ARTILLERY FOR THE MIND: ON THE “NEW SYSTEM”

PART I – EYES WIDE OPEN

As it happens, as the days go by and life in every sense of the word – organic, political, biological, cultural, economic, etc. – continues to evolve, our eyes are pried opened wider every minute of every day. At some point I was convinced that we actually had to have the will to not see, in order to fail to recognize the ever-changing truth in front of us. But I understand now that it takes more than a will to be blind, to not see; I see now that it also takes cunning conditioning to convince us that there’s no change. But personally, I love to see and to know and to feel the evolution of our existence as much as it is allowed me by nature, and by God! My eyes are wide open!

It has always been a conviction of mine – as this blog clearly documents – that the best hope for humanity to acquire real social justice is through Socialism. And as I’ve trudged ahead, trying daily to ask more and more questions about how it is that this Socialism is to finally arrive or be, and to understand what it means for me to be a socialist, dealing all along with all the obstacles that living in a capitalist country represents for this kind of research, I’ve always tried to find solid answers; to actually find a practical way to implement a theory that purports to bring real Harmony, Solidarity and Progress to all of mankind, or to the entire population of whatever nation ventures to adopt this system…And now I see, with eyes bulging out of my skull from the excitement of that Eureka moment, that I’ve been looking in the wrong direction, or rather, for the wrong signs: When I’ve been looking for places that have adopted Socialism, I should instead have been looking for the places that are creating Socialism.

It was for a damn good reason that Marx and Engels vehemently stressed the need for a scientific theory – and understanding – of the evolutionary process of everything that can be dubbed a “system” in life (organic, biological, political, social, cultural, etc). As such, Communism was born as the inevitable answer to the rise and prosperity of a Capitalism that ultimately will reach the end of its cycle, battered by its own contradictions. But now I am finally beginning to actually understand the step-by-step process that has to happen, as well as the very real notion that the new system of social organization (in it included our political and economic organization) would indeed have to be Created – Moulded out of the ashes of the fallen tower of Capitalism to rise like the Phoenix.

The cyclical problems of Capitalism, encapsulated in world financial crises and recession, unemployment, inflation, and all those other economic calamities that happen inevitably every certain amount of time, were predicted by Marx. Though defenders of the system claim that with different monetary and economic policies we can at the very least predict the time when a crisis will hit and, as such, also soften its blow, the rhetoric seems to be getting lost in thin air.

The masses that are pushed to the margins of poverty have grown exponentially around the world over the last decade, even in the so-called developed world, and despite the brave face politicians put forward for the public, the objective truth that the economic system has simply failed to do its job, that is, to provide the necessities to survive for everyone, is undeniable, and the masses have noticed.

According to Heinz Dieterich, author of Hugo Chavez and 21st Century Socialism[1], “the economic subsystem of a society has finished its cycle of life when it no longer satisfies the basic necessities of the citizens and turns, therefore, dysfunctional for the maintenance of the system in its whole” (45).

Indeed. Around the world, the system is caving in on itself, unable to allow that massive wealth concentrated at the top to “trickle down” to the people. A brief but sober look at the numerous protests, movements, strikes, bankrupt governments and banks around the world, to me, is evidence of that transition period Marx envisioned would happen, and which Revolutionary Guerrilla Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara described in the 1970s “as a result of the explosive transformation of the capitalist system destroyed by its contradictions.”

Well, all of that I knew…I’ve known it for a long time. But, I must admit, until very recently, I did not understand the very essence of what it meant to solve that precipitous problem through socialism. I knew Cuba had kept the ideology alive in Latin America, and that China and Vietnam and part of Korea were also socialist, though my knowledge of those Asian nations was limited to the skewed information received through the normal channels of communication – through what the mainstream media provided for me.

As such, and with a certain amount of admitted ignorance and disinterest on the matter – I simply believed that it was a matter of institutionalizing some laws, making some policies and implementing them, even taking control of the economy by the state so as to have a control of how the wealth is distributed. The economics themselves of how the prices would be established and all that jazz….fugget ’bout it! I had no goddamn clue how that would be. But, again, I figured it was just a matter of some savvy people coming up with “socialist policies,” implementing them whether people liked it or not, and then wait until everything turns around and bam! Equality begins surging and wealth for everyone! Whether it came through revolution or election, I figured as long as “socialist laws” were implemented, life would turn to be of a “socialist” kind.

However, upon hearing of Chavez and his 21st Century Socialism project, my interest was renewed, for again I admit that my interest and even hope had somewhat wavered, being bombarded daily with “truths” about this system that seemed palpably gloomy (the “Human Rights Abuses”, the “Poverty”, the “Loss of Identity”, the “Lack of Democracy”). After traveling to Venezuela to see it for myself, I came back with a renewed spirit and hope founded on what I saw – on fact and the reality of what was happening in that country.

