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Cuba 2007: Speaking with the Cuban Libertarian Movement (MLC)

category central america / caribbean | anarchist movement | other libertarian press author Friday August 03, 2007 20:54author by Cuban Libertarian Movement - MLCauthor email movimientolibertariocubano at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Interview by the Russian newspaper SITUATION from libertarian collective Autonomous Action regarding the current political picture in the island.

- Fidel Castro is in his last throes. Who do you think will rule in Cuba after his death?

º Fidel Castro is not dead yet, but even if he reappears, his role as leader of the revolution and chief of government is over. Raul has for now inherited the dictatorship but with his brother’s disappearance it’s unlikely he can exert power for long. Many factors indicate the opposite.

- Do you think Fidel is a dictator, yes or no?

º Somebody who’s been in power for almost half a century, violently crushing any opposition may be considered as much of a dictator as Stalin.

- What was Fidel’s policy with respect to other left movements (anarchists, Trotskyites, etc.)?

º In regards to the Trotskyites this question belongs to those who continue to romantically believe in Lev Davidovich. Some Cubans from that sect went into exile due to the repression following the death of Che Guevara. Anarchists were persecuted from the very beginning when some of our comrades were expelled from the unions, afterwards death, prison or exile was the medicine prescribed by the government against the Cuban anarchists.

- Brother Raúl doesn’t look like a strong politician, is that so?

º He doesn’t just seem weak, he is weak. He inherited the rank of chief of the Cuban army and Castro’s successor in 1959 as he was the only person the dictator could trust. He’s always been accustomed to taking orders from his brother and when his brother is gone he will not have the power he now has. For now he has delegated some sort of committee that in reality runs the government due to his brother’s incapacity. With the dictator gone, Raul will be left alone in a country that crumbles slowly and urgently demands political, social and economic change. Raul is incapable of filling Fidel’s shoes and we can’t rule out a violent popular uprising against the regime. At least it seems in Washington they expect the worst and are preparing for these events.

- The history of the Cuban anarchist movement is unknown in Russia. How long has it been around? How did it start?

º We should not be surprised that little is known about the Cuban anarchists even though Frank Fernandez left information in Moscow and Granada, but maybe it was with a different group. We recommend Frank Fernandez book (in English) for more information.

- Except for your web site, we have found this other site http://libertario.lautre.net/, but it doesn’t work. Is there any other libertarian group in Cuba besides you?

º We don’t think so, unless they have created another in Cuba.

- What is your relationship with the Cuban Communist Party?

º We maintain no communication nor relations with the PCC (Cuban Communist Party)

- Is change possible in the Cuban political situation after Fidel’s death, as happened in Russia between 1989 and 1993 after the fall of the USSR? In that case, how would the politics of the MLC change?

º It might be a possibility but we can’t answer the question for now. Political change implies a change in strategy, but the initial tactics will be dictated by our possibilities.

- What is Cuba’s political structure today? Soviet republic, dictatorship, something else?

º Cuban power structures were copied from the Soviet state in 1960. A constitution was drafted in 1976 which was a copy of Stalin’s 1936 constitution and is still in force.

- Today’s Russian political elite were able to stay in power by grabbing control of oil and gas. What keeps Cuba’s economy alive these days?

º Today Cuba’s economy is kept alive thanks to the free Venezuelan oil that Chavez sends, also because of the money from sent to Cuba from abroad by Cubans in exile and also because of tourism.

- Are there many Cubans unhappy because Cuba is socialist?

º Over 10% of the population lives abroad. Inside Cuba there’s a very weak civil opposition but it’s impossible to make a formal declaration by those opposed to the system, we can only cite statistics of those Cubans who apply to emigrate (almost a million) and not because Cuba is socialist, but because it is a dictatorship outside of time and space, too long and boring.

- How does the everyday citizen live? Can they travel freely in and out of Cuba? Can you criticize Castro? Can any Cuban buy a car for his family?

º The everyday Cuban lives in poverty and with little hope of improving unless there’s a change of system, as happened in Russia and Eastern Europe. It is forbidden to leave the country and even traveling from a city to another puts you under surveillance. It is forbidden to criticize Castro as he represents the government, national sovereignty, the economy etc. Any criticism is very dangerous and after a stern warning you can be thrown in prison if you persist, accused of counterrevolution. It’s practically impossible to buy a car, although there’s a black market, salaries are too low. Only government or army functionaries have access to this type of transportation.


