The multiple scenarios of the contemporary capitalist world and the “return” to cooperativism, self-management and worker autonomy

Orlando Cruz Capote1
Institute of Philosophy
Cuba

Introduction

Today, when in the dissimilar and complex contemporary civilizing spaces-times, so asymmetric/unequal and globalized/fragmented,2 the majority of the different representatives of the revolutionary Left3 proclaim a sotto vocce the idea corroborated in Latin American-Caribbean practice, and even in other parts of the geopolitical South, that we find ourselves in a historical phase of profound turbulence and changes in almost all spheres of global and local society, shaken by constant popular insurrections-rebellions that have led, in some countries, to revolutions and, in other nations, to processes of socioeconomic and political reforms that are more or less profound, in which progressive leaders and groupings of different ideopolitical nuances have reached the government4 — and partly taken power — by the electoral route by defending the causes of the exploited and oppressed and also struggling for the integration of the countries-peoples of Our America5 and the imperative South-South complementation,6 confirms the certainty that new points of reference are gestating for the historical times in which we live.

In parallel, old and new sociopolitical actors urge us to search for a real anti-systemic, anti-hegemonic and countercultural alternative7 to globalization of neoliberal transnational monopolistic capitalism,8 above all against capital — because of its recognized capacity for (il)logical metabolic reproduction9 to pose, finally, the urgency of refounding, reinventing, and re-updating socialism in the twenty-first century.

This leads to an unusual visibility of socialism, and not of the exclusive and exclusionary “real socialism” (although we have to learn from its lessons and negative and positive experiences) which, after its catastrophic collapse in Eastern Europe together with the disintegration of the Soviet Union (1989-1991),10 brought as a consequence the challenging and bottomless crisis into which the international Left “fell”, with a few exceptions.

This hopeful dawn is the confirmation that a world without bosses and directed by, for and with the workers is possible, indispensable, sufficient and workable, and that gradual disconnection from transnational capital is feasible, as is the construction of the socialism well before the partial or terminal collapse of the regime of capitalist exploitation, whose fall-destruction will not be consummated by itself,11 which is why it will be work for multiple contemporary historical-political subjects of change. That is the historical mission that is upon us and must become reflection and permanent and inalienable transformation for revolutionaries.

I

Before those present and the real situation that can be glimpsed for the immediate future, it turns out to be inescapable for revolutionary Marxists, those of critical social thought,12 traditional political parties (those that met systematically in the Forum of Sao Paulo, which are not the only ones)13 and renewed and still disconnected social and political movements,14 among others, to reanalyze and reestablish critically and constructively the history of socialist15 and Marxist16 thought, both in theory and in practice, comprehensively across its broad spectrum of tendencies and independent forms of development at the international, regional, and national level to recreate it and even reinvent it,17 without overlooking the inadequacies and errors committed by the men who conceived of it, interpreted it and implemented it in a long and arduous historical age, in the socialist transition itself and in extremely difficult circumstances, towards the final destination of communism, or as some say, towards postcapitalism — twenty-first century socialism — which emancipates the human being, socially and individually, in the fullest sense, and not that “neodevelopmentalist” and “extractive” postcapitalism about which so much is written today.

It is a colossal mission that consists, first and foremost, of contributing collectively, modestly, and humbly, in spite of the ever-present differences between the divergences on the Left, which should not lead to destructive and sterile discussions and splits,18 to the recognition and active recovery of that classic, original and creative ideology,66 containing the best things written and created up to the present, hybridized harmonically with the most advanced of the historical-cultural traditions of humanity, of each national history, which is particular and unique to its people. And it overcomes, therefore, the most prominent of utopian and real (liberal) bourgeois rational modernity and its numerous schools of thought and tendencies (without underestimating what is valid in them), but which unquestionably excedes it ideopolitcally and ethically with practical revolutionary rationality, which is very far from instrumental morals, and is immersed, in contrast, in emancipatory morals; and is also an initiator of ruthless and destructive criticism against all the established powers of the bourgeois mode of production and, likewise, the founder of the weapon of revolutionary self-criticism, which is capable of undertaking renewal and permanent updating of its thought and acts.

A Marxist and socialist theory (not necessarily the same thing) in which transformative praxis is intrinsic, as criterion to approach the truth, with its rigid-flexible and recreated militant principles—outside of formulas and a priori plans19—that does not overlook and ignore their short, medium, and long term eclipses, as happen with any theoretical-practical conception that is born, develops and “dies” (without falling into the recurrent apocalyptic and extincionist theories),which is to say, is transformed into its endless zigzags, signs that manifest its continuities-ruptures, of purposes and outcomes, often times unexpected and unknown, provided in part by the presence of incalculable intermediations, the intersubjectivity of human beings and by that indecipherable “parallelogram of forces” that Friedrich Engels masterfully described in his letter to Joseph Bloch in September of 1890, that eliminates the vulgar economic view that was imposed on the idea of determinism,20 which constitutes an unsurpassable lesson of unforgettable historical dialectics that must be present in the analysis and critical interpretations of objective and subjective reality, including (inter-) subjectivities.

