Reformism or Revolution: 9. The future of the Cuban Revolution

The liquidation of the nationalized planned economy and the switch to market economics in Russia has signified, as Trotsky so brilliantly predicted, a sharp decline of culture. The capitalist counter-revolution has brought with it prostitution, drug addiction, AIDS, pornography, Great Russian chauvinism, the Black Hundreds, pogroms, anti-Semitism, astrology, superstition and the Russian Orthodox Church. The same fate will await the people of Cuba if the pro-capitalist elements succeed in their plans to restore capitalism.

The liquidation of the nationalized planned economy and the switch to market economics in Russia has signified, as Trotsky so brilliantly predicted, a sharp decline of culture. The capitalist counter-revolution has brought with it prostitution, drug addiction, AIDS, pornography, Great Russian chauvinism, the Black Hundreds, pogroms, anti-Semitism, astrology, superstition and the Russian Orthodox Church. These are the "blessings" capitalism has inflicted on the Russian people. The same fate will await the people of Cuba if the pro-capitalist elements succeed in their plans to restore capitalism.

Reformism or Revolution
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In Cuba, as in the USSR, there are elements who want to go back to capitalism. It is not necessary to point out that a return to capitalism in Cuba would be a terrible disaster, not just for the people of Cuba but for the workers and peoples of the whole world. This must be prevented by all means! But it will not be prevented if we deny that the threat exists. The threat comes from Washington, but also from those layers in Cuba who would like to see a return to capitalism. Some of them are to be found amongst the new rich, others amongst corrupt layers of the state apparatus and administrators of companies. To deny this is to have learnt nothing from the fate of the USSR.

To his credit, Fidel Castro has remained implacably opposed to a return to capitalism. He firmly rejects the privatisation of the means of production and the dismantling of the planned economy. He has courageously stood up to the pressure and bullying of imperialism. This stand deserves support, though in itself it is insufficient to save the Cuban revolution. On the 17th of November 2005, Fidel warned at the University of La Havana that the Cuban Revolution was not irreversible and that it might end up like the Soviet Union. He referred to "our flaws, our mistakes, our inequalities, our injustice". He said: "As you know, we are presently waging a war against corruption, against the re-routing of resources, against thievery, and there is this force which we didn't have before we started with the battle of ideas, one designed to wage this battle." [1]

He appealed to revolutionary honour, but added that such appeals were insufficient: "The Revolution will establish the necessary controls". Control is precisely what is necessary. But the only really reliable control is the control from the bottom - control on the part of the working class. Without this, the bureaucrats and unscrupulous people can manipulate controls and regulations, which will remain just scraps of paper. Bureaucracy cannot be combated by the bureaucracy itself! Fidel wishes to defend the Cuban Revolution by attacking those distortions that threaten to undermine it from within. But many of those who applauded his speech in public will do nothing to put it into practice because to do so would undermine their privileges.

Fidel Castro stated correctly: "The first socialist revolution, the first real attempt at a just and egalitarian society, takes place in a huge semi-feudal, semi-under developed country." That is the root of the problem: "All these historical factors had a tremendous influence on revolutionary thinking, and of course there were abusive practices, at times even repugnant ones". Fidel does not specify what he is referring to but there can be no doubt at all from the context that he was talking about the crimes of Stalinism. For example, he mentioned the Hitler-Stalin Pact: "I think that the imperialist plans to throw Hitler against the USSR would never have justified the pact made between Hitler and Stalin, it was a very hard blow. The communist parties, well-known for their discipline, were obliged to defend the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and to politically bleed to death." And he went on to mention the role of the Cuban Stalinists who, following the dictates of Moscow, shamefully supported the dictator Batista against Castro and the revolutionary movement:

"Before this pact, the necessity for unification in the anti-fascist struggle led to the alliance in Cuba of the Cuban communists with Batista. By then, Batista had suppressed the famous strike of April 1934 that followed his coup against the provisional government in 1933 which was unquestionably revolutionary in nature and to a large degree, the result of the historical fight of the workers' movement and the Cuban communists. Before that anti-fascist alliance, Batista had assassinated countless numbers of people and robbed incredible sums of money, and had become a flunky of Yankee imperialism. The order came from Moscow: organize the anti-fascist front. It was a pact with the devil. Here the pact was with the fascist ABC and Batista, a fascist of a different colour, who was both a criminal and robber of the public coffer.

"[...] The members of the Cuban Communist Party were the most disciplined people, the most honourable and the most self-sacrificed for this country. The Party legislators handed over a portion of their salaries. They were the most honourable people in the country notwithstanding the erroneous direction that was imposed by Stalin on the international movement."

Referring to Stalin's Russia he says: "We must have the courage to recognize our own errors exactly for that reason, for only in that manner will we reach the objective that we hope to attain. A tremendous vice was created, the abuse of power, the cruelty and, in particular, the habit of one country imposing its authority, that of one hegemonic party, over all other countries and parties." Castro condemned Stalin's purge of the Red Army: "Poland was invaded by the Nazis and the Soviet army had been purged of its best and most brilliant leaders due to scheming by the Nazis."

The menace of bureaucracy

The USSR used to buy Cuban sugar at 27 or 28 cents, and it paid in oil. The collapse of the USSR placed the Cuban economy in a very difficult situation. It produced the so-called Special Period, which imposed severe strains on the Cuban people and led to growing inequalities. The pressure of US imperialism intensified. The collapse of the USSR clearly had a powerful effect in Cuba. Many honest Cuban communists are asking how it was possible for a country that was supposed to be socialist to return so easily to capitalism. And is it not possible that a similar fate could await Cuba? Castro also raised this question in his speech:

"I believe that the experience of that first socialist State, a State that should have been fixed and not destroyed, was a bitter one. You may be sure that we have thought many times about that incredible phenomenon where one of the mightiest powers in the world disintegrated the way it did; for this was a power that had matched the strength of the other super-power and had paid with the lives of more than 20 million of her people in the battle against fascism.

"Is it that revolutions are doomed to fall apart, or that men cause revolutions to fall apart? Can either man or society prevent revolutions from collapsing? I could immediately add to this another question: Do you believe that this revolutionary socialist process can fall apart, or not? (Exclamations of: ‘No!!') Have you ever given that some thought? Have you ever deeply reflected about it?"

Fidel Castro showed greater awareness and realism than his audience. He pointed out correctly that the biggest danger to the Revolution was internal - in corruption, privileges and inequality:

"Were you aware of all these inequalities that I have been talking about? Were you aware of certain generalized habits? Did you know that there are people who earn forty or fifty times the amount one of those doctors over there in the mountains of Guatemala, part of the ‘Henry Reeve' Contingent, earns in one month? It could be in other faraway reaches of Africa, or at an altitude of thousands of metres, in the Himalayas, saving lives and earning 5 percent or 10 percent of what one of those dirty little crooks earns, selling gasoline to the new rich, diverting resources from the ports in trucks and by the ton-load, stealing in the dollar shops, stealing in a five-star hotel by exchanging a bottle of rum for another of lesser quality and pocketing the dollars for which he sells the drinks".

The colossal personal authority of Fidel Castro is a very important element in the situation, and Washington is well aware of it. He is implacably opposed capitalist restoration, and this has played a most important role in keeping the pro-capitalist restoration tendencies in check. But nobody lives forever, and the question is being posed openly: what will happen when Castro is no longer present? He says at one point: "some thought that socialism could be constructed with capitalist methods. That is one of the great historical errors. I do not wish to speak of this, I don't want to theorize. But I have an infinite number of examples of many things that couldn't be resolved by those who called themselves theoreticians, blanketing themselves from head to toe in the books of Marx, Engels, Lenin and many others."

In so many words, he states that there are some people who wish to "construct socialism with capitalist methods." This is a clear reference to the pro-capitalist elements in the bureaucracy who are waiting impatiently for Fidel Castro to disappear from the scene in order to push their agenda. Since they cannot do this openly, they will use the fig-leaf of the so-called Chinese road to disguise their real intentions. It is necessary to wage an all-out struggle against these pro-capitalist elements, to defend the nationalized property relations established by the Revolution. But in order to do this effectively it is essential that the workers and youth of Cuba are actively involved in the running of society, industry and the state.

A military attack on Cuba would be unthinkable even for a man as stupid as George W. Bush. But the main danger to the Cuban Revolution is not military but economic and it comes from within, as Castro explained: "This country can self-destruct; this Revolution can destroy itself, but they can never destroy us; we can destroy ourselves, and it would be our fault." It is necessary to meditate on these words and to draw the logical conclusions.

Roque's speech

On the 23rd of December, 2005 Felipe Pérez Roque, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, delivered a speech at the 6th Session of the 6th Legislation of the Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular (Cuban Parliament), with the title Year of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. [2]

He said: "We must give all attention to this call launched by Fidel at the University, to this phrase never pronounced before publicly in the history of the revolution, that the revolution could be reversible, and not by the enemy which has done all in its power to do it, but by our errors".

He referred to the crisis of the Special Period and the problems caused by the blockade. He warned about the plans of US imperialism to lead a "transition" in Cuba and turn it into a colony of the United States: "The enemy then bets on the idea that our Revolution will grow tired and be lost - as has happened before in history, because after the French Revolution there was a victorious counter-revolution and there were many other processes that were lost, they grew tired, they lost their course. But this has not been our case, and a long time has passed, more than four decades and this has not happened. Then that is the idea.

"Past successes in the struggle do not justify self-complacency or the idea that victory is won for eternity," he said. These words indicate that there are those in the leadership who are worried about the possibility of capitalist counter-revolution in Cuba and are aware that the danger lies within - in bureaucracy, corruption and inequality that undermine the revolutionary faith of the masses more than any propaganda from Miami or Washington:

"Therefore, there are lessons in ethics. Marti prepared the necessary war and refused to let his colleagues buy him a pair of shoes to replace his old worn ones." He went on: "Therefore, I think there are three basic premises: the first is that this Revolution cannot be defeated if those who lead it do so on the basis of the authority of their personal example, as is the case today, as has always been the case. The Revolution has come this far in the first place due to the moral authority of its leadership. You can have the power but no authority, and this is the case of Bush and his regime, because the authority does not stem from given attributes, it stems from the example of a person's acts. The way we understand such authority is like this, ‘Well, I do not understand it very well, but if Fidel said so, I'm sure it is like that'."

There is no doubt that the colossal personal and moral authority of Fidel Castro plays a very important role in holding in check the pro-capitalist elements. But what will happen when Fidel is no longer present? Can the Cuban Revolution depend on the presence of one man to save it? Of course not! In the last analysis, the Revolution can only rely on one thing to defend it: the will of the masses. The working class and the people of Cuba have shown their determination to defend the Revolution for decades. They have been prepared to tolerate all kinds of hardships and privations. They will be prepared to do so in the future. But in order that the masses should defend the Revolution, it is necessary that they have a perspective that all their sacrifices will not have been in vain: that they will serve to bring about the final victory of socialism. This is only possible if the socialist revolution triumphs in other countries, beginning with Venezuela.

The extension of the revolution at least to Latin America is essential for the survival and strengthening of the Cuban Revolution. That was clearly understood by Che Guevara and it remains true today. Moreover, the conditions for the success of the revolution in Latin America today are infinitely better now than they were in 1967. That is the first point. Secondly, in order that the masses should make the necessary sacrifices, it is imperative that they should understand that the sacrifices are for everybody, without any distinction of rank or position. Che Guevara was an example in this respect. He refused to accept his minister's salary, drawing only his meagre wage as a comandante of the revolutionary army and was implacably opposed to any privileges.

This idea was expressed in the 1919 Party Programme of the Bolshevik Party. It was already expressed by Lenin in State and Revolution, which he derived from the experience of the Paris Commune. Marx described the abolition of privileges in the Commune in the following way: "From the members of the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workmen's wages. The privileges and the representation allowances of the high dignitaries of state disappeared along with the high dignitaries themselves..." [3] This was the basis of Soviet democracy established in 1917, which was abolished by Stalin after Lenin's death. Only by returning to the original ideas of October Revolution can the defence of the Cuban Revolution succeed. Those who will defend the Revolution with the greatest determination are not the bureaucrats with comfortable lifestyles and bourgeois aspirations who will desert to the camp of the counter-revolution as soon as conditions permit it. Those who will defend the Revolution to the end are the Cuban working class who have most to lose by the restoration of capitalism. As comrade Roque said:

"The second premise is that for as long as we have the support of the great majority of the people as we do today, not based on material consumption, but based on ideas and convictions - because I already referred to the peoples in the socialist countries that were disarmed and did not come out in the streets to fight when their future was being dismantled. On the other hand, we did see the poor people in Venezuela come out in the streets to fight for the return of Chávez when the Yankees orchestrated the oligarchic and military coup d'état. The destitute took to the streets, and most of those who joined the Rebel Army owned nothing, they were farmers and poor workers; in other words, support must be based on ideas and convictions; it is wrong to think that people will support us more because they have more."