* Interview by the Russian newspaper SITUATION from libertarian collective Autonomous Action www.avtonom.org regarding the current political picture in the island. A Spanish translation was published in El Libertario #50, Venezuela, 2007. For more info go to: www.mlc.contrapoder.org.ve -cuban anarchist website- and www.nodo50.org/ellibertario

Related Link: http://www.mlc.contrapoder.org.ve
author by Paddy Rua - WSMpublication date Sat Aug 04, 2007 22:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The everyday Cuban lives in poverty and with little hope of improving unless there’s a change of system, as happened in Russia and Eastern Europe."

We all agree there's a need to change the system... but to the left! Is the MCL serious when they say they want a change of system as happened in Russia and Eastern Europe?

Now what you have there is autocracy plus the most savage version imaginable of free market. This new system made poverty, for the bulk of the population, worse, increasing the gap between rich and poor, increasing anti-social behaviour and bringing to ruins the health and education system.

The only people in Eastern Europe that could improve their lot were the tycoons and the mafia that swept over the region, not the working class.

True, there needs to be change. But should it happen at the expense of education and health, two remarkable features of Cuban society? At the expense of the working class, and to favour a new mafia and the old bureaucracy turned into the new Caribbean dandees? What could anarchists offer today as a way out to the current regime? Do they have an alternative? It would be extremely sad to apply the Russian solution to the Cuban people who deserve more than that, and even worse if "anarchists" tacitly endorse it.

author by m(A)tt - SDSpublication date Sun Aug 05, 2007 00:00author email circleamatt at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well, it seems that to Cuban anarchists that remain on the island have been organizing an underground syndicalist movement (GALSIC I believe it's called) which is an extremely intelligent thing to do. When the old regime comes down (which it will, I suspect, sooner or later) there needs to be a workers movement that is actually willing to fight whatever set of exploiters comes next, something the Communists never had much interest in before the Cuban revolution. In fact, it was always generally a middle class movement that fell into bed with whomever happened to occupy La Habana more than a few months.

author by Manuel Baptistapublication date Sun Aug 05, 2007 19:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Concerning the comment from Paddy Rua:
I think one can interpret the answer* in context. I think the question emphasis was in civil liberties and in liberty of movement.
Concerning freedom of movements, freedom of press, namely, there was a noticeable change in the ex-soviet union and in the eastern european countries.
I think that the anarchists are realistic when they prepare to some kind of "liberal" capitalism. The things the castroist regime keeps boasting about, like free health care and education, are really a myth, in the sense that the party aristocracy has completely different conditions than the common citizens.
What people like Canek Guevara defend is networking groups concerned with social struggles, class struggles, environmental, gender...
Read Canek interview here:
http://www.ainfos.ca/05/jan/ainfos00021.html

--------
*
«How does the everyday citizen live? Can they travel freely in and out of Cuba? Can you criticize Castro? Can any Cuban buy a car for his family?

º The everyday Cuban lives in poverty and with little hope of improving unless there’s a change of system, as happened in Russia and Eastern Europe»

author by Paddy Rua - WSMpublication date Sun Aug 05, 2007 21:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One thing is being realistic about some form of "liberal" capitalism; quite another is to present it as some form of "improvement".

"The things the castroist regime keeps boasting about, like free health care and education, are really a myth, in the sense that the party aristocracy has completely different conditions than the common citizens."

Anarchists, because of their opposition to State dictatorship, can't be blind to the fact that Cuba's health system has been objectively described as one of the best today in the world, to the point that numerous people travel from all over the world there to get treatment they can't get in their own countries. That's no myth, and to reach such a point of denial undermines the whole case against one-party dictatorships. We criticize the Castro's regime for what's wrong with it, not for the few things that people in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica or Puerto Rico would dream of having (health and education -surely two quite important rights, but they don't justify in any form a single party regime for so long).

