Cuba drops War Communism

 

In the spirit of fair play . . .

Cuba moves to Socialism from War Communism

How War Communism compares with War Capitalism

By Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective
 
An historic event will take place in Cuba April 16 to 19, 2011. The date marks 50 years of struggle to survive and thrive against the unrelenting attempt to destroy it by the United States, it's neighbour across the water hardly 160 km to the north. On Saturday 16 April 2011 the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba will open. My bet is that we'll see that Cuba will abandon War Communism and take the road to Socialism.
 
  The Senate building in Old Havana

Abuse of language prevails, and is so annoying that in less charitable moments I think it should be declared a sin. But then I relent. I look upward with the compassion of Jesus Christ on the Cross and pray, "Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do."

The abuse is especially true when such subjects as democracy, capitalism, socialism, and communism are on the table. By definition (economics, history, political science to name a few) there has never been throughout history a socialist or communist country. There have been attempts to practice socialism but they've failed so far by what I would call bad management, to put it mildly. The concepts of socialism and communism have taken a major propaganda beating from those who feel threatened by them. But any serious student of materialist and idealist philosophies knows that socialism, if it ever truly gets off the ground anywhere, is merely a secular application of the New Testament of The Holy Bible. All attempts so far, have been no further developed than state capitalism.

When any country is under attack by military force it closes ranks to protect itself. Cuba has been under military and propaganda attack, deliberate violent sabotage, and economic blockade, by the United States since 1959. Cuba, by definition is not a Communist state. It is a country that has resorted to War Communism in order to defend itself. In this essay I compare War Communism in Cuba and War Capitalism in Canada.


'One cannot say that the transition of one social system to another can take place overnight. That’s impossible. It is a process of many steps, which concludes with the predominance of the goods produced being in the majority hands of the population.'Raül Castro, 2008.


When Fidel Castro fell ill in July 2006 and soon surrendered his mantle as president, the Cuban hostiles sheltered by the CIA in Miami Dade County and Washington DC, salivated at the prospect of moving in and taking over.

There was an excited clandestine recruitment drive among Spanish-speakers in Mexico, Canada, and the United States, to develop and impose a new civilian ruling class on what they expected would be an economically and politically transformed Cuba.

They believed their own disinformation, and expected Cubans to rise up and overthrow the regime in power. But by due process Fidel's brother and revolutionary co-combatant Raül was elected President of Cuba by the Cuban parliament without any reported public expression of protest. If there was any of the latter, the international media was present and we would have known about it.

The fact is that though Raül has a different style, he is as well liked by Cubans as is his brother Fidel.

Canada and War Capitalism

But now on to War Communism and War Capitalism. I'm going to focus on Canada for War Capitalism.

Soon after 1776 the English in what was to become Canada felt a deep resentment toward the new United States of America.

In a spirit of reprisal, the British rulers decreed that any skilled tradesman who was caught trying to leave what remained of British North America for the United States would be subject to the death penalty — that is, hung by the neck until he breathed no more.

As a result of the 1837-38 rebellion 14 of those who advocated the parliamentary system we now have were hung by the neck until dead.

We don't have the space for a book here so I'll jump ahead to the first and second World Wars, quoting excerpts from conservative military historian J.L. Granatstein, writing in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

"The income tax, an inconceivable measure in 1914, by 1917 had become necessary to help the state finance the staggering costs of total war. Even price controls and controls on coal and steel could be justified on the grounds of necessity."

The above is a decidedly thumbnail sketch of how Canada handled the home front against the distant threat of attack during World War I. During World War II, the heat of battle remained distant but included the rare sighting of an enemy submarine and the sinking of an armed yacht in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The entire Japanese-Canadian population in British Columbia was arrested, dispossessed, and moved to a concentration camp some 1,600 km east. Hundreds of Canadians of European origin were also arrested without due process of law and interned in concentration camps.

Whole Canadian population loses basic human rights

But War Capitalism also saw basic human rights discarded for the whole population. More from military historian J.L. Granatstein, writing in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

"The home front during WORLD WAR IIwas much better organized than it had been in WW I. In late 1941 the WARTIME PRICES AND TRADE BOARD, (WPTB), established in September, 1939, was given charge of a sweeping system of WAGE AND PRICE CONTROLS. This made the rising costs of WW I an impossibility and, while not everyone was pleased by controls, the public could see the fairness of the system.

"This was true also with the use of the nation's manpower. The institution of National Selective Service in early 1942 effectively controlled the destiny of all men and women, told them who could join up and who could not, where they could work, and when they could change jobs. The WPTB also devised major rationing schemes that distributed meat, butter, oil and gas, and other scarce goods. Inevitably there was black marketeering, but most people regarded that as a social crime.

