That’s me in the picture. I’ll be 75 years old on July 26, 2019 (Mick will be 76) and the Cuban Revolution will be 66 – 66 years since the seminal battle on July 26 when Castro’s rebels attached a military barracks. 60 years since seizing power in 1959.
Cuba is arguably the most purely socialist society – and most successfully so – in the world. We need to embrace this fact. Free excellent health care, 100% literacy, great schools, international solidarity, cooperative spirit, exquisite cars, terrific beer, delicious ice cream, music, dance, and visual arts to die for. Indomitable spirit as it has stood up to the juggernaut of U. S. imperialism and prevailed. Legend has it that Fidel established the ice cream industry to augment the people’s protein intake. It’s true the new constitution liberalizes private property and profit somewhat, but on a mom and pop level. No giant private corporations are on the horizon.
Cuba is understood both internally and externally as a “communist” society, but it isn’t. Now that the word “socialism” has hit the main stream, it’s time to reclaim the concept of communism. In its essence, communism is what we learned in kindergarten: sharing. It’s an aspirational goal of one major strand of socialists, a vision of a classless society. In my opinion, this vision is what has made communist movements around the world so effective. I’m not arguing that they were “good” all the time – many horrific crimes have been committed in the name of communism – not unlike the crimes of capitalism.
The vision is based on Engel’s study of the Iroquois Confederacy, the same grouping that gave Jefferson et. al inspiration for the U. S. constitution. Primitive communism, Engels called it. Communal property. Shared living quarters in long houses. Shared work Consider that such a society flourished as late as the 17th century, before the American Revolution took over and squeezed tribes onto ever shrinking reservations in Upstate New York and Ontario.
So it’s not an impossible dream. Classes only emerged in human society with the development of agriculture and writing, arguably 7000 years ago, half a second of geological time. Think of it as a developmental stage, like adolescence. For adolescents, by and large, it’s all about me, me, me, isn’t it? And isn’t that where we are, mired in this debilitating capitalist ideology of individualism?
The road to communism is a long one. Socialism is what’s on the immediate agenda. It behooves us to look to Cuba as the best model yet. Not perfect by any means. Still poor. Still sitting on a racial wealth gap. Could be more democratic perhaps, but “democracy” is a sticky wicket. Given the international hegemony of the bourgeoisie, it might make sense in some cases to exclude bourgeois parties from elections. Cf. Venezuela. In my experience (I visited Cuba some years ago) there is considerable grass-roots democracy in the neighborhoods.
Elections are one battlefield. Other battlefields are the factory floor, the schools and community, inside the imperialist army. There will be countless battles before we get to a society that serves the people instead of the oligarchs. But, the harder we fight, the further we get.