Cuban Socialism Surpasses Capitalist Countries by Health Indices

Originally published as “Cuban life indicators continue to rise: Another vindication of a society that puts people first”

(By Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist))

In December, at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Cuban President Raul Castro and US leader Barack Obama shared a handshake – the first between their nations’ leaders in well over a decade. It may very well have been impromptu, but it nevertheless prompted a flurry of speculation across international media. The handshake, it was suggested, is symbolic of thawing Cuban-American relations.

The following month, the BBC quoted Edward Alex Lee, deputy assistant secretary of the US State Department, as saying the United States is “very open” to building new relations with Cuba. In fact, he said, both countries had shared “very productive” talks and made “substantial progress” on bilateral issues such as migration, aviation safety, counter-narcotics operations, and resuming postal services. The United States is keen to continue these “rare negotiations”, the article stated. . (‘ Cuba – US very open to new relationship’, BBC News Online, 11 January 2014)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican congresswoman in Florida and virulent anti-communist, condemned the exchange and the perceived easing of tensions, labelling Cuba as “cruel, ruthless and [tyrannical]”. Mr Lee was then quick to reaffirm the United States’ concerns over its neighbour’s ‘human-rights record’ and stated that any improved relations must be accompanied by a “fundamental change” in the attitude of the Cuban government towards its own people. (‘White House says Obama-Castro handshake not planned ’, BBC News Online, 10 December 2013)

Infant mortality falling

So what exactly is the Cuban government’s attitude towards its people? In fact, there was a clear demonstration of this in December as the public health ministry released data showing that the infant mortality rate in Cuba continues to decline, and is now just 4.2 deaths per 1,000 births – the lowest in the island’s history.

Infant mortality is a key indicator to “measure the health and well-being of a nation, because factors affecting the health of entire populations can also impact the mortality rate of infants”. (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012)

It is often difficult to compare statistics between socialist and leading capitalist countries, because the latter have enjoyed centuries of economic development; development that has rested upon the exploitation of their workers and the plunder of vast colonies abroad. Socialist countries, by contrast, are relatively young, and are subject to intense economic restrictions imposed by stronger capitalist states that want to see them fail.

Cuba is a perfect example of this: the tiny island has faced a brutal economic blockade enforced by the mighty US for more than five decades. In practice, this deprives the Cuban economy of billions of dollars each year, as well as holding back its technological development.

Yet, despite this handicap, and comparing 2013 statistics from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Cuba’s infant mortality rate compares favourably to the European Union average (4.43 per thousand), the United Kingdom (4.5 per thousand), and the United States (5.9 per thousand).  Continue reading

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…Nor Will It Be Brought To You By Russell Brand, Oliver Stone Or Noam Chomsky

(By Stephen Gowans)

Not too many years ago, when protesters were running riot through the streets, disrupting meetings of the WTO, G7, and other international organizations, the Canadian newspaper The National Post served up a flattering and generous portrait of young people who had eschewed the streets as a terrain for political struggle and turned instead to what the newspaper considered the responsible and laudatory path of seeking nomination to run as candidates for the mildly social democratic (but in the newspaper’s view, rabidly leftwing) New Democratic Party. This was a curious turn of events, for the National Post, a newspaper founded by the notoriously rightwing, white-collar criminal, Lord Conrad Black, was as likely in normal times to heap praise on anyone associated with the NDP as George Bush was to sing the praises of Kim Il Sung. But these were not normal times. In retrospect it’s easy to see that the protests, demonstrations, and strikes of the time, would fizzle and die, as the Occupy movement would also fizzle and die years later. Lacking a central organizing idea and concrete vision of where they wanted to go, they were too hobbled by anarchist nonsense to achieve much more than to sell a few more copies of Z Magazine and to create a decent phrase about the 1% making off with all the wealth at the expense of the 99%. But it was clear that the editors of the National Post were worried enough to recommend a path other than the streets to those who burned with the desire for political change. That they should recommend electoral politics was predictable. Young people who plowed their energies into the NDP would soon get bogged down in the harmless, ineffectual, routines of political campaigns, and be kept safely off the streets.

