The Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has yet to make a public appearance at the five days-long celebration marking his 80th birthday. Socialism endures. These two sentences are factually correct but otherwise completely unrelated. The myth-making media and many on the Left would no doubt disagree. The latter are certainly relieved to learn that "Cuba won't abandon socialism just yet". This is the title of a recent article, written by one Paolo Spadoni - a professor of political science no less, so his views must be respected! - in 'The Christian Science Monitor' (sic).
What utter nonsense! Truly this amounts to another abortion of Socialist Understanding. See also this.
What then is the Socialist position? Time for a brief history lesson In 1938 the Cuban 'Communist' Party openly supported General Batista and twenty years later effectively broke the general strike called by Castro. This may sound strange but Castro's forces were aligned on anti-Batista, pro-nationalist lines - they were not even pretending to be socialist! Castro clearly identified himself as an enemy of the working class. He failed to deliver on his promise of free elections within a year of ousting the previous dictator! Perhaps this was because he felt a need to consolidate his power, as the numerous silenced, exiled or imprisoned members of trade unions and other groups suggest. No opposition parties or newspapers survived the purge. Ironically, it was US aggression which led Cuba down the state capitalist path of development. This brought about the much praised rise in literacy and improved health care, but such developments are part and parcel of producing a modern working class equipped to handle advanced methods of production. However, in other areas, Castro was candid enough to admit, as in 1965, that the regime had not even begun to deal seriously with the housing problem. Indeed, six years later the workers were told to build their own in addition to their normal work! This was never actually a problem for Castro and the nomenklatura - such difficulties are never experienced by the capitalist class. Tellingly, the existence of profits, interest, wages (all hallmarks of capitalism) in the early 80's, when links with the so-called Communist bloc were strong, is revealed by Peter Marshall in his Cuba Libre: Breaking the Chains. (He also writes about the existence of thousands of political prisoners and appalling anti-gay prejudice as well as stating that strikes and the formation of free trade unions are illegal). Since the collapse of many former state capitalist trading partners, reports suggest that the quality of life for the working class in Cuba has declined; poverty & prostitution are rife alongside deteriorating health and schooling facilities. Change to another form of capitalism is possible and is apparently being considered, as ABC News International reports.
Also worth a look is this Newsdesk.org piece , which reports that the Cuban government has launched a study with a surprising focus: What is it about socialism that causes people to steal?
Yes, Socialism endures in spite of the likes of Castro, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin and all the other motley misleaders past and present!
Still not convinced? Check out this.
Oh, and for any Che Guevara fans, who think he was a "socialist". This is for you.