The comparison with the events of April 2002 in Caracas is highly appropriate. This was the final answer to all the cowards and sceptics who doubted the ability of the working class to fight to change society. When Chávez was overthrown by the counter-revolutionaries and helpless in prison, awaiting certain death, who saved him? Who saved the Venezuelan Revolution in its moment of direst need? Only the Venezuelan workers and peasants, only the housewives and students, only the unemployed and destitute: only the men and women of no property. And the same is true in Cuba. Comrade Roque honestly deals with the facts of the situation. He does not attempt to hide the fact that a layer of the population has lost faith in the Revolution in recent years:

"The Revolution cannot survive without the support of the people; and this does not mean it couldn't be made all over again; but it would be hard to see the defeat of a Revolution that has been preserved, that has accomplished the historical deed of surviving here. This we all know, and today we have ratified to the Chief of the Revolution that we will defend it".

"The Revolution cannot survive without the support of the people." That is the essence of the matter. Without that support the Cuban Revolution can never withstand the irresistible pressures of US imperialism. But the loyalty of the masses is being put under intolerable strain, not only by external but also by internal factors. The growth of inequality, privileges and corruption is undermining the Revolution from within. It is alienating sections of the population from the Revolution and breeding unhealthy moods of scepticism and cynicism among the youth.

It is not a question of "making the revolution all over again". Have there not been enough sacrifices made to achieve what has been achieved? A person who is not capable of defending what has already been won will never be capable of advancing to new conquests in the future. If capitalism is re-established in Cuba - and it is our fervent desire and conviction that this will not happen - it would be a terrible blow to the revolutionary movement in all Latin America and on a world scale. It would take a long time for the workers and youth of Cuba to recover from such a blow. We must do everything in our power to prevent it. The idea that Cuba would be a better place for the people if only the capitalists would return is false to the core. Roque says:

"In Cuba, there cannot be a national patriotic bourgeoisie as other countries had; in Cuba, the bourgeoisie always was, and would again be if we let it emerge, pro-Yankee, pro-transnational, and would need the rural guards, and the army of Batista, and the Yankee marines, to repress and subdue the people".

That is also correct. Nowhere in Latin America has the bourgeoisie been capable of playing a progressive role. Everywhere the so-called national bourgeoisie acts as the local office boys of imperialism. One of the most reactionary and harmful ideas that was put in circulation by the Stalinists was the myth of a progressive national bourgeois that the working class must form an alliance with and subordinate itself to. This monstrous counter-revolutionary theory, which is still supported by the Stalinists in Latin America, led the Cuban Stalinists to support Batista and oppose Castro. We must never forget this! If the capitalists ever returned, Cuba would become a municipality of Miami, to use Roque's phrase.

Heinz Dieterich comments on Fidel's speech

What does Heinz have to say about Fidel's speech? "It is an epistemological earthquake: The Comandante of certainty, of the security of final victory reintroduces the dialectic in the official Cuban discourse, without notice, without a preamble, without ambiguity. It is a matter of dialecticizing stagnation, Bertolt Brecht would say." [4]

We do not know what Bertolt Brecht would say. But we know that Heinz Dieterich has a remarkable gift for mystifying everything he can get his hands on. And we admire the great German writer too much to make him responsible, even posthumously, for such twaddle (in good plain German Quatsch). Unlike Heinz Dieterich, Fidel Castro spoke with admirable clarity and honesty on the serious problems facing the Cuban Revolution. But for our friend Heinz it is all a question of epistemology, or, to mystify things a little bit more: "a matter of dialecticizing stagnation", a truly wonderful example of Dieterichspeak.

Later our Heinz turns his attention to Felipe Pérez Roque, whom he refers to as "the talented chancellor and former personal secretary of Fidel". This shameless flattery is the same tactic Dieterich habitually uses in relation to Chávez: to use flattering words that remind us of the tactics of the Byzantine eunuchs who were constantly involved in intrigues at the Palace in Constantinople. They would praise somebody to the skies in public and then quietly stab him in the back. In his usual arid and schematic manner, this is how comrade Dieterich, sums up the arguments of Felipe Pérez Roque:

"1. Maintain the moral authority of the leadership, through a leadership based on example and without privileges over the people. 2. Guarantee the support of the majority of the people, ‘not on the basis of material consumption but on the basis of ideas and convictions'. 3. Prevent the emergence of a new bourgeoisie which "would be again, if we let it emerge, be pro-Yankee, pro transnational ....we must not fall into ingenuities....the decisive point is who gets the income (ingreso): if it is the majorities and the people or the oligarchic transnational and pro-Yankee minority; the point is, whose is the property? If of the people, the majority, or if it belongs to the corrupt and servile minority associated....with Yankee imperialism."

The Founder of 21st Century Socialism then proceeds to give the Cuban Secretary of State marks out of ten, as if he is marking an essay by one of his students: "The first proposal of the Chancellor is, obviously, correct and necessary. We will have to see if the future configuration of the Cuban political system will permit imposing it. As to the second imperative, which refers to the dialectic between the spiritual and the material, it is necessary to take into account the dictum of Lenin that the stability of a dominant class, in this case a leading class, can not free itself from its capacity to resolve ‘the task of production'. Let us dedicate the following point to this problem."

What "the dialectic between the spiritual and the material" means is anybody's guess. We have no idea, and neither has Heinz, who, as we have seen, loves to repeat high-sounding phrases which mean nothing at all. But to continue:

"The central idea expressed by Fidel in November and now by Felipe is, that the loyalty to the leaders and their historic project must derive primarily from the ethics (values, ideas convictions) and not from consumerism. Defined thus, the dialectical unity of the contradictions of Cuban reality is not adequately reflected. The correct contradiction would be: ethics and consumption, not ethics and consumerism.

"For all epochs there are, as Marx already explained, a fund of consumption of the worker historically determined which is expressed, in terms of the valorisation of capital, in variable capital. This consumption fund determines, essentially in stratified form, the quality of material life of the people. At present, this standard of dominant consumption on the world level, is that of the middle class of the First World, and although it continues to be unreachable for the majorities, it exercises an irresistible attraction: to such an extent that many risk their lives to get to these First World countries." [5]

Comrade Dieterich refers to Fidel and Felipe to show to the reader that he is on first name terms with the leaders of the Cuban Revolution. (We wonder why he does not refer likewise to Charlie and Freddy when speaking of Marx and Engels). So he will forgive us if we continue to refer to him as our friend Heinz, which has just about as much validity. And since this false familiarity is just a way of preparing to make a fundamental criticism of the ideas of Fidel and Felipe, we are sure that our Heinz will not mind if we make one or two small criticisms of his arguments also.

Immediately, Heinz shows his extreme dissatisfaction with the ideas expressed by the two Cuban leaders: "the dialectical unity of the contradictions of Cuban reality is not adequately reflected," he complains. Worse still: "The correct contradiction would be: ethics and consumption, not ethics and consumerism." What is all this supposed to mean? It is known that in the years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cuban masses suffered great material privation, which was deliberately intensified by the criminal blockade imposed by imperialism. Only gradually has Cuba succeeded in getting out of the worst and establishing some kind of equilibrium. But it is clear to everyone that this state of affairs is very fragile and cannot last. That was the real meaning of the speeches delivered by Castro and Roque.

What will happen when Fidel finally leaves the scene? We know that there are people in Cuba - as there were in Russia - who are waiting in the wings, ready to push through a capitalist programme and seize the privatised assets. And as in Russia, a large number of these elements call themselves "Communists". They hold privileged positions and will use these positions when the time comes to plunder the property of the state and turn themselves into private capitalists. The only hope, as Roque pointed out, is to trust in the Cuban workers and peasants and the revolutionary sections of the youth who have no interest in returning to capitalism.

The most pressing need is to strengthen the proletarian vanguard and reinforce that sector that wants to fight to defend the nationalized planned economy and remains loyal to the ideas of Marxism Leninism. It is necessary to open up a serious discussion about the perspectives for the Cuban and Venezuelan Revolutions and for the Marxist movement on a world scale. Such a discussion would be incomplete without the participation of the Trotskyists, who are the firmest defenders of the Cuban and Venezuelan Revolutions. In the last analysis, however, the only real guarantee for the Cuban revolution is the extension of the socialist revolution throughout Latin America, as Che Guevara maintained to the end.

Once again on ‘real socialism'

Heinz Dieterich becomes indignant at the assertion that nobody knows how to build socialism: "For the overcoming of this theoretical stagnation it is not useful to say that no one knows about building the socialism of our century." Who possesses this knowledge? Why, our friend Heinz, of course! Having quickly disposed of the whole history of philosophy and the social sciences in Cuba and Latin America, comrade Dieterich now marches briskly on to deal with the "countries of historical socialism": "The academic discourse of ‘really existing socialism' sustains itself on the bases of an idealistic philosophy of identity, such as we find in the philosophy of history of Hegel, which identifies human evolution with Christian teleology, and in the semi-illustrated romanticism of Rousseau, when it equips the ‘general will' (the State) with the ‘individual wills' (society).

"In the socialist ideology the proceedings have been similar, identifying mistakenly State property with the social, State surplus with the social and the policy of the Party with the will of the majority. That method liquidates the dialectic of reality, that is to say the contradictions which are the source of its movements, and make it canonical. ‘Canonic' in the sense of structuring reality according to sacred patterns of the subject.

"This explains why in the last decades scientific-revolutionary paradigms of importance have not developed in the sociology, economy, theory of the State or the theory of Marx and Engels in the socialist countries. There is nothing of importance for science nor for the struggle of the peoples. There are no theoretical products in these fields which are comparable to liberation theology, to Cepalism, to the theory of dependence or to the Bolivarianism-developmentism of the Regional Latin American Power Bloc." [6]

We can agree with Heinz Dieterich about the lamentable state of philosophy and the social sciences in Stalinist Russia. One man, writing in the British Museum, was capable of producing Capital. Yet the Soviet Union, with the colossal resources of the state at its disposal, did not produce a single important work of Marxist philosophy or economics in over half a century after the death of Lenin. The question that should be asked is why this was the case? Were there not enough clever people in the USSR? No, there were many capable philosophers, just as there were many talented artists and brilliant scientists. The problem is that the USSR, despite all the formidable advantages of the nationalized planned economy, was not able to get the best out of this galaxy of human talent. The reason for this was the bureaucratic totalitarian regime that stifled all initiative and strangled artistic freedom.

In order to develop its potential to the fullest degree, human thought needs freedom: freedom to discuss and debate, freedom to make experiments and also to make mistakes. We know that not every scientific experiment is successful, in the sense that it does not get the desired results. But even an "unsuccessful" experiment is useful in the sense that it shows what avenues are not to be followed. What is true of science is even truer of art, literature and music. Art cannot flourish in a bureaucratic and totalitarian regime, where the artist is expected to produce works in accordance with the instructions of the state. The artistic norms of so-called socialist realism, were neither socialist nor realistic, but merely a reflection of the prejudices of the narrow minded caste of officials, which are similar to the prejudices of the petty bourgeois philistine everywhere. It is really a miracle that in spite of this petty tutelage the Soviet Union was capable of producing writers and composers of stature (the visual arts suffered most). Geniuses like Shostakovich wrote great masterpieces in spite of the Stalinist bureaucracy, not thanks to it.

When we come to philosophy the same observations apply. Philosophy demands the freedom to discuss and debate the big questions without petty rules and restrictions. In a healthy workers' state, this would be encouraged (always assuming that writers do not engage in counter-revolutionary propaganda). But in a Stalinist regime this is not the case. As a usurping caste that speaks in the name of socialism, the bureaucracy cannot allow freedom in any sphere of social or artistic life. It cannot allow anyone to question its leading role. Since political parties and tendencies were prohibited, the bureaucratic bloodhounds were always on the lookout for "deviations" in other spheres: art, literature, philosophy - even in music and genetics. The Party Line (that is to say, the will of Stalin and the bureaucracy) had to be obeyed unquestioningly in all things. Such a regime does not encourage original creative thought, but quite the opposite. It encourages mindless conformism, servility, routinism, careerism and toadyism.

The writer is always looking over his shoulder to see whether the "boss" is happy with what he writes, and he writes only what is pleasing to those in authority, because they determine whether his work will be published, how much he will earn and whether he will get a nice apartment in Moscow or be sent to languish in some god-forsaken province. It was these material conditions that led to the mediocrity of Soviet philosophy (although there were honourable exceptions). Bureaucratic thought is mediocre by definition. No great work was ever produced by a committee! But precisely this material side is not dealt with by comrade Dieterich, who approaches this question, as he does all others, from a purely idealistic and mystical point of view.