Getting rich and making sacrifices

"The shortage of consumer goods meant that workers, earning good wages for the first time after 10 years of the Great Depression, had little to buy, and the state acted to acquire as much of the people's savings as possible. In WW I the minister of finance had been astonished at how much money war bond campaigns raised; in WW II the sums were vastly greater as individuals and companies, in addition to paying higher taxes than ever before, put their money at the service of the war effort.

"Even school children were urged to purchase war savings stamps, each showing a tank or airplane, for 25 cents. Children also did their bit by collecting cooking fat, bones or milkweed, all of which were necessary for the war effort, while their parents planted victory gardens on waste patches of land or contributed their old pots and pans for melting down into weaponry.

"Opinion surveys demonstrated that by 1944 Canadians had become supporters of a continuation of wartime controls into the peace. That was undoubtedly a reflection of their concern for the future and their fear of renewed depression, but it was also a striking vote of confidence in the fairness of the system the federal government had created. The relatively smooth transition to peace also showed the care with which Ottawa had planned."

So much for War Capitalism. Now for a look at War Communism.

Long before I’d ever heard of Fidel Castro I found a book (in the 1950s) in a used bookstore published by two American doctors in 1938.

There are three things about it that I recall: the first is that some casual acquaintances (a couple) borrowed it (I don’t remember the title); the second is that I never saw the book or the couple again (I’ve forgotten their names); the third I remember clearly: the doctors reported that there was virus in Cuba that entered the body through the soles of bare feet and caused the legs to swell so that the patients were immobilized with pain. The doctors said that they had discovered a serum that when injected caused the swelling and its pain to disappear. The problem was that most Cubans were too poor to buy shoes.

Through the years, before and after I found the book, it came to my mostly indifferent attention that Cuba, especially in Havana, was a holiday resort and an intensely practiced place of business for American gangsters. The country as a whole lay victim to unbridled exploitation by American corporations in many ventures from mineral extraction to the production of sugar, rum, and tobacco.

The next time I was made aware of that island in the sun was when this son of a wealthy landowner entered Havana at the head of a military group strong enough to kick out the gangsters and begin the process of reining-in the greedy, callous corporations, that had had free rein under the collaborating dictator Fulgencio Batista.

I remember thinking, “If the guy’s any good, maybe Cubans will be able to buy shoes. I was pleased that my country had decided to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba. After all, I told myself, we make good shoes here.

Canadian military officer and human face of Castro rebels

A year ago, while in hospital, my roommate was a retired officer of the Canadian army. He had been born in England and, subject to conscription, was stationed in Vienna at the tail end of World War II. Here is his Cuba story.

He said, now an officer in the Canadian army, that he was in Cuba on a holiday in late 1958. He was so outraged by the poverty that he saw everywhere that he was even thinking of joining the rebels himself. After all, he was a well-trained military man. Castro was in the mountains.

"As I was walking along this mountain road a carload of armed guerrillas stopped me. They demanded that I give them all my money. I shook my head and told them I wasn't going to do that. Not far up the road was a tavern. I told them that instead I would buy all five of them a beer.

"They cheerfully accepted this alternative but it was not long before the five had grown to 20. However, once I had made good on my expanded commitment I took my leave to cheerful goodbyes. A few weeks later the Castro guerrillas marched into Havana and the Batista dictatorship was overthrown."

On January 1, 1959, the new independent Cuba was declared. On January 8, 1959 after his arrival in the capital, at the former Columbia military camp, the dictatorship’s main garrison, Fidel Castro said:

"The dictatorship has been defeated. There is immense joy. But, nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done. Don’t let us deceive ourselves by believing that everything in the future will be easy; maybe everything will be harder from now on."

Raül Castro

"And that is how it's been since the initial days," said Raül Castro in an interview with a journalist in 2008.

"The first measures taken was the capture and trials of the worst killers and torturers of the dictatorship, a confrontation began with the media in the hands of the dominant forces on the continent and the planet, or part of the planet at that moment.

"I remember the gigantic (media) campaign mounted in the early months after the triumph of the Revolution. Very little time had passed and the Revolution was already advancing. On May 17, after four-and-a-half months, Fidel approved the first Agrarian Reform Act in the La Plata command headquarters in the Sierra Maestra, the location of the Council of Ministers. That law affected many U.S. interests, given that they owned the best land. Land that had been basically appropriated with the advantage of the U.S. occupation of the country at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Under American guns (the buyers) made a symbolic payment of 10 cents for hectares of magnificent land. Logically, that was the first serious affect on U.S. interests, when Cuba recovered that fundamental wealth which is land."

