Chapter 8 of Ernest Mandel, A Rebel’s Dream Deferred by Jan Willem Stutje, pp.147-164
“It is more pleasant and useful to go through the ‘experience of the revolution’ than to write about it.”
— V.I. Lenin, The State and Revolution 1
The progressive revival of the 1960s, which in Belgium began with the general strike of 1960-61, brought with it a renewal of the connection between struggle and theoretical debate, a connection that had been lost during the interwar ‘darkness at noon’ of Stalinism.
Although Marxist critical thought had not been entirely silenced, as shown by the works of Cornelius Castoriadis and Paul Sweeny, Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks and Karl Korsch’s later work, in academia it had been marginalized, confined to the domains of aesthetics and philosophy.2 In the 1960s such publishers as Maspero in France and Feltrinelli in Italy rediscovered the heterodox political literature that had long been on Stalin’s index. Creative Marxist thought emerged from the shadow of the universities and stimulated — in addition to the debates about neo-capitalism and the role of the proletariat — thinking about decolonization, revolution and post-capitalist society, the Soviet Union and China, Algeria and Cuba.
In Marxist Economic Theory Mandel had examined the economics of transitional societies.3 The sociologist Pierre Naville encouraged him to pursue the subject further. Naville was preparing to republish New Economics (first published in 1923), an analysis of the Soviet economy by Yevgeni Preobrazhensky, who had been killed by Stalin in 1937.4 He asked Mandel to write a foreword. 5 Central to the book was the question of what dynamic would arise in an agricultural society in transition from capitalism to socialism and what sources of socialist accumulation would be available. Mandel wrote that Preobrazhensky had made possible an economic policy free of pragmatism and empiricism.6 This book’s publication contributed to the economic debate in Cuba.
In Cuba with Che Guevara and Fidel Castro
Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, who with Fidel Castro was the face of the Cuban revolution, took a leading role in this debate. In 1958-59 guerillas had ended the oppressive, US-backed Batista regime. In doing so they broke with the prevailing, understanding of revolution that had held sway since 1935. The dominant conception dated back to the stages theory held by Stalin’s Comintern, which had limited revolutionary ambitions to formation of a national democratic government with the task of achieving agricultural reform, industrialization and democratic renewal. The struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie would only take place in a more-or-less distant future phase of socialist revolution. The Cuban revolutionaries discovered that in practice such a revolution was impossible and looked for a model that would put a definitive end to capitalism in Cuba. In the process they risked an American invasion, a threat made clear during the Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron) incident and the October 1961 missile crisis. They also earned anathemas from Moscow, which saw Cuba’s, support for revolutionary movements -in Latin America, Asia and Africa as undermining a foreign policy aimed at peaceful coexistence with the West.
From 1962 to 1964 Che Guevara headed the Cuban ministry of industry. He opposed the growing influence of Moscow-oriented Communists and the state’s increasing bureaucratic tendencies. His ideas about the economy were formed in the debates of 1963-4. which were not only about economic development but also about the essence of socialism: a central budget structure versus, financial independence of companies, moral versus material incentives, thee law of value versus planning, and the role of consciousness.
Che considered an economy without a humanistic perspective, without communist ethics, unthinkable.7 ‘We fight against poverty but also against alienation…If Communism were to bypass consciousness…then the spirit of the revolution would die.’8 In a famous 1965 essay, ‘Socialism and Man in Cuba’, Che warned against ‘the pipe dream that socialism can be achieved with the help of the dull instruments left to us by capitalism’, like making value and profitability the absolute economic’ measure or using, material incentives. Che held that fully realized communism would require changing not only the economic structure but also human beings. 9
Impressed by the wave of nationalizations there, Mandel concluded in the fall of 1960 that Cuba had developed into a post-capitalist state.10 ‘Reality has shown that to consolidate power the revolutionary leaders have unconsciously resorted to Trotskyism.’11 Shortly after the publication of Marxist Economic Theory Mandel had a copy sent to Che and Castro via their embassy in Brussels.12 He had informal contacts, with the Cuban regime through Nelson Zayas Pazos,13 a Cuban Trotskyist and French teacher working in the foreign ministry, and Hilde Gadea, Che’s ex-wife a Peruvian economist of Indian and Chinese descent who lived in Havana.14 Gadea was sympathetic to Trotskyist ideas, and through her and Zayas documents of the Fourth International were regularly forwarded to Che. 15
In October 1963 Zayas told Mandel about the debate raging between what he called the Stalino-Khrushchevists and the circle around Che.16 While the former were arguing for financial independence for companies and for material incentives to increase productivity,17 Che called for centralizing finances and strengthening moral incentives.18 Zayas encouraged Mandel to intervene in the debate: ‘It seems to me that the entire Castro leadership would welcome such a contribution … Fidel, Che, Aragonés. Hart, Faure Chomón and many others are favourably disposed to us.’19. A month later Zayas distributed a stencilled contribution from Mandel to those taking part in the debate. 20 Mandel supported Che’s resistance to financial autonomy, not because he was opposed to decentralization but because centralized financing for small-scale industry seemed at that time the optimal solution. He shared Che’s fears of the growth of bureaucracy, all the more so because Clue’s opponents wanted to make decentralized financial administration efficient by using material incentives. Mandel was not against material incentives as such, on two conditions: that they were not individual but collective incentives in order to ensure solidarity, and that their use was restrained in order to curb the selfishness that a system of enrichment produces.
To combat bureaucratization Mandel argued for democratic and centralized self-management, ‘a management by the workers at the workplace, subject to strict discipline on the part of a central authority that is directly chosen by workers’ councils’.21 Mandel and Che differed on this last point. Che did support management of the enterprises by the trade unions, but only if they were representative and not controlled by Communists, who, he said, were very unpopular. The results of decentralized self-management in Yugoslavia, where companies acted like slaves of the market, had also made Che cautious. Mandel warned him against throwing the baby out with the bath water. Self-management by workers was entirely compatible with a central plan democratically decided by the direct producers.22
In early 1964 Mandel was invited to visit Havana. There were prospects of meetings with Che and Castro.23 Che had read Marxist Economic Theory enthusiastically and had large parts of it translated.24 Mandel confided to Livio Maitan: ‘I think that I can raise many issues openly and frankly’,25 and wrote again a few days later, `And in any case I can resolve the question of banning our Bolivian friends.’26
Maitan had visited South America for the first time in 1962. He had made contact with insurrectionary movements in Bolivia, Chili, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay and Argentina and had urged them to work with the Cubans.27 In Buenos Aires he met such left-wing Peronistas as the poet Alicia Eguren and her partner John William Cooke, who had been in contact with Che since 1959.28 In Peru Maitan’s contacts were with the United Left and its present leader Hugo Blanco. In Bolivia he met with the mine workers in Huanuni, Catavi and Siglo XX. Trotskyists had strong influence there and hoped to be trained in Cuba for armed struggle.
