14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 23 June 2020 — The first time I looked up the meaning of the word communism I did it in a little pocket dictionary my mother had. To my surprise, after the colon there was only one word: hunger. This occurred in mid-1959, when the Marxism-Leninism manuals produced in the Soviet Union were not yet circulating in Cuba.
A decade later I enthusiastically participated in university discussions where it was debated whether communism would succeed first in France, Germany, England or the United States. We were young and naive and we wanted the best for humanity, including world peace, free love and that stream full of material goods that would allow everyone to receive according to their needs.
Perhaps due to the delayed effects of those intellectual intoxications, every time I hear or read about someone commenting on the problems of communism in Cuba, I have the impulse to argue that this country is very far from establishing the social system that is called communism. But to make such a clarification is often confused with defending the system. It is as if to say “Cuba is already living in communism!”
In Das Kapital, Karl Marx warned that communism would be “a superior form of society whose fundamental principle is the full and free development of all individuals,” where work would become the first vital necessity of citizens. Behind this propagandistic assertion, it is supposed that there was a scientific basis backed by the discovery of “the contradiction between the social character of production and private ownership of the means of production.”
Although the final goal was the pretty face of communism, made up and exposed under lights in the announcement that “the earth will be the paradise of all humanity,” as the Hispanic version of La Internacional proclaims, it was necessary to pass through the ugly face, in which that supposed contradiction would be resolved by confiscating properties to allegedly socialize them.
In the decades that this social experiment has been carried out in different countries, it has been shown that in order to impose the system it is essential to deprive citizens of their liberties, because it is useless to seize property if the desire to own them is not also eradicated. And for this to happen, the state must also abolish the right to organize other parties, so that those who would seek to restore the right to property would never come to power or to Parliament.
The most grotesque deformities of this other face of communism are shown in the repressive apparatuses, without which it is not possible to strip away liberties or suppress rights.
The contradiction that neither Marx nor Marxists could see is the one that appears between human nature tending towards individualization and the fiction of socializing the ownership of the goods of production. The inefficiency of the system is, consequently, the result of a secret personal revenge of the individualistic character of human beings.
The appearance of a bureaucratic caste acting from the State to represent the role of owner that supposedly corresponds to society, not only generates the usual corruption and inevitable nepotism, but together with this caste, or better, under it, it leads to a mass of workers disinterested in producing, even more alienated than in capitalism.
The ruling caste tries to surround itself with privileges: it obtains scholarships for its children to attend the best universities in the world, it receives medical treatment in private hospitals in capitalist countries, it organizes trips abroad and it spends its exorbitant per diems acquiring the latest goods from the consumer society it demonizes.
The mass of workers, not without ambitions but devoid of opportunities, simulates submission so as not to attract attention, while using for their own benefit the time, materials and resources that the State puts in their hands for the fulfillment of the State’s own plans. The only recourse the workers have is to try to balance the gap between their salaries and the cost of living.
Moving among those who command and those who pretend to obey, we see the ruthless repressors, the unscrupulous inspectors who suck the blood from the entrepreneurs, the administrators who do not risk carrying what is stolen themselves, but look the other way in exchange for their cut, and a bunch of opportunists in the “intermediate levels,” always ready to give up and to escape as soon as they get the chance.
If what has been happening in Cuba in the last six decades fits in this brief description of the ugly face of communism, then it is not necessary to clarify that the country has not yet reached that upper echelon of society promised by the demagogues and yearned for by the delusional. Yes. This is communism.
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