The wealthy are keen on electoral politics—when they go their way, as they often do. Elections in capitalist society can be dominated by money, as can the larger political process. Banks, corporations and major investors lobby politicians, fund political campaigns, bribe legislators with the promise of lucrative post-political jobs, place their representatives in key positions in the state, and shape the ideological environment through their control of the media, creation of think-tanks, hiring of PR firms, and funding of university chairs. Those without wealth can hardly compete, except, in principle, by pooling their resources and hoping to tilt the balance the other way against a formidable foe that controls infinitely more resources. The absence of organization and class consciousness, however, routinely assures this doesn’t happen. Moreover, the electoral arena channels dissent into predictable, controllable paths, keeping it off the streets, where it might become unpredictable and therefore dangerous. Additionally, the sway that corporate, banking and investor groups exercise behind the scenes is masked by the egalitarian spectacle of elections. One person, one vote. What could be more equal?

I was reminded of this after reading the Russell Brand-edited issue of The New Statesman [1], not because it was in any particular way an endorsement of capitalist democracy, but because, like the National Post, it defined legitimate political change within parameters favorable to the established order. Of course, Brand wasn’t advocating electoral politics as the National Post was. On the contrary, he spoke out against voting in an interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, and called for a revolution. But Brand’s New Statesman went further than the National Post. Where the National Post said that those who fight for political change within the established system are admirable, while those who step outside it are not, Brand, as editor, tackled the larger idea of revolution (the only way, he said, he could get interested in politics. ) Mind you, a mass circulation magazine was not about to become a platform to rally the masses to armed insurrection to overthrow the established order. “The revolution,” observed Gil Scott-Heron, “will not be televised.” Nor will it be found in the pages of the New Statesman. Predictably, the outcome of Brand’s editing exercise was the redefining of the entire idea of revolution, or, I should say, the destroying of it altogether, turning it into something vague and difficult to put your finger on, except to say it was good, and true, and safe to bring home to mother. But not at all like what Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il sung were implicated in. According to the luminaries Brand assembled to hold forth on what revolution means, revolution isn’t the transfer of productive property from one group to another –from, say, private owners to workers, or colonial settlers to those they dispossessed, or even owners who reside outside a country to the people within. Instead, it means many things, but not what you thought it did. [2] Continue reading

1999 Declaration of the International Communist Seminar

Toilers’ Struggle supports this declaration of principles as a fundamental starting point for the unity of communists on the basis of recognizing the basic theoretical principles of Marxism-Leninism and the rich experiences of socialist revolution which inspire and hold lessons for the struggle for socialism in the 21st century. 

Brussels, 4 May, 1999:

1. Today, communists all over the world are summing up the first century of socialist revolution, in order to prepare for greater struggles to come and to achieve ever greater victories. They will exert every effort for the 21st century to become the century of victory on a world scale.

2. The bourgeoisie struggled for three centuries in order to triumph over the forces of feudalism. The socialist revolution aims to put an end to the long reign of the exploiting classes and to eliminate all forms of exploitation of man by man. The final victory of socialism all over the world will take a whole historical epoch.

3. The twentieth century has witnessed great feats of socialist revolution and construction, but also treason and counter-revolution within communist ranks. The twentieth century has been one of dress rehearsal, during which the proletariat accumulated great positive experiences as well as negative and tragic ones. As long as the communist parties remained loyal to the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism, the world socialist revolution followed an ascending course. As soon as the revisionists imposed themselves on a great number of communist parties, the revolution began its downfall.

I A glorious experience

4. A hundred and fifty years ago, Marx and Engels published the “Manifesto of the Communist Party”. The fundamental principles laid down by this great programmatic document remain valid for the proletariat of all countries.