Not only it is much better than the rest of Latin America's, but it is better than most of the first world's health system -the recent documentary of Michael Moore's points out that fact (he is hardly a Communist or a Castroit).

Concerning to the freedom of the press: do all the threats and murders of journalists in the ex-Eastern block reflect an improvement in freedom? I would seriously doubt it.

author by Manuel Baptistapublication date Mon Aug 06, 2007 02:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

«Cuba's health system has been objectively described as one of the best today in the world»
It's clearly false!
I can name a dozen countries that have much better health indexes than Cuba. In fact, what is 'claimable' is with a GNP/pers. similar to the Cuban one, most other countries cannot have as good health indexes.
But even this is debatable, just because you don't know anything objective about health care in Cuba. You only have faked statistical figures, like it was usual in all the so-called socialist countries. It goes back to stalinist era, and was never really reversed even after the nominal denial of stalinist methods.

« to the point that numerous people travel from all over the world there to get treatment they can't get in their own countries.»
Perhaps there are people travelling to Cuba, but not for free. Unless they are politically allied to Cuban regime.

«That's no myth, and to reach such a point of denial undermines the whole case against one-party dictatorships. »
It's nothing that I affirm by myself. But I listen to Cuban anarchists and read their press. Perhaps you have not the whole picture, because you have not the same ease in reading Castillan as I have?

«We criticize the Castro's regime for what's wrong with it,»
This regime has a very powerfull propaganda, and supporters in various countries. This myth about their health and educational system is part of it.

But is it wise and anti-authoritarian to deny Cuban citizens the lucidity about their own way of living? If they were so happy in their island, how come so may want to emigrate?

If you want to be serious about Cuba's «socialism» you should first ask yourself the following question and have a good answer for it:
«Why, having 'the best' health and educational system in all Latin America, most Cubans want to go away from their island?»

My answer is:

1st: the health and educational system is a myth, it is not as good as it appears. They can make some bucks using the high technology medicine they normally keep to the high dignataries of the regime, to cure some affluent people, or some 'revolutionary' allies, for a propaganda reason.

2nd: even if such health and educational system was really as propaganda depicts it, sure I would not feel happy under such regime. I would not even dream to expose myself publicly as an anarchist or to give them any clues that I was opposed to their party dictatorship and would make anything in my power to avoid be thrown to prison.
By the way, many oppositon people, including anarchists, have been tortured and left rotten to death in the «model 'socialist' island». And this, not long ago... it goes on, today!

NB: Moore is not a good source on how good or not is Cuban health system, cause he was trying to make a point about comparing USA system with others, including Cuban.
My source is better. Even when I have differences in views with other anarchists I prefer theirs, because they are vitally interested in their own country, they need to have a serious approach towards the regime, otherwise they won't be listened.

Don't fall prey to the liberal & authoritarian propaganda concerning Cuba!

author by Paddy Rua - WSMpublication date Mon Aug 06, 2007 03:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I can name a dozen countries that have much better health indexes than Cuba. In fact, what is 'claimable' is with a GNP/pers. similar to the Cuban one, most other countries cannot have as good health indexes."

Not in Latin America, and not under an economic embargo. That alone is quite remarkable, despite everything. To lose this from sight, makes any other claim you make lose objectivity.

"But even this is debatable, just because you don't know anything objective about health care in Cuba. You only have faked statistical figures, like it was usual in all the so-called socialist countries. It goes back to stalinist era, and was never really reversed even after the nominal denial of stalinist methods."

I actually do know personally doctors and psychiatrists who have gone there and had the chance to see in practice some of thier methods. What you fail to acknowledge Manuel, is that to admit this advanced health system does not mean necessarily that you endorse all other aspects of the regime.

"Perhaps there are people travelling to Cuba, but not for free. Unless they are politically allied to Cuban regime."

Sure, no treatment goes for free if ytou are foreigner. But the fact that people go there is a good proof of the state of the health system -it could be cheaper to go for treatment to Haiti, no?

"It's nothing that I affirm by myself. But I listen to Cuban anarchists and read their press. Perhaps you have not the whole picture, because you have not the same ease in reading Castillan as I have?"

Most of their stuff is translated into English anyway.

"But is it wise and anti-authoritarian to deny Cuban citizens the lucidity about their own way of living? If they were so happy in their island, how come so may want to emigrate?"

