bristol reading group 28th november: 21st century socialism in latin america?

22 11 2010

The next Bristol reading group session is on socialism in Latin America. It will be on Sunday 28th November at Cafe Kino, Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, from 6pm.

All welcome. See below for suggested reading. It is not expected that you read all the texts – focus on the country or countries you are most interested in. Read the rest of this entry »





democracy and self-management in cuba

23 09 2010

Guillermo Almeyra outlines an alternative to the Cuban government’s plans to slash 20% of the workforce and privatise parts of the economy in order to deal with the crisis.

Predictably, the global crisis – together with the criminal US economic blockade – is now taking an even heavier toll on Cuba, reducing levels of tourism and remittances sent home by Cubans abroad.The growing difficulties of the Venezuelan economy, as well as the aggravation of climactic disasters, are also factors we have to consider when looking at how to save the island from economic abyss.

Cuba is a country which has been in deep crisis for more than 20 years – a whole generation – and which has no real change nor encouraging signs on the horizon, merely a hard struggle for survival, which besides is led by the same system and the same leaders who have helped create the current disastrous situation and do not know how to escape it. Read the rest of this entry »





cuba: the island of happiness ?

19 09 2010

“Even Communist Cuba has got with the programme that we need to cut  the budget deficit and actually get spending under control. We’ve got comrade Castro on the same page as the the rest of us.  We’ve just got to get the Labour Party and the trade unions on to that planet at the same time.” – David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions, September 15th

This week the state-run Cuban trade union confederation announced government plans to lay off 1 million public sector employees, some 20% of the working population. Half of the cuts will be over the next six months alone, in what marks a stunning retreat for the Communist Party and a sharp attack on working-class living standards. President Raúl Castro has targeted workers’ “dependency” on the public sector: by which he means, the same bureaucratic and management apparatus which closely monitors many aspects of everyday life in the country.

In this article Eduardo Semtei, a former Venezuelan government bureaucrat, describes his impressions of ordinary Cuban citizens’ lives. Although The Commune does not share Semtei’s politics – for instance, he harshly criticises the Venezuelan government for subsidising Cuba – his comments do offer an insight into existing social relations and the warped model of “socialism” on the island. Read the rest of this entry »





manchester public meeting: populism and class struggle in latin america

15 09 2009

The Commune’s first Manchester forum, Saturday 26th September

The last decade has seen a wave of class struggle shaking neo-liberalism in Latin America, with trade unions, social movements and indigenous people across the continent stirred to action.

26thseptlatam

Many also think that leaders like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia are ‘building socialism’, and the radical right and US imperialism have mobilised to try and crush them. July saw the most outrageous action yet as the Honduran military overthrew the centre-left president Manuel Zelaya.

Where is the class struggle in Latin America headed? What does the Obama administration mean for US relations with the continent? Are systems like Venezuela and Cuba a model for communists to follow? Come and join the debate at The Commune’s forum. Read the rest of this entry »





the cuban revolution – raya dunayevskaya (1960)

17 07 2009

Introduction by Chris Kane

Many on the Left consider Cuba a socialist country, its defiant stand against U.S. imperialism is widely admired, and the idea that there is at least one country in the world where a classless society is being built has a powerful appeal to wishful thinking. Indeed, for those who consider that the essence of socialism consists of state planning, Cuba does meet their concept of socialism.

What this ignores are the actual power relations in Cuban society. Power to decide upon economic strategy or foreign policy – or to repress dissent – is tightly held by the bureaucracy of this single party state. Capital is accumulated as state property. The mass organisations that exist are controlled from above; they do not express the free opinions of the workers, still less do they enable the workers to control production.

Here we reprint an article written by Raya Dunayevskaya in 1960, just one year after Castro’s guerrilla movement swept to power. Dunayevskaya reveals the new forms of class domination that were already being established in that unfinished revolution, and sharply criticises the “old radicals” who (then as now) cast themselves as cheerleaders for state-capitalism in Cuba. This article was originally published in the U.S. Marxist-Humanist paper, News & Letters, in December 1960. Read the rest of this entry »





socialist democracy and cuba after castro

21 09 2008

Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back in again. I would have you make up your minds there is nothing that you cannot do for yourselves.” Eugene Victor Debs, 1905.

A socialism without democracy and civil liberties, where equality is limited to sharing poverty, is little different from a beehive with a Queen Bee in command. In such a society individualism would surely be eliminated, except for the Queen Bee’s, but so would political pluralism and individuality, which is not the same thing as individualism.” Samuel Farber

We would like to draw our readers’ attention to this interesting exchange between Samuel Farber and Saul Landau over the situation in Cuba and the transformations it is set to experience.

Life after Fidel – by Samuel Farber

Landau’s reply and a further response by Farber





revolutionary strategy: reply by mike macnair

3 09 2008

on friday 29th david broder posted a review of revolutionary strategy, a new book by the cpgb’s mike macnair. this provoked more than seventy comments, and mike himself has written a response, which we reproduce here. Read the rest of this entry »





czechoslovakia ’68: fidel castro against the revolution

22 08 2008

forty years ago this week russian tanks rolled into prague after the workers of czechoslovakia rose up against stalinism and established their own workers’ councils as organs of self-goverment. the cuban bureaucracy condemned the uprising, and its caudillo fidel castro made two speeches on august 23rd and 24th attacking the “counter-revolutionary” movement in czechoslovakia and supporting the ussr’s invasion. to the embarrassment of the “mandelite” fourth international, which to this day venerates che guevara (who died in 1967), the cuban regime put itself firmly in the camp of russian imperialism and bureaucratic power. Read the rest of this entry »








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