Mandel stayed in Havana for almost seven weeks. It was a visit without official duties, an occasion for exchanging ideas, and these exchanges convinced him completely that Cuba ‘constitutes . . the most advanced bastion in the liberation of labour and of humanity’.29 The Marxist classics were widely studied in cadre schools, in ministries and beyond. Mandel wrote a friend, ‘The class I took part in had just finished volume one of Capital, with a minister and three deputy ministers present . . . And it was serious study, even Talmudic, studying page by page…’30 Mandel’s own works, including Marxist Economic Theory, were discussed; translated, stenciled excerpts circulated among the leadership.31 Mandel wrote to his French publisher, ‘The president of the Republic [Osvaldo Dorticos] himself is interested in the work and would like to publish it in Spanish in 2 Cuba.’ E. Mandel to C. Bourgois, 28 May 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 278.] He addressed hundreds of auditors at the University of Havana, speaking in Spanish — with a sprinkling of Italian when a words escaped him. There was even an announcement of his visit in Hoy, the paper, of the Communist Blas Roca. Revolutión, the largest and most influential daily paper, published an interview.
‘I was literally kidnapped by the finance ministry and the ministry of industry [Che’s ministry] to write a long article about the problem of the law of value in the economy of a transitional society.’32 Speaking French, Mandel met for four hours with Che, who received him dressed in olive green fatigues, his famous black beret with its red star within reach. Totally enchanted, Mandel wrote a friend, ‘Confidentially, he is extremely close to your friend Germain [the pseudonym Mandel used most], whom, you know well.’33
Mandel and Che worked together on a response to the French economist Charles Bettelheim. In April 1964 Bettelheim had published an article in the monthly Cuba Socialista34 that held that the central planning that Che advocated was unwise policy, considering the limited development of the forces of production. The Marxist Bettelheim had become Che’s most profound critic. Other opponents included Alberto Mora, the minister of foreign trade, and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, the minister of agriculture. Years later Bettelheim commented,
Cuba’s level of development meant that the various units of production needed a sufficient measure of autonomy, that they be integrated into the market so that they could buy and sell their products at prices reflecting the costs of production. I also found that the low level of productive forces required the principle: to each according to his work. The more one worked, the higher the pay. This was the core of our divergence, because Che found differences acceptable only when they arose from what each contributed to the best of his ability.35
The research director of the Paris Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales still did not agree with Che’s thinking.
Mandel thought that Bettelheim was making the mistake of looking for pure forms in historical reality. For example, according to the French economist, there could be no collective ownership of the means of production as long as legally there was no completely collective ownership. Mandel found Bettelheim’s insistence on such complete ownership- ‘to the last nail’ – a bit technocratic. Complete ownership was not necessary as long as their was possession sufficient to suspend capital’s laws of motion and initiate planned development.36 Mandel pointed out that the withering away of the commodity form was determined not only by the development of the forces of production but also by changes in human behaviour. It was a commonplace to say that the law of value also played a role in a post-capitalist economy without saying what part of the economy it would govern. The key question was whether or not the law of value determined investment in the socialist sector. If that was necessarily the case, Mandel said,then all underdeveloped countries – including all of the post-capitalist countries except Czechoslovakia and East Germany – were doomed to eternal underdevelopment. He pointed out that these counties agriculture was more profitable than industry, light and small-scale industry more profitable than heavy and large-scale industry, and above all obtaining industrial products on the world market more profitable than domestic manufacturing. ‘To permit investment to be governed by the law of value would actually be to preserve the imbalance of the economic structure handed down from capitalism.’37 With his criticism Mandel was not denying the law of value but opposing what he termed Bettelheim’s fatalism, which denied that a long and hard struggle was necessary ‘between the principle of conscious planning and the blind operation of the law of value’.38
Luis Alvarez Rom, Cuba’s finance minister, spent ten hours correcting the Spanish translation of Mandel’s article. It appeared in June 1964 under the title ‘Las categorías mercantiles en el periodo de transición’ (Mercantile Categories in the Period of Transition); 20,000 copies were published in periodicals of the ministries of industry and of finance.39 It included a flattering biography of the author.40 Mandel wondered if this was ‘to neutralize in advance certain ill-intentioned criticisms of my spiritual family [the Fourth Intemational]?’41 He treasured in his wallet a banknote personally signed by Che: more than a currency note, it was a proof of trust. Mandel admired Che’s courage in inviting him to Cuba for a debate that the Soviets and orthodox Communists had to accept, however grudgingly. He praised Che as a theoretician, a leader in the tradition of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.42
Looking back in 1977, Mandel considered Cuba’s open debate on the economy ‘the big turning point’ in the Cuban revolution.43 Behind that debate had raged another, not held in public. This debate concerned the revolution’s sociopolitical orientation, the role of the workers and the issue of power. That is, along with the question of the law of value came the issue of how much freedom the proletariat would have to make its own decisions. As Mandel saw it, though Che triumphed in the public debate, he was defeated in the hidden one. Guaranteeing freedom was a political problem: it required the creation of workers’ councils and popular assemblies. Such organs were never developed.
When Che left Cuba in 1965, he was the most popular leader on the island. If the voice of the people had been heard, Che would have won the political as well as the economic round. But, as Mandel said, ‘Che did not want to appeal to the people. He did not want to split the party openly. This is why he left after his defeat.44 In his 1964 correspondence Mandel had acknowledged that he did not dare put some of his impressions on paper.45 Did he already suspect that the debate would have a tragic outcome?