This is why we assert that it is not possible to arrive at partial or final conclusions about whether, precisely, we find ourselves in a “age of change” or in a “change of age,” as revolutionary leaders and intellectuals of the world, especially Latin Americans, say in their speeches. Revolutionary optimism should not cloud or confuse really existing conditions, especially when imperialist capitalism has wrapped up in a multiple structural and functional crisis since 2006-2008 and still can find no way out towards a “saving” reconfiguration, but is much more aggressive towards mutant processes. Any simplistic and reductionist vision could disarm us before a unilateral capitalist World (dis)-Order—even if hints of very selective multilateralism are announced in the presence of a group of emerging powers (BRICs or G-20)—that pronounces and carries out, through the capitalist-imperialist centers of power, the most cynical and openly interventionist policies to reestablish, on an anti-ethical and illegal basis, its “renewed” domain and military, economic-commercial, cultural and political planetary hegemony over countries and peoples that are opposed to their designs. A true re-neocolonization and a new division of the world.

What is truly verifiable is that contemporary society is going through a very complex historical-critical transitional moment, immersed in an expanded cycle of the recessive development of globalized capitalist imperialism in its often-mentioned post-industrial, hyper- or meta-industrial phase—within what is called history of long duration21—that is being raised and complemented by the new phase of the third scientific-technical revolution, which began in the ’90s of the last century, in which none of the processes and events currently under way can be considered finalized, because they are conditioned by the obvious crisis of civilization, of epoch, and of the ideologies that coexist in the so-called “perplexed” history of humanity that conceptually and functionally questions the paradigm of Western capitalist hegemonic Modernism—written with a capital "M," because other modernities coexist with it—announce the exhaustion of consumerist and predatory instrumental rationality of the system of multiple domination of capital,22 with their world centers of power or the so-called ostensible world government, under the aegis of declining US imperialism.23

It is an intense period of dynamic recomposition of the correlation of geopolitical forces at the international, regional, and national level. Added to this are drastic mutations in almost all countries, provoked, in part, by endless immigration from the country to the city and from the underdeveloped world to the developed world as a result of polarized inequalities, nations’ internal and external debts, wars and imposed violence that are creating new zones of high labor precariousness, unemployment, marginal density, misery and massive poverty; of a social class reconfiguration where the third sector of the economy occupies a more and more preponderant place and, therefore, groups and sectors of workers being relocated into what are called financial, cultural, IT, communication and services industries—without abandoning traditional forms of producing in cities and fields; in which the informal sector seems to substitute for common public and private jobs; in a world in which acute conflicts and tensions coexist in gender, generational, age, sexual, racial, national, ethnic, religious problems and those of original peoples; also as a product of the endless and growing migratory movements that have brought with them identity-based nomadism, the dislocation of identities, the cross-border and porous nature of countries and the reinforcement of hybrid cultures24 by an excessive penetration of ideas through the multiple and “unique” channels of communication; as well as of unculminated attempts at epistemological dialogues, among them the rebirth of the epistemologies of original peoples, subject to a true epistemicide in the process of conquest-colonization, in which the survivors of genocide have returned to contemporaneousness their more and more weighted ancestral knowledge. These are social subjects and phenomena recognized in the dialectics of the existence of identity in diversity.

And where humanity is, in turn, facing unusual changes in traditional paradigms25—which does not mean that they are totally obsolete, as the postmodernism of the Right proclaimed—of linguistic and semantic systems, of computerization and interpersonal communication between groups and societies, prioritizing exchanges, most of the time, diachronic to heterogeneous information, knowledge and cultures (multiculturalism),26 among other phenomena, that can be summarized in a geo-cultural and strategic change of the (pre-)established planetary map, in which the options to save the human species from the holocausts of war and ecological destruction, weakened biodiversity and ecosystems, the changes in climate patterns, the multiple crisis: financial, economic, energy, and food, all caused by the irrational and disfunctional model of production–consumption of the rich, developed, Western North, which leads, without fail, and more than ever, to the relegitimation of battle slogan of the Marxist Rosa Luxemburg, which is more true than ever: Socialism or Barbarism.