The answer you give as number 2 seems to be the right one. Not even the best of the health systems would keep me happy in a place where I can't express my views openly and freely. -Note that at no point I deny repression and I insist, all the time, that it's a dictatorship, so you have no need to insist on that point. That's out of discussion.

What's on discussion is if transition "Russian style" towards a free market is desirable for Cuba -what would equal the disappearance of the only two positive aspects in Cuba today: education and health.

Do I need to state again that Cuba needs a change of regime, but to the left? If you can't give an alternative and look forward to the 1989 model of transition from bureaucratic socialism to free market... is there any point in being an anarchist? That's what you don't answer!

author by Manuel Baptistapublication date Mon Aug 06, 2007 05:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

«What's on discussion is if transition "Russian style" towards a free market is desirable for Cuba -what would equal the disappearance of the only two positive aspects in Cuba today: education and health.»

In Russia and other countries, the long lasting state capitalism made the working class not allied to the state socialism, but rather sympathetic to the 'liberal' capitalist syrens.
So, in fact, the same happens in Cuba. It is not nice, but it is reality. And Canek Guevara gives the picture of the 'common' Cuban current mentallitly. According to him, the most people are eager to a 'liberal' capitalist experience, and don't have any condemnation concerning capitalist evils, which they do not believe to exist, in the first place.
In fact, one of the worst tragedies of the so-called 'real socialism' is that it failed completely to educate people in a new mentallity.
One could see this in Eastern Europe, where I travelled often, a few years before 1989.
People there were not the least concerned with defending their social wellfare, they thought it was possible to have a 'Sweedish' style 'socialism', as they told me very often.

«Do I need to state again that Cuba needs a change of regime, but to the left? »
To the left ... what does it mean? to the anti-authoritarian left? or to the authoritarian one? Because in the latest case, it is not a progress... it is just another form of fascism. As it would be in Russia if the coup against Gorbatchev was to succeed.

«If you can't give an alternative and look forward to the 1989 model of transition from bureaucratic socialism to free market... is there any point in being an anarchist? That's what you don't answer!»

You seem to mix dream and reality.
In the land of dreams one would love to have an anti-authoritarian revolution in Cuba. But in real terms, the prospects are a transition towards a 'liberal' capitalism, with more or less liberties... and the exact 'dosis' of liberties makes the difference.
Please note that the anarchists are in no way responsible for this situation. They were persecuted very soon after the triumph of the so-called 'revolution'.
But instead, they are the ones that can make a stand in favor of civil liberties, more than any ex-castroist or any other reactionaries.

If someone is to blame, it's the Cuban nomenklatura, the most responsible for it was unable to open the regime to a democratic transition, even knowing they will not succeed keeping the regime after Castro's dead.

author by Paddy Rua - WSMpublication date Mon Aug 06, 2007 08:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"According to him, the most people are eager to a 'liberal' capitalist experience, and don't have any condemnation concerning capitalist evils, which they do not believe to exist, in the first place."

That's quite true. So what's the role of anarchists? To passively watch this happening without being able to offer an alternative that's neither State nor free-market capitalism? To lie to the common folk by insisting that liberal or free market capitalism is desirable?

"People there were not the least concerned with defending their social wellfare, they thought it was possible to have a 'Sweedish' style 'socialism', as they told me very often."

That again is true, for they understood free market as the only possible alternative to State capitalism or bureaucratic dictatorhsips. The fact that no anarchist alternative was even on the agenda is purely our own fault. And we need to start working harder on that -or at least, that should be our priority. The MLC is quite spot on when it comes to criticising the regime, but obviously too poor when it comes to offer anything new as an alternative. And the whole point of anarchism is not only to offer a criticism of society, but also a constructive set of ideas to bring about a different one!

About Eastern Europeans, while most of them (quite understandably) hate any notion of socialism, quite a lot of them would tend to resent the crippled state of social welfare in their own countries after a decade of neoliberal reform. So yes, they wanted neoliberalism but they did not like the nasty side of it (again, quite understandably).

"To the left ... what does it mean?"

Manuel, don't take the mickey... you know you are talking with an anarchist!


