By Jesús Arboleya • Published on ProgresoWeekly
HAVANA — There seems to be a consensus over the opinion that the state’s control over the Cuban economy, perhaps a necessity at the beginning, ended up being excessive and counterproductive to the good operation of the economic model. It also generated a bureaucracy whose actions are often a source of political problems and ideological deviations from the system.
Due to this, the fostering of non-state forms of production and services, as part of the so-called “actualization” of the Cuban economic model, has been well received in Cuba and abroad, being perceived as a healthy reform of the national economy.
It is true that such a scheme posits the growth of a sector of the population that will not be attached to the social property managed by the State but will function through the sale of its personal labor, the establishment of small and medium private enterprises or collective forms of property, such as the cooperatives.
To some Marxists who defend the “purity” of the alleged socialist model — I say “alleged” because I don’t believe that there is a model that defines socialism — this process will inexorably lead to the development of a bourgeoisie that will eventually try to terminate the system.
It is interesting that this appreciation is shared by diverse political and intellectual sectors in the United States, which defend the idea of reconstructing the agenda of U.S. policy with an eye to achieving a “regime change,” while assuming that the private sector will become the social base for the opposition to the socialist system.
Evidently, this exemplifies the saying that the extremes always end up touching each other. The existence of a private sector that coexists with state property is not foreign to the Cuban socialist model, much less to other socialist experiences in the world. It is not even a prerogative of socialism as a system, inasmuch as state capitalism is a reality throughout the world.
The variables that can bring it closer to — or pit it against — the regime in question are infinite and, to my knowledge, the petit bourgeoisie, as a class, has never made a revolution or counter-revolution by itself, although it is true that it has participated in all of them since feudalism.
A disgruntled state worker is a bigger problem for socialism than an ambitious small businessman, because in the former lies the essence of the system.
It is natural that a dogmatic Marxist would despise the petit bourgeoisie and consider it incapable of joining the social well-being, but it is symptomatic that sectors of the bourgeoisie think in the same manner about elements in their own class. Could it be that they’re looking at themselves in a mirror?
Why should small and medium entrepreneurs necessarily become enemies of a socialism that integrates them into the system?
Seen from that perspective, socialism is a regime where each one receives according to his contribution to society. Therefore, there are no parasitic millionaires, subsidized slackers or opportunistic bureaucrats. Also a place where the most vulnerable are protected, not just people but also the land, the animals, the plants, even the air we breathe.
Under those conditions, neither the state worker has to be a “counterpart” of his own management nor the private worker an enemy of the state that protects his interests not only as an entrepreneur but also as a citizen.
The essence of this issue, as I see it, is the people’s participation and control of each of the links that intervene in the process. I don’t wish to talk about democracy, because it is a prostituted term that serves to justify anything. But let’s say that the answer lies somewhere in that area and, difficult as it may be to materialize it, it is worth trying.