it’s a trap
Incidentally, I got an email today about this petition to keep student loan rates from doubling in July. You should sign it.
For U.S. urban youth who are fans of Beyonce and Jay-Z, the experience of a visit to Cuba would stand in stark contrast to the conditions that are commonplace across urban cities in the U.S.—namely unemployment and lack of adequate health care, housing, and educational opportunities. In Cuba, a job, quality health care, housing and education are all rights that every Cuban enjoys. Universal health care means that Cuban women have full access to contraception and abortions, while in the United States 87 percent of counties nationwide have not one identifiable abortion provider.
While Latin American crime rates continue to soar, Cuban society is known for its safe streets and social peace. In a recent international study Cuba was ranked first among Latin American and Caribbean nations in student performance in math and science. In New York City, only 30 percent of eighth-grade students read at their grade level, while across the U.S over 1 million school-age children are homeless or live in a homeless shelter.
In Beyonce’s home city of Houston, the percentage of Black children in foster homes exceeds the proportion of Black children in the city as a whole, while homelessness in Cuba remains unheard of (especially in the case of children). On average, Black Cubans are expected to live five years longer than a Black American, and top positions in government and industry are held by Blacks in Cuba just as often as they are held by light-skinned Cubans.
According to the U.N., Cuba is the only country in the world to have sustained economic growth while at the same time maintaining environmentally sustainable food and industrial production. A trip to Cuba would allow ordinary Americans to pierce through the U.S propaganda machine and find out just how Cuban democracy works and why so many people in Cuba support their government.
Long before Jay-Z and Beyonce, U.S. citizens have been defying the unjust travel ban and traveling to Cuba anyway. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens visit Cuba every year, and U.S. Cuban solidarity organizations like the Venceremos Brigade and Pastors for Peace have been taking U.S. citizens to Cuba in defiance of the Treasury Department for almost as long as the U.S. blockade has been in place against the island nation’s socialist government.
Hopefully the new media attention on the Cuban tourist industry and the pictures of Jay-Z puffing a Cuban cigar on the balcony of a Cuban hotel, or the YouTube video of Beyonce dancing salsa at a Cuban nightclub, will spur more people to want to travel to Cuba with or without permission from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Since the Obama administration made it possible to travel to Cuba for cultural, religious or academic reasons in 2011, there is a misconception by many in the United States that the half-century-long blockade has been eased and that the travel ban will soon be lifted altogether. In reality, the blockade has been intensified through increased enforcement of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 and continued attempts by the United States to undermine the Cuban government.
Washington continues to carry out and intensify its efforts to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. We urge everyone to make it their duty to resist this effort. It can be as easy as taking a vacation just 90 miles from the USA.
Lift the blockade!"
By Ismael Francisco, CubaDebate
Arriving today at Playa Giron is a privilege, because this place is marked for Cuban history through the struggle and pain of hundreds of peasants, women, children and men of our country, who defeated mercenaries financed by the U.S. to invade these shores in April 1961.
Taking that road leading to the south coast, one even feels pain, for the many tombs and monuments to those fallen in battle.
But as it is spring, one discovers that life is more fertile where the blood of our comrades fell for the country, because nature and the revolution are daily burgeoning in one direction: life, the struggle to save the human species, protect the environment, make our lives healthier, away from shrapnel and murderous fire.
Capitalism doesn’t work!
Want to stand up in the fight against capitalism?
We need to agitate, educate and organise in our workplaces, our communities and our everyday lives.
Join an organisation!
And of course there are many other local organisations and ones I haven’t mentioned here.
Some local groups include:
Capitalism needs poverty and unemployment in order to be healthy. Therefore, it’s not democratic.
Capitalism doesn’t need poverty and unemployment to be healthy. If people are in a state of mass poverty, then capitalism comes to a halt (please refer to the Great Depression in the 1930s). That’s not to say capitalism isn’t laced with corruption, because it is corrupt in many respects. HOWEVER the actual problem is that almost all governments (capitalist and not capitalist), and therefore their economic systems, have members who work for their own benefit, not considering the effects their actions will have on others, which leads their economic system to reflect their corruption. The problem here isn’t the system, but rather the people who are implementing it.
I have to argue the opposite. It is the system. Capitalism has periodic crises of overproduction, which are based in its very workings as a society. Governments, yes help out, but they are given far too much credence. They are merely representatives of the capitalist class, with little agency beyond serving that role. That is their primary function and everything they do is geared towards that.
The problem is the system. A system that is driven by profit is bound to act anti-socially at its core. A system based on exploitation, even more so. The two are combined in capitalism, where profiteering meets daily exploitation of the working class.
Any of the long list of links I posted could explain this better than me though, thats partly why they are there.
I am not denying that a system that works for individual gain as opposed to collective profit can easily give rise to corruption. I also cannot deny that the governing personnel are generally from/endorsed by the class that benefits most from business and all of the things associated with capitalism.
However overproduction and inflation are a result of an unregulated market (and most businesses try to avoid that because it makes their prices drop and lowers profit and leads to major industry closings and you get the idea).
