are just being pessimists. After all, Barb crows, private capitalism is opening up promising new careers as tourist agents and taxi drivers for those who "earned degrees in biology or law." There's new opportunities for "Cuban women dressed up like French maids" and for "prostitutes." In fairness, Barb found it an "ugly scene" that "13-14 year old girls were skipping school to mingle with fat, prosperous German businessmen." But on the other hand, Barb found the French maid costumes only "seemingly demeaning" and was "assured that their wages and tips compensate" for this. And don't think the sleazy nightclub scene is returning to Havana. Barb found the show at the Tropicana Nightclub "fun and tasteful." Wow! See how Castro has made capitalism give up the evil ways of its past! Before the revolution Cuba was known as a brothel for wealthy tourists. But now?...well...never mind!

Barb's psychic-socialism

. The weakness of Barb's arguments leads her to resort to musings about what Castro's subjective intentions are instead of an analysis of what actually is going on in Cuba. We learn that "Lenin once defended the name of the USSR, which of course contains the word `socialist,' by saying that it was validated by their 'intentions.'" Barb concludes from this that we can decide what has been going on for the last 39 years in Cuba by speculating on Castro's intentions. Presumably we should end the examination of the Soviet Union at Lenin's intentions too and not waste our time examining what became of that revolution.

. Having dragged poor Lenin into her charade, Barb announces "I am not convinced that Castro consciously know that he is NOT CREATING socialism!" (caps as in original) Now here's a devastating argument! Maybe Castro really thinks he's a socialist, and maybe he's just lying. But no matter. If Castro thinks he's doing good, then he should be praised to the skies.

. But using these same standards, how can Barb curse Stalin and Mao? How does Barb know whether or not they thought they were building socialism? A strong case can be made that these two wound up distorting Marxist principles beyond recognition and built state-capitalist orders.But how does Barb know that they, in their own opinions, were doing something else?

. Barb says Stalin and Mao were just "splendid potentates" while Castro "brought about a most remarkable Revolution." Is that what is supposed to prove the superior intentions of Castro? Evidently everything that Castro ever did was well-intended, whereas the Long March and the decades-long mass revolution in China was just a ploy by Mao to get a cushy government job.As for Stalin, whatever he became, there is no doubt that at one time he was a revolutionary leader in the ranks of the Bolsheviks. With such an arbitrary methodology, history can be distorted any way you like. But subjective nonsense is all you can get from Barb's investigative technique, otherwise known as mind-reading.

Castroism and Stalinism

. Barb rightly considers Stalin a terrible despot. But let's look at Fidel's record. Castro has denied the workers any real power, he has maintained a personal apparatus of power than can undo or implement any policy on his say so, and is part of the bureaucratic elite that lives in relative splendor. Of course, Castro's rule is not an exact duplicate of Stalin's. But there are basic similarities, except for the fact that Castro could never abandon the task of building a communist trend since he never took it up.

. Barb also omits that Castro tied Cuba closely to the oppressive state-capitalist order in the Soviet Union. The basic system there was established by Stalin though Fidel's contemporaries, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, made certain reforms in the system. She has evidently forgotten that Castro considered the Soviet Union as the great socialist ally of Cuba. These days, Castro and co.have found another regime of "splendid potentates" to praise as a model of socialism. Barb reports how "A recent Granma article featured Raul Castro in China learning how to set up free-enterprise zones and industrial parks, while flattering the Chinese that Cuba and China represent the last bastions of 'socialism'." It is no secret that Castro admires the fact that the revisionist tyrants in China have ruthlessly put down all opposition to maintain their monopoly of power.

. Supporting the Chinese path has nothing to do with defending socialism. In China, the process of market capitalism nudging out the old state-capitalist forms takes place under the tutelage of the present party/state apparatus. Indeed, Castro's Chinese allies are privatizing at a furious pace.The same basic transition toward market capitalism also occurred in the former Soviet Union.Castro has worried that the old Soviet bureaucracy lost power in the course of this change, however. This is why he likes the Chinese government's tyranny. This also explains why Castro had some differences with Gorbachev's perestroika policy (in particular with the political opening that accompanied it) even as he was moving Cuba in a similar direction.

