Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, founders of the doctrine of scientific socialism, foresaw the need for a period of transition between capitalism and a future communist society — which, it should be recalled, is only conceivable on a global scale on the basis of the revolutionary transformation of the most developed capitalist societies.
While the terms "socialism" and "communism" are often used interchangeably, in the Cuban context "socialism" refers to a socialist-oriented, post-capitalist society such as revolutionary Cuba. The "primitive accumulation" Sexto refers to here is not the accumulation of large-scale productive property by a bourgeoisie, but the development of the productive forces as a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for the building of socialism.
Fashions and methods
By Luis Sexto
Juventud Rebelde, February 3, 2011
Translation: Marce Cameron
It's curious: some of those who write about Cuba and its problems do so from a distance, physical or ideological, or from intuitions furnished by the speeches or prayer books of the ultra-left or the chameleon-like or yellow right. Even [Cuban-born anti-Castro terrorist] Posada Carriles declared recently in Miami that "now we're winning", in an allusion to the supposed return of capitalism to Cuba.
From that vantage point from which leftists and rightists are mistaken for each other, including terrorists, gestate various of these articles and declarations, so strictly doctrinaire that they give the internet indigestion. And what could the average Cuban, she who struggles for her supper in the daily bustle, say in the face of such reproaches that are formulated in the name of the dogma that Cuba is trying to extinguish? "OK, my friend, socialism needs food, shoes, clothes, transport. Or is it that you want to place me on the altar of your little demons, always awaiting gifts or the fulfilment of promises?" Accordingly, if the economic strategy that is applied in Cuba — necessarily drastic and, because of this, urging cooperation and understanding — helps to provide food, clothing, transport, to make health care and education more efficacious, winds back the subsidies and the gifts [from the socialist state to all Cubans regardless of their labour contribution] and pushes back bureaucratic authoritarianism, it may be that we Cubans who live in Cuba will see the beginnings of a socialist construction whose first requirement is to have goods to distribute. Because, and it seems I'm repeating this idea, no theory that promises to evenly distribute poverty, and only poverty, could be called socialist.
It seems to me that today, the step towards the perfecting of socialism is rational, reflexive, cautious, without improvisations that degenerate into excesses of idealism whose most harmful manifestation would be wanting to conquer in days that which requires years.
From the outside and also from within, Cuba is threatened by temptations that recommend new leaps into the void. For example, can work collectives be put in the driver's seat of [socialist state] enterprises with deteriorated economies and weighed down by the bureaucratic straightjacket from which emerged some of the best intentions of the revolutionaries?
One truth, it seems to me, superimposes itself over the multiple and opposed opinions: the country cannot invent nor experiment with hypothetical models that have never been put to the test. It must start from the known, or the most assured, though the springs of stimulation of the productive forces may have ten or twenty affinities with the market. Now then, production must be horizontalised: the workers have to be objects and subjects of production and also co-deciders of the destiny of the enterprise. I think we have to avoid any technocratic tinge in our methods, arguments and proposals, so that they are wrapped in politics and democracy, and that together with a demanding attitude, humanism is also displayed with regard to what has been projected to be applied to substitute certain rusted mechanisms of Cuban society.
Faced with any dilemma, it's preferable to go by our means and our will to the place where there seems to be, for now, the most reliable formula for economic scope and effective social order, than for the intermediaries of the so-called "exiled" counterrevolution to bring us capitalism if Cuba is not able to step back from the precipice that, according to Raul [Castro], were are now skirting.
On the other hand, we knew so little about capitalism that we labelled "capitalist" any attempt at bettering oneself through individual work [i.e. self-employment], or the minimal hiring of labour by private individuals, or allowing foreign investment — even if everything is regulated and controlled by the nation [i.e. by Cuba's socialist state] — to stimulate immobilised productive forces in an aged [economic] order whose only guarantee of survival is the subsidy. Any judgement of Cuban society has to base itself on a thorough knowledge, or at least an honest appraisal, of the difficult internal situation and its urgent demands to attend to the circumvented "period of transition" [from capitalism to communism] and a prior "primitive accumulation" to take off towards a superior socialism.
What the manual recommends [an apparent reference to the Soviet textbooks on "Marxism-Leninism"] has discouraged for some time an examination of effectiveness. Marx — who would not be pleased if he were turned into a Messiah, nor an unappealable authority — only tried, as we know, to be a "guide to action". Therefore, it is preferable that the shoemaker applies himself to his shoe until he becomes a designer of fashions and methods.