ROBERTO COBAS AVIVAR speaks in the Epoch about the new constitution of Cuba, which will be adopted by a referendum on February 24th, for which the international systemic media are benefiting, stressing that it marks the end of an era, among other things, recognizing personal ownership and the importance of free market and foreign investment in the Cuban economy. The draft Constitution, reaffirming the leadership of the Communist Party but omitting any reference to the prospect of communist society, was put to public consultation for three months, involving around 9,000,000 people among them and 1,400,000 immigrants and exiles, for the first time since the 1959 Revolution, and in December it was unanimously passed by the Cuban National Assembly.

Epoch: Regarding the new Constitution of Cuba, you have recently written that this is a constitutional capitalist transition. Why do you believe this?

RCA: Socialism with capitalist relations of production has never existed, and will never exist. This is essential to understand the meaning of the socialist revolution. And the whole essence of Marx’s idea regarding the change of the capitalist mode of production. The concept of revolutionary practice in Lenin assumed this transformation as the criterion of the Marxist truth. M

The social relations of the mode of production and exchange in Cuba went from endorsing the pure and hard capitalism of the pre-revolutionary anti-republic, to becoming the battering ram for a state neo-capitalism that would be later institutionalized with the 1976 Constitution. Private ownership of capital would pass to be state property. Salaried work would continue to be the cornerstone of the system of socioeconomic relations, making it merely a new way of organizing capitalism, currently: as state capitalism. The social revolution would usurp the idea of ​​the socialist revolution. Vulgar socialism would become an ideological banner. The Revolution would give everything to the people. The value of alienated work through salaried relationships would be concentrated under the practice of state capital accumulation and engaged in the voluntarist distribution of “bread and fish”, everything that would later become a symbol of “socialism”. The mode of production would remain in essence, that of the exploitation of alienated labor. Until the present day, when the model implodes and the Leader of the Revolution declares that “it is no longer useful to Cubans” (statement for The Atlantic Magazine, 2010).

With the crisis of 1990, which came due to the fall of the so-called socialist field, the model showed its structural unsustainable. Having emerged from the crisis without allowing the regression to neoliberal reforms in, the Leader and the Party still does not decide to undertake the socialist revolution, the radical transformation of the neo-capitalist mode of production. And now, more than 15 years later, the model implodes. That obliges the Party (let us remember that the Leninist Marxist Party constitutes the supra-societal and supra-state power – a political body above the state and society that, by constitutional attribute, responds to the conduct of the revolutionary process) to a process of economic reforms that does not touch the essence of the necessary socialist transformation of the mode of production.

Epoch: Something that has particular importance is the way the new Constitution treats the social relations of production and the ownership. What is your opinion about this?

RCA: The changes admitted in the constitutional reform impose the vision criticized by Che of trying to build socialism with the jagged arms of capitalism. The social relations of production remain subject to the power of state capital and at the same time the reform opens the doors to the private appropriation of capital. There is no doubt about the socioliberal nature of the reforms.

This is the way in which the re-privatization of capital begins: under an economic model that maintains the relation of salaried labor under state and private capital as an axis of its operation. A green light for the creation of a small and medium proprietary bourgeoisie, together with the economic empowerment of the stratum of the administrative bureaucracy which, de facto, has the power over the management of state capital, in close union with the foreign capital that enters the economy, all create the objective materialistic conditions for the capitalist transition. At the same time the Party mutilates open democratic debates on socialism, a reality denied by the Party itself. This is precisely shown in the debate with the people about the new constitution project that the Party presented. The changes that have already been submitted to a referendum on February 24 have eluded the trace of the being of the socialist revolution.

Epoch: How are the issues of democracy and human rights in the constitutional reform presented?

RCA: In my analyses, but also in ones done by many other Cubans committed to revolutionary democratic socialism, I debate the problem of democracy as the antinomy of capitalism. Democracy as the path to the socialist revolution, as seen and expressed by Marx and Lenin. There is no other materialist foundation that bases the essence of democracy other than the one of democratic social relations of production, where the relation of wage labor disappears and with it the exploitation of man by man, a principle which Fidel alludes as inalienable from the Revolution. The constitutional reform comes to deny de jure and in fact this principle, despite the fact that it remains in the preamble of the new Constitution. It is a pure dead legal letter – all while the actual, fundamental debate is censored by the Party.

When the essence of the social relations of material production and social reproduction remains adjusted to the form of capitalist exploitation, the foundation of human rights i.e. the emancipation of the social being, is violated. The anti-Marxist orthodoxy that dominates the Party has prevailed a criterion which entails that a social revolution is synonymous with a socialist revolution. The simple and constable fact that industrially developed capitalist countries like Scandinavian countries, which implement social advances (as do a few others in the world) while maintaining the system of capitalist social relations of production, relations of exploitation of man by man, does not invoke a shred of critical thought in the Party. It, on the contrary, points to the Chinese capitalist counterrevolution as a praiseworthy model. The logic of absolute centralized power in the society and state, the logic of the Chinese Party, becomes compatible with that of the Cuban Party. The idea of ​​capitalist developmentalism determines the reformist thinking of the Cuban Party. We must therefore understand that a socialist revolution poses the shift of the paradigm of capital accumulation: from private accumulation to social accumulation. Without this shift of paradigm there will be no way to neutralize democracy as a reference value of our socialist society. The only way to change the paradigm of accumulation is to go from the social relations of the current Cuban neo-capitalist production mode to that of relations of producers that are freely associated with democratic, supportive, autonomous and self-sustaining economic entities, such as that conform in the cooperative work. This is rejected by the Party.

