Tag Archive: Cuba

Aug 17 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Cooperative Movement vs Capitalist Domination in the Global Economy

By Geminijen

I’ve been running around to various left conferences this spring and summer and everywhere I go the cooperative movement is touted as the potential savior of the global economy. Admittedly, cooperatives are only “a grain of sand on the beach” (to use a summer metaphor)when one views the entire global economy. At this point it is also not clear that the interest in a cooperative economy is not just a desperate hope that something  – anything – can save us from total economic catastrophe as capitalism seems to be in its last throes with levels of inequality that cannot be sustained.

Do cooperatives really have the potential to be a transition to another more fully progressive economic form that can replace capitalism? Or is it – as cooperatives generally have been – a temporary safety valve during depressions which disappear or are assimilated over time or a capitalist reform as capitalism regains its footing (i.e., the mines in England, the paper plants in the Northwest United States, the electric cooperatives in the Southwest United States).

Since the cooperative movement is currently the fastest growing movement for systemic economic change it deserves an overview of what it is and where its going –which I will attempt to do, in a very limited way.

I will briefly comment on the recent changes in the cooperative movement in:

1) Venezuela which has attempted to use coops as part of its transition to socialism;

2) In the Mondragon cooperative network which applies the cooperative principles in the capitalist system;

3) In the United States because it is in the belly of the beast of capitalism and as such has special problems, and

4) In Cuba which is using cooperatives to transition away from a fully socialist economy to a more mixed economy. (I will write a separate article on cooperatives in Asia or Africa as BRIC countries have unique problems, although India has a highly developed cooperative economy and China has the most cooperatives in the world.)

Apr 19 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Venezuela – A”Threat” to US Imperialism by Geminijen

In Memory of Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015.

At the 2009 Summit of the Americas, Hugo Chavez gave Barack Obama a copy of Galeano’s book Open Veins of Latin America which details the United State’s military aggression, economic exploitation and political coups or “regime changes” in Latin America.

In the 2012 Summit of the Americas, Obama’s reception by Latin American nations was noticeably cool – primarily because the United States refused to end its 50 year boycott of Cuba.

So at the 2015 Summit of the Americas, Obama walked in with a smile on his face and a proposal for a rapprochement with Cuba in one hand, and, in the other, his newly minted Executive Order 2015 which placed sanctions for human rights abuses on several  Venezuelan military leaders and  government officials. Under his emergency powers, Obama declared Venezuela a “threat to the United State’s national security.”

What was Obama thinking? Did he think people wouldn’t notice the bait and switch as he tried to appease Cuba and the Latin American nations while at the same time he applied the same old cold war tactics to isolate Venezuela as the more recent example of a Latin American country standing up to US imperialism? (To make matters worse, these particular military officers and judicial officials are those that many Bolivarians see as the most active in preventing a highly publicized attempt to destabilize the Venezuela government in February 2014 to set it up for another coup.)

The unanimous demand from the Latin American nations to repeal the sanctions against Venezuela show how disconnected Obama and the United States government are from changes in the balance of power in the Americas in the last decade. This includes  the failure of the United States to maintain its neoliberal hegemony and the rise of a left liberal block of nations (i.e., Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil among others).

Admittedly, much of the loss of US hegemony in Latin America is due to the United States over-extending itself in brutal and unsuccessful oil wars in the Middle East and Asia, but much of the impetus of this new left leaning block is due to the influence of the Bolivarian “21st century socialist revolution” of Venezuela. Beginning with the election of Hugo Chavez in the late 1990s and the drafting of a “socialist” constitution, Venezuela has been instrumental in establishing several inter-regional support groups such as ALBA, UNISUR and CELAC which exclude the United States.  The new left liberal block of nations has also benefited by Venezuela’s generous sharing of its oil wealth with its neighbors.

So even though most will scoff at the idea that Venezuela is a real military threat to the United States (given the size and nuclear capability and the fact that Venezuela recently reduced its military by an unheard of 34%), the spread of an ideology that challenges the United States’ right to exploit and impoverish its southern neighbors could be sufficient reason to consider Venezuela a “threat” to United States’ ideology of imperialism; thus causing the US to resort to its age old practice of “regime change.”