"You seem to mix dream and reality.
In the land of dreams one would love to have an anti-authoritarian revolution in Cuba. But in real terms, the prospects are a transition towards a 'liberal' capitalism, with more or less liberties... and the exact 'dosis' of liberties makes the difference."

Now, who's mixing dreams and realities... an "exact dosis of liberty"... fuck man, you are talking of Latin America, and worse, of the Caribbean. Not of bleeding Europe. Cuba, unlike Poland, will not join the EU to sort out most of its problems. What you are going to have, most likely, is a neoliberal transition lead by gangsters and the old bureaucrats converted into free marketers. Just like in Russia. So no "exact dosis of liberty on sight". In fact, the most likely thing to happen will be a scenario resembling all the rest of Central America and most of the Caribbean -authoritarian regimes, limited democracy and the most brutal and savage version of free market.

I'm not dreaming of an anti-authoritarian revolution in Cuba. In fact, I'm quite sure that such an scenario is extremely unlikely as we do not have comrades in Cuba that we know of and as the only Cuban anarchists (the MCL) are not in the position, due to a number of factors, to have any significant role in the developments of Cuba.

But to admit that, does not mean that we have to conform to that humble role. And actually, anarchists should be putting forward their programme -and not the neoliberal programme- at all times, and should be thinking of alternatives. No matter you may not have the strenght to actually bring about your alternative, you will become a more and more respected and heard of voice.

"If someone is to blame, it's the Cuban nomenklatura, the most responsible for it was unable to open the regime to a democratic transition, even knowing they will not succeed keeping the regime after Castro's dead."

To blame for what? Do you think they are willing to start any process of serious progress towards socialism? They are just interested to hold on to power. And they will hold on to it, whether in a free market or bureaucratic form. The only ones to suffer from whatever regime is in place will be the bulk of the population.

We anarchists have been for too long accustomed to blame the bureaucratic and authoritarian left for failing to bring about a libertarian society (something which was not their objective in the first place). It is time for us to start examining how come we have not become an alternative ourselves. That way, we may start realizing that we have a lot to be blamed for, indeed. Because of our inability to translate our beautiful ideas into practice, into a coherent programme and thus to become an actual alternative. We can't blame anyone but ourselves for that historic failure.

That holds true for Spain, Russia as well as as well as Cuba. When was the last time that I read a self-criticism of the role of anarchists in revolution, in order not to make the same mistakes again? Far too long ago. Actually, self-criticism is anathema among libertarian circles -just check out the history of the Friends of Durruti group or the Platform to get a sense of what I'm talking about. Instead, it is easier to blame leninists as will be easier to blame the capitalists for whatever happens in Cuba in the next couple of decades. My view is that anarchism needs to become an alternative and needs to be self-critical of its own failures. And the most obvious one is its failure to address the need to become an alternative for, if we don't offer a libertarian alternative, no one else will.

author by Manuel Baptistapublication date Mon Aug 06, 2007 19:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For sure Cuban anarchists have their goals in mind.
For sure, they have choosen some fields to apply their efforts.
I am in no position to play the role of Cuban anarchists defender, and wouldn't accept it anyways.
But, concerning their situation: they have supported clandestine independent unions, they are developping a clandestine network inside the island. In the context of this dictatorship I cannot see very well what they could do more.
Perhaps you weren't, but I was (in my youth) under a fascist regime. I know what clandestine action looks like. Impossible for the anarchist people to come forward and make propaganda of their program.

When you say anarchists are to blame, you miss something: historically there was a near extintion of anarchist organizations in the whole world, even in those countries where a certain amount of liberties where kept («bourgeois democracies»).
So, the new anarchist movements now existing are really learning how to walk, like little babies. Moreover, everybody understands that the kind of struggles, tactics, and foes we have to fight are very different from the ones the anarchists from the 1920'ies fought.

When you say that anarchists should put forward their alternative, it is easily said. Of course, in politics, you are not in an intellectual debate, where you put forward rationalist arguments.
You are in an arena (class war arena) with a very complex balance of forces, and you have (collectively) to play in a way to shift the balance to your side.
So, one doesn't «build» an alternative just like an intellectual game, one builds an alternative in the struggle. It is in the struggle that one can forge a collective vision, a collective strategic thought.

