Cuba: another revolution?

As is well known Raul Castro - Head of State and leader of the Government of the Republic of Cuba – has said he wants to unify the two pesos in use in Cuba. The Cuban peso, which is the functioning currency, is used to pay wages, salaries and pensions in the public sector, while the convertible Cuban peso is used by tourists and Cubans to pay for luxury goods such as petrol, restaurants, hotels, all tourist services and most imported goods. The Cuban peso, is worth about 5 cents but cannot be converted into any foreign currency, especially dollars. The Cuban convertible peso instead has a fixed relationship with the U.S. dollar equal to $1.08.

The two monetary systems have played a dual role for decades. The first acts as a coefficient of exchange between goods within the domestic market and is used to calculate what state employees get, or don’t get, in wages. The second counteracts the drain of hard currency (dollars, in particular) and is used as a means of buying the raw materials and technology which Cuba lacks on the international market.

For those who - unlike ourselves - have always believed that Cuba has been and still is a socialist country this reform will certainly not change their minds. Among other things, the reform has not yet been technically formulated nor have they stated how long it will be before the old system expires. Probably they will move towards a single convertible currency with a huge damaging impact on the purchasing power of the domestic population.

The supporters of “Fidel” in Cuba do not realise that none of the economic categories of capitalism have ever been abolished. From capital to wages, from the production of goods to prices and the existence of the market, even if all of these categories have their political and administrative "dominus" in the central government. You could call it the Caribbean version of state capitalism and that, in some ways, it was "better" (less oppressive) than the Asian version (Stalinism), without losing its capitalist character and its main actor, the "great leader", that of the dictator, but this is another issue that only marginally concerns us here

In relation to the overall economy the issue of the dual monetary system and its possible unification is a detail which fits in with everything else. It is a change brought about by the need of a small state capitalist country to survive. In order to do so it is forced to adapt itself more and more to the more or less private capitalism that surrounds it. This is why we have seen the privatisations that have occurred in some sectors of the economy as well as this change in the peso.

FD
Sunday, December 1, 2013

Comments

It took centuries for slave-owning societies to change to feudalism, likewise so long from feudalism to early capitalism. Is it too much to expect that within modern imperialism any local society could operate totally independently of capitalist arrangements ? A rapid transition from one major type of local economy to another seems unlikely, as was seen from shortly after 1917 in Russia. But then there is also the question as to whether one or more capitalist states could, to some extent, operate in an anti-imperialist way in so far as they oppose the dominant major imperialist state of the USA. Obviously the so-called 'market economy' of modern China (whether or not totally capitalist by now) comes to mind, with a post-Mao leadership 'standing up to' the USA in some ways. Let's remember how Cuba has trained thousands of workers in medical skills and provided their help to other countries, however some might regard the less-than-total revolutionary changes there. An all-or-nothing wish for full communism at once seems illusory in 2013.

Its not about our. all or nothing wish for full communism. I is about those who claim today that Cuba is "socialist". If you like police states and can ignore that money regulates expoitation or that nationalism is the real ideology of the regime then you still have the poblem of why there is a ruling elite driving around in modern cars whilst the rest of the population are seeing their living standards frozen. The fact that it has specialised in medical training does not make it less capitalist. You are simply making a kind of special pleading.

T34 is right in saying that the wish for full communism at once is illusory. This is because first we need a successful proletarian revolution, which will dispose of the bourgeoisie's dictatorship and replace it with our own. This dictatorship will have to be international in order to succeed. Having established itself this dictatorship of Workers'Councils (the Communist Party does not substitute itself for the workers' dictatorship but has a significant advisory role) will set about beginning to build communism all over the planet. This'll take time.

You can't have communism in one country, or even on one small island? Added to which it would be extremely naive to fall for the idea that there was anything truly working class and communist about the self-seeking bourgeois antics of the Castro brothers and their mates.

And brave China, under Mao, standing up the USA is merely yet another example of the endless and dangerous competitive nationalism which capital continually reproduces everywhere.

How many such workers' councils are known to exist by the start of 2014 ? Where are they ?

Hi T34. Where are Workers'Councils at the start of 2014, you ask. As far as I know there aren't any. But this isn't surprising because - as far as I know, and correct me if I'm wrong - workers' councils are usually the product of revolutionary situations, and we don't have any of those just now.

Thanks, Charlie. However, plenty of places are on the boil or at least heating up. Whether any of those are on the threshold of a 'revolutionary situation' should be assessed and seen, especially as regards various sorts of possible leadership, which, presumably, will lead to positive or negative results by and for workers.