Dieterich's idealist approach

We leave aside such literary gems as "‘Canonic' in the sense, of structuring reality according to sacred patterns of the subject" and "Cepalism [...] the theory of dependence or [...] the Bolivarianism-developmentism of the Regional Latin American Power Block." Let other, more subtle, minds than ours struggle to make sense of this ridiculous verbiage. Life is short and we must concentrate on more serious matters. Here we see immediately the idealist character of the presentation, which is only partially disguised by the confused and incoherent mode of writing that we have come to recognise as Heinz's principal distinguishing feature as an author. In the first place, what we should be discussing is not the "academic discourse of really existing socialism", but what actually happened in the USSR, not what the Moscow bureaucracy said about itself but what it actually was and what it did. Moreover, the Stalinist bureaucracy did not sustain itself "on the bases of an idealistic philosophy of identity", but on the basis of a totalitarian state backed up with the police, the prisons, labour camps and the KGB.

"In socialist ideology the proceedings have been similar, identifying mistakenly the State property with the social, the State surplus with the social and the policy of the Party with the will of the majority." [7] This is what comrade Dieterich writes. What does it mean? What socialist ideology is he referring to? If he means the monstrous Stalinist caricature of Marxism-Leninism that was taught for decades in Soviet schools and Party institutes, then he should say so. But no, he talks of socialist ideology in general. Heinz Dieterich argues as follows: 1) the reason for the degeneration and collapse of the Soviet Union must be looked for in ideological causes (that is, ideas). 2) If we accept this, we must also accept that there is some original defect in "socialist ideology" - that is, some original defect in Marxism. 3) "Socialist ideology" (Marxism) is the same as Stalinism 4) the collapse of the USSR is also the collapse of the "old ideas", i.e. Marxism. 5) Consequently, we must look for new ideas. 6) Consequently, we must embrace Heinz Dieterich's "socialism of the 21st century".

We shall now see how this applies to the case of Cuba. What is Dieterich's position on Cuba? In the article in Revista Mariátegui (15/08/06) he is asked:

"Faced with the illness of Comandante Fidel Castro, could the fate of the Cuban revolution be the same as that of the Russian revolution?

"I think that the possibility is real and, he Fidel himself indicated it in November 2005 in the University of Havana, raising the possible reversibility of the revolution through its own errors. It seems to me that the danger is real. I believe that if there are no significant reforms in the superstructure of historical socialism and the market economy that they have, if they do not make thorough reforms, in few years they are going to revert to capitalism."

Comrade Dieterich continues in another publication: "Once the genesis of the revolution has passed and the people have been formed under the educative system of the revolution, however, it would be normal that that function should be assimilated by the institutions, and only exceptionally by the leaders." [8]

What is this mysterious "educative system of the revolution"? Probably he wants to send the workers to school, where they can learn all about socialism of the 21st century, together with Historical Projects, institutions of the future, the exchange of equivalents, Regional Power Blocs, and other fascinating subjects. Once they have shown that they are proficient in all these important subjects, he will presumably issue them with a Certificate of 21st Century Socialist Proficiency, and they can start to think about changing society. Once again Dieterich stands reality on its head. The working class, whether in Russia in 1917 or in Venezuela in 2007, does not learn from books and "educative systems" but from life, from experience, and especially from great events. In a revolution, events move rapidly, the conditions of life of the masses change abruptly, and it is these abrupt changes that transform the consciousness of the masses. If a revolutionary party is present, like the Bolshevik Party in 1917, the masses, beginning with the most advanced layer, will learn much more quickly. That is all.

In normal conditions a man or woman can learn slowly through a process of trial and error. But in a revolution the changes take place so suddenly that there is no time for the class as a whole to learn in such a way. Every error is paid for very dearly. It is the task of the vanguard, organized in a party, to learn from the historical experience of the working class internationally and to apply the lessons to the concrete conditions of the class struggle in its own country. It must try by all means to win the rest of the class through patient work and explanation. This task is facilitated by the fact that in a revolution the masses learn ten times more quickly than in "normal" times. That is the only "educative system of the revolution": the experience of the masses themselves.

Once the workers are "educated", says Dieterich, they can be safely allowed to take decisions, or, more correctly, the taking of decisions can be safely left to "the institution" and the leaders should take decisions "only exceptionally". Behind the democratic verbiage we now see the purely bureaucratic mentality of Heinz Dieterich. At the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets in January 1918, Lenin said: "Very often delegations of workers and peasants come to the government and ask, for example, what to do with such-and-such a piece of land. And frequently I have felt embarrassed when I saw that they had no very definite views. And I said to them: you are the power, do all you want to do, take all you want, we shall support you." [9] At the Seventh Party Congress, a few months later, he emphasized that "socialism cannot be implemented by a minority, by the Party. It can be implemented only by tens of millions when they have learned to do it themselves". [10]

These statements of Lenin, which can be duplicated at will, reflected his deep-rooted confidence in the ability of working people to decide their own future. It contrasts sharply to the lies of the bourgeois historians who have attempted to smear the democratic ideas of Leninism with the crimes of Stalinism. This "dictatorship of the proletariat" was in every sense a genuine workers' democracy, unlike the later totalitarian regime of Stalin. Political power was in the hands of the masses represented through the soviets. Socialism means that the administration and control of industry, society and the state must be in the hands of the working class from the very beginning. There is no question of anybody standing over the workers and taking decisions on their behalf even "occasionally". Such an idea would have been regarded as an abomination by Lenin, as the quotations above show very clearly.

Socialism and the market

Dieterich advises the Cubans that reform is necessary to prevent the restoration of capitalism. Most Cubans would agree with him. But there are reforms and reforms. Some reforms would undoubtedly help to avoid the restoration of capitalism. But there are other reforms that would have precisely the opposite effect. Like a drunken man staggering from one bar to another, our Heinz staggers from one theoretical confusion to the next:

"For the organization of the Soviet economy there were potentially three subjects: the State, the market and society. A particular form of property corresponded to each one: the State or public, private one and the social one. The revolution being of an anti-capitalist nature, the market, that is the business class, was excluded as an organizing option. Due to the scarce development of the productive forces, the destruction of the war and the low cultural level of the people (illiteracy), it was equally almost impossible that the population (society) would satisfactorily organize the economy in that gigantic country. There remained, then, the State as principal operator of the economy and, in consequence, the state or public property as dominant." [11]

To begin with, let us note that this paragraph constitutes a veiled apology for Stalinism. According to Heinz Russia was too backward and the workers too illiterate and ignorant for the proletariat to administer society. What period is comrade Dieterich talking about here? Unless this question is answered, it is not possible to make any sense of what he writes. As usual, he expresses himself in a most confused manner. What is meant by "For the organization of the Soviet economy there were potentially three subjects"? This does not make sense. After the October Revolution the nationalized planed economy was run by the state with the democratic participation of the working class through the soviets. However, the revolution faced enormous difficulties. No sooner had the workers and peasants taken power, than they were faced with armed imperialist intervention to overthrow the Soviet power. Lenin and the Bolsheviks understood very well that if the revolution was not spread to the West, they would be doomed.

Dieterich refers to Lenin's NEP in Russia. But what was the NEP and how did it come into being? The first years of the Soviet power were characterized by acute economic difficulties, partly the result of war and civil war, partly as a result of shortages of both materials and skilled manpower, and partly of the opposition of the peasant small property owners to the socialist measures of the Bolsheviks. During the civil war nine million perished through famine, disease and freezing conditions. The economy was in ruins and on the verge of collapse. In order to put a stop to this catastrophic decline, drastic measures were introduced to get industry moving, to feed the hungry workers and to end the drift from town to country.

Dieterich is in favour of a mixed economy. Even in a workers' state with a nationalized economy, it would be correct to leave part of the economy in private hands: small shops and family businesses, small private farms, etc. These enterprises have no independent role in the economy. They are entirely dependent on the big banks and monopolies, supermarkets, big transport companies, etc. In a workers' state they would be entirely dependent on the state sector, which would treat them a lot better than they are now treated by the monopolies that ruthlessly exploit them and drive them out of business. We have no plans to imitate the Stalinists in Bulgaria who in 1945 even nationalized the shoe-shine boys.

However, when Dieterich speaks of a "mixed economy" he is talking about something entirely different. He is opposed to the expropriation of the banks and big industries in Venezuela (except PDVSA, which is nationalized already). That is to say, he is in favour of leaving intact the economic power of the oligarchy, confining the "socialist" element in the economy to the small businesses that are run as co-operatives. That is to say, by "mixed economy" he does not mean a socialist economy, where the bulk of the economy is in the hands of the state (and the state is in the hands of the workers) and there is a small private sector consisting mainly of small businesses. He means a capitalist economy, in which most of the key sectors of the economy are in the hands of the landowners, bankers and capitalists, and a minority, consisting mainly of small businesses are run as co-operatives. That is, he advocates a system that is the precise opposite of Lenin's NEP.

Comrade Dieterich says that "a big bourgeoisie in Cuba must not be permitted nor is it necessary to permit, because the State substitutes for its economic functions. The innovation-production-commercialization complex of biotechnology, for example, fills the functions of the transnational enterprises (competitivity, innovation, capital) together with economic contents more human than the capitalist." But then he immediately adds:

"There remains, then, the problem of the small bourgeoisie, that is, small mercantile production. We recall the advice of Lenin on this class, but we remember also, that at a certain historic moment he had to implement the NEP, with the certainty that the revolutionaries could control the bourgeois tendencies through the enormous monopolistic power of the Soviet State; b) that in no country in the world has the State been able to provide services of adequate quality, for example, in gastronomy; c) that no State has been able to give the cities the diversity of small enterprises, stores, subcultures, et cetera, which gives them life, which is particularly important in economies of tourism; d) that the political-economic control of this class could be achieved probably with the tax - and judicial system; e) that in the global economy of the FTAA the guarantees of economic reproduction of the small businessman can only be provided by the State through protectionism and subsidies, which is the fundamental reason why FEDEINDUSTRIA in Venezuela is with the Bolivarian process and why the small peasant and Latin American enterprise supports Hugo Chávez' ALBA initiative.

"In resume: the situation of the small bourgeoisie in the USSR under Lenin was fundamentally different from that of the Latin American small bourgeoisie today and will have to be analyzed concretely to know in what degree it may be tolerated or no." [12]

In a nationalized planned economy, where the state is in the hands of the working class, as was the case in Russia when Lenin and Trotsky stood at the helm of the Bolshevik Party, it is permissible to allow a certain amount of small businesses. But Lenin always warned of the dangers involved in this. Behind the small businesses stands the might of world capitalism and the tremendous pressure of the capitalist world market. Under certain conditions the private sector can become the transmission belt for the penetrations of these powerful pressures and they can threaten the very existence of the nationalized planned economy. Lenin honestly described NEP as a retreat. He warned of its consequences and insisted that the Soviet workers must have independent trade unions to defend themselves against the NEPmen and bureaucrats:

"The proletarian state may, without changing its own nature, permit freedom to trade and the development of capitalism only within certain bounds, and only on the condition that the state regulates (supervises, controls, determines the forms and methods of, etc.) private trade and private capitalism. The success of such regulation will depend not only on the state authorities but also, and to a larger extent, on the degree of maturity of the proletariat and of the masses of the working people generally, on their cultural level, etc. But even if this regulation is completely successful, the antagonism of class interests between labour and capital will certainly remain. Consequently, one of the main tasks that will henceforth confront the trade unions is to protect in every way the class interests of the proletariat in its struggle against capital. This task should be openly put in the forefront, and the machinery of the trade unions must be reorganised, changed or supplemented accordingly (conflict commissions, strike funds, mutual aid funds, etc., should be formed, or rather, built up)." [13]

At the heart of NEP was the introduction of a tax-in-kind, which permitted peasants to dispose of their food surpluses on the open market. This concession to market forces soon resulted in the strengthening of the bourgeois elements in the towns and particularly in the countryside. It led to the denationalization of small-scale industry and services; the establishment of trusts for supplying, financing, and marketing the products of large-scale industry; the granting of concessions to foreign investors. It was only permissible as long as the state kept a firm grip on the commanding heights of the economy (large-scale industry, banking, and foreign trade).

The NEP permitted a revival of the Soviet economy and by 1926-27, most economic indices were at or near pre-war levels. But recovery via market forces was accompanied by the re-emergence of capitalist elements class in both the countryside (the kulaks) and the towns (nepmen). There was a growth of unemployment among workers and the loss of revolutionary dynamism. Lenin had repeatedly warned in his last writings and speeches of the danger of capitalist restoration. Behind the nepmen and kulaks stood the might of world imperialism. The NEP could be the transmission mechanism through which world imperialism could penetrate the Soviet Union. It could even express itself through the Communist Party itself.

At the end of his life Lenin was alarmed by the capitalist tendencies that had been unleashed by the NEP. He had always regarded the NEP in any case as a temporary measure taken in a moment of extreme danger. He intended to use the breathing space offered by the economic recovery to strengthen the socialist elements and gradually reverse the market policies of the NEP period, but he fell ill and died before he could do this.