The discussion is allready very far from the initial one, but I come back to it now.

Cuban anarchists, as well as Russian anarchists, and others, know well what it is like to be under a totalitarian regime which uses part of the phraseology we too use. It is really very tough to fight for a real socialist program in a country where socialist vocabulary has been associated with a very hatable regime. It is their way, their strategy and their tactics, to find the best route towards an anarchist program.
My duty as a revolutionary is to avoid empty criticism, not thinking on «what should they have done», but «how difficult it would be for me to make anything worth» in such context.

Another point: Self criticism exists in anarchist movement and you come forward with Platformists and Friends of Durruti examples (very noticeable ones) of anarchist self-criticism.
If Makhno didn't make, with the other Russian anarchists in exhile, a tough self critic of their own behaviour in Russia, the same with Bailus and friends... for sure they would never write the texts we know.
As with any political movement, anarchists must always make their criticism internally, not exhibiting it openly, because their enemies will learn from it, will use it.
Any mature movement makes a self criticism of it's past positions and actions. Makes no sense to imagine it in front of the wide public, it should remain internal to the movement.

author by Paddy Rua - WSMpublication date Mon Aug 06, 2007 23:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"For sure Cuban anarchists have their goals in mind."

Doesn't look like when they claim that a free market transition Eastern European style will mean any improvement for the Cuban working class: that's not only un-anarchist, it is also factually wrong, judging by the very experience of Eastern Europe.

"Perhaps you weren't, but I was (in my youth) under a fascist regime. I know what clandestine action looks like. Impossible for the anarchist people to come forward and make propaganda of their program."

I do not want to detour discussion towards comparing "revolutionary credentials" or "revolutionary CV", but you may find of interest to know that I grew under British military occupation, through all the period of the troubles -so I have a first hand account of what clandestine action looks like.

But that's not the issue: you may find interesting to note as well that during all of Franco's regime -who made Castro look like a breastfeeding baby- there was CNT and anarchist activity in Spain and were constantly debating what was the next step, instead of conforming to see how social-democracy and the liberal bourgeoisie negotiated transition. It's true that they fail in the end, but that's another story. In Argentina, anarchism fought back and tried to develop a strategy out of Videla's dictatorship. In Chile's Pinochet, anarchism was reborn on clandestine conditions. Korea is another remarkable example of this.

I do not think a dictatorship imposes an absolute inability for revolutionaries (I mean anarchists) to operate. Surely it will impose great restrictions, it will impose great sacrificies, but then anarchists should be up to any task. Of course with no strategy, you will not be able to survive as a viable option any dictatorship. And as far as I know, the MLC does not operate in clandestine conditions -they are an exile organisation, so therefore the fact that they do not discuss strategy does not reflect the conditions in which they struggle.

"When you say anarchists are to blame, you miss something: historically there was a near extintion of anarchist organizations in the whole world, even in those countries where a certain amount of liberties where kept («bourgeois democracies»)."

I'm not missing it. I believe that this near extinction you talk about reflected shortcomings of the movement and the inability to adapt to changing circumstances. And the fact is that, unfortunately, many of the baby steps given by the new anarchist movement ape, at best, the methods and tactics of 60 years ago. We have not moved much forward, unfortunately, we do not dare to criticize, and this I believe is mainly due to an inability to learn from our own mistakes and history. There's always someone else to blame at hand.

If we always have someone else to blame for the failures, and if we can't take our own part of responsibility on them failures, therefore we can conclude than anarchism is irrelevant -for what we could have done makes no difference. This is a conclusion I completely reject. As anarchists, there's always something we could have done different, there's always something we could improve and do better today, and that's what makes it worthwhile being an anarchist in the 21st century. The anarchists should learn, over time, to change defeats into victories. This is quite hard, but it is sad to see so many anarchists completely uninterested in this.

"So, one doesn't «build» an alternative just like an intellectual game, one builds an alternative in the struggle. It is in the struggle that one can forge a collective vision, a collective strategic thought."