Yet, the question of why people seemed so resistant to something that is obviously helping the large majority of our impoverished Latin American brothers and sisters, kept gnawing at my brain. Not to mention the haziness in regards to how it is the economy, the politics and the society would simply turn from “capitalist” to “socialist” so as to allow that future Harmony and Solidarity Marx talked about to become a reality.

But now that the magnitude of what these Heroic and Brave countries have ventured to do – to create ­- is more evident, the carnal resistance to this change has become more obvious, if not completely clear.

PART II – REPEAT IT AND YOU WILL BELIEVE IT

Through repetition, any lie becomes truth.

We know this; we even watch shows like Seinfeld where we joke about it: “It’s not a lie…if you believe it,” says George Costanza, the King of Deceit. Now, when something is repeated ad nauseam through every conceivable mode of communication for centuries, generations begin growing up not even questioning the lie, for they don’t even know they’re living it.

When Adam Smith first begins writing down his theories of Capitalism in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, my understanding is that he must’ve taken off from the premise that Human Nature is inherently bad and greedy – self interested – which is why he comes up with a theory that explains that by following our own interests, those of society will also be tended after by that famous “invisible hand.”

I quote from Wikipedia, which itself quotes The Wealth of Nations.

“He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”

Compounded with the advent and fervour of the French Revolution and its ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, Smith’s theories are then put to practice, creating the first Capitalist societies – like Socialism will be – out of the ashes of the old feudal order.

I can understand why coming out of the Feudal Economic Order, his analysis told him that we were inherently selfish creatures, and that the best way to organize ourselves in such a way that we no longer are slaves to feudal masters but, rather, autonomous entities that can choose to follow our own destiny and enrich our own lives, was to create an economic system that feeds off of our self-interest and that in turn provides progress for the rest of society. Then, of course, the system begins producing quantities of wealth never even thought of before, which produces an obvious and undeniable change in quality of life for everyone, even those who get a small piece of the pie.

“Next comes hope,” writes Che in Socialism and Man[2], “and in this, [capitalism] differs from the previous caste regimes that gave no possible out.

“[…]The separation of classes is fatal, but the individuals can get out of the one they belong to through work, initiative, etc.” (Pg. 39).

Of course, Che is talking about the Capitalist Education – the ideas that are moulded in us through time, repetition and even brutal force, as it has been done time and time again in countries belonging to the so-called Third World.

PART III: TEACHING THE LIE

“Capitalism employs force, but it also educates the people in the system,” says Che. “The Direct Propaganda is realized by the ones in charge of explaining the inevitability of a class-regime, be it of divine origin or through nature’s imposition as a mechanical entity. This placates the masses, who see themselves oppressed by a malady which is impossible to fight against.” Then, he says, comes that false hope.

“One can only see the amplitude of a horizon that seems infinite. That is how capitalist life presents it, purporting to extract from Rockefeller’s case – real or not – a lesson about the possibilities of success.”

And up to here reaches the capitalist education. Generations after generations – including my own – have continued to grow up under a system (not in), which tells them that unless they look out for themselves, perhaps their immediate family too, since they are kin after all, no one else will.

We therefore go to work and make as much money as we can so that we can pay the bills that we have amassed, which have in turn been accumulated by all the things that we have bought – shelter, education, healthcare and a lieu of other (often unnecessary) products included in there, too. Our parents say to us, with utter sincerity, that they are now breaking their backs in factories, with an extra job (sometimes two), in the grave-yard shift, so that we can have enough money to pay for school and then become a “success” – be economically stable, making decent amounts of money in a job that doesn’t involve cleaning streets or carrying boxes, and – this is extra, though a nice one – hopefully helping the public while we do it. Janitorial work is for suckers and non-educated people; for the “unsuccessful”.

We grow up in a society that teaches that “individualism” means competing against everyone else to reach that elusive yet apparent wealth just at the tip of the horizon; we are in a race against each other, selling our labour as cheap as possible so that we may get the job rather than the other, so that we may survive. We grow up believing that “being the best we can be” means doing whatever I can to become wealthy and, therefore, economically stable (as well as ensuring survival, for without enough money from a job or even two, we are Shit Out of Luck). Indeed, we grow up believing that since everyone else around is following their own interest – as it is taught from grammar school and much more vehemently in high-school, then even in university – we may as well do so, too, lest we perish.

We are taught to be “industrial” and to have an “entrepreneurial spirit”; to be competitive at every level, and when we win, we are taught not to help bring the “losers” up to the same level, but rather to be “gracious winners”.

The apparent ever-pervading power of the Economy – that massive Pie of Wealth that is presented as the potential of what we can get (most easily seen in the industrial world) – now pervades our lives, too. The Economy is now something that we ­– mankind – must tap into; it is an entity outside of ourselves which we apparently bow down to. The Economy – the entity that must not be disturbed or meddled or intervened with by Politics – becomes the main vehicle of “prosperity”, “opportunity” and “success”. Political Science is seen as the course you take in University when you don’t really know what you want to do; it is what you take if you supposedly want to “cruise by”. Economics, International Finances, Business – these are the heavy-hitting majors, the ones that offer the most “opportunity”.