. Articles in Communist Voice have shown that far from engaging in a transition to socialism, Castro's recent policies are following the same general course of state-capitalism evolving towards market capitalism that has happened in the other revisionist states such as the Soviet Union or China. To combat this, Barb creates a big haze about what's really going on. In her article she writes: "Cuba's new image certainly looks like perestroika but the government does definitely portray the current economic policy as Cuba's NEP -- a necessary retreat on the road to socialism." Of course many Soviet ideologists portrayed perestroika as simply NEP-type measures, too. But what the Cuban government says seems to satisfy Barb because nowhere in the article does she question the Cuban government's stand, but generally finds nice things to say about the market measures being introduced.

. Now if someone really wanted to figure out if Cuba was simply engaging in a temporary retreat after building socialism for three decades, or rather was a state-capitalist order heading toward private capitalism, they would have to have some notion of what's been going on in the socio-economic structure since 1959. This would show that the general retreat to market-type measures within the state economy did not begin in 1990 but two decades earlier with the adoption of the Soviet state-capitalist policy championed by Liberman in the 60s. The "retreat" in Cuba began long ago although the recent policy goes farther down the road of the market. It is not a temporary measure. Perhaps Barb feels that even if Castro has run a state-capitalist economy for several decades and the market plays a bigger role than ever today, that is of little importance compared to the supposed "intentions" of Castro.

What type of social system exists in Cuba?

. Barb's article has no need of coherent analysis because its only serious point is that whatever sort of system Castro has built, it's good and should be supported. Just try and figure out what type of system she thinks exist in Cuba. She condemns those who point out the gulf between socialist society and the state-capitalist system set up by Castro. But then she says that when billboards in Cuba proclaim socialism there, "obviously, that is not the case." Evidently it's OK for Barb to say socialism doesn't exist, but no one else.

. So what sort of society does exist in Cuba according to Barb? She never says. She rails against those like the Communist Voice Organization who consider it state-capitalist. The designation "revisionist" has likewise disappeared. So it's not state-capitalist and socialism doesn't exist there either. Without saying anything definite, she constantly hints that Cuba is in transition to socialism. Perhaps this explains her obscure argument that it's bad for anti-revisionists to say Cuba is not socialist, but OK for her. Evidently she's trying to claim that when anti-revisionists say Cuba is not socialist, they are unjustly attacking Cuba for not having reached a fully socialist society devoid of private production, money, etc. She feels this is unfair because it fails to recognize that, in her view, Cuba is in transition to a fully socialist system.(3) It is apparently for the same reason that Barb attaches great importance to whether or not Castro calls Cuba "socialist" as opposed to on the "socialist road," and doesn't call the society of Cuba "communist."

. But what good does it do to split hairs over exactly how far down the road of socialism Cuba has gone when Barb admits that the workers don't control society anyway? Barb attempts to deal with this by arguing that the workers in the Soviet Union did not control society "under the Bolsheviks." How or why she reached this conclusion, she never says. It's just presented as an obvious fact. Does she feel that Lenin was unconcerned about whether the workers' controlled society and hence it's legitimate for her not to worry about it? Does she feel that the society Lenin ruled over was devoid of workers' power? Or does she mean that later, under Stalin, a society was erected that had abandoned workers' rule? Who knows. In any case, the issue of principle is this -- can we talk about building socialism without the workers controlling society? If the workers controlling society is not a big deal, then it doesn't matter if the workers even came to power in Cuba or have asserted their control over the next four decades. Nor does it matter if the workers had control over society in any of the other revisionist regimes, or in the Soviet Union during Lenin's time. If it does matter, then we cannot support the present Cuban system or the other revisionist systems. Of course, temporary setbacks can come up in this process. But it's absurd when Barb doesn't care if the workers control Cuban society nearly 40 years after Castro came to power.