On Mandel’s departure Luis Alvarez Rom assured him that he was always welcome; a request would be sufficient to assure an invitation.46 There was a rumour that within a few months Castro would officially invite him `so I can deal a bit with his affairs’.47 He returned to Brussels in a hopeful mood:
The influence of the Stalinist ‘sectarians’ (that’s what they’re called there) continues to decline . .. Slowly a new vanguard is forming, one that is close to our ideas . . . The revolution is still bursting with life, and on that basis democracy [can] bloom.48
He had also been assured that ‘the group around Che was noticeably stronger’ and that ‘workers’ assemblies would soon be started’.49 Was this the beginning-of workers’ self-management, however modest? The promise did not amount to much, but Mandel dosed his eyes to its limits. He reacted negatively to Nelson Zayas’s advice to pressure Che and to convince him that he’ll lose the battle if it’s only fought in the government and bureaucratic arena’.50 The people’s support for the government must not be underestimated.51 The die was not yet cast: ‘Nothing was definitely decided yet in the economic discussion.’52 Mandel did not want to hamper Che and Fidel in their conflicts with the pro-Soviet currents. This would not have been appreciated, either, by the swelling multitude of radical youth in France and elsewhere for whom Che was nearing the status of hero. Mandel’s reaction disappointed Zayas and hastened his decision to turn his back on Cuba and complete his study of French in Paris. He asked Mandel to use his influence with Che to secure the necessary exit visa.53
Mandel’s thoughts about Cuba changed only slowly. The Latin American revolution came to a halt: Salvador Allende lost the Chilean election in September 1964, there were military coups in Brazil and Bolivia, and leftist guerrillas in Peru and Venezuela were defeated. Cuba paid for these failures with its growing dependence on the Soviet Union. This was an arid climate in which social democracy could not thrive. As Mandel frankly admitted to ex-Trotskyist Jesus Vazquez Mendez,
I subscribe to your opinion that participation by the people is essential … . I had heard that management of the enterprise would come into the hands of the trade unions after their leadership was replaced; but the latest news is that nothing has happened. I’m sorry about it, and like you I’m afraid that if things are left to take their course, the result will be an economic impasse. Maybe I’ll go to Cuba again in l965 and can give the debate new impetus.54
But he didn’t visit in 1965, and he never saw Che again, not even when Che was in Algiers to address an Afro-Asian conference at the end of a trip through Africa in February that year. Never before had Che come out so strongly against the Soviet Union. He declared that ‘the socialist countries are, in a way, accomplices of imperialist exploitation’. Before all else oppressed peoples had to be helped with weapons. ‘without any charge at all, and in quantities determined by the need’.55 Che’s words took root in the fertile soil of Latin American campuses and the radical milieu in Paris, where his speech was duplicated and distributed,56 and the Union of Communist Students (UEC) invited Che to Paris for a debate on Stalinism.57 The initiative came from the EUC left wing, in which Mandel’s fellow-thinkers played a prominent role. Six months earlier they had been received by a deputy minister of industry, a dose colleague of Che’s.58 One of the group’s spokespeople, twenty-seven-year-old Janette Pienkny (Janette Habel after 1966) traveled regularly between Paris and Havana. She contacted the Cuban ambassador, who relayed the invitation to Che by phone. Meanwhile Mandel was attempting to get a visa for Algeria. After Che’s speech, Mandel had phoned him his congratulations. Che had immediately agreed to a meeting but it had to he the following day, a Monday, because he was about to leave.59 But that Sunday Mandel sought vainly to make contact – at home and at the embassy- with the ambassador and the consul. Without a visa, ‘they wouldn’t have even let me telephone from the airport . . . I finally decided, heartbroken, to miss the meeting that had meant so much to me.’60
The debate in Paris never took place. The Communists Party put a stop to it.61 Che was now viewed as a heretic, not only in Moscow but also within the Communist parties. Algiers was his last public appearance. He went to the Congo and Bolivia to help break the isolation of their revolutions, a solidarity that he summed up in his testamentary message with the call -Make two, three, many Vietnams!’62 That slogan became the catchphrase for the generation of ’68.
The Death of Che Guevara
Though a trip to Cuba had proved impossible in 1965-6, Mandel’s thinking about the Latin American revolution continued to develop. He praised the young philosopher Régis Debray, a student of Althusser’s. In a January 1965 essay in Les Temps Modernes Debray had characterized Castroism as the Latin American version of Leninism. Mandel described it as “an excellent piece’, though he dismissed out of hand Debray’s idea about spontaneous party formation.102 Mandel expressed himself more cautiously About Cuba’s relationship with Moscow: ‘politically they continue to have their own line. . . What is bad, however, is that [Castro] made a series of moves to satisfy the Russians (like his attacks against the Chinese and against the “counter-revolutionary trotskyists”).’103 Ac the final sitting of the Tricontinental Conference in Havana’s Chaplin Theatre, Castro had spoken of ‘the stupidities, the discredit, and the repugnant thing which Trotskyism today is in the field of politics’.104
Mandel thought that must be a genuflection towards Moscow, .camouflage for the call to armed struggle that Moscow might interpret as a concession to Trotskyism. In it confidential meeting with Victor Rico Galan. Castro’s representative in Mexico, Mandel later learned that Castro regretted his statement. Galan had pointed out to Castro that the attack ou Trotskyism was unfounded. Admitting his mistake, Castro had asked Galan to give him `A month or two to make public corrections of this at the proper time’.105 At the end of May Mandel unexpectedly got an invitation to visit Havana. The Cuban ambassador spoke of a personal invitation from Castro and promised a meeting with President Osvaldo Dorticós.106
In June 1967 Ernest aud Gisela arrived at the former Havana Hilton, re‑christened the Free Havana but with its former splendor carefully preserved. At the hotel’s bar, replacing the Americans of earlier times, were Russians and few East German technicians. Politics was never far away, even at the hairdresser’s, as Gisela discovered: ‘The girl sitting beside me was reading Lenin, and on the other side a woman was reading Mills’s The Marxists.’107
A beautiful English-speaking guide took care of all the formalities, including credit cards and a shabby Cadillac with chauffeur. Gisela immediately fell in love with the impoverished country. She sent Meschkat enthusiastic reports about their wanderings and the encounters in tobacco and sugar factories, on plantations and in prisons and schools. ‘Everything is exquisite and for us so encouraging and hopeful.108
Their programme was overloaded. Ernest often returned only at l:00 or 2:00 in the morning from a debate or lecture at the university or a party school. The atmosphere was frank and candid. as were the meetings with the host of Latin Americans attending the first conference of the Organization in Solidarity with Latin America (OLAS), held in Havana at the beginning of August.109 Ernest and Gisela were furious when the Czechoslovakian paper Rudé Právo published three pages slandering Che on the day that Soviet premier Kosygin arrived. Gisela wrote, ‘You should just hear how they talk about the Russians in all circles here, from the highest to the lowest, I’ve never heard such talk, from socialists yet.’110 Typically, Castro charged the Venezuelan Communists with falling the guerrilla movement.111 Though Cuba was dependent on the Russians, Castro continued to provoke them.112
Mandel spoke with functionaries high and low, but Castro and Dorticós avoided him. Every time he announced his departure. he received overnight request to stay ‘because the President and the Prime Minister both wanted to see me’.113 Fed up with waiting, he finally left, three weeks later than planned and without meeting them. Perhaps a meeting would have seemed too clear a provocation to the Russians. Castro had nothing to gain, as he had demonstrated his independence sufficiently at the OLAS conference.