We agree. So if you have clandestine networks and you fail to come up with the basics, at least insinuating that there's more to life than free market or State bureaucratism we have a big problem there. If we can't talk of nothing but an abstract concept of freedom we are in serious troubles. If as anarchists we can't let people know where do we stand -beyond criticism, I mean on the constructive arena- there's very little chance to attract more than a handful. Anarchists should dare to lead with their ideas.

"My duty as a revolutionary is to avoid empty criticism, not thinking on «what should they have done», but «how difficult it would be for me to make anything worth» in such context."

No, our duty as revolutionaries is to advance our positions, in terms of political positioning, in terms of channelling dissent; it is not our duty to feel pitty about our comrades, but to practice actual solidarity with the libertarian revolution in mind as the goal.

"As with any political movement, anarchists must always make their criticism internally, not exhibiting it openly, because their enemies will learn from it, will use it.
Any mature movement makes a self criticism of it's past positions and actions. Makes no sense to imagine it in front of the wide public, it should remain internal to the movement."

I disagree. First, because there's not enough self-criticism inside of the movement. I have been nearly twenty years in the anarchist movement and the self-criticism I've come across is close to nil. Actually many Marxists are far more self-critical than anarchists, in honour to the truth. You are right that any mature movement makes self-criticism, and that shows you that we still have a long way to maturtity. We are starting, but actually anyone who dares to criticize (including Balius and Makhno, and many others you don't mention) are treated as "Bolsheviks in disguise", "anarcho-Bolsheviks", or in our case "Anarcho-Republicans" or "Anarcho-Nationalists"... Am I not right?

For me, the question remains, in all of the world, of how to build an anarchist movement that is up to the task of changing society. In a previous post you say:

"But instead, they are the ones that can make a stand in favor of civil liberties, more than any ex-castroist or any other reactionaries."

This, in my opinion, is quite misleading. But that's the state of the movement. To the point that we have to limit ourselves only to defending (bourgeois) civil liberties, while more than a hundred years ago Bakunin was rejecting them in favour of a new project of society.

If we want to build that movement we need to start thinking strategically, we need to start having serious political analysis (with our brains and not with the guts), we need to leave behind our heavy sectarian legacy and merge with the broader popular movement and dare to dispute our space there to others and we need to stop behaving like satellites of the rest of the left to come up with an alternative. This holds as true for Ireland, as for Somalia, Brasil and Cuba, for sure. Destruction is the first step; Construction is the second. Criticism should go hand in hand with an alternative, doesn't matter how flexible it may be.

author by Manuel Baptistapublication date Tue Aug 07, 2007 01:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't agree at all with you!
One has to see things as they are, not as they should be.
You have an hyper-criticism towards anarchists today. You haven't asked hard enough «What did I do to reverse or to minimize the negative influence of several petty-bourgeois intellectual fashions»

Where is your self-criticism?

When I said:
"My duty as a revolutionary is to avoid empty criticism, not thinking on «what should they have done», but «how difficult it would be for me to make anything worth» in such context."
I didn't mean a charity approach, no; rather the opposite.
Either you fight along with these people, in reality. If you are not able to do that try at least to help them, in a way or another be solidair with them.
If people are under attack, you don't come up with criticism about their lack of perseptectives etc.: you try to help them.

What you wrote is meaningless for me:

«No, our duty as revolutionaries is to advance our positions,»
You don't accept them to have their own positions, then you say this!

«in terms of political positioning, in terms of channelling dissent;»
Makes no sense. All this is out of context in a clandestine fight. Either you go to a sort of guerrilla type fight. That would be simply mad in terms of Cuba, allthought it was not in terms of Spain.
Or else, you try to join with other forces, not coherent in their fight for freedom, but anyways who can find a common ground before and during the transition period (from castroist dictatureship to liberal capitalist dictatureship)

« it is not our duty to feel pitty about our comrades, but to practice actual solidarity with the libertarian revolution in mind as the goal. »
You didn't try even to understand my view point.

Bakunin was solidair with the oppressed people and he knew in his time how to make the righ alliances to achieve the fundamental goal of enlarging their freedoms, otherwise he would't achieve much!

author by Paddy Rua - WSMpublication date Tue Aug 07, 2007 07:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm not into hyper-ciriticism, only into the reasonable self-criticisim and criticism necessary to overcome our mistakes and to be able the next time to win. Whenever I sense something seriously wrong I will not hesitate to criticise. If I may seem hypercritical of other anarchists, is because anarchists are my crowd, and I'm far more concerned with our own failures.