And, again, through centuries of this kind of “education”, mankind actually begins to believe the lie. In fact, we don’t even question it. We simply assume that, indeed, lest someone else gets a piece of the pie first, I better take it. We grow up believing that our neighbours are people to say “Hi” to in the morning and “Hi” to at night, and nothing else. Our real “interactions” become those engulfed in business transactions or as part of our jobs. Only our family – our home – is the place where we can let loose, where we can really “talk,” where we are no longer thinking of ourselves and everyone and everything else as a “commodity” or, at the very least, as someone or something from where we can extract some benefit.

However, “the misery that needs to be accumulated,” says Che, “for such an example to surge [Rockefeller-style “Success”] and the mounting ruin that a wealth of that magnitude entails, do not appear in the picture, and it isn’t always possible for the [people] to understand these concepts” (36).

In capitalist society, where I now live, we come to be complacent in the exploitation that we now know inevitably happens. We lose that sense that tells us that exploiting this or that person is wrong, simply because we don’t see it. We know factories use cheap labour around the world, extracting natural resources from the so-called Third World at “market prices” and selling them finished goods, also at “market prices”. We know it is wrong, we denounce the exploitation, but we simply believe that there is nothing we can do; that this is life; that it is normal. We donate to charity, to cancer-research, to walk-a-thons, in an effort to placate what I believe is some uneasiness in the back of our mind – something telling us we are part of the fucking problem.

“In any case,” Che continues, “the path painted is one with pitfalls but which, nevertheless, can apparently be superseded by an individual with the necessary qualities to reach the goal. The prize is envisioned in the distance; the path is solitary. Plus, it’s a race of wolves: one can only reach the goal by stepping over the failure of others.”

“This process…must be profoundly hypocritical,” he says. “It is the evidenced interest in making a lie a truth” (39).

PART IV – THE NEW MAN

It is for this reason – due to the fact that our mentality does not, and cannot, allow life to be any other way – that Socialism as the vehicle to take us to Communism must be Created and not Adopted. People are resistant to systemic change; they don’t want to stop doing the things they’ve always done, or acting how they’ve always known is “correct”. Therefore, the first steps – or rather, the ones to be taken concomitantly with the Political-Judicial reforms necessary – involve the creation of a new type of Man…or rather, of a new type of Mentality for Man.

“To construct communism,” says Che, “one must create the new man simultaneously with the material base” (38).

It is taking off from this premise that has garnered criticism from those who dub the idea of creating a new man – a selfless, peaceful, laborious and heroic Man – as utopian and unrealistic, at best, and as brain-washing and loss of identity at its worst. But these criticisms, it is easy to realize, come from the very mouths of those created under the dominant capitalist system; from those who are now convinced that we are indeed selfish, and that any attempt to straighten this skewed behaviour is futile, indeed, unnatural and dogmatic.

But it mustn’t be.

The type of Man and Woman that is to be created in (not under) a socialist system is one that possesses the qualities of a person that feels at every level – spiritually, physically and mentally – as part of a larger unit. And why should that be impossible? We see that spirit all the time, even in capitalist society.

“In Capitalism, it is possible to observe some phenomena of this type when there appear politicians capable of mobilizing the masses,” says Che. “But if it isn’t about an authentic social movement…the movement will live only as long as he who pushes it, or until the end of the people’s illusions, imposed by the rigor of the capitalist society” (36).

We see it when a political leader campaigns through the nation in the running-up to an election, getting people excited with their rhetoric and promises, which culminates in cheers, applauding, even chanting (“U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”); we see it when industry leaders with their own cause rally up people, such as the Komen Foundation and their annual walk-a-thons for cancer research (which in itself is a joke  – a cancer of capitalism, but for another discussion). Evidently the spirit of unison and hope is there to be ‘exploited’. The problem is that, under a capitalist society, it is only summoned at special times – such as during election time, or on scheduled walk-a-thons – and then the spirit itself vanishes as people return to their homes and carry on their daily lives, leaving that impactful feeling of unity with people – nay, with a Cause – relegated to some happy though forgotten corner of their minds.

In the United States, Barack Obama became the symbol for “change” and “progress”, being the first black man to ever be elected president, not to mention the very progressive promises he made (though very seldom kept), such as closing the Guantanamo Prison. The people rallied around him, the world-over also cheered and made noise; Americans were ecstatic about a new direction in the country. But, as we all know, it did not take long for that fervour to evaporate, and in the last elections, he merely squeaked by (with something like 6% difference). What is more, the talk among the population of “change” in the country, of “progress”, of “new hope”, has died, if not receded. Now people don’t talk of change; they now simply hope things don’t get worse.

However, in the creation of the new Man that will, once he is fully self-aware and educated, be the Communist Man, it is precisely this kind of heroic, participatory and fraternal spirit that is to be not only summoned at special and difficult occasions, when it is mostly needed; but rather a pervading quality of man that is to be expressed by his actions, his words, his behaviour and his personal and social priorities, every single day of his life.

