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Thursday, January 1, 2009

50 years of Revolutionary Cuba, 15 of Zapatista Chiapas


January 1st, happy New Year and all that.


It's time to commemorate modern revolutions: today it's the 50th anniversary of the success of the Cuban Revolution, that created the only Leninist system still standing (Vietnam and China have surrendered to Capitalism, even if keeping the red banner by the moment, while Russia has become markedly fascist). Today is also the 15th anniversary of the Zapatista armed uprising in the Maya highlands of southern Mexico, a revolt that lightened the hearts of so many after the catastrophic failure of the rerform (Perestroika) in the Soviet Union.

After 50 years of revolution and blockade, Cuba has many challenges ahead but can proudly state that nobody suffers hunger, that everybody has free healthcare and, maybe more importantly, that every single Cuban citizen is well educated. It can also stand proudly of having resisted ll this time such a powerful neighbour and declared enemy as the USA.

In Mexico the process is still unfolding, the revolution still has to be done... but, as the country descends into the abyss of illegitimate governments, extreme corruption, organized crime and an economic alliance with the USA that brings nothing but greater poverty and abuses, the autonomous Zapatista region stands as the only light in such darkness, resisting quite incredibly the siege imposed by the conservative government.

Overall, around the world, the socio-economical siuation is clearly worsening, what is certainly bad news but also offers the opportunity to escape the illusion of unsustainable consumerism/productivism and of people becoming gradually more and more aware of the real problem: Caitalism and it's ficticious economy of scam, bubble and fraud, only intended to concentrate wealth and power in few hands. Even with the many shortcomings, today most people in the world can read and write, what means they can become aware and eventually arise with some knowledge of what is going on.

The time has not yet come maybe but it's approaching.

Happy New Revolutionary Year. Humankind shall prevail over the parasites within itself.



2 comments:

Victor said...

Excellent post, Maju. Thank you. How few voices there are in the so-called "free" world capable of expressing both compassion and common sense.

This quote in particular says it all: "nobody suffers hunger, . . . everybody has free healthcare and, maybe more importantly, . . . every single Cuban citizen is well educated." It's only now, in the face of an almost complete meltdown of the capitalist system itself that leaders in the "developed" world are beginning to pay attention to such basic human issues.

The only country I've ever visited where everyone had enough to eat (NO beggars), a decent place to live (no slums), excellent free health care, and excellent free education was also a so-called "Communist" country: Tito's Yugoslavia. Tito's ideas were very different in certain ways from those of either Lenin or Castro, but the basic principle was the same: primary concern, above all, for the well being of the populace as a whole.

Maju said...

Yes, Socialism (or "Communism" as it was called rather against the actual ethymology and idea of communism as such: a decentralized democratic post-state utopic society not still created anywhere) may have failed in many senses, specially in its lack of ability to compete in the current Toyotist phase of Capitalism (it was very effective in the Fordist phase though but they failed to evolve, due to extreme rigidity and lack of democratic feedback). But Socialism has some very clear advantages, specially for a Humanist (and not social-darwisnist) mindset.

Yugoslavia was in fact one of the most advanced and effective Socialist systems anywhere. Some have argued that that success was precisely one of the main reasons behind its violent dismantling. In any case I would not argue that Milosevic's gang were anymore representatives of that advanced Socialism anymore but rather a product of its degeneration.

If one thing we have learnt from the abuses and debacle of the Soviet bloc (and related events) is that efefctive democracy (not necesarily western-style one but one anyhow that makes sure that the voice of the people matters) is necesary to make sure that citizens are satisfied with such a socialist regime and also to prevent corruption and stagnation. While Lenin may had a point in ignoring the term democracy and talk of class dictatorship (in his time voting rights were restricted in most places to burgueoises), that is no pretext to make worker dictatorship a non-democratic single-party system, much less to perpetuate it "forever".

But in the USSR, for instance, there was a chance to make soviet democracy a reality. A chance that was missed in the anti-Gorbachev coup and the Yeltsin westernizing era. Soviets (in principle, a democratic representation system, even if controlled by the single party historically) were just scrapped and centralized western-like institutions put in place instead. Any chance of further evolution to communism was then supressed.

Cuba is largely a fruit of that era, with all the contradictions this implies. I would not like to appear as someone who idealizes Cuba, even if it's an excellent counter-example of what could be done differently in our countries (and elsewhere). But in spite of its Leninist (and even somewhat Stalinist) heritage, Cuba is a place where people can speak rather freely (specially if you don't directly oppose the system overall) and where certain grassroots participation (democracy) does exist. There are many ongoing debates on what reforms and what kind of "socialism of the 21st century" would be best for Cuba. It's not just the typical monolithic regime where all opinions are supressed, rather the discussion is lively as long as it is a discussion within socialism (and even for opponents there's been some marked relaxation as of late). Now, wether it can easily and swiftly evolve into something more advanced (and presumably succesful) without just succumbing to the Capitalism paradigm is yet to be seen.

But in these times of Capitalist crisis, probably deep structural crisis (some say we never really got out of the crisis of the 1970s, that it was all just a credit bubble after that), it is, I believe, much less likely that failed Captalism appears as something desirable.

Also Latin America seems (overall) the place where socialist ideals are more widespread and have not been severely demoralized by what happened in Eastern Europe, rather encouraged to search and develope their own ways. A most interesting exploration that, sadly, I cannot see elsewhere (except maybe Nepalese and Indian Maoists?)