Finally, together with that reordering and restructuring, which does not exclude the maladjustments and large-scale capitalist-imperialist social decomposition across the geopolitical atlas, innumerable fronts of heterogeneous struggles and popular resistance have been forging, expanding and deepening—though occasionally only perceived in very localized Third-World regions and zones of the globe27—because of their composition and geographic location (geopolitics), that propose again and again the reprocessing of political programs, whether minimal or maximal—which now must be very flexible and transmute into each other—strategies and tactics of struggle, as well as the methods of confronting the globalization of neoconservative—or neoliberal—transnational capitalism in their countries and regions, that signal an important phase in the recovery and gradual accumulation of classist and social combat—more diverse and heterodox than before—envisioning the emergence of a historical-political multiple subject, without erasing, as some scholars do in a simple “sleight of hand,” the working class as the center of the spectrum of class struggle, capable of taking paths to effect revolutionary transformation—Social Revolution—influencing subjectively and actively-catalyzingly on the gradual destruction or liquidation of the capitalist system-world: a whole renewed and plural historical-political gravedigger of capital.

The diversity of the new (some not so novel) current social and political movements, including indigenous/original peoples, picketers, community, neighborhood, environmentalist or ecological, the landless, anti-FTAA, anti-Free-Trade-Treaty, anti-external debt, alternatives to neoliberal globalization, recovered businesses, feminists, gay and transsexuals, anti-war or pacifist, religious, pro-human rights, etc., demonstrates the inevitable emergence in the recognized sociocultural, national, class, ethnic, racial, gender, and age diversity, among others, and from the intersubjective spaces that have been created, of which is necessary to take possession realistically in the polemic debate on how to take on, respect and deploy that heterogeneity in the search for a connection that provides us with an anti-capitalist-system identity.28

The bourgeoisie and the Right know, from historical experience, that one of the worst dangers for their system of domination is the growth of social explosions (and let us affirm that everything social becomes political) and the boom of revolutionary organizations that take steps towards an awakening of a global political actor.

Recent events have reactivated the classic double debate about, on the one hand, the relations between organization and spontaneity and, on the other hand, the relations between militant organization and mass electoral parties, unions and popular and social movements. And it is extremely important to pay attention to that whole process of enrichment and the complexity of the battles of the present and the future.29

II

Notwithstanding, within these varied and contradictory scenarios, succinctly described, new challenges are imposed on the mission of recreating and developing more democratic and solidarity-based political and civil original societies, with more autonomous and participatory associations, cooperatives and forms of self-management among wage laborers, included the unemployed, the marginalized, and sectors of the informal market, in the exploitative, oppressive and alienating capitalist system.30 And a renewed vision to characterize that contemporary imperialist capitalism is urgent, both in the countries of the rich, developed North and of the influence and its distinctive features in the so-called Third World—the geopolitical South—as well as in what are known as the "reserves" of the Third World or the periphery of the First.

And because that turbulent, disturbing and also optimistic sociohistorical, tensional and dynamic panorama urgently needs to revalue current social and political movements, unions that have survived the ruthless attack-disassembly of neoliberal capitalism, the traditional parties of the Left, critical social thinkers, and revolutionary Marxists, the readjustment of theory and the practice concerning the State, methods of governability, political-administrative-social direction and management at all levels, as well as the updating of the philosophical labor of education of the masses in capitalism, during the worker takeover of power and when they exercise the reins of government and/or of power, to avoid that relapse once again into the hands of bureaucratism and bourgeois technocracy, even those that are incubated within socialism itself.

This is an epistemological place where the educator learns from the educated, and it avoids the perverse manipulation of citizens with distortion and misrepresentation of the facts and historical-political processes by the ideology of the oppressive and exploitative capitalist system and the surviving symbols of the ancien regime in the new revolutionary project. Because it seems to be easy to forget and underestimate the power of capital to create a fragmented, atomized, sectoralized society, one that is divided in selfish and individualist micro-particles, allegedly isolated from each other, in spite of the extreme objective socialization of the transnationalization that capital itself imposes and determines, which reinforces that multidivision into small groups. As Iñaki Gil de San Vicente says, “(…) Only in the everyday clamor of the struggle against oppression can the being human know the true nature of capitalism. Academic intellectuality—non-organic, we add—turns so quickly towards reformism or to the Right, because, among other things, it feels horror at organized activism. Another thing it is necessary to say about student sectors is that, being progressive, they think that is enough to be up to date on the latest intellectual fashions. The Leninist organization can and should contribute an all-encompassing critical praxis totalizing of inhuman bourgeois commodification, although meritorious individual efforts can reach a fairly broad perception of the problem, but unilateral and tending towards sectarian individualism by not being contrasted by critical collective praxis that only a revolutionary organization guarantees.”31

Everything can and should be carried out from the bottom up, inverted and horizontally,32 but not should go back to the sole and ubiquitous systems of socialist direction and governability without real and effective feedback from the social grassroots, to extreme statist formulas—some authors call it statolatry—and verticalist methods and of command and control, that may work in specific circumstances and situations, but have been demonstrated to be permeated with difficulties that hinder, fossilize, routinize and formalize the wealth of true popular participation, in particular the working masses; old schemes that can (semi) operate in mobilizations and convocational capacities, but which are inapplicable in the definition of macros and micros policies, in decision-making and in the management, control and regulation of the State economy and its cooperative-self-managed solidarity forms.