On 9 October 1967, the world learned of the murder of Ernesto Che Guevara. Convinced that guerrilla warfare was the only way to victory, he had gone to join the Bolivian struggle. His body was found mutilated in a remote village. This was the death of a revolutionary, a modern-day warrior chief. The left was in mourning; poets wrote elegies, laments that ended with calls to rebellion. In an interview with Gerhard Horst (pseudonym Andre’ Gorz), an editor of Les Temps Moderns, Mandel spoke of ‘a severe shock, all the more as I regarded him as a personal friend’.114 In La Gauche he mourned ‘a great friend, an exemplary comrade, a heroic militant’.115 On the Boulevard St-Michel in Paris and Berlin’s Kurfurstendamn, in London and Milan people shouted: `Che, Che, Gue-va-ra!’ The chopped syllables formed a battle cry against the established order. Neither Moscow nor Beijing had expressed even the most grudging sympathy.116 In openly showing their regret the Italian and French Communist parties proved they still possessed a little autonomy.
Mandel’s sympathizers in the French Revolurionmy Communist Youth (JCR), a radical group founded in 1966 in a split from the Union of Communist Students, refused to accept his death. ‘Che was our best antidote to the Maoist mystique’, Daniel Bensaid recalled.117 In the Latin Quarter of Paris, the Mutualité temple of the French workers’ movement, was full to overflowing. Mandel spoke alongside Maurice Nadeau, just back from Havana, and Janette ‘The Cuban’ Habel. He portrayed Che as he had come to know him in 1964.118 Emotion crested as those present softly hummed ‘The Song of the Martyrs’, the mourning march from the 1905 Russian Revolution, before launching into, ‘You have fallen for all those who hunger’ and belting out the chorus, ‘But the hour will sound, and the people conquer…’119
In Berlin too people were deeply moved. The SDS called for intensifying actions. Che had been Dutschke’s inspiration. With Gaston Salvatore, a Chilean comrade and friend in the SDS,120 Dutschke had translated Che’s last public statement, with it’s famous appeal for ‘two, three, many Vietnams’, from Spanish into German. Like Che, Dutschke lived the conviction that there “is no life outside the revolution’.121 He named his recently born son Hosea Chea. Latin America would not let Dutschke go. In 1968 he wrote a foreword to The Long March; The Course of the Revolution in Latin America, a collection of articles by such figures as Régis Debray, Castro and K.S. Karol.122. Meshkat was surprised to see letters from Gisela, which she had sent him from Havana in the summer of 1967, printed in the book. As far as he had known, Dutschke had asked only for permission to read them. 123.
1. Collected Works, vol. 25, Moscow, 1977, p. 497. 2. P. Anderson, In the Tracks of Historical Materialism, London, 1983. P. Anderson, Considerations on Western Marxism, London, 1977. 3. E. Mandel, Marxist Economic Theory, vol. 2, London 1968, pp. 605-53. 4.E. Mandel, ‘Introduction’ in E. Préobrazenskij, La Nouvelle économie (Novaia Ekonomika), Paris, 1966. P. Naville to E. Mandel, 20 May 1962, E. Mandel Archives, folder 278. A. Erlich analyzed Preobrazhensky’s work in The Soviet Industrialization Debate, 1924-1928, Cambridge, MA, 1960. C. Samary, Plan, Market, Democracy, Amsterdam, 1988. 5. P. Naville to E. Mandel, 17 September 1960, E. Mandel Archives, folder 318. 6.E. Mandel, ‘Introduction’, La Nouvelle économie , E. Préobrazenskij, p. 35. 7.M. LÖwy, The Marxism of Che Guevara: Philosophy, Economics, and Revolutionary Warfare, New York, 1973. 8. ‘Interview with Che Guevara’, L’Express, 25 July 1963, cited in: E. Guevera, Ecrits d’un révolutionaire, Paris, 1987, p. 9. 9. E. Guevara, Socialism and Man in Cuba, Sydney, 1988, p. 5. 10. Jack [E. Mandel] to ‘Chers amis’, 18 October 1960, E. Mandel Archives, folder 70. E. Germain [E. Mandel] to ‘Cher camarade’, 1 July 1961, E. Mandel Archives, folder 483. 11. Ibid. 12. G. Arcos Bergnes [Cuban ambassador] to E. Mandel, 12 Sepbember 1962, E. Mandel Archives, folder 16. 13. Using the pseudonym David Alexander, Zayas Pazos published a book about Cuba in 1967: Cuba: la via rivoluzionaria al socialismo, Rome. He also wrote letters signed with the pseudonym Emile. 14. H. Gadea, Che Guevara: Años decisivos, Mexico, 1972- P Kalfon, Che, Ernesto Guevara: Une légende du siècle, Paris, 1997. 15. N. Zayas to P. Frank, 20 October 1963, E. Mandel Archives, folder 23. 16. N. Zayas to ‘Cher camarade’, 25 October 1963, E. Mandel Archives, folder 21. 17. A. Mora, ‘En torno a Ja cuestión del funcionamiento de la ley del valor en la economia cubana en los actuales momentes’, Comercio Exterior, June 1963. Translated as: A. Mora, ‘Zur Frage des Funktionierens des Wertgesetzes in der cubanischen Wirtschaft zum gegenwärtigen Zeitpunkt’ in C. Bettelheim et al., Wertgesetz: Planung und Bewusstsein: die Planungsdebatte in Cuba, Frankfurt on Main, 1969. Alberto Mora was the Cuban minister of foreign trade. 18. E. Guevara, ‘On value’ (1963) in J. Gerassi, ed., Venceremos! The Speeches and Writings of Che Guevara, London, 1969, pp. 280-5. 19. N. Zayas to ‘Cher camarade’, 25 October 1963 E. Mandel Archives, folder 21. 20. N. Zayas to E. Germain, 16 January 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 22. 21. E. Mandel, ‘Le grand débat économique à Cuba’, Partisans, no. 37, 1967. Reprinted in E. Guevara, Ecrits d’un révolutionnaire, Paris, 1987. 22. E. Mandel, letter fragment, n.d. , E. Mandel Archives, folder 26. 23. E. Mandel to R. Blackbum, 12 February 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 28. E. Mandel to N. Zayas, 12 February 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 21. 24. Nelson to Germain, 16 February 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 19. 25. E. Mandel to ‘cher ami’ [L. Maitan], 3 March 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 22. 26. E. Mandel to L. Maitan, 7 March 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 22. 27. L. Maitan, manuscript memoirs (unpublished), Paris, n.d., pp. 3, 19-20. 28. E. Mandel to L. Maitan, 10 June 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 24. “Che Guevara was Energetically Devoted to Anti-Imperialist Solidarity’, interview with M. Piñiero, The Militant, 24 November 1997. 29.La Gauche, 9 May 1964. 30. E. Mandel to Paul [Clerbaut], E. Mandel Archives, folder 23. 