Now I cannot deny that at its core capitalism can be very exploitative of the worker. But most capitalist nations have measures in place to help the workers. You have the links of some labor unions listed, and (although they were rejected early on) business recognizes unions and listen and many try to work with unions to make working conditions better.
I agree with all your points, they are very good. But I disagree with your solution. Market regulation and labour union reforms are both important, and should be fought for at every turn, but I think one of your other points proves why we need to move beyond that.
The state, the government, in the final analysis is controlled by the ruling class of society. That state, while we can win reforms, will always end up returning to its natural position of watchdog of the ruling class. Thats why even in the most social democracies we are seeing a smashing of the long protected welfare state.
To win the class struggle permanently (and do away with class society altogether), we need smash capitalism, not reform it.
Amusingly enough, I agree with all of your points minus that last one (and the one about the government, because while some are adamant about preserving the economic hierarchy, there have been many politicians who have went to great ends to help the workers). I most certainly agree that the governing/Corporate class is in many cases is exploitative of workers, and that this is a very important problem that needs to be dealt with. You (as well as the organizations you have listed) all have very virtuous and well-thought-out ideals and I respect them (and agree with many of them). But I guess I am uncomfortable with the whole idea of smashing capitalism, because in reality it cannot be done.
Neither one of us can deny that the most common form of economic philosophy to be found in the world is some form of capitalism. And many of the powerful economic forces in the world are capitalist nations (or have some capitalist attribute that has allowed them to prosper in a global economy based on capitalism). That said, the manpower and resources (financial, social, etc) needed to completely tear apart those systems and establish a different stable economic system over that and ensure the stability of the states implementing those systems is far more than you, or me, or any of those organizations have. While the only way to permanently win the class struggle may appear to be to smash capitalism, the most realistic way (and probably most well received by the public) is to take measures to reform the system, and as you said, fight for those reforms whenever possible.
See, I think you have pointed to a problem, which is the fact that at the moment, the socialist movement lacks manpower and resources, those things that are necessary to pull off a revolution.
But the forces that we need do exist. The power to transform society lies in the working class. Those millions of people who work in the business and produce the goods and services we need. They are the economic basis of society, their labour, but they have no power over society. That is where the contradiction comes forward, a contradiction that can only be resolved through the positioning of the workers and their allies as the new ruling class, thus removing the need for a class system entirely.
We are the class that must take power. That is the revolution we need.
It seems unlikely, living in the west, at the moment. But look through history and time and time again there have been enormous upsurges, massive social struggles. Yes, they have been defeated in the past.
But the world’s working class is larger now than it has ever been in history.
The technological advancements mean we can organise on a massive scale.
And the enormous productive forces mean it would be relatively easy to turn them over to social production.
I see why you dislike the concept of a steady shift towards a more egalitarian system because that’s what people have been trying to do since the earliest stages of capitalism and even more so since the early 1900s and yet it appears that the ‘war’ is no where near finished. But the problem with that view is that you see the current moment as the starting point, and do not look at the progress that has brought you to this point.
I think you underestimate the amount of struggle required to change a society built upon the principles of self-regulation and ownership, because if the man-power is there (which it is) and they are all suffering under the oppressive yoke of capitalism and business (pardon the sarcasm) then why haven’t they thrown their weight behind those organizations, either by joining or by anonymous support or something else? If the amount of people willing to back a movement is so overwhelmingly large that they can relatively easily topple a system that has been in place for many years then why hasn’t it been attempted, or at least vocalized. Now I don’t claim to represent the working class, but it seems that, even though they are not in good conditions with capitalism, the majority appear to believe that the system, while exploitative, is stable and standing, while the one you fight for is hypothetical and has little solid backing beyond ideals and modified versions of systems that have been defeated in the past.
And what if the workers do indeed become the new ruling class? How will that system fit into the global economy? Will it use the means established by the system that they hated so much to rise from the The problem with that is to be a ‘ruling class’, you need someone to rule over. Someone inferior to yourself. And so by resolving the contradiction, you become what you hate the most.
You are right of course, consciousness is low right now. And that is why we should be fighting for reforms, defending the welfare state, winning democratic rights, etc. To try to elevate issues, and more importantly, elevate people’s political consciousness.
But it has been proved time and time again that it is possible to marshal people towards a revolutionary overthrow of society. May 68 is one of the most important ones within the last 50 years (but there are also multiple revolutions in the global south, Chile in 1973, the Inranian revolution, Poland in 1980). But there are others throughout history. Sure they have been defeated, politically and militarily. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
It is hard to see revolution, from our perspective in one of the lowest points in struggle, but we need to keep our eyes on the final prize. Our final aim cannot be reform, but revolution. That is the point Rosa Luxemburg makes in Reform or Revolution (which is amazing, and basically is where my position on this comes from).
When I said the workers would be a new ruling class, I meant something that is very specific in revolutionary theory.
When the worker’s take power, it may start in a single region, but in their struggle they will have unleashed the fire of revolution around the world. Any socialist revolution must spread beyond its borders and try to topple capitalism as a global system with a global revolution. The entire world economy could be restructured on a new basis of co-operation, autonomy, self-determination and solidarity.