Seems Like We’ve Heard This Tune Before

For the past 150 years, the United States has treated Latin American as its own personal backyard to exploit.  Most of the exploitation has been accomplished through economic dominance and the support of right-wing dictatorships.  However, if we look at those countries that experienced actual “regime changes” involving military coups,  we can count, just since World War II,  a minimum of 11 countries (and I’m sure I’ve missed some) where the United States was either directly or indirectly involved with military regime changes in the Americas– either to protect specific multinational corporate interests or change regimes that promoted an ideology that was more generally in conflict with Capitalist interests (communism/socialism, nationalism, liberation theology): Guatemala 1954, Cuba1959, The Dominican Republic – 1961, Brazil – 1964, Chile – 1970-73, Argentina – 1976, Nicaragua – 1981-90, Panama 1989, Venezuela 2002, Haiti – 2004, and Honduras – 2009.

To learn some more about a recently published secret report that documents the United States plans for achieving regime change in Venezuela follow the discussion below …

Jan 04 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Pope’s Possible Future Role in Cuba by Galtisalie

There can be no immaculate conception of socialism …

Aneurin Bevin, 1945;

or of our posts about socialism.  

I had hoped this post would be the fabulous coming out ceremony for a pamphlet I have been working on in my spare time for over a year on the need for a global social compact. I view Pope Francis as being a potential key Gramscian player in this prospect. I was going to highlight how Cuba may present a unique opportunity for the global social compact paradigm. But, as they sometimes do, real world events in my little world have taken precedence over the Holidays, and the pamphlet is not complete. Nonetheless, I feel I can still take an abbreviated stab at the post I mentioned week before last in a comment on MrJayTee’s excellent Cuba post:

a look at the Cuban constitution, Cuba’s survival of the fittest/meanest capitalist island neighbor immediately to its east, and the potential helpful role of Pope Francis

(My patient, kind but busy tovarishch MrJayTee prefers I keep my posts short anyway, so perhaps this is divine providence.)

Before I get into the meat of this post, I need to get some slights, and caveats, out of the way. Let me begin by “apologizing” to socialists who happen to be Catholic for the Immaculate Conception invocation, but it seemed to fit my situation, and, 55 years into both experiments, it seems to fit Cuba’s as well. That cultural reference got Aneurin Bevin, the founder of Britain’s National Health Service, in trouble with this important left subgroup seventy years ago. But what the hell, Bevin, and after him the Castro brothers, did more to help the working class have earth as it is in heaven than any pope or archbishop of Canterbury in my estimation. So, please accept my laurel and hardy handshake and nonpology.

As for caveats, for stinging critique by me of the Catholic Church’s anti-women, anti-GLBT, and in general anti-human policies, and its tendency to produce smarmy moralizing with little or no praxis to produce change, please see here and here, respectively, including ditty about:

the unelected Constantinian conservative RC majority of the SCOTUS, the Republican Party’s politburo, the vanguard in robes of U.S. political corruption and global neoliberalism, his humble flock, who put capital unction into the grotesque shunning of humanity that is institutionalized social repression

In a nutshell, while I have taken the gloves off with Pope Francis’s street cred, I believe in working with him too.

I do need to add one last preliminary sting:

No, Pope Francis, I do not buy that you did all you could to protect your own priests from right wing killers/torturers in Argentina’s Dirty War. I will not battle that history out in this post, but suffice it to say that you could have placed your prestige, and your body, on the line to protect them, but failed to do so.

To see how a real moral leader leads by example, please read Gramsci’s 1925 speech directly to the face of Mussolini and the Italian parliament.

Moving right along …

Dec 22 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: What’s Really Behind US-Cuba Normalization? by MrJayTee

A spectre is haunting the United States–the spectre of normal relations between the United States and communist bugbear Cuba. For the lazy, captured US media, it’s all about the Cold War poses struck by Republicans (and a few Democrats like New Jersey senator Bob Menendez) whose needles are permanently stuck in an anti-Castro groove. Add a few snips about how US corporations can’t wait to get into the Cuban market and you have the domestic version of the story.