Che mentions the beginning stages of the Cuban Revolution, when the masses – the people – were still asleep and had to be mobilized by the Revolutionary Vanguard that were the Guerrilla fighters – “engine of the movement, generator of revolutionary conscience and of combative enthusiasm.”

“Under the frame of the proletarization of our thinking, of the revolution that was operating in our habits, in our minds, the individual was always fundamental”, he says (34). In other words, the beginning processes of the revolution involved infusing the common people with the same type of revolutionary, patriotic and heroic fervour the guerrilla fighters exemplified both during the actual guerrilla-war in the Sierra Maestra and after victory, in their daily lives.

Their first test came during  the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, and the second one in October of 1963, during the Flora Cyclone, which hit the northern part of the island. During these two events, the people – not only the military – proved their heroism, patriotism and, most importantly, their unity when they joined with the armed forces to both keep the American-led invasion out of its doors, and to diminish the impact of the natural disaster on its citizens.

“We saw exceptional acts of valour and sacrifice realized by an entire people,” Che says.

But in the great Socialist Project, as I said, the idea is to harness this kind of overwhelming feeling – that kind of momentum that feels like electricity building up your spine – on a daily basis. To be like that every day, not only during special occasions.

“To find the formula to perpetuate in every-day-life that heroic attitude, is one of our fundamental tasks from the ideological point of view,” says Che (34).

For this new man, life sheds its solitary nature and it no longer seems like a cut-throat competition. Man is part of a society that does not exist to exploit him, but rather to support him and be supported by him. Work ceases to be a burden that we do for survival, and instead it becomes a social duty, performed for no other reason than to see its fruits go back to our society. Shelter, food, education, health – the necessities of life – are provided by the State, which indeed takes its power from the people[3] – and work is therefore not a means to survival, but, as I’ve already said, a social duty.

In this way, the lawyer, the journalist, the constructor, the driver, the house-keeper, the taxi driver, the street cleaner – they are all important parts of a society that not only consumes their labour but appreciates it. Pay doesn’t have to be equal, for the priorities of the new Man do not involve accumulating unnecessary luxury (like two cars for one person, houses bigger than a family needs, summer houses for vacations, shoes that are bought simply because they are on sale, etc., etc.), and the pay/salary workers receive certainly does not dictate their standard of living. The society becomes a breathing organism that is fed by the work of every single person. And Man is therefore not only free to enjoy his labour, but proud to perform it, as he feels himself an important and vital part of society.

And all of that is not impossible. It is just a matter of education. Socialist Education…


[1] The book I have is translated to Spanish, I think from its original German, as the writer sounds German, though I’m just speculating. Thus, the translation from Spanish to English is entirely my own.

[2] Part of the short Anthology: Global Justice: Liberation and Justice

[3] See the other blog I wrote, where I talk a little more about the Participatory Democracy, exemplified through the National Assembly and the Committees of Defence of the Revolution in Insights of an Aspiring Revolutionary: On the “Vanguard”

ARTILLERY FOR THE MIND: ON THE “VANGUARD”

PART I – COMPARING THE GREATEST DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD

This was another thing that until recently simply didn’t click. To be fair, the terms are all better understood when as a base – a foundation – a premise – we consider that the new Socialist State is to be Created. The lack of this understanding is in no small part why some of these concepts, such as ‘The Vanguard’ and especially the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat,’ have been misinterpreted and misunderstood by the general public, myself included, given that the terms are analyzed under the very same framework that is trying to be revolutionized/changed.

If we think of applying these terms utilizing the exact same tools of the previous system – the Bourgeois Democracy, with all its pillars, balances of checks, parliamentary chambers, jargon, etc. – then some of these concepts will understandably be met with resistance, ambivalence and, at the very least, misinterpretation.

As for me, however, now that I’m convinced of this fact – that the new society must be started from anew – the term Vanguard makes a lot more sense.

To explain what I understand by this concept, I think I want to first gloss over – very superficially – the structure of the regular presidential process applied in the United States, supposedly the freest and most democratic country in the world.

Though they do, indeed, hold elections every four years where a new candidate (or incumbent, if it’s his first term) from either of the two parties – Democrats or Republicans – are elected to be president of the country for a maximum of two terms, this fact simply doesn’t seem like a comprehensive enough yard-stick to measure, evaluate and eventually deem a system a Great Democracy. Then to go on and use the same dwarfed yard-stick against countries that don’t have presidential elections, such as Cuba, for instance, and deem them Dictatorships is – it goes without saying – ludicrous.

Let me explain.