31. Mandel anticipated that he would soon see Marxist Economic Theory published in Cuba, ‘obviously’ without the chapter on the Soviet economy (‘There is no need for us to embarrass the Cubans.’). E. Mandel to Paul [Clerbaut], 7 May 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 23. Mandel wrote to his French publisher, ‘The president of the Republic [Osvaldo Dorticos] himself is interested in the work and would like to publish it in Spanish in 2 Cuba.’ E. Mandel to C. Bourgois, 28 May 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 278. 32. E. Mandel to Paul [Clerbaut], E. Mandel Archives, folder 23. 33. Ibid. 34. C. Bettelheim, ‘Forms and Methods of Socialist Planning and the Level of Development of the Productive Forces’, The Transition to a Socialist Economy, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1975, pp. 121-38. 35. J. Connier (in collaboration with H. Guevara Gadea and A. Granado Jimenez), Che Guevara, Monaco, 1995, pp. 291-2. 36. E. Mandel, ‘Mercantile Categories in the Transition Stage’, in B. Silverman ed., Man and Socialism in Cuba: The Great Debate, New York, 1971, pp. 63-6. S. de Santis, ‘Bewußtsein und Produktion: Eine Kontroverse zwischen Ernesto Che Guevara, Charles Bettelheim und Ernest Mandel über das ökonomische System in Kuba’, Kursbuch 18, October 1969. 37. E. Mandel, ‘Mercantile Categories in the Transition Stage’, in B. Silverman ed., Man and Socialism in Cuba, p. 82. R. Massari, Che Guevara: Pensiero e politica dell’utopia, Rome, 1987. 38. E. Mandel, ‘Mercantile Categories in the Transition Stage’, Man and Socialism in Cuba, p. 82 (italics in original). 39. E. Mandel, ‘Las categorias mercantiles en ei periodo de transición’, Nuestra Industria, June 1964. 40. J. Habel, ‘Le sens que nous donnons au combat du Che Guevara’ (1), Rouge, 13 October 1977. 41. E. Mandel to A. Eguren, 5 August 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 25. 42. F. Buyens, Een mens genaarnd Ernest Mandel, film, Brussels, 1972. 43. E. Mandel, ‘Il -y a dix ans, l’assassinat du Che, Les positions du Che Guevara dans le grand débat éconoimque de 1963-1965’, Rouge, 11 October 1977. 44.Ibid.v 45. E. Mandel to ‘Paul [Clerbaut]’, 7 May 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 23. 46. E. Mandel to ‘Emile’ [N. Zayas], 26 May 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder24. 47. E. Mandel to A. Eguren, 5 August 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 25. 48. E. Mandel to ‘Lieber Freund’ [G. Jungclas], 22 May 1964; E. Mandel to K. Coates, 10 May 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 23. 49. Emile to E. Mandel, 5 Juiy 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 25. 50. Emile to E. Mandel, 13 August 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 25. 51. E. Mandel to ‘Cher ami’ [N. Zayasl, 12 October 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 25. 52. E. Mandel to A. Eguren, 25 September 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 25. 53. Emile to E. Mandel, 27 September 1964; E. Mandel to Emile, 11 November 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 26. 54. E. Mandel to J. Vazquez Mendez, 2 November 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 26. 55. E. Guevara, ‘At the Afro-Asian Conference’, Che Guevara Speaks, New York, 1967, pp. 108, 114. 56. P. Kalfon, Che, Emesto Guevara: Une légende du siècle, p. 402. 57. Ibid. Also: P. Robrieux, Notre génération communiste 1953-1968, Paris, 1977, pp. 316-7. 58. E. Mandel to L. Maitan, 10 June 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 24. 59. E. Mandel to ‘Dear friend’ 1, 19 May 1965, E. Mandel Archives, folder 31. 60. E. Mandel to ‘Pierre’, 1 March 1965, E. Mandel Archives, folder 30. 61. P. Robrieux, Notre génération communiste 1953-1968, p. 317. 62. E. Guevara, ‘Vietnam and the World Struggle for Freedom’, Che Guevara Speaks, p. 159. 63. E. Mandel to A. Eguren, 5 August 1964, E. Mandel Archives, folder 25. 102. The idea that a revolutionary party would form ‘in die natural course of die liberation struggle’, as it had in Cuba, was an illusion. Mandel held that Cuba was an exception and that to hope for spontaneous party formation was to idealize empiricism and pragmatism. Perry Anderson, the editor of New Left Review, agreed with this criticism, though unlike Mandel he thought this difference of opinion with the twenty-four-year-old Debray was minor. E. Mandel to P. Anderson, 21 January 1966, E. Mandel Archives, folder 32. 103. Ibid. 104. University of Texas: Fidel Castro speech database. The conference took place 3-15 January 1966. Its official title was ‘First Afro-Äsian-.Latin American Peoples’ Solidarity Conference’, The Fourth International’s response appeared in Quatrième Internationale, February 1966. 105. Miguel to ‘Dear Friends’, 1 March 1966, E. Mandel Archives, folder 32. 106. E. Mandel to E. Federn, 1 July 1967, E. Mandel Archives, folder 37. 107. G. Mandel to K. Meschkat, 12 June 1967, cited in R. Debray, F. Castro, G. Mandel and K. Karol, Der lange Marsch: Wege der Revolution in Lateinamerika, Munich, 1968, pp. 257-61. 108. Ibid. 109. E. Mandel, ‘Cuba 1967 et la première conférence de l’OLAS’, La Gauche, 9 September 1967. 110. G. Scholtz to K. Meschkat, 29 June 1967, cited in R. Debray, F. Castro, G. Mandel and K. Karol, Der lange Marsch, pp. 261-9. 111. T. Szulc, Fidel: A Critical Portrait, London, 1987, p. 497. 112. M. Kenner and J. Petras, eds, Fidel Castro Speaks, New York, 1969, pp. 14563. 113. E. Mandel to P. Refflinghaus, 17 July 1967, E. Mandel Archives, folder 38. 114. E. Mandel to G. Horst, 26 October 1967, E. Mandel Archives, folder 38. 115. ‘L’exemple de “Che” Guevara inspirera des millions de militants par le monde’, La Gauche, 21 October 1967. ‘ “Che” est mort’, La Gauche, 28 October 1967. 116.Le Monde, 27 October 1967. 117. D. Bensaid, Une Lente impatience, Paris, 2004, p. 75. 118 .Ibid., p. 76. Also: H. Hamon and P. Rotman, Génération, vol. 1: Les années de rêve, Paris, 1987, p. 384. 119. D. Bensaid, Une lente impatience, p. 76. 120. E. Guevara, ‘Vietnam and the World Struggle for Freedom’, op. cit., p. 159. 121. E. Guevara, ‘Notes on Man and Socialism in Cuba’, in Che Guevara Speaks, p. 136. J. Miermeister, Ernst Bloch, Rudi Dutschke, Hamburg, 1996, p. 144. 123. R. Debray, F. Castro, G. Mandel and K. Karol, Der lange Marsch. 124. Author’s interview with K. Meschkat, 10 September 2004.