In history of socialist and Marxist thought and the practice—and there are different Marxisms and socialisms—it has been of vital necessity for the modern working class and its eternal heterogeneous social movement, under the influence of multiple ideopolitical tendencies, that wage laborers of all kinds deploy various forms and associative contents—the seed and development of civil and political society as a whole, tensional and dynamic counterpart and complement of the State—with the purpose of being contrasted with the brutal, exploitative, and alienating capitalist mode of production. So is it that, from the very beginning of the birth and development of the working class, the worker movement and the modern union movement—three categories or concepts that name different essences and phenomena—throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the recently begun twenty-first century, cooperativization and self-management constituted the first embryonic and spontaneous forms, which were more or less conscious, of producer associations, of consumption, and above all, of egalitarian and solidarity-based distribution among the workers who joined them voluntarily.

Any definition of them, after the experience of the English textile workers of Rochdale in 1844, continues with several basic ideas about those beginnings, though these should reviewed and renewed. Because a cooperative constitutes an autonomous association of people grouped voluntarily to satisfy their economic, social and cultural common (and spiritual) needs, by means of a business that is possessed as a whole and is controlled democratically, which is to say by the majority of its members. Therefore, they work towards ends other than profit, and individualist ambitions should not be manifested within it, even though they respect individuality. Its governability is established on a democratic basis, which is why each partner can become it leader, in some cases, on a rotating basis. It is not permissibel to speculate with the stocks of the members and with the benefits obtained, which are returned to members equally, on the basis of the patronage of each one.

Even if the spirit of solidarity and internationalism is prized, it must function equitably, without a distinction for who provided the greater amount, or even because of seniority. Cooperativism, which now must be of a new kind, puts into practice the values of equality, justice, mutual aid, effort itself, honesty, social responsibility, democracy, constructiveness, sacrifice and solidarity. These can also be instilled by the implantation of educational systems within cooperatives themselves.

Because of this, cooperativization as an economic and social system—which is not at odds with ideology and socialist politics, as was and continues to be mistakenly asserted by an old mentality—is based on ideas that go from mutual aid to prioritizing human beings over money (often times exchange and/or benefit is based on bartering or the simple exchange of products), from equitable participation in the profits (in this case, benefits) to the achievement of an egalitarian society—which is not synonymous with egalitarianism. Still, at the same time, they must accomplish accumulation to be able to reproduce itself and increase in members and production, as well as increase their efficiency, efficacy and autonomy.

It is true that, in their first sprouts, these associations with their reformist, economistic and utopian vision, very much in keeping with the times, did not go beyond simple subsistence within the capitalist system, without trying alter its status quo. And that feature remains present. Due to these characteristics, some authors have called it "light," because they were also considered apolitical and nihilistic. However, that persistence in an essence that was reformist-liberal, later utopian socialist, social-democratic and of Marxism that was non-radical—a word that comes etymologically from "roots"—spread over time together with its foundational sins of not being anti-systemic and counterhegemonic to capitalism.

Cooperatives and so-called self-management, which are substantially different, can and should be united, a process that would be the ideal, because they have continued to corroborate, in practice, that workers can subsist without bourgeois employers, but failed in the attempt to develop in a medium that was very hostile to them by nature and suffered innumerable defeats that continue to date.

After the experience of the Paris Commune (1871), the triumph of Bolshevik-socialist Russian Revolution (1917), the victory of socialism in Eastern Europe (1945), the Chinese, Vietnamese and Cuban Revolutions, cooperatives with certain degree of autonomy and self-managed forms, at their different scales, were present in the socioeconomic and political agendas of the workers and their socialist and communist vanguards. Cooperatives always predominated and only the Yugoslav case developed a sui generis self-managed tendency, which should be studied in detail.

However, there were many fiascos and very few successes in these processes of cooperativization and self-management in triumphant socialism. The same thing happened, though for different reasons, in the bosom of bourgeois societies.

In the first case, excessive intrusion of the socialist State left them without a capacity for autonomy — it made their plans, excessively controlled their budgets and choose to decide from above, as well as teaching the impossibility of their managing their budgets, buying their supplies, marketing their products, and distributing the benefits among their members and to the rest of society. In the second case, the bourgeois State tried—successfully, in most cases—to corrupt, divert, co-opt and destroy the real intentions of these worker-popular forms of entrepreneurialism. Every trace of empowerment through economic and social power that could become an option contrary to capitalism was overtly or covertly hindered.