But is it really as simple as big business finally tilting the balance away from right wing nuttery? It’s tempting to say yes. The machinations of capital are relentless and there can’t be any doubt that capital wants Cuba back in the worst way, but being slightly smaller in both area and population than Pennsylvania, it’s hard to believe the attraction of the Cuban market finally thawed the ideological iceberg of the Embargo all by itself.

Certainly generational change has helped take the risk of losing Florida’s electoral votes out of the issue. A recent survey of Cuban-American adults for the Miami Hearald showed about equal support for both sides of the issue, with wide support for normalization from respondents under 65. Opposition to the Castro regime just isn’t that potent an issue any more even for Cuban-Americans.

Then there’s the notion that a throwdown over Cuba policy benefits the Democrats in 2016 by encouraging a rift between doctrinaire conservative Republicans and liberal business Republicans while giving Democrats greater appeal among the non-crazy center. This scenario not only doesn’t need Congress to end the Embargo, it benefits from congressional drama. While I have no doubt that resuming relations with Cuba is a sincere goal among the liberal bourgeoisie, they need have no genuine expectation of success to make this argument part of the 2016 political strategy.

Is there more to the story? Let’s look around and see what some on the left are saying.

In Defense of Marxism strikes a triumphalist note, while cautioning that the change in US tactics does not mean the end of America’s efforts to destroy the Cuban revolution. It also rightly notes the history of US terrorism in Cuba; since the US is a major perpetrator of terrorism globally, this is fitting. IDoM also takes note of the Venezuela connection. Targeting Cuba and targeting Venezuela are part of the same Imperialist project.

On Wednesday December 17, the United States admitted that its attempt to bully Cuba into submission had failed. This should be seen as a victory for the Cuban Revolution and its resilience against the relentless onslaught of the most powerful imperialist power on earth only 90 miles away from its shores. However, US imperialism has not given up on its aims: the restoration of the rule of private property and the destruction of the gains of the revolution. It has just changed the means to achieve the same result….

The statement from the White House announcing the change of policy starts with a clear admission of bankruptcy: “A Failed Approach. Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” Of course, where it says an “open and democratic country” what they really mean is a capitalist country, where “democracy” is just a fig leaf for the rule of big corporations…

The coming to power of the Bolivarian revolution in 1998 threw a new life line to Cuba. On the one hand, it meant the exchange of Venezuelan oil for Cuban medical services on very favourable terms. On the other, it broke the isolation of the Cuban revolution and provided the hope that it could spread even further.

Trotskyist World Socialist Website looks at the potential thaw (after noting that the Obama administration is slapping new sanctions on Venezuela allegedly to punish it for it’s handling of protests earlier this year) as evidence of the Castro regime saving saving what’s left of itself by means of Chinese-style state-controlled capitalism:

No doubt the demands of the Chamber of Commerce and the American Manufacturers Association for access to the Cuba market played a major role in Obama’s decision. So too did the prospect that a massive influx of US dollars would do far more than the economic blockade to unravel what remains of the radical reforms instituted by the Cuban Revolution, while helping to bring to power a more pliant regime in Havana, restoring the kind of neocolonial relationship that prevailed before 1959.

For its part, the Castro regime sees the turn toward its longtime imperialist nemesis as a means of salvaging its rule and pursuing a path similar to that of China, preserving the privileges of the ruling strata through the development of capitalism and at the expense of the Cuban working class.

It’s this view that I find the most suggestive. While the Cuban revolution deservedly enjoys broad from the serious left, that support often comes with criticism of the stratified, ossified, top-down nature of the regime. Is the Castro regime so pressed for money that they have no choice? Is it kidding itself that it can dance with the Beast and not come away unharmed?

Obviously, there are many factors at work here besides the US business community seeing an opportunity to extract value from Cuban workers and Cuba’s natural heritage. What is going on under the surface?

Speculate, anti-Capitalists!