It is frankly irresponsible to play with historical analogies without explaining the specific context in which they unfolded and their limits. The proposal of comrade Dieterich to make concessions to the small bourgeois elements carries an extreme danger of capitalist restoration in the given conditions of Cuba. The fact that Cuba is only a few miles from the most powerful and richest imperialist nation means that behind the small native bourgeois elements lie powerful forces: the big monopolies that dominate the world market and US imperialism, which is striving by every means at its disposal to restore capitalism in Cuba. It is completely false and unprincipled to cite "Lenin's NEP" as a policy for Cuba to follow without making a single reference to Lenin's warnings concerning the NEP and particularly his last speeches. At the Eleventh Congress of the Russian Communist Party - the last which Lenin attended - he emphasized repeatedly the dangers to the State and Party arising out of the pressures of backwardness and bureaucracy. Commenting on the direction of the State, Lenin warned:

"Well, we have lived through a year, the state is in our hands, but has it operated the New Economic Policy in the way we wanted in the past year? No. But we refuse to admit that it did not operate in the way we wanted. How did it operate? The machine refused to obey the hand that guided it. It was like a car that was going not in the direction the driver desired but in the direction someone else desired; as if it were being driven by some mysterious, lawless hand, God knows whose, perhaps of a profiteer, or of a private capitalist, or of both. Be that as it may, the car is not going quite in the direction the man at the wheel imagines, and often it goes in an altogether different direction." [14]

At the same Congress Lenin explained, in a very clear and unambiguous language, the possibility of the degeneration of the revolution as a result of the pressure of alien classes. Already the most farsighted sections of the émigré bourgeoisie, the Smena Vekh group of Ustryalov, were openly placing their hopes upon the bureaucratic-bourgeois tendencies manifesting themselves in Soviet society, as a step in the direction of capitalist restoration. The same group was later to applaud and encourage the Stalinists in their struggle against "Trotskyism". At the 11th Congress Lenin quoted the words of Ustryalov:

"‘...I am in favour of supporting the Soviet government,' says Ustryalov, although he was a Constitutional-Democrat, a bourgeois, and supported intervention. ‘I am in favour of supporting Soviet power because it has taken the road that will lead it to the ordinary bourgeois state.' The Smena Vekh group, which Lenin gave credit for its class insight, correctly understood the struggle of Stalin against Trotsky, not in terms of personalities but as a class question, as a step away from the revolutionary traditions of October. Referring to the views of Smena Vekh, Lenin said:

"We must say frankly that the things Ustryalov speaks about are possible, history knows all sorts of metamorphoses. Relying on firmness of convictions, loyalty, and other splendid moral qualities is anything but a serious attitude in politics. A few people may be endowed with splendid moral qualities, but historical issues are decided by vast masses, which, if the few do not suit them, may at times treat them none too politely." [15]

After Lenin's death, Trotsky and the Left Opposition repeatedly demanded an end to the Right turn and a return to Lenin's policies. But the leading faction of Stalin-Bukharin ignored all the warnings. This placed the Revolution in extreme danger. By 1928 the dangers of capitalist restoration were clear even to Stalin. He was compelled to abandon the NEP and launch the programme of collectivization and Five Year Plans that had been advocated by the Left Opposition. But Stalin carried out this policy in an ultra left, bureaucratic and hooligan manner that caused serious dislocation and an agricultural disaster that caused a famine and the deaths of millions.

"The machine no longer obeyed the driver" - the State was no longer under the control of the Communists, of the workers, but was increasingly raising itself above society. Lenin's warnings are very relevant for Cuba today. People who have no wish to return to capitalism may well become the agents of forces over which they have no control. If the Cuban Communists were so foolish as to follow the advice of Heinz Dieterich - the Ustryalov of the 21st century - they would very quickly find themselves on a slippery slope towards capitalism from which it would be difficult to turn back. Oh yes, history knows all kinds of peculiar transformations!

On ‘heroic' and ‘un-heroic' periods

The bureaucratic degeneration of the Russian Revolution was not the result of any defects in Marxist theory, or the fact that the human genome had not yet been discovered, or even the lack of computer skills, but the inevitable consequence of the isolation of the Revolution in conditions of the most frightful economic and cultural backwardness. From a Marxist point of view, there is nothing surprising about this. But it is not sufficient for our Heinz, who is always hankering after something new. How does Heinz Dieterich explain the Stalinist degeneration of the USSR? Let us see:

"That unavoidable practical necessity generated, however, two difficulties. In the first place, an insoluble ideological problem. With the heroic phase of the revolution passed, the people did not want to work mainly for the glory of a State. Once the revolution becomes mundane, the Stakhanovism, those ‘Red Saturdays' and the martyrs become a minority, and the majorities expect from the socialist State that it would provide them with certain services, as are expected from whatever other type of State.

"They will be willing to work for their mystifications, such as the King, the Fatherland, God, or ‘society'; but not for an apparatus of control and domination such as is the State. Confronted by this problem, a laic and socialist revolution like the Soviet one had few options available, in fact, only one: identify the State with Society, in that way the work on the land (kolkhozes or sovkhozes) or in state factories was work for society, that is, for one's self. The volonté générale of Rousseau and the Jacobins, the general will and the will of the individual could this way become identical." [16]

Even the language used by comrade Dieterich contains a reactionary idea: the working class, it seems, are prepared to "work for their mystifications, such as the King, the Fatherland, God, or ‘society', but not for an apparatus of control and domination such as is the State." This sneering sentence contains a reactionary slander against the working class. It shows the real attitude of the founder of "Socialism of the 21st century" towards working class people: the contemptuous attitude of an intellectual snob and a conservative reformist bureaucrat. It states that the workers are ignorant and prone to mystifications. They are prepared blindly to follow like sheep "the King, the Fatherland, God, or ‘society' (?)" but they are not prepared to make sacrifices for a (workers') state.

If that were the case, how did the Russian workers take power in November 1917? That act entailed very serious sacrifices. Many people sacrificed their lives for the cause of the socialist revolution. Was this also a "mystification"? Did these backward Russian workers, ignorant and prone to monarchist and religious mystifications, suddenly decide to enlist in Dr. Dieterich's "academy of revolution" and receive an honorary degree in Socialism of the 21st century? Since our Heinz had not yet been born, this option was, regrettably, not available to them, as it is, fortunately, now available to us. So we are forced to seek alternative explanations as to how this miraculous transformation was achieved.

Naturally, our Heinz has a simple explanation. This was the "heroic phase of the revolution", you see. And in a "heroic phase", naturally, people behave heroically. On the other hand, in an un-heroic phase, people will always behave un-heroically. Quod erat demonstrandum! (which in the good old Latin tongue means: "I have proved what I set out to prove!"). The logic is almost impeccable, but unfortunately it answers nothing. What did the "heroic phase" of the revolution consist of? How did the un-heroic herd suddenly decide to become heroic, and why did they subsequently decide to become un-heroic again? On all of this our Heinz is as silent as the grave. As usual, he merely presupposes what was to be proven in the first place. But we have already become accustomed to this decidedly un-heroic method of argument.

In the summer of 1914 the workers, not only of Russia, but of Germany, France and Britain, were mobilized by the war machine in their respective countries to fight in an imperialist war. Mostly they went willingly, believing the propaganda of the ruling class, that they were fighting to defend their country, their families, etc., against a terrible external enemy (German militarism, Russian barbarians, etc.). Of course, it was all a lie, and they eventually realised that it was a lie. But the only way they could discover this for themselves was by experience, since that is the way the workers of all countries learn, not by attending our Heinz's classes on Socialism of the 21st century.

Was there nobody who could have explained this to them in 1914? Was there no force to counter the propaganda of the imperialists? Yes, such a force existed: the Socialist International, which represented millions of organized workers in Britain, Germany, Austria, Russia and all the other belligerent nations. Formally, the parties of the Second (Socialist) International stood for socialism and Marxism. In a series of international congresses before 1914 they voted for resolutions in which they pledged themselves to oppose imperialist war and, in the event of a war breaking out, to mobilize the masses for the overthrow of capitalism. But in the summer of 1914 the leader of every one of these parties (except the Russians and Serbs) supported the war.

It was this betrayal of the leaders of the international Social Democracy that destroyed any possibility of working class resistance to the imperialist war. Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht all denounced this as a monstrous betrayal of the International. Rosa Luxemburg described the Second International as a "stinking corpse". It was not the "false consciousness" of the workers that caused this situation, but the criminal betrayal of the reformist leaders, whom Lenin described as "social traitors". Yet on this subject Heinz Dieterich maintains a diplomatic silence. He prefers to blame the working class. And this is absolutely typical of his whole approach.

Since, according to Dieterich, the working class was to blame for the war (because of their firm attachment to the monarchy, religion, etc.) how does one explain the fact that the very same workers (there were no others) later overthrew the tsar and staged revolutions in Germany, Hungary and other countries? Dieterich has no explanation for this, except the nonsense about "heroic phases". But this is no explanation at all. How does comrade Dieterich explain that at one moment the workers are in a "reactionary phase" (1914) and then mysteriously enter a "heroic phase" (1917)? What is the reason for this?

The real reason is that the working class, having passed through the cruel school of imperialist war, began to draw revolutionary conclusions from their experience. Nobody taught them. The Bolshevik Party was weak and dispersed. Its leaders were in exile or in Siberia. In January 1917, Lenin, who was in exile in Switzerland and almost completely cut off from the workers in Russia, addressed a meeting of Swiss Young Socialists. In his speech, Lenin said: "We of the older generation may not live to see the decisive battles of this coming revolution." One month later, the tsar was overthrown. In less than a year, the Bolsheviks had come to power.

Beneath the surface, the mood of the masses had been slowly changing. Trotsky described this process as the molecular process of revolution. It is a process that proceeds so gradually that it is frequently imperceptible, even to revolutionaries, who sometimes draw the wrong conclusions from the appearance of apathy and the absence of surface manifestations of the accumulated frustration, rage and bitterness. It is very similar to the gradual building up of pressure beneath the earth's surface prior to an earthquake. This process is also invisible to the superficial observer who looks no further than the surface, without taking into account the seething processes that are unfolding in the bowels of the earth. When the eruption takes place, it produces general astonishment.

All kinds of "learned" people proffer explanations, which usually go no further than the immediate cause, which really explains nothing at all. Thus, the February revolution is said to be caused by the scarcity of bread. But in the years following the October revolution, the shortage of bread was far worse than before as a consequence of the civil war provoked by the counter-revolution and the invasion of 21 foreign armies of intervention. Why did this not produce a new revolution? This question is never asked, and cannot be answered if we persist in confusing the immediate incident that sparked off the movement with its deeper underlying causes, that is, to confuse accident with necessity, like the old school text-books that asserted that the First World War was caused by the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, and not by the accumulation of contradictions between the main imperialist powers before 1914.

"They [the workers] will be willing to work for their mystifications, such as the King, the Fatherland, God, or society; but not for an apparatus of control and domination such as is the State." This is how comrade Dieterich describes the attitude of the Russian working class. But wait a moment! From a Marxist point of view, the state is always an instrument of domination by one class over another. But there is a fundamental difference between the old capitalist state, which represents the control and domination of a minority over the majority and a workers' state (the dictatorship of the proletariat), which represents the domination of the majority over a small minority of exploiters. The kind of state envisaged by Marx and Lenin was a semi-state, in which the working class exercised control over industry, society and the state. It was a state designed to "wither away". This was the state established by the Bolsheviks in 1917 and enthusiastically supported by the overwhelming majority of society - the workers and poor peasants. This state had nothing in common with the monstrous bureaucratic totalitarian state that Stalin erected over the dead body of Lenin's Party.

What does Dieterich mean when he talks about the "heroic phase" of the Russian Revolution? In 1917 the workers exercised control of the Soviet state through their democratic organs of power. That was a genuine participative democracy! It was the most democratic state in history. But when the Russian Revolution was isolated in conditions of terrible backwardness, the situation changed. Revolution, as Trotsky explained, is a terrible devourer of human physical and nervous energy. By the time Lenin was obliged to sound the retreat with the introduction of the NEP, the working class was severely weakened.

After years of war, revolution and civil war, the masses were exhausted. Many of the most advanced elements were killed in the bloody Civil War that lasted until 1921. By the introduction of the NEP, the workers' control over the state was beginning to weaken. The Soviet bureaucracy began to flex its muscles and become conscious of its power. The officials began to elbow the workers to one side and take control of the state. This was a gradual process that took place over more than a decade. All this was rooted in material conditions. "Heroism" had nothing to do with it.

Bourgeois reformism

In The Cuban Dilemma: Capitalism or New Socialism (April 12, 2006), Heinz Dieterich writes: "Toward the middle of the seventies, the socialist ideology above described had exhausted its ability to hold the historic project of 1917 together and to provide strategic guidelines for the future. The revelations on Stalinism, the Soviet military repression in the GDR (1953), (1956), and Czechoslovakia (1968), and the schism with Chinese socialism, had stripped it of the historic world legitimacy which it enjoyed in the 20s. That crisis of the inherited ideological paradigm, sharpened by the crisis of the pattern of extensive accumulation of the post-war model, obliged the socialist leaders to choose between three options if they wanted to maintain themselves in power: a) return in a controlled manner to the market; b) advance toward socialism of the 21st century or, c) try to combine elements of both systems in a ‘market socialism'."

