The Priority is Freedom, Not Capital

Monday, May 26, 2014
Cuban philosopher and former University Havana Professor, Dr. Alexis Jardines, also opposes the Council of the Americas' open letter to President Obama lobbying him to bypass Congress in easing travel and financial sanctions towards Cuba.

Here's an excerpt of his rationale in Diario de Cuba (our translation):

The specific theme of the letter is civil society. However, I get the impression that the authors are addressing this tendentious issue in order to disguise their true intentions of engagement with the regime, rather than to find a solution to the Cuban problem, which should be said once and for all, is political.

Those who distract with economic issues are, often times without knowing it, doing a service to those who govern the island. We shouldn't forget that in state socialism, misery is artificially provoked.

In effect, any attempt to deal with the issue of a transition to democracy should have civil society as an obligatory reference point, for its a corresponding act of liberation and its expansion. Totalitarianism is nothing more than the consequence of the kidnapping and total absorption of the structures of civil society by the state, which are then exercised by the state itself (fascism) or the Party (national socialism, Stalinism).

Castro's Cuba is an offshoot of Stalinist totalitarianism. Independent of the virtual process of reforms started by Raul Castro, the essence of the Cuban political system remains totalitarian. This means that "self-employment" ("cuentapropismo") is irrelevant, whether more or less developed. It is part of Castro's totalitarian logic and is, therefore, under the control of the state-Party. Let's not forget that it was conceived by the "Lineamientos" (Raul's economic directives) with the sole purpose of generating liquidity. Thus, its reach is limited to the will of the Party bosses.

To provide oxygen to civil society by means of U.S. money, through the "self-employed," is one of those ingenuities that some members of the exile community and the U.S. government have fallen into and which have permitted the Castros to rule the island for five decades. The reforms were implemented with the firm purpose that a class of new rich would not appear. There are already some who are rich within the "self-employed" sector, but they are the same rich as always. The rest is pure "timbiriche."

My opinion is that without a liberation of the political shackles -- not necessarily the economic ones -- that maintain civil society constricted, the 40 signatories of the letter would not be negotiating with entrepreneurs, real or imaginary. They would be negotiating with transmuted militants of the sole Party.

Therefore, we should deal with this issue from its core, without distorting the embargo, which means implementing (intensifying, according to Castroite terminology) the embargo in the same measure as we strengthen -- as much as possible -- contact and exchange with all of the independent projects of civil society. This doesn't exclude "self-employment," but doesn't prioritize it either. The priority here is freedom, not capital. If the "self-employed" fight for an independent labor union, then they would be welcome. That has been, and will continue to be, my position.

Ease the embargo? The Castros are laughing inside.