THE RAG INTERVIEWS MARIANA HERNANDEZ
February 22, 1971
MARIANA HERNANDEZ, interviewed by THE RAG, Austin, Texas,
Mariana Hernandez is the Socialist Party’s candidate for Travis LaRue’s job- mayor of Austin.
By printing this interview, The Rag does not mean to take sides in the upcoming election. But we would like to point out that almost any change would be an improvement.
The interview was taped on the spur of the moment at the Abortion Conference, where the Socialist candidates were promising to work for free abortions on demand if elected. The candidate’s willingness to speak into a somewhat hostile reporter’s tape recorder without advance notice was remarkable in the context of Texas politics.
RAGT: How do you propose to change the abortion laws from the City Council?
MH: Well, what we intend to do first of all is help build the Women’s Liberation movement. We will involve ourselves in all the building aspects of it and in that way involve a larger number of people. What we will do at the City| Council is also have it at a time when more women are able to come to meetings and express their views as to what the City Council ought to be| doing. That is, we won’t have them at 9 o’clock in the morning when most people can’t come. There are working women who can’t present their views because they’re working… RAG: Wouldn’t you say that most men can’t participate at that time either, so it’s a bit unfair to all citizens?
MH: That’s true. So we would have it at a time when all citizens could participate.
RAG: How do you see. your chances for winning?
MH: Well, what we see is that if we get the publicity, if we get out and are able to take our demands to the people, they’re going to support us. That’s our chances.
Many women support free abortion on demand, which is one of our positions. Large numbers of people support our anti-war position. But there are areas of the city that just have not had the opportunity to hear us.
RAG: How has the response to you been from the straight media?
MH: All of the press except for the Daily Texan were at our press conference. Even the Dallas Morning News was there! And, in fact, they didn’t seem to be that hostile just amazed that Socialists would run. Their major question was: “Is it serious?” The way this was answered over and over again by all the candidates was yes, we are serious, we are the only group of people running today who are serious, who are even talking about the major issues that affect people. The others are avoiding them.
RAG: Speaking of talking about the major issues, would you consider a debate with the incumbents?
MH: Yes, I would. Of course. I would certainly like to debate the mayor, Travis LaRue. We’d discuss things like pollution around laundries. We’d discuss his position on Women’s Liberation, although there’s supposed to be a Mayor’s Commission on Women. We would debate the question of the right of a citizen to march down the street and assemble.
We would discuss many issues. Like, for instance, the fact that he gives the key to the city to all sorts of people people who sell Budweiser on TV, and things like that but he would never consider the idea of inviting representatives from East Austin, say, to be mayor for a day. Not only mayor for a day, but just come in
RAG: Do you agree with what seems to be a wide-spread sentiment in East Austin that the apathy of City Government has emasculated the Human Rights Commission?
MH: I would agree with that. The reason that it was actually started in the first place was, basically, to make people believe that the City Council was going to do something.
A real, concrete example of what they haven’t done that they could have done is in the recent demands being made by the Booker T. Washington Project people. They are saying that there has been brutality, that the police come in as outsiders, they push us. around, they have guns on us, and we don’t appreciate this. The people were trying to get something done about the situation.
Of course, there have been promises of investigations. It doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to go out there and investigate that situation.
If the police—“the protectors and defenders of the people of East Austin”—were from East Austin, if they were under the control of the East Austin residents so that the East Austin residents could remove them, then we wouldn’t have police brutality, because the police would be defending the people’s rights in Austin. You wouldn’t see policemen protecting the privileges of certain people out here who go into East Austin.
RAG: Do you believe that even if you lose, your candidacy may push whoever does win towards solving these problems?
MH: Yes, there will be pressure put on them. It’s pretty much like what happened in Colorado, when La Kaza Unida candidates ran. Although there had never been any chicanos elected even within the Democratic Party, this began to happen. All of a sudden, they were pressured into getting chicanos to run, they were pressured into beginning to talk about the lettuce strike publicly, they were pressured into talking about the Coor’s beer boycott.
* In this way, we will pressure them to talk and make their stand known to the people. And this is where the media has to come in and support us. That’s our basic fight at this point letting people know what we stand for.
Thanks to cartoonist Stan Mack for permission to share.
To me it’s a great commentary on the perfectionism which some women put in their personal ad profiles describing the kind of men they’re seeking. Published in 1987, in New York’s VILLAGE VOICE newspaper, and still valid, three decades later. (in 2016)
Stan Mack’s website: http://www.stanmack.com/
To me it’s a great commentary on the perfectionism which some women put in their personal ad profiles describing the kind of men they’re seeking. Published in 1987, in New York’s VILLAGE VOICE newspaper, and still valid, three decades later. (in 2016)
The “Yankee Fidel” Harry K. Nier, Jr. was born in New York City to Harry K. Nier, Sr. and May Ostericker. At the age of six months, his family moved to Denver where he attended East High School and the University of Colorado in Boulder. He served in the U.S. Army in Burma and returned to Colorado to attend law school. After graduation, Harry was drawn to social justice and became part of an extraordinary group of lawyers that included Rudy Schware, Gene Dykeman, and Walter Gerash in the 1950s. Together they represented and defended radicals and leftists called before the House of Un-American Activities Committee, the SDS, the Crusade For Justice, Vietnam War draft resisters, and they did so successfully and virtually free of charge. Harry became known as the “Social Justice Lawyer” for his representation of the persecuted and oppressed.