Following his usual idealist, anti-Marxist method, Dieterich attributes the decline and fall of Stalinism to an ideology, which, moreover, he persists in calling "socialist". As usual, he explains nothing. He merely asserts that the "socialist ideology" (Stalinism) had "exhausted itself" by the mid-1970s. Why? Why did it exhaust itself? And why did this occur toward the middle of the seventies, and not ten or twenty years earlier? He does not say, because he does not know. He lists a series of crimes of Stalinism, such as the Soviet military repression in the GDR (1953), Hungary (1956), and Czechoslovakia (1968), and the schism with Chinese "socialism", and informs us that these things had stripped it of the "historic world legitimacy" which it enjoyed in the 1920s. This reminds us of the lines that George Gordon Byron wrote ridiculing another English poet, Ernest Hartely Coleridge:

Explaining Metaphysics to the nation,
I wish he would explain his explanation.

In the first place, let us remark that the things that, according to comrade Dieterich, stripped Stalinism of its "historic world legitimacy" were not at all ideological but very practical in character. The workers of East Berlin, Budapest and Prague were not repressed by ideological arguments or discourse but by tanks and bullets. And the Russian and Chinese comrades held their fraternal debates on the border not with dialectics but with rockets and machine guns. The crimes of Stalinism did not begin with the things Heinz Dieterich mentions. They have been known for decades. But they did not lead to the fall of the USSR. Why not? Once again, in order to understand this we must return to the method of Marxism, the materialist method, which explains historical development, not by mythologies and moralistic arguments, but ultimately in terms of the development of the productive forces.

It is quite useless to approach history from an abstract moralistic standpoint. Capitalism, in the words of Marx, came onto the scene of history dripping blood from every pore. Yet it successfully established itself as the dominant socio-economic system on a world scale in the 19th and 20th centuries. The reason is very simple: despite its monstrous exploitative and inhuman nature, capitalism led to an unheard-of development of the productive forces: industry, agriculture, science and technology. This, in turn created the material base for a new socialist civilization in the future.

It is true that the Stalinist bureaucracy acted as colossal brake on the development of culture, that it encouraged mediocrity and servile conformism. But these are only the secondary effects of the fundamental contradiction that undermined the nationalized planned economy and led to the collapse of the USSR. Yes, it is true that the Stalinist regime that comrade Dieterich used to praise, played a negative role in this field. But what does he choose to compare with the lack of development of social sciences in Stalinist Russia? Of all the things he could have chosen, he decides to cite Cepalism and the theory of dependency! What are these wonderful ideas that comrade Dieterich finds so appealing? They are nothing but vulgar Keynesianism, that is, bourgeois reformism, applied to the so-called Third World countries.

The CEPAL was created in 1948 as a body of the United Nations dealing with economic development in Latin America. In the 1950s, under the direction of Raul Presbich it developed the idea that the obstacle to economic growth in the continent was its dependency upon the advanced capitalist countries. What was their solution? It was state intervention in the economy, protectionism, import substitution, etc. This short-lived Keynesianism quickly led to hyper inflation and economic stagnation as soon as oil prices collapsed. Several of the proponents of cepalismo found themselves implementing structural adjustment plans and shock therapies (i.e. massive cuts in social spending and generalised attacks on workers' wages and conditions) in the 1980s and 1990s, showing the impossibility of reformist policies in Latin America.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was closely linked to CEPAL and one of the main theoreticians of "dependency theory" in the 1960s, and then became the minister of Finances and eventually Prime Minister of Brazil, implementing a thoroughly anti-working class programme of cuts and "adjustment". This is what our Heinz chooses to praise! In the same way as he praises bourgeois democracy as the alternative to "real socialism", so he praises bourgeois reformism as the alternative to socialist revolution.

Dieterich's advocacy of cepalismo is even more scandalous in the case of Venezuela. These were precisely the ideas implemented by the first Carlos Andrés Pérez government in 1974-79, when, basing himself on high oil prices, he attempted to industrialise the country. These policies had the same disastrous results as elsewhere. They led to an inflationary crisis and a sharp reversal in 1989, when the "reformist" Carlos Andrés Pérez used the military to crush the Caracazo - a popular uprising against his package of cuts. The repetition of the old discredited formulas of Latin American Social Democracy and reformism is not only mediocre but completely anti-socialist and anti-revolutionary.

The ‘Chinese road'?

"Significantly, none (!) of the socialist parties opted for the advance toward the socialism of the 21st century. The explanation of this incredible phenomenon is found in three reasons: 1) the lack of a scientific theory of transition to the new socialism, or, what is the same thing, the incapacity of the communist parties to understand socialism as a phenomenon in development, with which they had hardly shared an archaic stage and which they canonized as the only one; there is no clearer parameter than this one to indicate the loss of dialectics by these parties and leaders; 2) a party which administered the revolution, rather than direct it, due to its pragmatism and opportunism, and 3. a Party-State lacking cybernetic abilities.

"Before such a scenario the leaders hesitated. They oscillated between advances toward the capitalist market and returns toward socialist orthodoxy until the objective conditions, imperialism and or the population put an end to their governments by force. Only the post-Mao Chinese leadership maintained itself stable, because it consciously chose (under Deng Xiao Ping) the road of autocratic capitalist modernization which the Asian tigers had travelled before with tremendous success." [17]

The last sentence makes us scratch our heads. What does this mean? If the road of autocratic capitalist modernization has been such a tremendous success then why not advocate it for Cuba and Venezuela? Our friend Heinz maintains a diplomatic silence, but he evidently does not think that "Chinese socialism" is such a bad thing. Moreover, we know that there are some people both in Cuba and Venezuela who think that this is indeed the road to travel. At least Heinz does not try to fool us on this question. He does not speak of Chinese socialism but directly says that China has entered on the road of autocratic capitalist modernization. That is correct, and it is also correct that China has achieved spectacular results, although a more careful analysis will show that these results were achieved by combining the tremendous gains made by the nationalized planned economy over the past half century with participation on the world market.

Those who advocate the "Chinese road" for Cuba and Venezuela are advocating capitalism. Let us be clear on that. To adopt the Chinese model in Venezuela means to halt the revolution, to keep private ownership of the means of production and to destroy the elements of workers' control and democracy that have been conquered and place all power in the hands of a privileged bureaucracy that is organically linked to big business. This is a programme of outright counter-revolution. It is a scandal that anyone associated with the Bolivarian Movement should defend it.

For Cuba it is even worse. It is the programme of privatization of the nationalized economy, the conversion of state industry into private monopolies. That is, it signifies the destruction of all the fundamental gains of the Cuban Revolution - and all this would be done under the banner of the Communist Party - as in China. The bureaucrats would rule but they would do so as private capitalists and billionaires, who could pass on their wealth to their children as private property. One can see how such a programme would be very attractive to the most corrupt and reactionary layer of state officials and administrators. But it would not be so appealing to millions of Cuban workers. The working class has no interest in the privatization of the industries and the creation of a new class of bureaucratic capitalists and billionaires to exploit and rob them as is now happening in China. The conditions of the Chinese workers and peasants have rapidly sunk to the levels described by Karl Marx in Capital or Charles Dickens in his descriptions of the conditions of the working class in Victorian England.

The workers, the revolutionary youth and the most advanced sectors of the Cuban intelligentsia will never accept the destruction of their revolutionary conquests without a struggle. Nor would it be so easy to make the Communist Party into an instrument of capitalist counter-revolution. Before that could happen there would be a fierce struggle between the traitors and pro-bourgeois elements and the genuine Communists who wish to defend the gains of the Cuban Revolution at all costs. In this struggle the Trotskyists will be unconditionally on the side of the latter. On whose side will Heinz Dieterich be?

Strategic crisis: tactical measures?

"The lessons for the island are clear. The old socialist paradigm no longer sustains the Cuban Revolution, because it is not based on an effective historical truth, but on an ideology of the past. Before such a situation, some economic improvements in the home, pressure cookers and saving electric bulbs, will not succeed in stabilizing the process. The dimension of the crisis is strategic: it is the end of a historical project. And before this dimension of the problem, tactical measures will not be sufficient to fill the double vacuum left by the exhaustion of the founding historical project and the disappearance of the heroic generation.

"If the Revolution does not comprehend or denies that the crisis is paradigmatic, if, in consequence, it does not try to take the step toward the Socialism of the 21st century and does not implement immediate economic-political measures which will make the population understand that a more democratic society and level of life awaits them, it will be difficult to save it. It would then follow the path of the Soviet Union and that would be a tragedy for mankind".

On one point at least we can agree with comrade Dieterich: the victory of the bourgeois counter-revolution in Cuba would not just be tragedy for mankind. It would be a heavy blow against the socialist revolution in Venezuela, in Latin America and on a world scale. It is the duty of every conscious worker to fight against it with all his strength and all the means at his disposal. But how does comrade Dieterich "fight" the bourgeois counter-revolution? He directs most of his fire, not against the bourgeois, but against "the old socialist paradigm [...], because it is not based on an effective historical truth, but on an ideology of the past". What is this old "paradigm"? It is the "old" idea that socialism must be based on a nationalized planned economy. And what is the "ideology of the past" that is "not based on an effective historical truth"? Why Marxism, of course!

Heinz is annoyed with the leaders of the Cuban Communist Party (and all the others) because they have not yet seen the light and embraced his theory of Socialism of the 21st Century. "Significantly, none of the socialist parties opted for the advance toward the socialism of the 21st century," he grumbles. And why not? Because of "the lack of a scientific theory of transition to the new socialism, or, what is the same thing, the incapacity of the communist parties to understand socialism as a phenomenon in development."

It is a very sad comment on the state of humanity when the Prophet of 21st Century Socialism appears with the Tablets of Stone in his hands (or rather, on the internet) and yet people pay not the slightest attention. Poor Heinz cannot conceal his frustration at this state of affairs, which he regards as incredible. Has he not written innumerable books and articles on this subject? Can Cuban communists not read? Of course they can! Cuba is well known for the high level of education of its population. Then it must be because they are incapable of understanding him - that is, because they are all stupid. Yes, it seems incredible, but what other explanation is possible from Heinz's point of view? Comrade Dieterich can console himself with the thought that he is not the first Prophet to experience such tribulations. Moses himself experienced the greatest difficulties getting the ancient Israelites to stop dancing around a certain gilded bovine, and in vain did Jesus cast his pearls before swine. The Founder of 21st Century Socialism is condemned to tread the weary path of John the Baptist: vox clamans in deserto (a voice crying in the wilderness). What a sad place this sinful world is for a poor Prophet who nobody understands!

Socialism in one country?

The socialist revolution cannot be a single, simultaneous act. The political and social conditions in every country have their own dynamic and its own dialectic. The October Revolution took place in a very backward country where the material conditions for socialism did not exist, but Lenin and the Bolsheviks never saw it as a self-sufficient act but as the first stage of the world revolution which would unavoidably extend over decades. The same could be said of the Cuban (and Venezuelan) Revolution.

The strength of the Cuban economy lies in the nationalization of the means of production and their planned direction. Its weakness lies in its isolation. As Trotsky explained: "The weakness of Soviet economy, in addition to the backwardness inherited from the past, lies in its isolation, that is, in its inability to gain access to the resources of world economy, in the shape of normal international credits and financing in general, which plays a decisive a role in the world economy." [18] In his speech at the Eleventh Party Congress March 27, 1922, Lenin spoke of the world market, "to which we are subordinated, with which we are bound up, and from which we cannot escape."

Cuba has managed partly to solve this problem by increasing the tourist sector, through the export of nickel and through the flow of remittances from Cubans working abroad. But this has created new contradictions. Some Cubans have access to foreign currency, while others do not. This creates a gap between "haves" and "have- nots" - in effect a two-tier economy. This is a most serious threat to the nationalized planned economy. It encourages corruption and all sorts of dishonest practices. It is not possible to eliminate these practices by exhortations and repression. Ordinary, honest Cuban citizens are compelled to some extent to participate in this "parallel economy" in order to survive.

Meanwhile, the contradictions inherited from Cuba's underdeveloped capitalist past have not disappeared despite the achievements of the planned economy, but have been encouraged by the recent recovery from the years of hardship; they can revive and be aggravated with the growth of the Cuban economy. In order to be overcome they demand that access to the resources of the world market be achieved.

The real danger to socialism is not imperialist intervention (they have abandoned that idea after they burned their fingers at the Bay of Pigs) but the penetration of cheap foreign goods that are of higher quality than the domestic products. If the US ruling class were more intelligent they would abandon the blockade of Cuba and encourage trade. This would undermine the nationalized economy far more effectively than any blockade. But the US imperialists are exceptionally stupid. They are too blinded by hate for "the Castro regime" to understand even what is in their own interest.