Barb's gag order

. Desperate to stave off the criticism of Castroism, Barb says now is not the time "to 'advise' the Cuban masses how to be 'revolutionary'." This is really pathetic. It's OK for Barb to give her view painting a pretty picture of the Cuban regime. That's not advising the Cuban masses to support the regime. By her standards, your only guilty of advising the masses if you oppose the regime. In short, this is nothing but an attempt to silence criticism of Cuban revisionism. Yes, Barb says the gag will be ripped off our mouths once she has judged that "more serious work" has been accomplished (such as calling the psychic hot-line to find Fidel's hidden thoughts!).How lucky we are to have a censor such as Barb to decide what can and can't be said in the debate over Cuba!

What course should the Cuban workers take?

. But while ordering us to keep quiet, Barb challenges us to show "what economic course shouldCuba take?" This shows that Barb really means it when she says don't give revolutionary advice to the masses, despite her attempts to sound ironic. For her, the issue is to give advice to the regime. But there is no economic course that can be taken by the Cuban party and state leaders that will put Cuba on the road to socialism because the party/state leadership is a new bourgeoisie lording over the workers. There's no measure that will convert the state-capitalist order into a socialist one. Progress in Cuba today can only come through struggle against the regime.

. The advice I would give is to the workers and poor peasants. I would explain that the last revolution has served a progressive purpose, but it is long over. I would tell them the truth about the state-capitalist nature of the present system and explain how this is not what real communists advocate. I would strive to explain what the difference is between Marxism and Castroism. I would encourage the toilers to form their own class organizations independent of the official party, trade unions, women's organizations, etc. I would tell them that this is necessary if they want to be able to defend themselves against Castroite austerity as well as the battles they will face against the growing sector of private exploiters. I would point out that while Castro uses anti-imperialist rhetoric to fool you, the old imperialist exploiters are making their way back. I would make it as clear as possible that the basic lot of the workers will not change under the present system and that a new revolution, the socialist revolution is necessary. I would not pretend that this revolution is around the corner, but encourage a perspective of the communist future and serious thought about the internal and external conditions that would make an attempt at revolution reasonable.

. Finally, I would tell the workers and peasants that this will be the most protracted and difficult work. Inevitably the government will persecute you. As well, the phony revolutionary phrases of the regime have undoubtedly sown much confusion among the workers. But I would point out that real revolutionary work cannot escape such problems. I would say do not heed the advice of those who consider building a genuine communist workers movement at this point in history to be "irresponsible."

Notes:

(1) Quoted from Sarah's article "Movie review: Che", which originally appeared in the Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical Journal #12, Feb. 26, 1997 p. 35, col. 2. The article was critiqued in Mark's article "Apologizing for the Castro regime or supporting the Cuban workers", which appeared in Communist Voice, vol.3, #2, May 8, 1997. (Text)

(2) It speaks volumes about the pretensions of Barb and the Chicago Workers' Voice group to fight opportunism that they promote a pamphlet by Barb supposedly exposing Trotskyism while Barb sees no problem when the Cuban leaders chose the most reformist wing of Trotskyism to be the official Cuba franchise here. Barb ignores that the U.S. Trotskyists with the closest ties to the Cuban regime, the SWP and WWP, work to tone down the mass struggles in the U.S. and trail the liberals and trade union bureaucrats. Support for reformism -- that's Barb's new definition of "not the ideology of capitalism"! (Text)

(3) This would echo the general approach of another CWV member, Sarah. A year ago she wrote an article portraying Cuba as sort of socialist because it had "features of a society in transition" to socialism. For more on this, see the article "Apologizing for the Castro regime or supporting the Cuban workers?" in Communist Voice, vol. 3, #2, May 8, 1997. (Text)


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