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January 23, 1970 - Image 6

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-01-23

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Friday, January 23r 1970.

THE MIGHICAN DAILY

Page Five

Friday, January 23, 1970 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five

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The

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new

anatomy

of

socialism

in

Cuba

#

By BRUCE LEVINE
The tone of the first book on
Cuba by Leo Huberman and Paul
Sweezy - 'Cuba: Anatomy of
a Revolution," published in 1960
-was frankly enthusiastic about
the revolution, the new regime,
its character and its prospects.
With'this book Huberman and
Sweezy established themselves as
champions of the Fidelista revolu-
tion; and the book itself has be-
come a sourcebook for the re- '
gime's protagonists. - ,
It is for this reason that Huber- '
man and Sweezy's second book on
Cuba - "Socialism in Cuba".
(Monthly Review Press, 1969) --
is all the more remarkable. For
this book, coming as it does from
well-known advocates of the re-I
gime, has done almost as much to
undermine apologists of Cuban
"socialism" as "Cuba: Anatomy
of a Revolution" did to prop them
"Socialism in Cuba." the pro-:.
duct of subsequent visits in 1961,'
1965, ,and 1968, is for two hundred'
pages little ,ore than an extended
appendix to "Cuba: Anatomy." '
We read here of the successes in
health and education, of the dif- Castro's Cubfu
ficulties in industry and agri-
culture, faced in the last eight good providers: ". . . the neglect
years. Then, in the last chapter, and exploitation to which Cuba
Huberman and Sweezy drop their had been subjected in the past
bombshell. Cuba, they tell us, has slow came to the aid of the Re-
reached a dear-catastrophic im- volution. Everywhere there were
passe, socially-politically as well as unused resources - unemployed
industrially. men, uncultivated land, accumul-
The author's problem is that ated stocks of raw materials and
this impasse is inexplicable in the finished products - which now
context of the revolution.and re- turned into precious reserves
gime which their first book de- which could be drawn upon to in-,
scribed. This last chapter, there- crease output and raise living!
fore, begins 'with some delicate standards . . . The result was the
"re-working" pf recent Cuban his- inculcation in the masses of over-
t'ory, whelming feelings of devotion, of
The first idol to topple is the loyalty to the new government
one they had dedicated to the and its supreme leader Fidel
Revolution's mass base, Huberman Castro."
and Sweezy now concede that But those precious reserves are
Che's own version is the correct exhausted now, and expectations
one, that "only a very small per- go unfulfilled. The authors of this
centage of the Cuban people had book wonder aloud how much
the opportunity to learn the in- gonger Castro's "paternalistic re-
valuable lessons of initiative, in- lation" to the people can stand
novation, and self-reliance which up in the face of the resulting
comes with participation in a peo- "disillusionment and cynicism."
ple's war of liberation." I
Historically, revolutions involv- , The Cuban government is re-
ing "only a very small percentage" sponding to the new popular un-
of populations have rarely given ease with increased sensitivity to
birth to regimes involving a much criticism. In early 1968, for exam-
larger p rcentage: Cuba has prov- pie, the Castro regime 'staged

Sweezy tlemselves set down a rule course, .except to the extent that,
of thumb as useful now as then: they simply represent speed-ups ox
"The question we must ask about already overworked clerical work-
Cuba, therefore, concerns not the ers but the problem we're discus-
motives of those who made, and sing right now isn't bureaucratic
are making the Revolution, but waste but bureaucratic power. <
rather the objective characteristics We said before that the names:
of the social order which is emer- of systems ought to tell us some-z
ging from their labors." ' thing about who rules them, and;
We learn the class nature of we noted that our system is called'
Cuban society-or any other so- capitalism because, when we lo-
ciety-not by guessing what goes cate the "levers of power" in our
on in the rulers' heads. but by society, we find them controlled
analyzing, objectively, the rela- by the capitalists. The capitalists.
tionship between the rulers and :compose the ruling class. Under'
the people: by identifying who .socialism, if only by definition, all"
rules and how. the levers of power will be in the
Which brings us :back to our hands of the people, or at least,
book review. For Huberman and in the hands of those whom.the
Sweezy do, in fact, provide us with people directly.control.
a very careful description of the And in Cuba? There are no
Cuban governing apparatus, its capitalists: it is not capitalism.
nature, its dimensions, and its re- The people? They go about their
lationship to the exploited classes. business. Who holds "all the levers
This they do when they discuss of power in their hands?" The.
the social nature of Castro's government and Party bureaucrats.
"paternalism": they call it "bur'- Instead of being controlled by the
eaucratic rule." people, the people are controlled
But wait! That's ridiculous! by theni. To call this system so-
Isn't apposition to creeping bu- cialism is about as justifiable asI
reaucracy one, of Casti'o's own calling capitalism "socialism."
watchwords? How can so vigilant' As for the ,Huberrma n-Sweeny '
an opponent of bureaucracy as solution to Cuba's problem -- That
Castro be himself a bureaucratic theare "be an attempt to chang''
:ruler? Answer: "Up to now, cam- the character of the relationshiD
paigns against bureaucracy in between the leader and the peoole
Cuba have been concerned for the to the sharing of power and re-
most part with reducing swollen sponsibility, in other words a turn
and largely unproductive office to the left"-it is clearer, now.
staffs inherited from capitalism." why they themselves conclude that
Such campaigns are fine, of "this would certainly at be e'a'.j
ATTENTION AL UNDERGRAD WOMEN! !