5. Marx and Engels drew the lessons from the Paris Commune, the first revolution to take the path of socialist revolution, the path of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The different forms of power of the working class essentially correspond to the measures taken by the Paris Commune, and later by the Soviets, so as to allow the workers to become the effective rulers of society.

6. Struggling against social-democratic treason, the Bolshevik Party under the leadership of Lenin defended Marxism and developed the strategy and tactics of the socialist revolution, leading the October uprising and wrenching the workers from the barbarism of imperialist wars and interventions. Lenin formulated the general line for building socialism. The October Revolution created a new situation in the world: bourgeois order had to coexist with its opposite, socialist order: the existence of a large socialist country reminded all exploited and oppressed people that the unjust order of capitalism and imperialism could be overthrown. Basically, capitalism’s area of exploitation of both the work force and mineral resources was reduced.

7. Neither the international bourgeoisie nor the opportunists in the Bolshevik Party believed that socialism could last in one backward country alone. It was the Soviet working class and labouring masses, led by the Party with Stalin at its head, who put Lenin’s political principles into practice and built a great socialist power, the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.

8. The struggle for industrialisation, which mobilised millions of young workers, transformed a backward and feudal country into an industrial power able to stand up to world imperialism. Middle Ages agriculture was transformed, becoming mechanised and collective. Thanks to the cultural revolution, the former country of illiterate moujiks became a country of scientists, engineers and technicians.

9. The Bolshevik Party, under the leadership of Stalin, built the Red Army in a high spirit of initiative and heroism and forged close links between the army and the popular masses. Practically on its own, the Red Army defeated Hitler’s armies.

10. The Soviet Union’s victorious anti-fascist war stimulated the development of the communist movement on a world-wide scale, especially in Europe and Asia. The victory of the Soviet Union over German imperialism gave new impulse to the revolutionary anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movement that shook imperialist domination in Asia and Africa. In several countries, people’s democracy and socialism triumphed.

11. In the wake of World War II, the focus of the world proletarian revolution shifted to Asia, where the most heroic wars of liberation were waged and won under the leadership of the communist parties of China, Korea and Vietnam.

12. By developing the theory and practice of protracted people’s war in the course of the anti-imperialist and democratic revolution in an immense Third World country, the Chinese Communist Party, led by Mao Zedong made a contribution of international importance. He proceeded to transform the democratic revolution into socialist revolution, undertook socialist construction, put forward the theory and practice of continuing revolution to combat revisionism, prevent the restoration of capitalism and consolidate the gains of socialism.

13. At the time of Stalin’s death, the socialist camp and the forces of anti-imperialist revolution enjoyed unprecedented power and prestige. They were on the offensive, the oppressed all over the world could look to the future with optimism.

II The rise of revisionism and the struggle against it Continue reading

Eye Witnesses to Socialism in Cuba: “The Cuban Revolution is Still Strong!”

(By the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist))

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)’s report on its visit to the Republic of Cuba in June, 2012 serves as an inspiration to all of those struggling against imperialism.  Not only can we win, but a bright and dignified future awaits us on the other side of the revolution and subsequent challenges.  Click here for the complete album of photos from the trip.

At the end of June, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) hosted a delegation of CPGB-ML comrades, led by our chairman Harpal Brar and vice-chairman and international secretary Ella Rule.

The exchange was characterised by a spirit of sincere friendship between the working people of Britain and Cuba and true comradeship between CPGB-ML delegates and our Cuban hosts, borne of a remarkable harmony of outlook and realisation of our common interests and destinies.

We were privileged to meet members of the PCC’s central committee and delegates of the National Assembly of People’s Power (the Cuban people’s parliament), including Ramon Pez Ferro, who was the youngest member of Fidel Castro’s company when it stormed the Moncada barracks on 26 July 1953.