The running candidates in the U.S.’ presidential elections always seem to be a rotation of all the former governors, senators, representatives, ambassadors and, at least from what I could tell from these past elections (2012), even leading business men. I think the only position where someone from the “common citizenry” (not a known politician moving up in ranks or being appointed) can aspire to reach is that of mayor. Then, of course, after enough time and with discipline, perseverance and adherence to the rule of law, he/she can aspire to move up in the ranks…or so the story goes. Of course, it is expected, as is anywhere else in the world, that the person who aspires to run for mayor will be someone who has been involved in the community, who knows what the problems are in his community and who has a more or less developed understanding of what it will take to solve said problems…of course, again, so goes the story.

Yet the corruption, mismanagement, discrimination and simply lack of functioning at the mayoral level in most of the major U.S. cities is not something that I am creating because I am against that system; it is a truth that has been documented by the mainstream press time and time again. The fate of the real common citizenry the people: the laborers  the truck drivers, the shop-keepers, the nurses, the factory-workers, the taxi drivers, even the professional/middle classes, who also are suffocating under the pressure of that tiny 1% at the top – it seems is destined to be at the hands of the most savvy businessman that can squeeze his way in.

PART II SHEDDING THE OLD SYSTEM: PARTICIPATORY – NOT REPRESENTATIONAL – DEMOCRACY

In the Creation of the New Socialist State, every remnant of the old system must be shed, or, at least, as much as possible. But this doesn’t mean succumbing to a dictatorship.

As new nations continue to, as Che has written somewhere, “fall off of the weakest branches of the Imperial Tree,” either through Liberation Struggles or Revolutions of a social nature (even if not necessarily of a socialist nature), the movement and the struggle itself is, at all moments – during the actual armed guerrilla war, or the peaceful movement, or even after victory, in the oceanic depths of a nation seemingly isolated from everything, but really only far away from every vestige of the old society as the new society begins its birth – led by a group of people who’ve been ideologically, physically and mentally trained for such a task; they are led by the Vanguard.

While many people understand the concept that the guerrilla war or even the peaceful movement has to indeed be led by a group of people better trained to do so, the thought that the same group should have any influence on the reconstruction of the political, social and economic atmosphere of the nation seems disparate if not entirely backwards to them. But perhaps it isn’t properly understood that after victory, the group, which in the first place was formed by the People, has not a Controlling Role per se, but rather one of Impulse, of Movement, of Pushing the masses forward, or even Pulling them where necessary.

In Cuba, the Guerrilla that began as 80-something men somewhere in Mexico, was formed of people, among them Fidel Castro and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, that had never had any military training prior to the experience. Some of them had fired guns and were avid marksmen, but most were laborers, peasants and even professionals from the common citizenry (Che was a doctor, though Argentinean), that had literally taken up arms to take back their nation from Imperial Domination. Though they received some military training in Mexico, they were leading a fight mostly on Ideology…and a whole bunch of fucking courage, of course!

As the fight went on in the thick jungles of the Sierra Maestra, the Guerrilla that had began as 80-something men started to swell as the fighters began educating the peasants they found isolated and spread throughout the mountain, forgotten – or rather, neglected – by Batista’s Dictatorship, which had funneled the booming economy to the very top, leaving most of the people as forgotten peasants in the mountains and impoverished, illiterate, sick, hungry, nearly zombie-like bodies in the rest of the cities throughout the country. And education, at that time, didn’t necessarily mean in terms of ideology, for the revolution, at that time, still had not taken up Socialism as its goal, though as the fight went on, more communist, socialist, and left-wing groups joined the fighting both in the mountains and the cities. Education was literally Education: peasants in their 40s, 50s, 60s and so on, had, for the first time, learned what their names looked like on paper, and that they themselves could do it. They were taught their own history – that of the Latin American continent – and why their land and family were often abused – in every sense of the word – by thugs from the government.

Well, as the fighting goes on, as the people from the cities and the mountains see the legitimate goal of the revolution and begin joining them, the Vanguard itself begins to expand. At this moment, it still comprises the fighting groups, but after Victory and, more specifically, after Fidel officially announces a year after they’d won, in 1961, that they’d led a Socialist Revolution and were now, in effect, a Socialist State, the group would comprise elements directly from the common citizenry.

Now, it is true that the president – who at least nominally continues to be Fidel Castro – is not elected and that, in fact, the position was simply inherited by his brother, Raul Castro. So it is here that begins what needs explaining, though to most people, entirely convinced of the backwardness of “socialism,” it may sound like justifying. But let me give it a try anyway.

To create a new state, every vestige of the old one must be shed. In the attempt to do so, the Revolutionary Government must, as Castro did, abolish everything and every vehicle through which supporters of the old system could again slither their way in, to infect it from within the political-judicial sphere, like a goddamn cancer. He abolished Congress and did not allow any of the people who had participated in the previous rigged elections to participate in government.

Now, though I’m not 100% knowledgeable of the entire political system in the island, I do know that they have a National Assembly whose 614 members are not only elected by the public, but half of the members are comprised by nominees from youth/student groups, women groups, trade unions and members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, which are a little more than 8 of the 11 million Cubans living there. Then they go on to choose the members of the other legislative/executive bodies, who are in charge of passing/proposing laws, ratifying them, executing them, etc. There is no need, now, to get into the semantics of the political structure itself.