Notice that I did not criticise them in their view of Castro's regime and their critique of it... quite the contrary, I insisted it was spot on. My criticism is why they view as progressive a transition such as that which happened in Russia.

It is remarkable your last post: it reminds me of the hysteria of those addicts of Castro who can't stand any criticism of their regime!

What's also remarkable is your binary solution: you are with us or you are against us. That's quite the same logic of the Castro regime: whether you are with Castro or you support the embargo.

"Either you fight along with these people, in reality. If you are not able to do that try at least to help them, in a way or another be solidair with them. If people are under attack, you don't come up with criticism about their lack of perseptectives etc.: you try to help them."

This is quite an inactive organisation, so fighting alongside them is not an option. They are currently not under attack, that's only an interview and every time they had been attacked in the past by typical lefties saying "oh, CIA agents" and all that shit, I've been among the first to stand up with other comrades to silence those stupid and dishonest slanderous remarks.

But I can't remain silent when they openly say that a transition "the Russian style" is a progressive option in Cuba. In fact, that is so wrong and un-anarchist, that you can't ask me for solidarity with that. I just don't agree with them and I believe that such a solution will be disastrous to the Cuban people on many grounds.

To support such a disastrous way out for Cuba is not actually my idea of solidarity, no matter there are anarchists endorsing it.

Is it possible to work out another solution which is not free market, nor State bureaucracy to Cuba? I'm sure there is, and anarchism possesses all of the theoretical elements and the experience to provide a framework for it. It is much better to lose the battle fighting for that libertarian alternative indeed than winning by the side of those who propose a "free market" solution (probably the way that will succeed in the end).

You talk about doing the right alliances -well, endorsing such an alliance that will require to put in place a transition to liberal capitalism would be absolutely disastrous and hopefully it will never take place, as it would stain the name of Cuban anarchism forever more.

The role of an anarchist, as I see it, should be to oppose radically both the current dictatorship as the likely "transition" to neoliberalism. If you can't work out that prospect, there's not much point in my opinion in being an anarchist.

author by Manuel Baptistapublication date Tue Aug 07, 2007 08:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's not fair to make very strange parallels concerning my person; you see things that are only in your imagination... And at the end, your last sentence implies that you decide who is and who isn't an anarchist!
You say false things about Cuban anarchists, as if they viewed a 'Russian type' transition as something good.

author by Paddy Rua - WSMpublication date Tue Aug 07, 2007 18:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm not making parallels, but pointing out a strange way to argue and counter argue. Also I'm not interested in deciding who's the anarchist here; I'm just wondering about the use of being an anarchist if you can't come up with any solution other than what the liberal bourgeoisie can work out themselves.

And I'm not lying. I'm basing myself on the following sentence taken from this particular interview:

"The everyday Cuban lives in poverty and with little hope of improving unless there’s a change of system, as happened in Russia and Eastern Europe"

Hopefully I'm misunderstanding. Hopefully I'm reading too much. Because if that sentence really means what it seems to mean, it would be very hard to keep supporting wholeheartedly the case of this particular Cuban anarchists. So hopefully I'm wrong. But even if I'm wrong, I think they still fail to equally condemn the designs of US imperialism and the Cuban Miami based bourgeoisie for the island, as much as they do Castro's regime.

author by NEWCENTRIST - The New Centristpublication date Sun Aug 12, 2007 22:00author address http://newcentrist.wordpress.comauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for posting this interview. It is crossposted at The New Centrist:

http://newcentrist.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/speaking-with-the-cuban-libertarian-movement-mlc/

I highly recommend Kirwin R. Shaffer’s work especially "Anarchism and Countercultural Politics in Early Twentieth-Century Cuba" (University Press of Florida, 2005).

You may be interested in reading this:
Does Anti-Imperialism Trump Anti-Authoritarianism?
http://newcentrist.wordpress.com/2007/07/21/does-anti-imperialism-trump-anti-authoritarianism/

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