{Above: With comrades David Lopez Sierra (translator), Oscar Martinez Cordovez, Noel Carrillo Alfonso and Jamila Pita (International Relations dpt).}

{Above: Ramon Pez Ferro (centre), representative at the PPNA and the youngest of the rebels who stormed Mocada Barracks on 26 July 1953.}

It was this attack on the Moncada barracks, challenging the corrupt rule of US puppet Fulgencio Batista, that served as a call to arms to Cuba’s finest revolutionary youth and gave rise to the July 26 Movement (M 26-7). That movement went on to overthrew the brutal Batista dictatorship on 1 January 1959 and laid the foundations of the modern socialist state of Cuba.

We met leaders of the youth movement (CJC), women’s federation and trade unions, as well as health workers and cooperative farmers. All told us of their current struggle to build a productive and efficient socialist economy, to improve the material conditions of the Cuban people and to safeguard the gains of the revolution. Continue reading

Cuba’s Economic Reforms: Strengthening the Cuban Revolution

(By Bill Preston and Carl Gentile)

Almost 80 people packed a classroom at Pace University’s downtown New York campus on a relatively warm, mostly sunny Saturday afternoon, on March 17, 2012, to learn about new developments in Cuba directly from diplomats of the Republic of Cuba.

The panel’s purpose was to explain the economic reforms and new period of socialist construction launched in Cuba in 2011.  Marxism-Leninism Today (www.mltoday.com) sponsored the panel, a first for the electronic journal, at this year’s Left Forum.  The Left Forum, which takes place once a year in New York City, gathers activists and intellectuals across a wide range of political tendencies from anarchist and social-democratic to Communist.

Its venue, on a college campus across the street from City Hall, is a short walk to Wall Street and an even shorter walk to the park that continues to be a site of Occupy Wall Street, where dozens marking the movement’s six-month anniversary were beaten and arrested by the New York Police Department the same day of this panel on Cuba on the nearby campus. Continue reading

Castro Didn’t “Take The Guns”, Alex Jones: Guns & Socialism

(By Return to the Source)

Looks like he missed a few guns…

True, we have a higher gun violence level, but overall, muggings, stabbing, deaths — those men raped that woman to India to death with an iron rod 4 feet long. You can’t ban the iron rods. The guns, the iron rods, Piers, didn’t do it, the tyrants did it. Hitler took the guns, Stalin took the guns, Mao took the guns, Fidel Castro took the guns, Hugo Chavez took the guns, and I’m here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms! It doesn’t matter how many lemmings you get out there in the street begging for them to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them. Do you understand?

– Alex Jones on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, 1/7/13

Of all the most common arguments used by the Right in the US to defend their helter skelter view of the Second Amendment, none stands more dishonest than their indictment of socialist leaders like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Fidel Castro as ‘tyrants who take guns’.

The argument goes something like this. First, throw out the names of some political leaders demonized in the United States. Second, claim that they banned guns and confiscated firearms from the population and that this act more than anything else facilitated their rise to power. Finally, liken gun control advocates and liberals to these leaders and argue that regulation of gun ownership is a slippery slope towards ‘tyranny.’

The infamous Drudge Report headline, bizarrely likening Stalin to Hitler

Incidentally, this argument has gotten a lot more press coverage in the last week. The now-infamous Alex Jones-Piers Morgan interview was only outdone by a Drudge Report headline from January 9th, which featured pictures of Stalin and Hitler above a caption that read, “White House Threatens Executive Orders on Guns.”

It’s all nonsense, of course, starting with the premise that the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, warrior of the highest escalations of capital, has anything in common with revolutionary leaders like Stalin, Mao, Castro, and Chavez. Then there’s the bloated death totals we hear quite often in the corporate media and Western academia, parroted most recently by Jones, who claimed that Mao “killed about 80 million people because he’s the only guy who had the guns.”

However, a closer examination of the historical record reveals that the entire argument is based on distortions or outright falsehoods. Guns were not summarily banned in any of these countries – including Nazi Germany, as a matter of historical note. Although firearm ownership took a distinctly different form than the Wild Wild West policies in the United States, which favor individual rights and vigilante justice over social and class rights, guns remained an important part of defending socialism from imperialist aggression. Continue reading