The role of the workers as ruling class is a temporary one. They will need to use the state to smash what is left of the capitalist class. By that I mean, if the remnants of the old military, or right wing militias, attempt to return capitalism to power, there should be a worker’s militia, democratically controlled and managed, to defeat them.
After that, the workers will no longer be workers, nor will they be the ruling class. In all previous revolutionary eras, such as when the bourgeoisie overthrew the feudal aristocracy, the new ruling class needed to be just as exploitative as the last, because they have a specific role in production as owners, not workers.
The working class will both own and operate the means of production, meaning that they do not require another class to exploit. They will be both owning and working class, and as they will be the only class at the centre of society, they have the capacity to abolish class entirely.
There will be some other classes for a while, like small business and small farmers (both of which would benefit from a socialist revolution), but even those would eventually fade away as collectives and co-ops were proved to be easier and happier institutions.
That’s where I think there’s a flaw, mostly because it takes such an optimistic view of the outcomes, and it just seems to be too trusting in the good will of the workers. I doubt that there will be a smooth transition of power from one defined power to the system you describe. It just doesn’t seem to work, because odds are someone is going to try to get an uneven portion of the power, and thus arises a dictator. Also, another problem is avoiding the differences that arise between those with different responsibilities and jobs. How can you prevent the people who contribute to different parts of society from alienating one another? The system also assumes a world that applies this system, which I honestly doubt is remotely possible. In short, the system you propose uses the false assumption that the shift from a capitalistic to socialistic/communistic world will be a smooth one and not one that will take many decades of war and strife and many more years of fixing the system and getting people (the world in your example) supporting the system and during those years many rebellions by people trying to siphon power from other people and gain the upper hand and make the system benefit them disproportionately. It also doesn’t say how you intend to do a lot of these things, like how you intend to maintain a single-class society but that might be because you’re telling me from a book, so it’s probably explained better in the book.
I never said it would be easy, just that it is possible and necessary.
It will not be easy. The ruling class of society would be trying to regain hold, you have the issue of relative privilege amongst the working class and the problem of bureaucratisation. Socialism will appear in patches and rise and fall and appear in all sorts of ways before it wins the entire world.
Capitalism took centuries to emerge, and in some places it is still being born.
It will be relatively easy because the means of production are very, very advanced, much easier than in the economic backwards conditions of Russia in 1917 for example.
I accept all your points here, but I still don’t see a choice. We need to plan out and move forward, not slip into reformism. Capitalism, at its very core, is exploitative. That is incompatible with a vision of freedom and equality. We need socialism.
The question of democracy is essential. In the final analysis, socialism has to be democratic for it survive, because an economic plan would need to have constant engagement and participation by the masses of people. So that is objective response to the question of democracy.
The subjective one is that we must struggle as best we can to maintain democracy.
I will argue that after socialism has been fully established, there can be no return to capitalism. Capitalism is not an idea first and foremost, it is an organic system that developed out of feudalism. It was able to do so because the conditions were correct. Under socialism, the conditions for creating capitalism won’t exist. There won’t be massive influxes of capital, nor will there be a large, impoverished and desperate layer of people ready to become workers.
In fact, if you went up to a person in the socialist society, and asked them to become a factory worker, under the conditions of even the best workers get today, they would laugh in your face.
Its like proposing a return to feudalism, it is not only immoral but entirely ridiculous, considering the economic structures of today.
But with that you assume that the masses will stand behind the socialist movement while it is forming and not get sick of all of the sacrifices and opposition they get, and also not try to get it to benefit them. The way you describe the socialist states forming and eventually taking control of the world will take much longer than it took capitalism, because unlike socialism today, capitalism was not violently opposed by the majority of world powers. That being said, much like the Cold War, those powers will interfere with the socialist states, and unless you can get many major powers backing you, and the support of other nations, you won’t stand a chance. So with all of this you’re going to need a lot of man-power and resources, not to mention a decent civil war that will cost many lives on both sides, to get a single country, and seeing as though you want this to spread around the whole world, it is bound to fail. I just can’t see it possible that all of these events will work out in your favor.
You have identified the many issues that we will be facing and the sorts of problems we will be needing to confront. That is damn important.
Yes, there will be war and civil war and revolution and counter-revolution. The major nations will be quick to send in armies to crush rebellions (which is why we need to organise revolution in the major nations as well, a socialist revolution in the USA and Europe could spell the death of global capitalism), and we will need to fight them.
But we have to be clear of the alternative. Capitalism, in its ultimate violence, will destroy the entire earth before it relinquishes control. In all honesty, it does not seem capable of running a sustainable programme that benefits all. It unleashes destruction, as that is what is at its core.
Yeah, things will be tough. How can we keep people on side? I don’t think that is the question. Socialism is directed by the masses. The socialist state will be a network of people’s assemblies of various roles and functions. People tend to stick with their guns the more of a role they have in deciding their fate.
The people of Cuba have been in a state of war with the USA for decades, but they still fight on. the revolution doesn’t need to stand on its own forever, just long enough for the revolution to spread, and eventually you would have entire regions going over to socialism.
Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
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