Harry had a passion for socialism and the country of Cuba. His hero, Fidel Castro, was born on the same date as Harry one year later. He admired Fidel and in 1959 was present for Fidel’s famous “dove on the shoulder” speech in Havana. Harry joked that when they met, Fidel thought Harry was a “Brasileno” due to his strange Spanish accent. Harry closely followed the trials and tribulations of U.S – Cuba relations from the 1962 missile crisis to the present thawing of relations. He never gave up hope that someday the U.S. and the Cuban governments would resume diplomatic relations on equal grounds. Harry helped with many Cuban social justice causes around the country giving his time and talent often pro bono. He worked on the Elian case in 2000 to allow Elian, a minor, safe passage back to Cuba. While in Washington, D.C., Harry represented Elian’s father, Juan Gonzalez, to return him to Cuba. He worked to free the famous “Cuban Five”, the Cuban national heroes jailed in the U.S., but relatively unknown to the U.S. public. Harry supported Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, one of the Cuban Five incarcerated in Florence, Colorado, and hosted Antonio’s mother when she came to visit her son. In 1994, he testified before Congress in support of the Free Trade with Cuba Act. While Harry did not live to see the economic Blockade against Cuba lifted, his dream of freedom for Cuba will be fulfilled in part by the efforts he made and the gifts he left behind.
Harry’s socialist beliefs were rooted in American idealism. He was deeply involved in the civil rights movement. He marched along side Dr. Martin Luther King in the deep-south and attended King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He performed legal work for the National Lawyer’s Guild Southern Legal Committee in Mississippi. After the “Day of Draft Resistance” in 1967, he represented draft inductees indicted by the Feds for non-possession of draft cards and challenged the legality of the draft and the Vietnam War. He represented the U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team in an effort to prevent the 1980 Olympic Boycott of the Moscow games. He worked with the Chicano Movement and in support of Jobs For Justice. In 1999, he attended the Seattle World Trade Organization protests in Seattle and helped bail out arrested protesters. Harry was a fierce defender of worker’s rights and critic of the capitalistic exploitation of labor all over the world. In 1977, when President Carter lifted the travel ban to Cuba, Harry took tours to Cuba to educate Americans about the virtues of Cuban political policy. Harry traveled to all over the world, but he loved traveling to Cuba taking as many dozens of trips over the years.
Harry supported many organizations including: the Center For Cuban Studies, the Cuban Institute For Friendship With The Peoples (ICAP), Fair Play For Cuba, National Emergency Committee for Disaster Relief to Cuba, National Committee to Free the Five, the American Friends Service Committee, Colorado Bar Association, National Lawyers Guild, Boycott Coors, End the Blockade Against Cuba Committee, Freedom to Travel to Cuba Campaign, Denver-Havana Friendship Project, Hands-Off Cuba Project, July 26th Movement, Free The Cuban Five, Pastors For Peace, the Rocky Mountain Center for Peace and Justice, the Colorado Mountain Climbing Club, the Brother Jeff Center, the Jewish Community Center, Hands-Off Iraq Project, the Colorado Council of Churches and the NAACP. Harry read and supported Cuban publications including Granma, CubaNews, Baragua, Building Bridges, Cuba Advocate, De Todo Un Poco, Montlibre, and the inCUBAtor.
In law and in life Harry was a tireless advocate and he loved the outdoors. He climbed all 54 Colorado Fourteeners and Pico Turquino, the highest mountain in Cuba, from the foothills of which Fidel launched his revolutionary assault on Havana. Harry was a man of deep political conviction and his passion and spirit for social democracy will be forever missed.
Thanks to Emily Oswald Coffey for these materials.
El “Fidel Yanky” Harry K. Nier, Jr. nació en la Ciudad de Nueva York, hijo de Harry K. Nier y de May Ostericker. A la edad de seis meses, se mudaron a la Ciudad de Denver. Harry se graduó de la preparatoria “East” y de la Universidad de Colorado en Boulder. Él sirvió dentro de las fuerzas armadas de los Estados Unidos en Birmania y regresó a Colorado para ingresar en la escuela de leyes. Después de graduarse, Harry se interesó en la justicia social y en la década de los 50’s, formó parte de un extraordinario grupo de abogados, entre los cuales se encontraban Rudy Schware, Gene Dykeman y Walter Gerash. Juntos representaron y defendieron a radicales e izquierdistas, entre los cuales se encontraban el comité de la casa de actividades no americanas, los estudiantes por una sociedad democratica, la cruzada por la justicia y la junta de resistencia a la guerra de Vietnam. Esto lo hicieron exitosamente y literalmente sin cobrar nada. Harry fue conocido como “el abogado de la justicia social” por defender a los perseguidos y oprimidos.
Harry tuvo pasión por el socialismo y por Cuba. Su héroe, Fidel Castro, nació en la misma fecha que Harry tan solo un año después. El admiraba a Fidel y en el año de 1959 estuvo presente en La Habana durante el famoso discurso de Fidel “Una paloma en el hombro”. Harry bromeaba sobre cuando conoció a Fidel, este pensó que Harry era “Brasileño” por su extraño acento para hablar el español. Harry siguió muy de cerca los problemas en la relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba durante la crisis de los misiles en 1962. El nunca perdió las esperanzas de que algún día los gobiernos de Estados Unidos y Cuba restablecieran relaciones diplomáticas en igualdad de condiciones. Harry colaboró en muchas de las causas sociales Cubanas a los largo del país, dando su tiempo y su talento en muchas ocasiones pro bono. En el año 2000, trabajó en el caso “Elian” y logro que Elian, un menor de edad, pudiera regresar a Cuba. Mientras, Harry representaba en Washington D.C. al padre de Elian, Juan González, para su regreso a Cuba. El trabajo para el famoso “los cinco de Cuba”, los héroes nacionales Cubanos, presos en los Estados Unidos, y relativamente poco conocidos por la opinión publica de los Estados Unidos. Harry ayudó a Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, encarcelado en Florence, Colorado y hospedo a la madre de Antonio cuando vino a visitar a su hijo. En 1994, testificó ante el Congreso en apoyo al libre comercio con Cuba. Harry no pudo vivir para ver el bloqueo económico sobre Cuba liberado, pero sus sueños de libertad para Cuba serán completos, en parte por los esfuerzos que el llevo a cabo y los regalos que el dejo.