Epoch: In your opinion, which could be the decisive points of the constitutional process that would strengthen the social economy within a socialist state?

RCA: I have put forward, for debate, a group of premises that I understand as determinants for this. Unfortunately, the Party will not debate Marxist revolutionary critical thinking. Our participation in the debate – of colleagues who are outside the country, but who have been following it their entire lives and trying to contribute to the revolutionary socialist thought, as well as the one of many revolutionaries, corportadores of the Marxist and Leninist democratic thought, that try to expand the debate in the inside – is silenced by the Cuban media in the Island. There is an entrenchment behind the unique thought of the Party. I would like to present those premises here:

  1. The constitutional definition of the Social Economy precept and the implementation of an adequate Law should make cooperativism prevail as a socialized property of capital – cooperative and community enterprises – within the scope of the expanded reproduction of capital. It is Marx who shows us that: “In order to emancipate the working masses, cooperation must achieve national development and, consequently, be fostered by national means.”

  2. The production (of goods and / or services) in the hands of private owners should be circumscribed to the area of a simple reproduction of capital, which, because it is not based on extensive and / or intensive exploitation of salaried work, is not expanded by virtue of the expropriation of the added value of the work of the workers.

  3. State ownership should be assumed as social property and therefore considered a  property of the strategic socioeconomic interest for development – within the area of the expanded reproduction of capital – and would have to be co-managed and under democratic control (with the participation of workers’ councils and representatives of popular power). This sector welcomes the investing force of the State in the companies and economic projects that underpin national development.

  4. The entire entrepreneurial universe assumes the revolution of the economic calculation (as economic account settling), in the terms of the socialist concept of a social economy, which stops considering the remuneration of labor as part of the production costs, passing to be an organic part of the added value generated by the work. This is the requirement that neutralizes the antagonistic contradiction between capital and labor, always resolved in capitalism in favor of capital, exactly as in the current Cuban pre-socialist production mode.

  5. All sectors of the social economy would be supported by adequate credit policies of the national bank and sectorial cooperative banking should be encouraged. In this: the state, through preferential credit policies, promotes the development and expansion of the cooperative economy.

  6. All foreign direct investments (FDI) would take place without other conditions than those who rules the companies defined in the Social Economy System. Foreign capital is not invested in private companies, but in social enterprises that, by definition and law, dominate in the sphere of expanded reproduction of capital. That requirement would have to be properly established in a new Investment Law

  7. Within the framework of the Social Economy, all productive enterprises (of goods and / or services) – private, cooperative, state and co-managed joint ventures – would have the legal possibility to assume the challenges of foreign trade (which is especially attainable and rational in terms of entrepreneurship for cooperatives of a second and third degree).

  8. The internal market would remain as a free socioeconomic space for exchange in an environment of increasing production and productivity of labor along with adequate monetary and fiscal policies, once the aberration in the economic system that is the double currency and the multiple exchange rate track is urgently eliminated.

Epoch: Given this constitutional reform, what margins do you think there are now for implementing a socialist plan in Cuba?

RCA: If the new Constitution of what is to be a Republic endorses the socialist revolution and with it,  its idea of democracy that cannot be misused as it is the foundation upon which we would move forward, then the debate revolves around the power-idea that defines democracy as an attribute of socialism. This philosophical and political momentum welcomes the libertarian nature of the mode of production and exchange as the foundation of democracy, because we would be defining, as Marx demonstrates, the nature of the socioeconomic relations that would condition the emancipatory movement of society. There is no Republic outside of it, unless it continues to be one of bourgeois lineage.

The socialist revolution occurs in accordance with dialectical materialism. If the so-called “total reform” of the Constitution does not place the foundational content, mentioned above, of democracy at the center of the revolutionary debate for socialism, it can only be described as a counterrevolutionary reformism. Tying Cuban revolutionary figures to the reformism proposed by the constitutional draft, and disregarding participation in the presentation and debate of the alternatives that could go to the roots, constitutes the first and deepest anti-democratic expression of the convention for the new constitutional accommodation.

I think that the struggle for socialism will continue beyond the Constitution, trying to tie it down to the materialist dimension of democracy. The party does not seem to understand that the strength of the revolutionary power lies in the empowerment of the people thanks to its socio-economic emancipation. The socialist revolution will take force with the sharpening of contradictions by the practice of the omnipotent state and the social liberation force of the Cuban people. There is a whole revolutionary legacy to preserve and develop, which has its traces in the social and political transformation – unprecedented in our capitalist hemisphere. The qualitative leap occurs in the ideological and cultural overcoming of the capitalist forms of reproduction of life. That is the debate in which the people have to submerge.

Thank you very much Dimitris and the “Epohi” for the opportunity to extend the debate on socialism in Cuba. All the best to the Greek people in their struggle for a world beyond capitalism.


Realized and Published in Greek by Epohi –