Raül said redistributing the land was the first significant step. The new Cuba had to contend with constant acts of aggression and gave as an example the refusal by American-owned oil companies to refine oil bought more cheaply from the Soviet Union.

He said the new Cuban government reminded the refineries that they were under legal obligation to refine the oil. When the companies persisted in their refusal the decision was taken to nationalize the refineries. This resulted in a succession of blows and counter blows.

"One highly important step in that summer of 1960, and a consequence of the struggle that we could not halt or the Revolution would be defeated, was the nationalization of all those large U.S. companies. We took advantage of a Latin American Youth Congress in Havana and, in the former Cerro stadium – now the Latin American Baseball Stadium – we improvised an event. I remember that we set up a small tribune, holding no more than a few dozen comrades, out there in the centerfield, before Latin American and Cuban youth and a great population of workers and the people in general, Fidel proclaimed the nationalization of all those companies."

But it was not until April 16, 1961, one year and four months after the victory over Batista, that Cuba made its Socialist Proclamation. The proclamation was clearly an act of defiance. That day the U.S. carried out a series of bombings at Cuban airports. The next day, April 17, 1961, Cuba had to contend with the CIA-organized and U.S. financed Bay of Pigs invasion.

April 19, 1961, three days later, the invasion was crushed and is now celebrated as Victory Day.

Washington was to follow this up with an economic blockade that included the expulsion of Cuba from the Organization of American states, and the financing of sabotage within Cuba.

Raül continues . . . "sometimes I would arrive at the Ministry of the Armed Forces and four or five aides, links with the different territories, armies and regions in the country, would arrive with a list of what had occurred in the last 24 hours or at least, the last 12 hours of the previous night: dozens of tobacco curing houses in Pinar del Río set on fire, so many dozens of (sugar) cane fields burning throughout the country; so many combats waged, so many bombs in cities and other places, so many acts of sabotage of electricity cables. Sometimes I would say to them: "Tell me the most important ones," and that was, without exception, with a greater or lesser intensity, for five or six years.

"During those years, there (were) over 50 kidnapped Cuban aircraft, mainly all to the U.S., provoking economic damage of almost three million (1961) dollars.

"More than half of the kidnapped aircraft have been unjustly confiscated by the U.S., and the human cost totals dozens of fatal and injured victims at the hands of assassins and delinquents whose objective was reaching the U.S.

Bay of Pigs was a close call

"Fidel’s warning and the order to liquidate the invasion in 72 hours are known. It had to be liquidated in 72 hours, because Fidel foresaw, with much lucidity on his part, that if we didn’t do that, once the beachhead had been consolidated, they would have transported to it their puppet government, already formed and headed by Miró Cardona, waiting in a U.S. military base in Florida.

"With a consolidated beachhead, a puppet government on terra firma, recognized by the United States, recognized by the OAS (Organization of American States), to whom it could turn for immediate aid, plus U.S. ships in sight, it would be easy and logical to land those troops in support of the mercenaries. That was why the invasion took place in 1961."

Raül Castro says that what saved Cuba from a blood-bath invasion was what we know as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. There is much to say about that but I've decided to have mercy on your eyes and draw this missive to a close. Suffice to say that declassified documents show that Kennedy and Khrushchev made a behind the scenes deal that if the Soviet Union removed the nuclear missiles, the U.S. would agree to keep its military hands off Cuba.

And so it was done.

Since then, despite the economic blockade and continued armed guerrilla attacks on Cuban soil, air, and water, Cuba has risen from an isolated pariah to world recognition. At a recent meeting of the United Nations all but the United States and two of its tiny client states voted against Washington's economic blockade.

With the fall of the Soviet bloc, with which Cuba had more than 80 per cent trade, the island suffered a severe economic reversal, but by dint of optimism and a resolute will to win, and growing support from such countries as Venezuela (oil) Cuba is on the threshold of solving its economic problems. With blossoming inner strength it will loosen the tight reign it has found necessary for survival during the past half-century and will open it's doors to democratic socialism, Cuban style.

My bet is that starting tomorrow, Saturday, March 16, a clear move away from War Communism will be revealed at the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba that was founded in 1965 in the heat of American military and economic aggression.

Canada, which had grown rich while never being under direct attack like Cuba, was able to drop War Capitalism within a couple of years after World War II.

According to statements made by Raül Castro during the past three years, Cuba will take a long stride toward a society in which each will be expected to produce to the extent of one's ability, and receive according to what one produces. (No more freeloading as under War Communism.)

Handled with care, with bureaucrats under tight reign, it promises to be a fair play for all concerned.

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