Historically conditioned halbs on
both sides wopld have io be
broken."
"Both sides" of course, refers to
the bureaucrats and the working
class. The habits to be broken are
two: c1 The people's habit of
allowing themselves to be ruled,'
and 2> the bureaucratic r e -
gime's habit of ruling. We already
Toay~x'. 's wrier .
BRUCE LEVINE is a junior
history major. He is also the
star punter on The Daily libels.
know that the Cuban people are
breaking their habit. That, we re-
call, is what is making Castro so
uneasy.
What about habit number two?
That is, what about the regime?'
Are the bureaucrats ready to gave
up "all the levers of power"? Are

they preparing to "share power
and responsibility" with the peo-
ple? Judging by everything we
have read in "Socialism in Cuba,"
the answer is no. Rather, the re-
gime's response to popular "mal-
aise" is to tighten its grip on
the society and to lash out more
often and more savagely at those
who suggest any other course. In
short,. the bureaucrats are solid-
ifying their class rule,
So what is to be the fate of
the suggested "turn to the left?"
One thing seems certain: it will
not be initiated from above. If it
comes at all, it will come at the
initiative of the Cuban workers.
Whether the Cuban people w iIll
choose to res'ume their old "hab-
it" or "assist" their rulers in
breaking theirs -- that is a ques-
tion -we can't answer. It is the
sanie as asking whether C u b a
will have a socialist revolution ..
only the people can decide.

x: Now crisis?

i
I

anyone critical of, governmentt
policies or leaders."
In fact, such an attitude is not
new to Cuba. The authors' first
Cuba book describes the way in
which, responding to early charg-
es of pro-Communism, "the lead-
ership has responded by treat-
ing any public' raising of the is-
sue as prima facie evidence of
counter-revolution to be dealt with
accordingly." What Huberman'
and Sweezy seem to find remark-
able is not merely the attitude,
but the scope of this newer cam-
paign:
In other words, the honeymoon
is over. "Cuban socialism" is be-
coming (if it has not already be-
come) as authoritarian as the
capitalism it 1eplaced. But, au-
thoritarian or not, it is still social-
ism to Huberman and Sweezy, and
as good socialists they therefore
feel obliged to embrace it-even
if with tear-filled eyes.
It might be relevant for us,
however, to inquire just exactly
what in the portrait "-of Cuba
painted here, justifies titling it
"socialism" at all? Nor is this just
quibbling: one purpose of labeling
social system is to give some idea
which problems they have solved
and which remain.
Socialism's crisis today lies pre-
cisely in its definition: the word
is used too indiscriminately as to
be useless to someone trying to
analyze the systems sporting that
title. We have thus far taken at
face value the phrase "Cuban -o-
cialism." Let's stop, now, and re-
examine It.
Socialists. have never before
been satisfied with allowing rulers
to appraise themselves; why start
'now? In 1960 Huberman and

NED'S
YPSILA NTI
This new store carries more trade (non-text) books
than any other in the Ann Arbor-Ypsil.nti rea
Unusual 970 calendars thousands of paperbacks,
lots of them used, some hardbacks.
ON ALL BOOK
Mon.-Thurs.-9-9; Fri.-9-6; Sat.-1 2:5:30
We think we're interesting-
We hope you will.

4

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H--ere's your chance for a night out
at the courtesy of Elliot House
on tan. 24 at 8:00 P.M.
Dining Room 3, Markley Hall
Featuring: Dancing, Bananasplit Bush, Refreshments
Music by Bobby Sox and the U-Trow
Another Babcock-Neaton Production-"We serve to please"
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is now accepting petitions for new board
members. Sign up for an interview and
.pick up your petition at the bulletin boord,
first floor SAB. Interviews will be held on
January 26-27.

ed no exception. Thus: "The revo- what the authors describe as a
lutionary government which .came "show trial" of a microfaction in
to power in the early days of the Cuban Communtnist .Party.
January 1959 . . found itself in "We are left with only one pos-
a paternalistic relation to the Cu- sible conclusion tHuberman and
banp people - not through choice Sweezy continue), that the warn-
but because of the very nature of ing was addressed to any Cu-
the situation." The paternalism bans who might feel disposed toI
has proved durable, has, "contin- take positions or express viws
ued to exist to this day . . ." whic could, rightly or wrongly,
What has beep the secret. of be construed as aligning t h e'm -
this paternalism's longevity? ;.serves with the iicrofaction. And
Bluntly - consumption.'
Fortunately for that leadership, even a cursory reading of the
Huberman and Sweezy add, the documents leaves little doubt that
situation permitted them to be this could, potentially, include

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