Likewise, there are many examples of cooperatives, self-managed or not, appearing with the idea of supporting the rest of society, but which were transformed into “cooperative” corporate businesses, several into capitalist transnationals, in which they started operating with extreme competition under the law of supply and demand, in which their production and marketing was carried out in both the internal and external market under the unequal laws of capitalism. Plain and simple, they did not escape the logic of the system of multiple domination of capital.

The case of Mondragon, however, would be the most symptomatic to which we must pay attention to get to know its small virtues and its numerous defects and distortions.

The development of Marxist and socialist theory after the death of V. I. Lenin, in 1924, unfortunately, left cooperatives and worker self-management in an opaque and (dis)-qualified position, given the undisputed and enormous historical difficulties that arose in the practical realization of the association of free workers in a triumphant socialism that always occurred at the undeveloped periphery, surrounded and constantly besieged by global industrialism, and also by the serious deviations unleashed during its construction and endogenous development, where Stalinism was a real example of anomaly and distortion.

But in the new socialist State to build,33 cooperatives and self-managed forms would no longer be mere egalitarian, paternalistic and assistentialist works of charity, but regulators of fuller equity, equality and social justice, adding very important missions like real empowerment of the workers, relative economic sustainability, care for man-nature harmony, the environmental ecology, bioethics and solidarity, not only in the heart of their countries but beyond, connecting with other cooperative and self-managed forms of people in the differnt regions and on the planet. It could be said that we urgently need a transnationalization-socialization of connection, cooperation, collaboration, solidarity and internationalism between all those who fight against the transnationalised system of capitalist exploitation: a renewed internationalism that does not renounce or reduce the real emancipation of labor, and by extension the human being, and where, by right, there are cooperatives and self-managed communal-popular forms.

The reification of the political must be delinked from the social-protest and the ethical-political and, therefore, we must rescue the importance of building new methods and modes of human coexistence, or what some call new, alternative social interaction patterns in which liberating—understood as politically and humanly emancipatory—demands cannot be postponed for a predictable future, because they constitute — at the beginning, during and always — the very reasons for revolutionary struggle. We must redefine the notion of politics. The political is not only in the framework of institutionality and the government, but must be located, because of its very nature, in the diverse social world, creating connections in the search for an identity which is not and will not be uniform. Likewise, self-management, which is different from cooperativism, though they can be linked, becomes a true school of dealienated and dealienating political exercises, which is why it is also a transversal methodology that crosses alternative economic, social and political practices, creating counterhegemony and preparing subjects to not repeat verticalist and domineering practices, which is to say, it creates the base for a new, populist statehood, with another kind of planning. And that does not mean that the role of the State is omitted and disparaged in socialism, but if the popular subject surpasses it with experiences of accumulation in self-managed leadership and confrontation, it will be easier to avoid or prevent the hypertrophying of its functions.

But, we repeat, these socioeconomic, ideological-political and cultural constructions must be carried out on a complicated international stage that should not be forgotten with naivety or underestimation. The reconfiguration and counterattack of the internal Right and global industrialism could put an end to any national and regional effort if sociopolitical actors blindly or myopically overlook the real correlation of forces and act on the plane local without knowing what extraordinary powers they face at the global level, and vice-versa.

III

There are very few experiences of cooperativism and self-management in Cuba: we can say that are being developed in a new and definitive stage.34

A synthesis can demonstrate that, though created fundamentally in the agricultural sector since the application of the First Law of Agrarian Reform in 1959, when the first of Credit, Service and Production Cooperatives emerged, the debate that existed with the vision of orthodox Marxism about whether these forms would lead to creating petty bourgeoisie mentalities in the producers meant that they sailed with very little luck and political understanding. At last, State farms—the large State property—dominated over the cooperative experience, which had several stages. In 1972, with the entry of Cuba into the Council of Mutual Aid Economic (CAME), existing cooperatives in Cuba were those that demonstrated their worth in production and distribution of food in the agricultural sector (in 1968, the remains of the small ownership industrial and commercial were taken over and nationalized). Small landowners united in the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) have been, through the present, the most productive in agricultural work.

But the cooperative process in Cuba, even though in many cases it proliferated among the membership, had the handicap of strong socialist State intervention (planning and budgeting) that, most of the time, slowed the initiatives. That meant that everything from the number of cooperators, the price of what was produced, how to bring it to the market—collection or through other intermediaries—even the forms of self-directing (including budgeting) was determined from above by State bodies. Although it is true that the construction of socialism in Cuba has been pressured by the abnormal presence of hostility from the US establishment with its aggressive and genocidal policy, whose most visible face is the blockade.