The Vanguard, which as we’ve seen began with the Guerrilla Fighters in the mountains, then grew with the peasants and common citizenry that joined the fighting, now, after Victory, begins looking for more and more people to join it. And how? By looking for the people that are choosing to open their eyes, or people who are legitimately giving themselves willingly (and understanding exactly what it means to do so) to the task of creating a new society. Going into detail would take a lot more analysis, but let’s just look at a couple of ways.

PART III – REAL COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Firstly, with more than 8 of the 11 million citizens voluntarily joining the so-called Committees for the Defense of the Revolution – in every neighborhood of the country  – it is clear that “People Power” is indeed more than just a term. Critics of the system say that this is essentially a “secret police” that monitors every activity, and every minute detail of peoples’ personal lives, tattling on the ones that are plotting against government or who simply are dissidents. This is the loss of freedom they woe. However, the roles of these bodies are much more than simply monitoring, though it has never been denied that one of those is indeed to monitor for counter-revolutionary activities.

Castro himself has been quoted saying of their purpose: That they exist “In the face of Imperial Aggression, we’re going to implement a system of collective vigilance…so that everybody knows who lives on every block, what they do on every block, what relations they have had with the tyranny, in what activities are they involved and with whom do they meet.” (Context is imperative here. The quote comes from CNN, so I will always question its entire veracity, but nevertheless, it does sound like Castro; however, it was said in 1960, at the very top of the tensions between the U.S. and Cuba, and when the former was actively and militarily trying to topple the revolution and infiltrate its ranks. Moreover, also placing this quote in the context of the creation of a new society with a selfless mentality, where we are as much in tune with other people’s lives and needs as we are with our own, this type of “collective vigilance” can be understood as the typical – and necessary – effort to increase community involvement, participation and identity, where neighbors aren’t just individuals living beside each other, alienated from each other’s lives but for a “hi” in the morning and a “hi” at night, but rather they are members of a neighborhood – which itself is a member of a society – where everyone’s efforts affect everyone else.) But there’s more to their purpose, which directly links with the need for a Vanguard and, even more importantly, for the need of specific type of people to join the Vanguard.

The criteria that is looked for in candidates that are nominated to be members of the National Assembly, who in turn will elect, among themselves, members to go on to form the Council of State, is, above all, merit, patriotism, ethical values and revolutionary history. Now, though to some that may sound like a bunch of bull, consider what the 8 million members of these neighborhood committees are involved in doing, most notably in regards to social activities that get people to work together and disaster relief.

From Wikipedia, citing information from National Assembly of People’s Power as well as the above mentioned CNN article:

“Its defenders note that [the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] have other important responsibilities…these include arranging festivals, administrating voluntary community projects, and organizing attendance to mass rallies. Proponents also emphasize that CDR helped to put medical, educational, or other campaigns into national effect and that, being organized on a geographical basis, they also act as centers for many who do not work in farms or factories and hence include a large proportion of female membership. The CDR’s also take an active role in vaccination campaigns, blood banks, recycling, practicing evacuations for hurricanes, and backing up the government in its fight against corruption.”

Indeed. In Global Justice: Liberation and Socialism, which I quote again below, Che describes an occasion at the beginning of the revolution where these type of community efforts were exemplified in the people.

The following passage describes both the type of attitude that is trying to be harnessed in the new society, and the final goal. I quote:

“At other opportunities in our history, the total commitment to the revolutionary cause was repeated. During the October Crisis, on the days of the Floral Cyclone, we saw exceptional acts of valor and sacrifice realized by an entire people. Finding the formula to perpetuate that heroic attitude in every-day life is one of our fundamental tasks from the ideological point of view” (34).

PART III.I – SIDE-NOTE ON DETRACTORS

Just for the sake of some objectivity, I want to very briefly address some points that detractors criticize.

It reads in Wikipedia:

“However, a 2006 Amnesty International report noted CDR involvement in repeated human rights violations that included verbal as well as physical violence.[5] Critics also contend that the CDR’s are a repressive tool, giving the government a heads-up about dissident activities on the micro-local level, by tattling on the non-compliant.[1] They identify CDR’s as “one of the lead entities responsible for the wave of repression sweeping through Cuba,” most recently, the brutal beatings and detention of 75 members of the Ladies in White in Havana in 2011 and 2012.[6][7]

First: Amnesty International is enraged at alleged “verbal as well as physical violence,” and therefore is constantly condemning the “dictatorship” in Cuba and its “human rights abuses.” Yet they say absolutely not one single word when violent attacks by cops towards women, minorities, youth, (peaceful) protesters have been CLEARLY AND EMPIRICALLY DOCUMENTED time and time again in the United States. I do not intend this to be a “if you do it, why can’t we?” argument; I say it simply to point out the illegitimacy and injustice of an international body that claims to be non-partisan while defending human rights, yet turning a blind eye to the obvious abuses in any country that has not rattled the status quo. It is simply a matter of ILLEGITIMACY, HYPOCRISY AND INSINCERITY. Thus, to me, going by the information provided by Amnesty International regarding human rights abuses, is as objective as using the Bible – the very book I question – as empirical/objective evidence of the existence of God.