The isolation of Cuba creates all kinds of shortages and bottlenecks that find their expression in daily problems experienced by every worker and housewife. The conditions of the masses have improved in comparison with the past but do not keep step with expectations. There are particular difficulties with transport, housing and food. The situation is made much worse by the fact that some people have easier access to foreign currency and goods than others.

Trotsky explained the kind of programme that would be necessary for a workers' state that found itself isolated for a time:

"A realistic program for an isolated workers' state cannot set itself the goal of achieving ‘independence' from world economy, much less of constructing a national socialist society ‘in the shortest time'. The task is not to attain the abstract maximum tempo, but the optimum tempo, that is, the best, that which follows from both internal and world economic conditions, strengthens the position of the proletariat, prepares the national elements of the future international socialist society, and at the same time, and above all, systematically improves the living standards of the proletariat and strengthens its alliance with the non-exploiting masses of the countryside. This prospect must remain in force for the whole preparatory period, that is, until the victorious revolution in the advanced countries liberates the Soviet Union from its present isolated position." [19]

If it was not possible to construct a self-sufficient socialist society in Russia and China, still less will it be possible in Cuba or Venezuela. There is an indivisible interdependence between the revolution in Cuba, Venezuela and the rest of the American continent. Success for the revolutionary movement in Venezuela presupposes a revolutionary movement in Bolivia, Ecuador and vice versa. Neither in Venezuela, nor in Bolivia, in Cuba or anywhere else is it possible to build an independent socialist society. They will have to enter as parts into a higher whole. This is the basis of Marxist internationalism.

The socialist order presupposes high levels of technology and culture and solidarity of population. In each of the countries of Latin America the material conditions for this are insufficient. However, the victory of socialism in Latin America would create a mighty bloc of power, mobilizing millions of people and with vast resources and reserves. What capitalist country, or coalition of countries, would dare think of intervention in these circumstances? Under such circumstances, the US imperialists would not be contemplating a military intervention in Latin America but revolutionary upheavals in the USA itself!

In the course of several Five-Year Plans, a socialist federation of Latin America would be able to construct a mighty socialist society with its own forces, with a standard of living higher than that of the USA and a democratic regime based on the active participation of the whole population in the administration of the economy, society and the state. This would mean a death blow to world capitalism, and would reduce to a minimum, if not to zero, the possibility of external intervention. This would create an irresistible movement in the direction of the world socialist revolution.

Platonic obscurantism

Dieterich is scathing about this proposal: "The idealistic ethic which follows Platonic obscurantism, daily reinforced by the moral hypocrisy of Catholicism, denies this consumption - the material, sensual, carnal -as ‘value'. For revolutionary socialism and science, which takes off from the constituent binomial of material-energy of the universe, all ethics have to be materialist-dialectical, which inevitably considers reproduction, enjoyment and sensuality of the material as an integral part of the human condition. And, in fact, the majority of humanity acts on this pattern. For it, to reach the historically determined quality of life is a value: as strong, or even stronger than certain moral values or ‘spiritual virtues'. Dialectically, the material converts itself into its opposite, the spiritual." [20]

The above paragraph is a splendid example of Dieterichian obscurantism. What is the "constituent binomial of material-energy of the universe"? Only God and Heinz Dieterich know the answer. But let us once more take a sharp machete to Comrade Dieterich's jungle of twisted syntax and try to cut our way towards some semblance of meaning (a very exhausting task!). We are told that for revolutionary socialism and science "all ethics has to be materialist-dialectical, which inevitably considers reproduction, enjoyment and sensuality of the material as an integral part of the human condition."

Now in the first place historical materialism (which is only a particular application of dialectical materialism) teaches us that there have been many different systems of ethics in history, that all of them in the last analysis are only an idealised expression of the material interests of different classes or sub-classes. But have any of them ever been based on the principles of dialectical materialism? That certainly cannot be said either of Platonic, Catholic or Kantian ethics. Nor can it be said of the ethics of the modern revolutionary proletariat, of the Paris Commune or the October Revolution.

The proletariat has a class morality, which stands in opposition to the morality of the ruling class. It stands for the basic principles of equality and class solidarity as opposed to the selfish egoism and hypocrisy of bourgeois morality. Revolutionaries also have moral and ethical principles. The basic law of revolution is simply stated: the salvation of the revolution is the supreme law. That is moral which serves to raise the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat; that is immoral which serves to lower it. From this revolutionary point of view, the reformists of all kinds retard the growth of revolutionary consciousness of the working class and this is immoral. And since comrade Dieterich is a reformist who is a little ashamed of his reformism and wants to disguise it with a pseudo-revolutionary ("dialectical-materialist") phraseology, we consider his activity to be in flagrant violation of the most elementary principles of proletarian revolutionary morality.

But let us return to comrade Dieterich's "materialist-dialectical ethics". What do they teach us? They teach us something really remarkable: that reproduction, enjoyment and sensuality of the material [sic] are "an integral part of the human condition. And, in fact, the majority of humanity acts on this pattern." Now this is really something! Our Heinz informs us that human beings like to eat, drink and reproduce (we assume that this is what he means by "enjoyment and sensuality of the material", although the sentence does not make grammatical sense). These things are "an integral part of the human condition" and the majority of humanity acts on this pattern.

We were more or less aware that the majority of people eat, drink, make love and enjoy "the material" whenever they can of, although we are most grateful to comrade Dieterich for pointing it out to us. But who are the minority who do not do these things? Even Tibetan monks and Hindu ascetics have been known occasionally to eat and drink. So much are these activities part of the "human condition" that we cannot think of any exceptions (except maybe on the subject of reproduction). We can only conclude that our Heinz knows something we do not, and that in his Socialism of the 21st Century, men and women will no longer be obliged to eat, drink or reproduce, or otherwise "enjoy the material", which will undoubtedly save a lot of time and inconvenience. However, since humanity has not yet attained this state of Bliss, we are obliged to agree with comrade Dieterich that most people unfortunately still need to eat, drink and reproduce, and that society ought ideally to provide them with the necessary conditions for fulfilling these needs.

Equality of sacrifice

The pursuit of the construction of an isolated national socialist society outside the perspective of international socialism is entirely utopian. This has been abundantly demonstrated by Russia and China. These were, after all, subcontinents with huge populations and vast resources. Yet the pursuit of autarky led to disaster and paved the way for capitalist restoration. Does this mean that the future of a socialist Cuba is impossible? No, it does not mean anything of the sort. The task is to ensure the economic strengthening of the nationalized planned economy in Cuba until further victories of the socialist revolution in Latin America and on a world scale. In 1930, at a time when Stalin, in pursuit of the reactionary utopia of socialism in one country, was engaged in the crazy adventures of forced collectivisation and "five year plans in four years", Trotsky wrote the following:

"The collectivisation of peasant holdings is, of course, a most necessary and fundamental part of the socialist transformation of society. However, the scope and tempo of collectivisation are not determined by the government's will alone, but, in the last analysis, by the economic factors: by the height of the country's economic level, by the inter-relationship between industry and agriculture, and consequently by the technical resources of agriculture itself.

"Industrialization is the driving force of the whole of modern culture and by this token the only conceivable basis for socialism. In the conditions of the Soviet Union, industrialization means first of all the strengthening of the base of the proletariat as a ruling class. Simultaneously it creates the material and technical premises for the collectivisation of agriculture. The tempos of these two processes are interdependent. The proletariat is interested in the highest possible tempos for these processes to the extent that the new society in the making is thus best protected from external danger, and at the same time a source is created for systematically improving the material level of the toiling masses.

"However, the tempos that can be achieved are limited by the general material and cultural level of the country, by the relationship between the city and the village and by the most pressing needs of the masses, who are able to sacrifice their today for the sake of tomorrow only up to a certain point. The optimum tempos, i.e., the best and most advantageous ones, are those which not only promote the most rapid growth of industry and collectivisation at a given moment, but which also secure the necessary stability of the social regime, that is, first of all strengthen the alliance of the workers and peasants, thereby preparing the possibility for future successes." [21]

These lines express with admirable clarity the central dilemma facing the Cuban Revolution: how to maintain the nationalized planned economy and ensure economic growth while simultaneously guaranteeing a steady increase in the living standards of the masses. They are in complete contrast with the obscure mystifying and intellectual contortions of Dieterich. The question is really very simple: The problem of consumption is not a secondary one. The Cuban workers are loyal to the Revolution and its socialist ideals. They understand the importance of the gains made by the nationalized planned economy in terms of health, education, culture and other important spheres of life. The decisive layers of society are undoubtedly opposed to the restoration of capitalism and the privatization of the economy. What happened in Russia is a horrible warning of what this would mean.

Is it possible to combat corruption and bureaucratism by appeals to revolutionary morality? The question of morale is fundamental in all warfare, and in effect the Cuban Revolution is in a state of war with the restorationist elements. This is an important element in the situation. The question is who will prevail? The Revolution can count on a large reserve of support among wide layers of the population. But imperialism has on its side enormous economic power. It possesses a vast propaganda machine that is constantly bombarding the Cuban population with the idea that life is better under capitalism. The question is: what effect is this having? Fidel Castro and Roque appeal to revolutionary consciousness and ethics. The masses in Cuba have repeatedly shown that they are prepared to make big sacrifices, but only on condition that there is equality of sacrifice. The existence of bureaucracy and corruption undermines the morale of the population and therefore places the whole of the Revolution in danger. This is not a secondary question. It is a question of the survival of the Revolution itself.

Dieterich continues: "As the pattern of popular consumption and culture today is a predominantly universal pattern, not a national variable, the shock in Cuba is produced between the universal pattern of consumption of the firstworldist middle class - which arrives annually to the Cuban population by way of two million tourists, and daily by the US films which television transmits - and the standard of life which the productive forces and the distributive system of the country permits.

"In such circumstances, a campaign of increasing conscientiousness can reduce certain superfluous consumptions, but the access to the internet, education, health, social and geographic mobility, adequate individual or collective transport, definite forms and places of entertainment, of sexual liberty, etcetera, together with definite formal liberties, are part of the historic pattern prevailing in present Latin America, and no educational campaign can neutralize this pattern." [22]

This is a fair comment, as far as it goes. But what is the solution proposed by comrade Dieterich?

"To appeal to the revolutionary discipline and ethical values in the present circumstances of Cuba, to have to be like Fidel or Che, will not change the general panorama of the situation because the objective conditions do not sustain this discourse. For the majority it would be more efficient to discuss democratically the alternatives of consumption, for example, if they prefer more hospitals, transport, or living allowances, private consumption, etc. and the paths to achieve that level within the possibilities of the country.

"Better education, knowledge and information are not an antidote to consumerism. The more inputs of this type are being produced, the more self-conscience, individuality and ‘subjects' are being generated. And more ‘subjects' mean, inevitably, more desire for democracy. Democracy in all senses - formal, social, participative- which converts itself, the same as historically ‘just and necessary' consumption, into a fundamental value of human praxis: value, to which the government has to give answers if it is not to generate resistances which the system can not absorb." [23]

There can be no doubt that the influx of foreign goods and currency, together with the ceaseless pressure of the media are powerful weapons in the hands of imperialism. The impression is created that in the USA everyone enjoys a high standard of living, which is false but has an effect in certain layers of the population, especially the youth who have never had the experience of living under capitalism and are attracted by consumerism. These moods can partially be combated by revolutionary propaganda, education and explanation. But we agree with comrade Dieterich that there are limits to how far this can be successful. So what does he suggest instead?

"From cognitive and technological cybernetics we know that it is possible to try to repair detected system-problems (post festum) with proportional, integral or differential regulations. More efficient, certainly, is the normalizing preventative which is possible in events statistically detectable. Both requisites are present in Cuba. The dramatic calls to attention of Fidel and Felipe refer to the preventive regulation, that is, the necessity to take measures before the death of Fidel: and the attitudes of the Cuban population towards the Revolution constitute ‘events' statistically measurable." [24]

This is yet another piece of Dieterichian gobbledegook. Let us not waste any more time attempting to make sense of what is senseless but proceed, machete in hand, in the hope that eventually we will find at least one sentence that makes sense:

"The Chancellor defined with good reasons the economic surplus as the decisive variable in an economy. But it is necessary to amplify this determination: not only is it key who receives it but who decides about it and in what form. This is the issue of economic democracy which in the market economy (‘crematística') is taboo, but which in the socialist economy is the key to success. As long as the majorities are de facto excluded from the decisions on the use of the surplus, (investment, consumption, national budget, payment on the foreign debt, etc.), it doesn't matter to them really if it is the State, the transnationals, or imperialisms who end up with it.

