democracy and self-management in cuba

Guillermo Almeyra outlines an alternative to the Cuban government’s plans to slash 20% of the workforce and privatise parts of the economy in order to deal with the crisis.

Predictably, the global crisis – together with the criminal US economic blockade – is now taking an even heavier toll on Cuba, reducing levels of tourism and remittances sent home by Cubans abroad.The growing difficulties of the Venezuelan economy, as well as the aggravation of climactic disasters, are also factors we have to consider when looking at how to save the island from economic abyss.

Cuba is a country which has been in deep crisis for more than 20 years – a whole generation – and which has no real change nor encouraging signs on the horizon, merely a hard struggle for survival, which besides is led by the same system and the same leaders who have helped create the current disastrous situation and do not know how to escape it. Continue reading “democracy and self-management in cuba”

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extracts from ellis hillman’s ‘the nature of the stalinist parties’

note by David Black: The Nature of the Stalinist Parties – a document of several thousand words – was published in the internal discussion bulletin of the Socialist Review Group in May 1951, with five sections:

1 The Importance of the Nature of the Stalinist Parties for our Movement

2 The Classical Trotskyist Position

3 The Stalinist International as the Instrument of the State-Capitalist Bureaucracy

4 The Social Composition Of The Stalinist Parties

5 Political Conclusions

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Hillman concluded that the SRG could make no impact on the membership of the Stalinist British Communist Party, which he sought to show was becoming increasingly petit-bourgeois. Therefore, he argued, the SRG should concentrate on building in the Labour Party. In practical terms, as Ian Birchall has suggested, Hillman was more in tune with Shachtmanite ‘Third Campism’ than James/Boggs/Dunayevskaya. The ‘immovability’ of the CP membership proved to be a temporary phenomenon; but it was only shaken up by world events (especially Hungary) rather than pressure from the Far Left. As regards Dunayevskaya, I should point out that her later analysis (from 1953 onwards) was markedly different to that of ‘State-Capitalism and the World Revolution’ (1950). The latter, in my view, while important, was wrong on a lot of things (such as the national question), and inadequate on others (especially philosophy).

Continue reading “extracts from ellis hillman’s ‘the nature of the stalinist parties’”

obituary of chris harman

by Andy Wilson

Chris Harman, revolutionary socialist author and activist and a long-time member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party, died of a heart attack on Saturday night while speaking at the Socialist Days conference in Cairo.

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From a working class background, Chris joined the Socialist Review Group (forerunner of the International Socialists and the SWP) in the early 60s while a student at Leeds University. He became one of the leading activists in the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign while at the London School of Economics, although he eventually abandoned his studies to become a full-time worker for the IS/SWP. Chris remained a constant among the leadership there until the day of his death. Continue reading “obituary of chris harman”

social ownership and workers’ self-management

A motion to the Labour Representation Committee conference proposed by The Commune

The Labour Representation Committee notes this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall the Berlin Wall, and the beginning of the change of regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-1991. Conference salutes the great freedom struggles by the working people, of the communist and socialist oppositionists to the dictatorships which ruled in the name of “actually existing socialism”, such as the rebellions of 1953 in Berlin, 1956 in Hungary and Poland, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, 1980-1989 in Poland, and the myriad struggles in the USSR.

Conference recognises that the legacy of the Stalinist regimes continues to hinder the struggle for a new society today. As part of developing the vision of a viable alternative to capitalism in the 21st century, our movement needs to learn the lessons of their historical failure, including of the previous state socialist conceptions. The Labour Representation Committee conference recognises that: Continue reading “social ownership and workers’ self-management”

state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america

David Broder’s talk to The Commune’s recent Manchester forum

The class struggle in Latin America is one that has always roused great interest and a certain romanticism among the western left. The continent has seen a number of heroic struggles against often savage exploitation and state repression, whether by the industrial working class, landless peasants or indigenous peoples. But the politics of the Latin American left are complex and often mischaracterised.

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I’m going to talk about the recent history of Latin America and the relationship of US imperialism to national ruling classes; in what ways this has shaped the major left trends and the workers’ movement on the continent; and the different types of movement that exist today.  Continue reading “state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america”

fictitious capital and credit schemes

This talk given by Michael Egoavil at the Left Forum 2009 panel “Marx’s ‘Capital’ and the Economic Crisis” argues against the demand for state ownership of banks. Michael can be reached at michaelegoavil@gmail.com.

Today I’m going to be discussing Marx’s theory of fictitious capital and its relation to real capital accumulation. Along the way I’m going to focus on Marx’s seldom-read analysis of a French bank known as the Credit Mobilier, in which this theory played a fundamental role. I’ll conclude with some thoughts on how this relates to socialist politics today.

In the third volume of Capital, Marx discusses what he calls “fictitious capital” – what we know as “securities.” Essentially these are titles to streams of income, which are treated as commodities and bought and sold on financial markets. There are significant differences between types of securities. Some represent corporate debts, as with bonds, some represent consumer debts, as with mortgage backed securities, and others represent capital investments, as with shares of stock. But the common aspect of all these different securities is that they all give their owners a right to a stream of income, hopefully leaving them with more money than they started off with. The security owner therefore looks upon his security as capital. Continue reading “fictitious capital and credit schemes”

the cuban revolution – raya dunayevskaya (1960)

Introduction by Chris Kane

Many on the Left consider Cuba a socialist country, its defiant stand against U.S. imperialism is widely admired, and the idea that there is at least one country in the world where a classless society is being built has a powerful appeal to wishful thinking. Indeed, for those who consider that the essence of socialism consists of state planning, Cuba does meet their concept of socialism.

What this ignores are the actual power relations in Cuban society. Power to decide upon economic strategy or foreign policy – or to repress dissent – is tightly held by the bureaucracy of this single party state. Capital is accumulated as state property. The mass organisations that exist are controlled from above; they do not express the free opinions of the workers, still less do they enable the workers to control production.

Here we reprint an article written by Raya Dunayevskaya in 1960, just one year after Castro’s guerrilla movement swept to power. Dunayevskaya reveals the new forms of class domination that were already being established in that unfinished revolution, and sharply criticises the “old radicals” who (then as now) cast themselves as cheerleaders for state-capitalism in Cuba. This article was originally published in the U.S. Marxist-Humanist paper, News & Letters, in December 1960. Continue reading “the cuban revolution – raya dunayevskaya (1960)”