Second: “Critics say it is a tool for giving a heads up to the government about dissident activities on the micro level by tattling on the non compliant.” Two things to say about this: One is that once it is established that a new society is in creation – that the task has been embarked upon by the masses (MAJORITY) – any non-compliance automatically means the wish/fight to keep the old one alive, therefore being counterrevolutionary, therefore being illegal. Period.

But, second, to those who feel the weight of that sentence to be too heavy, let me just paraphrase what someone else said: The U.S. has the FBI, which is comprised of federal government agents monitoring absolutely every single person’s email, phone calls, etc., with a file on everybody! It is so commonly known, that even in movies and sitcoms, the FBI’s all-seeing-eye is often parodied. Cuba may have something similar, though it is comprised of people – not government officials – who have accepted the new task of creating a new society. Moreover, the CDRs have additional, more important roles, as was mentioned above.

Detractors also mention brutal repression “sweeping through Cuba.” In an article (http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-10-20/ladies-white-cubas-shame-93335), it is written:

“The Ladies in White came about after what’s referred to as Cuba’s Black Spring, those months in 2003, when state security agents descended on dissidents like a series of flash floods. We’d hear the racket in the neighborhood in the wee hours, get up, sneak a peek out the door and see the street blocked; somebody’s house was getting sacked.

“Eventually, the government condemned 75 men and women to sentences that went up to 30 some years, the evidence against them technologies such as computers and cells that weren’t legal on the island then, payments from abroad for articles and interviews, the eyewitness reports of men they’d thought were comrades in arms and turned out to be government spies embedded in their midst.

“One of the condemned men was Hector Maseda, an independent journalist and leader of the unofficial and thus illegal Cuban Liberal Party”

From my point of view, if those certain computers and cells were illegal, then you are committing a crime, right? That’s how it works? When people do something they feel shouldn’t be a crime but get punished – are they being repressed or punished for committing a crime? Here in Canada, recreational weed is illegal, though I, as a chronic user, certainly don’t see why it should be and even advocate for the opposite. However, if I am caught smoking a joint by a cop, whether I believe it unjust or not, the fact remains that I am breaking the law and that I will have to deal with consequences. Period.

“Payments from abroad for articles and interviews”? In a time when it is known that the U.S. is trying to topple the Revolution (which it continues to do)? To “pay” for interviews? What kind of journalist from “abroad” – whatever country that may refer to – pays for interviews and articles? No self-respecting journalist does this. It goes against every ethic of the profession. Plus it is penalized, even here in Canada. In fact, when I read that sentence in the article, something actually clicked: Oh, I thought. So that’s how they get all their “misinformation” which they feed to the American public about the “hardships,” “volatility” and “repression” in Socialist Island: Buying News…

Lastly, someone may argue that the sentences were too long. Too long??! They are counter-revolutionaries trying to undo/undermine/sabotage (through every avenue, even lies/illegal ones) the efforts thus far made at creating a new system in order to return to one which they know kept the majority of the population oppressed, hungry, homeless, illiterate and sick. At the very best, they are simply looking out for their own interests, unable to cope with the social movement in the country and unable to lock arms with the masses that are indeed moving forward; at the very best, in other words, their self-interest causes them to choose to walk alone, away from the masses (the MAJORITY). So, in my opinion, let them rot! Thirty years is not enough! But perhaps that is why I am not the leader of a nation; I may be too harsh; too impulsive; not wise enough; not diplomatic enough, who knows.

Even so, later on, brokered through Cuba’s Catholic archdiocese with the Cuban and Spanish governments, early releases were granted. “Most of the freed men chose to leave the island, to settle in Spain and the U.S. as part of the arrangement.”

What a surprise. Where else would they go??

PART IV – IDEOLOGICALLY ADVANCED

Anyway, back to the Vanguard.

As more people from the common citizenry continue to excel in the previously mentioned camps, namely merit, patriotism, community involvement, heroism, volunteerism and, of course, ideological prowess, as part of their routine life as either members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution or even outside of it (though apparently the majority are in it), the Vanguard continues to grow.

Those more ideologically advanced – the ones that understand the Marxist-Leninist Theories of the Construction of Socialism – as well as the ones that have the more meritorious qualities, such as volunteerism, heroism, community involvement, what have you, are the ones in charge of helping the rest of society reach the same level of culture and to then go on climbing together (note the contrast to competition, where the winner – the more advanced – does not have any obligation to help the “losers” reach the same level). This is part of the Direct Education that Che believes is essential in the formation of the new Man, and calls “Auto-Education.”

I quote from Socialism and Man, itself a part of the short anthology, Global Justice: Liberation and Socialism (Pg. 39).