"As happens in the false dilemma of ‘ethics versus consumerism', the affirmation that what is decisive is whether the people or the transnationals receive the income or have the productive property, distorts the real dialectics of the contradiction. The Cuban surplus product, in its greater part, is not received by the transnationals, nor the majorities: the State receives it. And this is the nodal point of the problems of the theft, corruption and the black market which Fidel has denounced.

"The productive property in Cuba belongs essentially to the State. It is not in the hands of the majorities. If it were, the majorities would protect it, because it is common sense that no one robs himself. The fact that it is robbed and mistreated has an irrefutable reading: state property is perceived by many as an alien or anonymous property, which can be privatized by stealing. While this is like that, it will be difficult to end the corruption and theft, as the example of China shows. In consequence, the idea of the socialist economy, to produce altruistically for all, makes itself nonviable.

"The perception of state productive property as something alienated, similar to capitalist property, which can be privatized, is reaffirmed daily by the fact that the people have no real influence on its use. Property, in the market economy means essentially, the right to alienate economic assets. For better or worse, this does not exist in Cuba. But neither does the worker determine the benefit of this property, its surplus product, made by him, and thus he neither is the possessor. On not being either proprietor nor real possessor of the individual or collective property, the direct producer does not identify with it and, in consequence, does not protect it adequately." [25]

Here, by accident, comrade Dieterich has made a serious point. In order that the workers should defend the Cuban state they must be convinced that the state belongs to them. In a nationalized planned economy the surplus created by the working class is in the hands of the state. But the issue of what should be done with the surplus - what part should be dedicated to investment and what part to consumption, for example, must be decided through a democratic debate in which everyone participates. Workers will accept certain limitations on consumption, as long as they have been involved directly in the process of economic decision-making.

The masses are prepared to make big sacrifices to defend the Revolution. Nevertheless, in the last analysis the question of the living standards and conditions of the masses is a decisive one. Moreover, this is not an absolute but a relative question. The presence of the richest and most powerful imperialist nation only a few kilometres away is a major factor, as is the role played by foreign remittances, tourism and the dual economy that expresses itself in two currencies. The presence of capitalist tendencies on the island cannot be denied. We ignore them at our peril. That is the basic message of the speeches of Fidel Castro and Felipe Pérez Roque.

However, as Trotsky explains, the masses are able to sacrifice their today for the sake of tomorrow only up to a certain point. The Cuban workers have demonstrated their willingness to make sacrifices to defend the Revolution for decades. They will continue to do so, but only when they are convinced of certain things and even then only up to a certain point. Beyond that, all appeals to revolutionary morality, ideals and so on become useless and even counterproductive. The constant appeals to sacrifice may breed sceptical and even cynical moods in the masses if they are not backed up with solid results. In the first place the workers must be convinced that there is equality of sacrifice for all. This does not mean that everyone must get the same wages or live in exactly the same conditions. But it does mean that excessive privileges are inadmissible. This principle was enshrined in the 1919 Bolshevik Party programme and was based on Lenin's State and Revolution, which in turn was based on the Paris Commune.

‘Cognitive cybernetics'

"In June of 2002 Felipe had spoken on the same theme before the same Forum, concluding on that occasion that in the eventual absence of the Comandante, the defence of the Revolution would pass to the defence of the one party, the centralized economy, political unity and preservation of the armed forces. To maintain the one party is probably vital during the imperialist aggression, but equally vital is to give it a real cybernetic character, if it wants to avoid the project ending like the USSR and the GDR." [26]

It is true that the totalitarian and bureaucratic regime of the GDR undermined the nationalized planned economy and prepared the way for the return of capitalism. But that is by no means the end of the story. The experience of almost 20 years of capitalism has made the people of the former GDR revise the impressions they had before. To the great annoyance of the bourgeois, many people in the eastern Länder now say that things were not all that bad in the old GDR. Of course, they do not want the return of a one-party totalitarian state, with a privileged caste of Party officials and the Stasi with its army of informers. But they remember that in the GDR there was no unemployment and everyone had the right to a decent education and health service. There was not the atmosphere of cut-throat competition, of dog-eat-dog, of selfishness and greed that characterizes capitalism.

What they want is what we also advocate, namely, a nationalized planned economy, but with democracy - a society in which the working people would rule, not only in name but in practice. In other words, what they want is what Lenin proposed in 1917, when he laid down the basic condition for a workers' democracy: What failed in Russia and the GDR was not socialism, but Stalinism. When the working people of Germany move to change society - as they will in the coming period - they will expropriate the banks and big concerns, but they will insist on a democratic regime, with workers' control and management of industry and the state. On the basis of the highly developed German industry, science and technology, they could then move quite quickly in the direction of socialism.

How do we "avoid the project ending like the USSR and the GDR"? We Marxists say by returning to the programme of Lenin. Heinz Dieterich says the answer is cognitive cybernetics: "Lenin, who conceived the party of democratic centralism knew, certainly, that any system of lasting political control has to guarantee three symmetrical currents of real information and debate: a) between the fractions of the vanguard or summit of real power, for example, of the Politburo and of the Central Committee; b) between these centres of decision and the political and information elite of the country, which, in theory would be the middle leadership and the members of the party; c) between the vanguard, the middle leadership and the masses. This cybernetic or feedback quality is fundamental for the optimisation of any cognitive cybernetic system, such as are the State, the party, and the human being." [27]

Lenin would be as astonished as we are to learn that the Bolshevik Party was - a cognitive cybernetic system. In fact the Bolshevik Party was the most democratic party that ever existed. It was not just a question of the transmission of information but of a genuine and constant debate and discussion at all levels of the Party. All this changed under Stalin. The democratic regime of Leninism was abolished and Lenin's Party was physically exterminated. How does comrade Dieterich deal with this question?

"In praxis, particularly under Stalin, the necessary equilibrium between real democracy and verticality, that is between the communication structures and symmetrical and asymmetrical power, were abandoned in favour of verticality. The Moscow Trials were the rite of passage (announcement of transition) of the new vertical party and the public notice of the disappearance of democracy in the USSR; they were the secular equivalent of the burnings at the stake of the Inquisition in America, whose ashes signalised the price of dissenting in the new order. Rituals of humiliation similar to the clerical confessional, like ‘critique and self-critique', and the inquisition-like anonymous reports of the political police defined the quality and possibilities of life of the citizens.

"In this manner, the Stalin model generated an institutional environment and a political culture of conformism which liquidated the institutionality and culture of the public sphere of the pre-socialist societies, from the Greek Agora to the literary clubs of the French Revolution. In fact, the public sphere of strategic debate of the bourgeois system, which is constituent to it, disappeared from the superstructure of ‘real existing socialism' with fatal consequences for socialist evolution, leaving the bourgeois political superstructure with a functional superiority in the optimisation of decisions. This does not mean that bourgeois governments don't make mistakes but the bourgeois superstructure evidently provides for a considerable capacity of perception and adaptability to structural changes, which has not been observed in the one-party system of historic socialism." [28]

Comrade Dieterich confines himself to mere description plus his usual moralistic judgements. Nowadays everybody knows about the crimes of Stalin. The question is, however, why and how did all this come about? How do we explain the totalitarian and bureaucratic degeneration of the Russian Revolution? To this question comrade Dieterich has no answer. But this is precisely what has to be explained.

"The real question is: ‘How can we guarantee the vanguard or cybernetic character of the systems of leadership and coordination which we call State and Party?' The quality of whatever system of regulation depends essentially on two parameters: a) its sensibility, that is the time which passes between the discovery or recognition of a deviation of the system parameters, of its programmed values (Sollwert); b) the time that the system requires to correct the deviation (Istwert). Both parameters - which determine the dynamic behaviour of the system, in this case of the Party and the State - depend, in their turn, on the quantity and quality of the measurements of the state of the system (for example, polls of opinion, elections, etc.) and on the relative power of the diverse fractions of the leading class, for example, the revolutionary, the social democratic or the technocratic strata." [29]

Cybernetics for Heinz Dieterich is something like a combination of the Arc of the Covenant and the Philosopher's Stone. It is a magical key that opens all doors, a medicine that cures all illnesses. In fact, cybernetics is merely the study of information flows. It can be used to analyse a living body or in relation to artificial intelligence. Our Heinz tries to use it to analyse society. That is perfectly legitimate as far as it goes, but to present cybernetics as a kind of panacea is a false method from start to finish. In the kind of university circles that comrade Dieterich inhabits it has become fashionable these days to look at the economy in terms of flows of information and even to assert that handling information is the central economic activity in society. But why do people need information? It is part of the process of transforming external nature, in other words, of work. Now there can be no harm in studying information flows as long as it is understood that it is connected to the world of human labour. But for our Heinz, it is far more than this.

As usual, the Prophet of 21st Century Socialism is using cybernetics as a substitute for looking at society as a body involved in labouring to make a living. He must have justified theorising society this way somewhere in the past, but in the piece we have just quoted he just takes it for granted. As always, he assumes what has to be proven. Also as always he is wilfully obscure. Only a German writing in Spanish could get away with defining "Wert" (Sollwert and Istwert) - in terms of time. He attempts to analyse Cuban society in terms of cybernetics and the circular flow of information. But the way he does it is completely idealist and formalistic. Messages are sent out, but the "head" doesn't immediately get feedback, such as: my fingers are burning because they're in the fire. This is his parameter (a) or Sollwert. Then there may be a delay in reacting to the message i.e. pulling the fingers out of the fire. This is parameter (b) or Istwert. Is this profundity? No, it is only pretentiousness carried to the nth degree - in fact, to the point of absurdity.

In reality, the problem is not one of cybernetics. It is one of bureaucracy. The reason the bureaucracy didn't get the message back is because they issued orders to the populace and had different material interests from the common people to whom they are issuing orders. Their "feedback" mechanism was switched off because they had no interest in listening. Both Fidel and Roque posed the central problem as a problem of bureaucracy, and this analysis is far more to the point than the complicated abstract meanderings of Dieterich. It is difficult to keep up with his constant mental acrobatics. But anyway, let us arm ourselves with courage and try to follow comrade Dieterich in his latest intellectual gyrations:

"When Fidel asked in his November speech, why the Cuban economists did not take account of the insensibility of maintaining the sugar sector after the fall of the USSR, the parameter ‘a' was referred to. But the real answer is better found in parameter ‘b'. If the Cuban economists did not detect he contradiction of maintaining the sugar sector, it means that they lacked professional skill and common sense. With all the reserves confronting my colleagues, it seems to me that this is an unreal supposition. It is much more probable that they did not speak out because the Cuban superstructure does not foresee the public sphere of debate which would have been the place to discuss the respective warnings.

"Another example of the parameter ‘b' can be taken from the Bolivarian Revolution. During the Bolivarian Government the great landowners (latifundistas) have assassinated more than 130 peasant leaders, without a single one of the intellectual and material authors of these assassinations being in prison. How much time of correction of this counter-revolutionary ‘deviation', and of the State of Rights, does the Revolution have, before it loses its credibility and power in its supposed ‘war to the death against latifundism'?

"The questioning of Felipe is vital, provided it receives an answer which is not formal, but material: not tactics but strategy. If it is not achieved to return to the sole party the dialectic or cybernetic quality intended by Lenin and the restitution of public spheres of strategic and massive debate, together with the public transparency of their interactions, the Party will not be in conditions to defend the Revolution at the death of Fidel.

"The same Secretary of State understands in depth that the cybernetic of the Party is the key to the future. In explaining in his discourse why Cuba had not fallen like the USSR, he cited Gabriel García Márquez: ‘The explanation for Cuba is that Fidel is at the same time the head of the government and the leader of the opposition'. Felipe added: ‘He is the main non conformist with what is done, the principal critic of the work and this gives a particularity to our process'." [30]

"The political question of life or death for the Communist Party is, therefore: What will be the system of institutional dialectics which will substitute for the personalized dialectics of Fidel, after he no longer leads the Cuban Revolution?"

The conclusion he draws in relation to Cuba seems to be that Fidel Castro is the "brain" that can detect what is going on and make the necessary adjustments ("personalised dialectics"). After all, the original meaning of dialectics in Greek philosophy was a conversation. But there are some serious problems with this. In the first place, no single individual can have a detailed knowledge of every detail of the national economy. That is not just an idealist conception but simple mysticism. In the second place, even if comrade Fidel were endowed with such miraculous powers, what will happen when he's gone?

Cuba needs institutions of democracy (‘institutional dialectics'), comrade Dieterich tells us. But the question is: what kind of democracy? Democracy is an abstraction, an empty shell that can be filled with different class contents. It seems that Dieterich has in mind some kind of bourgeois democracy ("public spheres of strategic and massive debate"). Heinz mentions opinion polls as a cybernetic mechanism. But everybody knows how opinion polls are scandalously manipulated in bourgeois democracies. Actually workers' democracy is a perfect cybernetic information flow, since the decision-makers collectively carry out the decisions and adjust them if things are not going according to plan. Socialism presupposes the active participation of the workers.