And it is at this moment for Cuba, after the celebration of the VI Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (2011) and their First National Conference (2012), that an expedited way was opened to update the socialist model nationally, where the cooperatives and, in the future, the forms of worker self-management have vital space to deploy all their potential.35 A space where the basic question lies and remains focused on global control of work processes by associated workers, and not simply in the question of how exert property rights over the means of production. Of how to accomplish a necessary harmony between centralized planning and decentralizing processes, the struggle against excessive bureaucratization, the avoidance of extreme verticalism—and the instrumentalization of horizontalism—and gradual elimination of the systems of command and control and other practices inherited from the system of multiple domination of capital that reproduced metabolically in the heart of socialist societies and inside cooperatives and self-managed societies, damaging its principles of serving society, collective freedom, solidarity and internationalism.

An epilogue of sorts

As the crisis of the capitalist mode arises, expands and intensifies, the need for revolutionary organization—which should not necessarily be a party in the old sense—cannot be put off, but the solution to this problem that can become decisive will depend on how it acted in periods of “calm and “normality”—were they really?—when some generalize the erroneous idea that exploitation and oppression have disappeared (with the end of imperialism and other malicious nonsense) or about that they have softened up enough that several “deciduous theories” are no longer necessary, including Marxism and critical social thought.

If no social collective has kept the organizational embryo and its social-political belligerence alive, the bourgeoisie will scarcely find organized resistance, much less revolutionary programs that facilitate the leap from social unrest to political consciousness within a program of socialist transformation. The internal and external Right will move freely, knowing it has many resources to prevent the indignation of a minority from being transformed into a rebellion of the majority. Without revolutionary organization, there is no revolutionary movement, and vice-versa.

In the Cuban case, the Congress of the PCC and its conference, already mentioned, proclaimed their support for decentralization strategies, for continuing to cut the administrative apparatus of the State and the Government, ceding powers towards local governments and l ministries (in frank restructuring and availability of personal, given overstaffing), respect for the autonomy of the entrepreneurial system, the advancement of local development and of municipal, provincial and national life, and the expansion of non-State forms of management, grant in usufruct land and local for the development of agricultural, industrial, and service cooperative forms, plus self-employment.

Notwithstanding, changes must explicitly inter-link State decentralization with the endless building of citizenship, of the collective and individual human being, with the promotion of popular-citizenship forms of life based on the values of self-organization, autonomy, solidarity and responsible socialist consumption.

To acheive this, the necessary economic decentralization must democratize life of the business from below. On many occasions, not enough emphasis is put on in worker participation and on People Power, nor is the development of forms of popular-citizen control over mercantile activity deepened, such as by submitting all forms of ownership to greater social, community and environmental responsibility, and to the principles of the care economy (rights of citizenship), establishing citizen mechanisms for the protection of consumer rights and remedying of prejudices, establishing broader labor rights for non-State wage laborers, anti-monopoly legislation (whether state, cooperative or private), etc.36

And these essential aspects, which did not have that initial space, have been appearing and will emerge with greater strength, to the extent that a more integral cadre is formed that takes into account not only social economics but the political, legal, ideological, and many others aspects of citizen life — in the end, socialist democratization in all its ramifications.

What socialism do we want in Cuba? When will that long, medium and short-term program be ready? It is these questions that approximate the multiple concerns about people, the government and the Cuban political directorate, its Party, about how to organize and project their sense of life with a collective historical perspective from daily life, how and why to accomplish a predominant popular consensus around the revolutionary transformative process, how to connect the diversity of meanings while respecting the multiple identities that make it up, how to not stop being active and transformative subjects, how to connect needs, interests, desires, knowledge and individual and collectives values in the Cuban socialist project. They are demands of social practice that only can find responses in the profound dialectical connection of a diversity of cognition, evaluation, expression, knowledge, and actions that converge in the current Cuban context.37 Socialism as a catalyzing and emancipatory process of transformative human capacities, is built on collective and humanist values and has a critical, ethical, creative, and eminently political nature.

To try promote a socialist ideal outside of the needs and interests of the everyday life of the men and women that build the socialist society leads to failure of the experience and to the discredit of the guiding ideal, which may vary but not lose its foundational essences. We must be prepared fearlessly rectify immediately, because the Cuban Revolution is, for the first time, against the national, regional and international time-space in its long battle of 54 years of indisputable victories, and that means that a tactical or strategic error could lead to its failure and reversibility that would be very self-destructive.

The unity around socialism cannot be a slogan or a mediocre campaign; it has to respond to the ability of the process of integrating actions and heterogeneous relationships to reproduce transcendental and everyday life out of mutual respect, solidarity, care, a culture of coexistence, protection of nature and self-sustainability, and with an epistemological and praxiological vision not only towards the endogenous, but towards the exogenous in all its dimensions.