Las creencias socialistas de Harry se enraizaron dentro del idealismo Americano. Estuvo profundamente involucrado en los movimientos de derechos civiles. Marchó junto al Dr. Martin Luther King en profundo sur y asistió al famoso discurso de King “Tuve un sueño” a las afueras del “Lincoln Memorial”. El llevó a cabo trabajo legal para el gremio nacional de abogados Sureños en Mississippi. Después del “Día del proyecto de resistencia” en 1967, el representó a los acusados por el gobierno federal de no tener tarjeta de reclutamiento, desafiando la legalidad del proyecto y de la guerra de Vietnam. Harry representó al equipo norteamericano femenino de voleibol en sus esfuerzos para evitar el boicot a los juegos olímpicos de Moscú 1980. Él trabajó con el movimiento Chicano en apoyo de trabajos justos. En 1999 acudió a las protestas que se llevaron a cabo en la organización mundial de comercio en Seattle y ayudó a rescatar a los manifestantes arrestados. Harry fue un fiero defensor de los derechos laborales y un crítico de la explotación laboral del capitalismo al rededor del mundo. En 1977, cuando el Presidente Carter liberó la prohibición de viajar a Cuba, Harry hizo viajes a Cuba para educar a los americanos acerca de las virtudes de la política Cubana. Harry viajo a lo largo del mundo, pero él amaba viajar a Cuba, haciendo docenas de viajes a lo largo de los años.
Harry ayudó a muchas organizaciones incluyendo: El centro para los estudios Cubanos, el Instituto Cubano de amistad con el mundo (ICAP por sus siglas en ingles), juego limpio para Cuba, el comité de alivio para emergencias por desastres en Cuba, comité nacional para la libertad de los cinco, comité amigos americanos de servicios, el colegio de abogados de Colorado, el gremio nacional de abogados, boicot a la empresa Coors, el comité para el fin del bloqueo contra Cuba, la campaña para la libertad de viajar a Cuba, el proyecto de amistad Denver-La Habana, el proyecto manos fuera de Cuba, el movimiento del 26 de julio, libertad para los cinco Cubanos, pastores por la paz, el centro de las montañas rocallosas para la paz y la justicia, el club de alpinismo de Colorado, el centro hermano Jeff, el centro comunitario Judío, proyecto manos fuera de Irak, el consejo de iglesias de Colorado y la asociación Nacional para el progreso de la gente de color. Harry leyó y apoyo publicaciones Cubanas, incluyendo Granma noticias de Cuba, Baraguá, construyendo puentes, el defensor Cubano, de todo un poco, Montlibre y el InCUBAtor.
Tanto en su trabajo como en su vida, Harry fue un incansable defensor y amante de la naturaleza. El escaló los 54 picos de Colorado, superiores a los 14,000 pies y el pico Turquino, la más alta montaña en Cuba; en las faldas de dicho pico Fidel lanzó su asalto revolucionario a La Habana. Harry fue un hombre de una convicción política profunda y su pasión y espíritu por la democracia social será extrañada por siempre.
THE SOCIALIST IMPERATIVE; FROM GOTHA TO NOW (2015)
by Michael A. Lebowitz [excerpts] Monthly Review Press (2015)
Socialism: The Goal, the Paths, and the Compass
At the February 2010 Havana Book Fair, I presented my short book, El Socialismo no Cae del Cielo: Un Neuvo Comienzo, which had been published in 2009 by Ciencias Sociales (Cuba) and earlier in 2007 by Monte Avila (Venezuela). The book contained sections from Build It Now; Socialism for the 21st Century (in particular, “Socialism doesn’t fall from the sky,” well-known in Venezuela because of Chcivez’s many references to it on television and available in several free editions), and this was supplemented for Monte Avila with a new beginning, “New Wings for Socialism” from Monthly Review (April 2007). The talk provided an opportunity to introduce Cubans explicitly to the concept of “the elementary triangle of socialism,” the goal developed in “New Wings” but not named in the new book. It also was an occasion to talk about difficulties and obstacles along the path to the goal—obstacles such as those faced by Cuba then and now. Without mentioning Cuba at all, I spoke about what I had observed in Vietnam a few months earlier, and I am certain that the Cubans present understood my cautionary tale. Discovering a new path without getting lost is always challenging, and I hope that the publication by Ciencias Sociales in 2015 of the Socialists Alternative. Real Human Development, in which the argument of the socialists triangle is fully developed, will be useful.
A more recent example of the concept of democracy as consultative participation was cthe extensive discussion in Cuba over the “lineamientos,” the guidelines for the party that were circulated by the party. These were the guidelines that have set Cuba on its current path to “update” the model. Everyone was mobilized for discussions—in workplaces, neighborhoods, everywhere. The party coordinated these discussions in each separate location, and, on the basis of reports, made adjustments. For example, the great concern expressed in many meetings about the phasing out of the libreta (the set of subsidized necessities) and the release of large numbers of people from state employment led to a slowing down (although, it must be noted, not the reversal) of these decisions.
Subsequently in Cuba there were discussions of a new labor code. Here again there was extensive discussion of the document initiated by the party. As in the case of the discussions of the guidelines, this participation plays an important role in transmitting concerns from below, while at the same time educating those below as to the proposal. However, these discussions are constrained. For example, in the case of the labor code, there was no place for a general discussion of worker management. Further, there was no means for communicating from one workplace to another; rather, collective atomization characterized the process.
All of this is logical from the perspective of the conductor: he is the one who knows the score. He alone knows the whole and, therefore, activity outside this framework is to be discouraged. Further, the logic of the conductor is such that there can be only one conductor; it is, after all, essential that there be unity at the top because in its absence this would confuse the players.
There is absolutely no doubt that extensive discussions, for example, in Cuba, distinguish that society from many others. However, participation in this case is not the same as the opportunity to develop capacities through protagonistic democracy. What kinds of people are produced in this relation? Not what Marx called rich human beings. Not people who have transformed themselves through their activity and are confident in their own powers. As the Soviet Union, China, and other countries characteristic of the “real socialism” of the twentieth century demonstrated, such relations do not build the protagonistic subjects who have the strength to prevent the restoration of capitalism. The people produced within this relation are people without power.
Monthly Review Press