Dieterich and bourgeois democracy

Marxists oppose Stalinism from the standpoint of the working class and Leninist Soviet Democracy. Comrade Dieterich opposes Stalinism from the standpoint of the petty bourgeoisie and vulgar democracy. After attacking Stalinism, Dieterich sings the praises of bourgeois democracy, which "evidently provides for a considerable capacity of perception and adaptability to structural changes, which has not been observed in the one-party system of historic socialism." Admittedly, he speaks of its "mistakes" - but then, who does not make mistakes? There is not a shred of Marxist analysis here. It is not a question of mistakes but of class content. Evidently, comrade Dieterich is not aware that a bourgeois formal democracy is only another way of expressing the dictatorship of big business. He approaches the question of democracy, not from a class point of view, but from a purely technical standpoint ("functional superiority in the optimisation of decisions").

As a matter of fact, even this is not correct. Despite all the crimes of Stalinism, and despite all the bureaucratic distortions, the nationalized planned economy in the USSR was superior to the anarchy of capitalism and demonstrated this superiority on many occasions, particularly in the Second World War. Only a nationalized planned economy could achieve the miracle of transporting all of Russia's industries thousands of miles to a place of safety beyond the Urals. Thanks to the existence of a central plan, it was possible to make decisions that would be unthinkable for an economy based on market forces. It was not at all the supposed superiority of bourgeois formal democracy that brought about the collapse of the USSR, as Dieterich appears to imagine.

Hypnotised by the supposed superiority of bourgeois democracy, Dieterich goes from bad to worse: "This feedback quality of the public sphere can be exemplified with the war in Iraq. The great debates within the power elite and information elite on how to get out of the quagmire, in considerable measure take place within the public domain, for example, the US Congress, on television, in the most important dailies of the country like the New York Times and the Washington Post and in the universities." [31]

Our friend Heinz really could not have chosen a worse example of the supposed superiority of bourgeois democracy! The criminal invasion of Iraq was an irresponsible adventure, even from the standpoint of the real interests of imperialism. How was this decision arrived at? Was it the result of a free and democratic debate and "feedback" from the US public and its leaders? No, the decision was taken in secret, behind closed doors, even before the 11th September, by the White House clique around Bush and Rumsfeld. This was not a "mistake" but the normal way in which all important decisions are taken in a bourgeois formal democracy. In such a "democracy" anyone can say (almost) anything they like, as long as the boards of directors of the big banks and monopolies decide what happens.

It is true that in a formal democracy there are certain mechanisms through which different opinions can be expressed. There is a "free press" that is owned and controlled by a handful of super-rich press barons and which always defends the interests of the capitalist class as a whole. There are political parties like the Republicans and Democrats in the USA, which defend the same class but with slightly different methods (these methods are increasingly indistinguishable). There are parliaments and elections, which provide the masses with the illusion that there is democratic control and accountability. In reality this is a gigantic deception, although on certain occasions these democratic mechanisms can serve a useful purpose in defending the interests of the ruling class, as when they used them to get rid of Richard Nixon when he became an embarrassment for them.

Heinz Dieterich compares "real existing socialism" with bourgeois democracy - and comes down on favour of the latter: "In ‘real existing socialism', that public sphere does not exist. The strategic debates take place behind the closed doors of the highest heads of the party. Afterward the official position is brought down and discussed in the lower levels of the party. Finally it is disclosed to the majorities through the press and roundtables on television.

"The constitutive majority is excluded and what it sees on television are tactical discussions or simple repetitions of the official vision, delivered generally by the same journalists. In contrast to what happens in the marvellous experience of the Cuban worker parliaments of the nineties, the citizen is converted into a spectator of the political-economic process, not its demiurge." [32]

We note in passing that the above lines could be applied exactly to the mechanism of bourgeois formal democracy that our Heinz finds so appealing. All the important decisions are taken behind closed doors in the boardrooms of the big banks and monopolies. Those that take these decisions are unelected and responsible to nobody. The so-called shareholders' democracy is another deception, since the bulk of the shares are invariably in the hands of a small number of powerful individuals and institutions. The big capitalists then inform our "elected representatives" in parliament what they have decided, and the latter act accordingly. They do this either directly or indirectly, through an army of professional lobbyers, corruption, donations to party funds and a thousand other well-developed mechanisms through which the bourgeoisie maintains control over politics and political institutions in "free" countries.

Parliament itself is increasingly irrelevant as all the important decisions are taken by small groups outside. In the case of Britain, which, despite everything, is probably still one of the most democratic capitalist countries, power has passed from parliament to the cabinet and from the cabinet to a clique of unelected advisers around the Prime Minister. In the USA this is even more the case. All power is in the hands of the White House clique around Bush. The only reason Congress is now beginning to assert itself is that Bush - like Nixon - is beginning to tread on the toes of big business in the pursuit of his Middle East adventure and they want to clip his wings.

A bourgeois democracy is really the disguised dictatorship of the banks and monopolies. In the modern epoch, where the concentration of capital has assumed unheard of proportions, the power of the big monopolies has never been so absolute. Normally, the capitalist class prefers a democratic regime, which is the most economical form of government. They can permit the illusion of democracy, while, in practice, all the levers and controls remain firmly in their hands. They control the parliamentary representatives by a thousand invisible threads. They own the banks and monopolies and therefore can exert colossal pressure on any government. They own the mass media and can mould public opinion. Finally, they can rule by resting on the leaders of the labour movement who have no intention of going beyond the limits of the system.

Bourgeois democracy is a very fragile plant, which usually only exists when the ruling class does not feel directly threatened by revolution. Under conditions of economic upswing, the bourgeois can afford to give certain reforms and concessions in order to blunt class antagonisms. When the class struggle passes these limits the bourgeoisie casts away the smiling mask of democracy and begins to organize coups and dictatorships. As we saw once again in April 2002 in Venezuela, the bourgeois can shift from democracy to dictatorship with the ease of a man passing from a smoking to a non-smoking compartment of a train.

Dieterich's views exposed

After Fidel Castro announced that he was not standing again for any position in the Council of State in Cuba for reasons of health, the debate about the future of the Cuban revolution intensified. Our Heinz, naturally, could not remain silent. He lost no time in delivering a lecture to the Cubans telling them what they must do. Here Dieterich's ideas about the Cuban revolution suddenly become crystal clear - a most extraordinary feat for this most obscure of writers. This is what he has to say:

"I have defended on several occasions, in word and in writing, inside and outside of Cuba, that the only socialist way forward for Cuba lies in a combination of state developmentalism (on the model of Germany, Japan, the Asian tigers, China) with the participatory democracy and economy of Socialism of the XXI Century. In the light of history and economic science it seems obvious that the Cuban system has no other degree of evolutive freedom." [33]

What does this mean? It is quite clear that Dieterich is advising Cuba to follow the model of development of Germany, Japan, the Asian tigers and China. Now, as far as we know all these countries are capitalist (in relation to China, Dieterich himself has admitted that what we are witnessing there is a process of capitalist development). This means that he is advocating a model of capitalist development for Cuba. Of course, he tries to cover this up by "combining" it with "the participatory democracy and economy of Socialism of the XXI Century". But as we have already seen, the essence of this so-called Socialism of the XXI Century is to leave the means of production in private hands. In case there was any doubt, let us quote from another article by Dieterich in which he analyses the most recent measures taken by Raul Castro:

"1. It is fundamental to clarify the formulation that Cuba is adopting the ‘Chinese model'. It would be more precise to say that Cuba is adopting a logic of developmental accumulation already started four centuries ago in Western Europe (Cromwell), which has proven to be the only one in the world system to be able to overcome neo-colonial misery." [34]

As usual Dieterich's historical references display his utter confusion. In Cromwell's time England was not at all a country living in "neo-colonial misery" but a prosperous and belligerent emergent colonialist power, enslaving the Irish, establishing colonies in the Caribbean and challenging the rival colonialist power of Holland for domination of the seas. However, more important than his excursions into the 17th century is what he is telling Cubans today. What is the "developmental accumulation already started four centuries ago in Western Europe"? This is only Dieterich's convoluted way of saying capitalism.

Dieterich is saying that Cuba will take the capitalist road, and that this is a very good thing because it is the only system in the world "which has proven to be the only one to be able to overcome neo-colonial misery." Really? Has capitalism solved the terrible problems of the masses in Africa, Asia and Latin America? To ask the question is to answer it. The history of the last hundred years shows precisely the impossibility of solving the problems of the peoples of the colonial and semi-colonial countries on the basis of capitalism. Even where the national bourgeoisie has achieved formal independence from foreign rule, it has, in the overwhelming majority of cases, been incapable of carrying society forward.

Let us consider the Indian Subcontinent. Since 1947 not one of the fundamental tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution has been solved. The land question, the national question, the modernization of society - none of these things has been achieved. The rotten Indian bourgeoisie has not even succeeded in abolishing the barbarous caste system. And the so-called national independence, for which the people fought so hard for, is a hollow sham. After more than half a century of formal independence, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh remain under the domination of world imperialism. The only difference is that instead of the direct military-bureaucratic rule of England they have fallen under domination of imperialism through the world market.

What is true for Asia is a thousand times truer for Africa. The Congo, with all its colossal mineral wealth, is in a state of chaos. Four million people were slaughtered in the recent civil war. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe - are these examples of how to "overcome neo-colonial misery"? All have gone down the capitalist road, and with what results? Even as I write these lines there are food riots in West Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Haiti and the Philippines.

Even more incredibly, Dieterich ignores the inconvenient detail that the bourgeoisie has failed to develop the colossal potential of Latin America for the last 200 years. Let us remind ourselves that Carlos Andres Perez was an enthusiastic advocate of market economics - precisely the model of "developmental accumulation already started four centuries ago in Western Europe". After 200 years to ask the Latin American bourgeoisie to start developing it now is to ask an elm tree to produce pears. This is yet another example of Dieterich's "realism", which always amounts to a complete surrender to capitalism and the market.

As a matter of fact, it was not capitalism but the nationalised planned economy that transformed backward tsarist Russia from conditions of semi-feudal misery into a mighty industrial power in only a few decades. Such a remarkable transformation has never been seen in the whole of history! It was a nationalised planned economy that transformed China from an oppressed semi-colonial nation into a powerful modern economy. And it was a nationalised planned economy that enabled Cuba to achieve the remarkable advances in education, health and culture that had no equal in all Latin America. Despite this, Dieterich insists that the only model of development possible for Cuba is a capitalist model. But under modern conditions, the return to capitalism could only mean the rapid penetration of the island by foreign capital and its transformation into a satellite of the United States. In other words, it would mean that Cuba would soon be reduced once again to a state of - neo-colonial misery.

In relation to Cuba, as in relation to every other subject, Dieterich's ideas are clearly reactionary and anti-socialist, and if they were to be adopted by the people of Cuba that would spell disaster for the future of the Cuban revolution. For those who stand on the basis of Marxism it is quite clear that the only way forward for Cuba is a return to Lenin's programme of workers democracy, of genuine participation of the population in the running of the economy and the state, and at the same time an internationalist policy that can break the isolation of the revolution through successful socialist revolutions in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and the Latin American continent as a whole. What is needed is not a return to capitalism but a socialist Cuba in a Socialist Federation of Latin America.


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[1] See Discurso pronunciado por Fidel Castro Ruz
[2] See
[3] Marx, The Civil War in France.
[4] Dieterich, Cuba: Three premises to save the Revolution after the death of Fidel, April 5, 2006.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Dieterich, La disyuntiva de Cuba. Capitalismo o nuevo socialismo, in Rebelión, 17/3/06. My emphasis, AW.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 26, p. 468.
[10] Ibid, vol. 27, p. 135, my emphasis, AW.
[11] Dieterich, La disyuntiva de Cuba: capitalismo o nuevo socialismo.
[12] Dieterich, Cuba: Three premises to save the Revolution after the death of Fidel.
[13] Lenin, Role and Functions of the Trade Unions under the New Economic Policy, Decision of the CC, RCP(B), January 12, 1922.
[14] Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 179, my emphasis, AW.
[15] Ibid, vol. 33, page 287.
[16] Dieterich, La disyuntiva de Cuba: Capitalismo o nuevo socialismo.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Trotsky, Introduction to the German edition of The Permanent Revolution.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Dieterich, Cuba: Three premises to save the Revolution after the death of Fidel.
[21] Leon Trotsky, Introduction to the German Edition of The Permanent Revolution.
[22] Dieterich, Cuba: Three premises to save the Revolution after the death of Fidel.
[23] Ibid
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Dieterich, Cuba: Three premises to save the Revolution after the death of Fidel.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Dieterich, Cuba: Three premises to save the Revolution after the death of Fidel.
[33] Dieterich, El desmentido de Hans Modrow y el extraño papel de Prensa Latina, 22/2/2008.
[34] Dieterich, La modernización de Cuba bajo el Comandante Raúl Castro y la preservación del socialismo, April 6, 2008.