The directors of the Cuban Revolution and the predominant consensus of the people have proclaimed themselves to be for a prosperous and sustainable socialism, which has to be rebuilt every day, at all hours and in every instant. The liberating utopia that expresses the popular desire to change things confronts the common sense of what is established, the old mentality, inertia and immobility, corruption, illegalities and crimes, bureaucratism and technocracy inserted into a society which is prepared to take new steps towards meeting the New Man, extolled by Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

The depth and the speed—without hurry but without pause, Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz has said on multiple occasions—that demands updates to the Cuban socialist model, require greater coherence and harmony between talk and practice. The current processes of changes in Cuban society advocate for integrated national and local development, however, in these spaces, it is manifest that there are still divisions and fragmentation between institutions and social actors, partial ignorance of the objectives of the project that calls for change, absence of holistic strategic visions in some leaders and directors at high, medium and low levels, a lack of transparency in decision-making and resource management, a predominant thoughtless immediacy in the carrying out of the process, which is synonymous with volunteerism and idealism; strong social relationships are not built between social actors; secretive, sectarian and discriminatory attitudes are presented; prejudices and taboos exist that limit interpersonal communication; verticalism and authoritarianism are reproduced to work and call on a diversity of actors.

Cooperatives and worker self-management are not a panacea for these evils, but they can become an indispensible democratizing mediation if we do not detour and distort the course of their practical implementation. They are part of the diverse paths that must be cleared to continue in the complex process towards the unknown that is building or moving towards socialism, the path to communism.

In that great socialist task—and to be agitated is to subvert and make revolution permanently—Cuban society and its Revolution moves irreversibly.

Dr. Orlando Cruz Capote
Havana, 13 August, 2013.


  1. Dr. Orlando Cruz Capote is Research Assistant of the Institute of Philosophy, of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, (CITMA), Cuba.

  2. R. Cervantes, F. Gil, R. Regalado y R. Zardoya, Transnacionalización y Desnacionalización. Ensayos sobre el Capitalismo Contemporáneo, Editorial Félix Varela, La Habana, 2002.

  3. Claudio Katz, Las disyuntivas de la izquierda en América Latina, Ediciones Luxemburg, Buenos Aires, 2008; Nils Castro, Las izquierdas LATINOAMERICANAS en tiempos DE CREAR, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2012; Nayar López Castellanos, Perspectivas del socialismo latinoamericano en el siglo XX, OCEAN SUR una editorial latinoamericana, Cuba, 2012.

  4. Roberto Regalado, La Izquierda latinoamericana en el gobierno: ¿alternativas o reciclaje?, OCEAN SUR una editorial latinoamericana, Cuba, 2012.

  5. Orlando Cruz Capote, “La urgencia de la unidad dentro de la diversidad enNuestra América,” enRevista Cubana de Ciencias Sociales, Nros. 38 / 39, Instituto de Filosofía, La Habana, 2009.

  6. Las diversas formas de integración, cooperación y complementación que están surgiendo y fortaleciéndose en América Latina-Caribe desde el ALBA, PetroCaribe, UNASUR, hasta MERCOSUR y la CELAC, por mencionar las más distintivas y dinámicas en los últimos años.

  7. Roberto Regalado, América Latina entre siglos: dominación, crisis, lucha social y alternativas políticas de la izquierda (edición actualizada), Ocean Sur, México, 2006; Eliades Acosta Matos, Imperialismo del siglo XXI. Las Guerras Culturales, Casa Editora Abril, La Habana, 2009.

  8. Luciano Vasapollo, La cara sucia de la Globalización, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2006.

  9. István Mészáros, La Teoría de la Enajenación en Marx, Editorial Ciencias Sociales, la Habana, 2005.

  10. Orlando Cruz Capote, Unas notas y dos visiones sobre la Perestroika y sus consecuencias, Revista Cubana de Ciencias Sociales, No.36-37, Instituto de Filosofía, La Habana, 2006.

  11. Michael Lebowitz, El socialismo no cae del cielo. Un nuevo comienzo, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2009.

  12. BeatrizStolowicz, Los desafíos del pensamiento crítico latinoamericano, Contexto Latinoamericano, No. 8, México D.F., 2008, pp. 135-144.

  13. Roberto Regalado, Encuentros y desencuentros de la izquierda latinoamericana: una mirada desde el Foro de São Paulo, Ocean Sur, México D.F., 2008.

  14. Ariel Dacal Díaz (compilador), Movimientos Sociales. Sujetos, alternativas y resistencias, Ruth Casa Editorial, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2010.

  15. “(…) even though socialism, in a sense, started long before, and in another meaning several decades after the great French Revolution, there is […] reasons sufficient to take the year 1789 like point of departure for un study of the development of modern socialist ideas. This is the moment from which is possible continue, not only continuous development in the sphere of thought, but also a growing connection between el thought and the movements that try to give him practical expression,” in G. D. H. Cole, Historia del Pensamiento Socialista I: Los precursores (1789- 850), T. I., Fondo de Cultura Económica, México D. F., 1986, p. 19.

