Monthly Archives: July 2010

State Ownership and Socialism: A critical voice from Cuba

We are reposting here an article from Havana Times. While we cannot vouch for the sources, the article raises important issues and critical debates happening in Cuba that provide a challenge to the direction of the island.

Image by Red Protagónica Observatorio Crítico

Pedro Campos
Original Havana Times Article
HAVANA TIMES, April 27 — Recently in Granma, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, an article appeared about the economic efficiency of “socialist government enterprises” in the armed forces (4/16/10).

In the spirit of helping to clarify certain concepts, I have attempted to provide a few, more precise details here.

Apparently the comrades who wrote about the Military Agricultural Union “socialist government enterprise,” based themselves on the identification of state and socialist property by virtue of the fact that this property belongs to the Cuban state; they assume that all state property is, de jure, socialist.   However, what gives a property its social character —be it socialist or capitalist— is the form of its operation and the appropriation of its output, not its legal form.

This confusion was introduced in socialist theory by those who mistook estatización (state ownership) for socialization.  They thought that for property to be socialized, it was sufficient to place it under state ownership and then hold the state sacred above the rest of society.

The social character of a company is one thing and the legal structure of its ownership is something else.  The social character of property is determined by the form in which it is put to use, by the way in which work is organized, the mode of production (based on slave, serf, wage or freely associated labor) and the way in which the surplus obtained is distributed.  This is independent of the property’s legal structure, which can be state-owned, collective or privately owned.  This said, the natural tendency is for the content (the social character) of property to determine its legal form (structure), not the other way around. Continue reading

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On the Autonomous Struggle of the Proletariat

by Jan

Ever since social agents in social formations became divided into social classes, these classes have always been in struggle. Capitalism/imperialism produces a class that has the historical capacity to struggle to bring an end to exploitation in any social formation. This class is the working class. In the epoch of capitalism, the working class is the most revolutionary class in the history of humanity capable of ridding humanity of all forms of exploitation. The working class is the only class capable of bringing an end to exploitation, but not the only class capable of bringing radical changes in a society. Historically, besides the working class, no other classes have shown their capacity to bring an end to exploitation and domination. The Fundamental forces of capitalist societies are the capitalist class and the proletariat: The bourgeois class has been the constructor of the capitalist society, has the dominant class; the working class has the potential to be the destroyer, the only social force capable to bring society to a new level. At each historical moment, a social class will show a capacity to bring society to a new level. In the period of imperialism and capitalist it is the working class.

One of the many lessons, we can learn from the revolutionary struggles of the working class and the popular masses in general, is the result of the lack or total non-existence of an autonomous presence of the most revolutionary classes who historically have the most interest in pursuing radical changes to the highest level. In Haiti, we can learn from the lack of autonomy of the slaves in their class alliance with the new feudal aristocracy of former slaves and mulattoes in the Haitian rebel army; in Russia, the lack of autonomy of the proletariat with the radical petit-bourgeoisie and the latter quickly taking ownership and control of that struggle; in China and Vietnam, in their own specificity, the non-presence of the working class. We can also learn from the inexperience of the working class in the Paris Commune. So in order to advance in our struggle against capitalism and imperialism two questions need to be addressed: the role of the working class and the autonomous presence of the working class. Continue reading