  16. Atilio Borón, Javier Amadeo y Sabrina González (Compiladores), La Teoría marxista hoy. Problemas y perspectivas, CLASO, Buenos Aires, 2006.

  17. Renato Simoes, “Nueva agenda para partidos, movimientos sociales y gobiernos progresistas,” Contexto Latinoamericano, No. 9, México D.F., 2008, pp. 155-163.

  18. Orlando Cruz Capote, “Los principios éticos de una polémica desde la izquierda,” 16 de abril de 2008, en cubaccoraje.cu y otros medios digitales alternativos de izquierda.

  19. Orlando Cruz Capote, “Una vieja deuda. Los núcleos duros y esenciales de una teoría política de izquierda,” en dos partes, 4 y 5 de marzo de 2009, en cubaccoraje.cu, Lapolillacubana.cu y otros medios alternativos de izquierda internacionales.

  20. Federico Engels, Carta a Joseph Bloch, Obras Escogidas (en 1 tomo), Editorial Progreso, Moscú, s/f, pp. 717-718.

  21. Frederic Jameson, La lógica cultural del capitalismo tardío, Centro de Asesoría y Estudios Sociales, Madrid, 2005; Ernest Mandel, Las ondas largas: ensayo de una explicación marxista, Revista Crítica Comunista, No. 143, París, 1995.

  22. Gilberto Valdés Gutiérrez, Posneoliberalismo y movimientos antisistémicos, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2009.

  23. Inmanuel Wallerstein, El Foro Social Mundial en la Encrucijada, en América Latina en Movimiento, No. 385-386, 20 de julio del 2004; La decadencia del poder estadounidense, Ediciones Le Monde Diplomatique, El Dipló, Capital Intelectual, Buenos Aires, 2006; Daniel Mato,Think Tanks, fundaciones y profesionales en la promoción de ideas (neo) liberales en América Latina, en Cultura y neoliberalismo, Alejandro Grimson (compilador), CLACSO, Buenos Aires, 2007.

  24. Daniel Mato (Compilador), Cultura, política y sociedad. Perspectivas latinoamericanas, CLACSO, Buenos Aires, 2005; Alejandro Grimson, Cultura y neoliberalismo, CLACSO, Buenos Aires, 2007.

  25. Pablo González Casanova, Las nuevas ciencias y las humanidades, De la Academia a la Política, Anthropos Editorial, México, 2004.

  26. Hugo Zemelman Merino, Conocimiento y Ciencias Sociales. Algunas lecciones sobre problemas epistemológicos, Universidad de la Ciudad de México, México, DF., 2003.

  27. Néstor Kohan, Marx en su (Tercer) Mundo. Hacia un socialismo no colonizado, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de la Cultura Cubana Juan Marinello, La Habana, 2003; Fetichismo y hegemonía en tiempos de rebelión, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2005.

  28. Carlos Vilas, Democracia y alternativas al neoliberalismo, en América Latina y el Caribe: Perspectivas de su reconstrucción (Raquel Sosa Elízaga, coordinadora), Asociación Latinoamericana de Sociología, UNAM, México, 1996.

  29. Iñaki Gil de San Vicente, ¿Por qué y cómo debemos organizarnos?, en La Haine (digital), 30 de mayo de 2011.

  30. Andrés Ruggeri (Compilador),Las empresas recuperadas. Autogestión obrera en Argentina y América Latina, Editorial de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Programa Facultad Abierta, Secretaría de Extensión Universitaria, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2009.

  31. Idem.

  32. Isabel Rauber, Construcción de poder desde abajo. Claves para una Nueva Estrategia, Editorial Pasado y Presente XXI, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana, 2000; Movimientos sociales y representación política, Editorial Pasado y Presente XXI, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana, 2003. Romper el cerco, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, 2003.

  33. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Reinventar la democracia. Reinventar el Estado, Editorial José Martí, La Habana, 2005.

  34. Cooperativas y socialismo. Una mirada desde Cuba, Camila Piñeiro Harnecker Compiladora, Editorial Caminos, La Habana, 2012.

  35. Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social del Partido y la Revolución, VI Congreso del PCC, Editora Política, La Habana, Abril de 2011; Primera Conferencia Nacional del Partido Comunista de Cuba, Editora Política, La Habana, 2012.

  36. Georgina Alfonso González, Diversidad plural y sentidos de vida ¿Qué socialismo queremos?, en Cuba: “transformaciones necesarias,” América Latina en Movimiento, No. 465, Año XXXV, II época, mayo 2011, pp.17-20, http://alainet.org.

  37. Idem.

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