“In our case, direct education acquires a much greater importance. The explanation is convincing because it is true, not filled with subterfuges. It is exercised through the educative apparatus of the State in terms of general culture, [technique] and ideology, through such organisms as the Ministry of Education and the divulgation apparatus of the State. Education then is absorbed by the masses, and the new type of advocated attitude turns to habit; the masses continue to make it their own, and pressure those who still have not educated themselves. This is the indirect form of educating the masses…

“But the process is conscious; the individual constantly receives the impact of the new social power and perceives that it isn’t totally adequate for him. Under the influence of this indirect education, he tries to accommodate himself to a situation he feels just and whose very own lack of development has impeded him from doing so until now. He auto-educates.

“In this period of construction of socialism, we can appreciate the new man that is being born. His image is not yet finished; it couldn’t be, since the process marches parallel to the development of new economic ways.”

And it is through this socialist education that the new Vanguard swells in numbers of members, pushing forward from behind, and pulling from the front, all of the people who have yet to accept the creation of the new system, or who need help understanding the steps to be taken, or who consciously move forward with them, though still not sure of the final goal. Ultimately, as the numbers continue to increase to engulf the entire population, the Vanguard ceases to exist as every member becomes consciously a New Man. This, of course, is Communism.

I quote again, from page 39 and 40.

“Not counting those whose lack of education makes them opt for the solitary path, towards the auto-satisfaction of their own desires, there exist those who, even inside this new panorama of a unified march, tend to walk isolated from the masses that accompany them. What is important is that they daily go on becoming more and more conscious of the necessity of their incorporation (integration) into society and, at the same time, as engines of the same.

“They no longer march alone, through skewed roads toward distant aspirations. They follow their Vanguard, constituted by the Party, by the leading laborers, by the leading men and women who walk linked to the masses and in tight communion with them. The Vanguard has its view fixed on the future and in its prize, but this isn’t perceived as something individual; the prize is the new society where men and women will have different characteristics: the society of the Communist Man.

“The path is long and full of difficulties. Sometimes, due to taking the wrong route, we’ll have to take steps backwards; other times, due to walking too fast, we’ll lose sight of the masses; on occasions where we go too slow, we’ll feel the breath of those stepping on our heels. In our revolutionary ambitions, we try walking as fast as possible, opening paths, but we know that we must feed from the masses, and that they, in turn, will only be able to advance if we encourage them with our example.

“Notwithstanding the importance given to moral stimuli, the fact that there exists a division between the two principal groups (excluding, of course, the minority fraction of those who do not participate, for whatever reason, in the construction of socialism), indicates the relative lack of development in the social consciousness. The Vanguard group is ideologically more advanced than the masses, who know of the new values, but insufficiently. While in the first group (vanguard), a qualitative change is produced which allows them to sacrifice themselves in their leading roles, the second group (masses) only sees halfway forward, and must therefore be subjected to stimuli and pressures of a certain intensity; it is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat imposing itself not only over the defeated class, but also, individually, over the victorious one.

“All of this begs, for its total success, the necessity of a series of mechanisms – the revolutionary institutions…”

A MILD AND VERY BRIEF RESPONSE TO ANOTHER UNFOUNDED ATTACK AGAINST SOCIALISM

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...

There is a 12 second video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0maXjDMaW8&feature=share) whose description reads as such:

(TRANSLATED FROM SPANISH)

“In the interview conducted by a Venezuelan reporter named Vanesa Davies who is one of the spearheads of the Chavista propaganda (sic). She asks Fidel a question whose answer openly demonstrates that the SOCIALISM OF THE 21ST CENTURY is simply the same RANCID COMMUNISM OF FIDEL. It’s not that there were doubts but take hold of this all those that are still not convinced that they are trying to transform Venezuela into Cuba.” (sic)

This is what is said in the video, also translated from Spanish:

Q: “What is Socialism for you today/now?” 

A: “For me? It’s Communism…the very same that Marx himself defined as Communism”

In response to this video and its comments, I have the following to say:

It is neither Fidel’s nor Chavez’ trip.

In my view, this snippet of a video in no way supports the opinion held by the person that recorded it or that uploaded it (in case those two are different people), who interprets what is said as evidence that “they want to transform Venezuela into Cuba.” The transition from Socialism to Communism is the natural and normal trajectory of that political and economic evolution – the trajectory that is supposed to be realized according to the economic and political theories dictated by both the Socialist and Communist ideologies. Socialism is (very simply put for the sake of brevity) the “in-between” between Capitalism and Communism – it is the Path taken from Right to Left. The main objective is Pure Communism, and, in my view, most Socialist countries today have not had the privilege of realizing that end yet, including Cuba; most of these are still fighting the Good Fight against Capitalism through Socialism – they are in Transition, as it were (when the fight is finally won, then Pure Communism will have been realized). Therefore, in my opinion, what is trying to be done is not to “transform Venezuela into Cuba” but rather to finalize that transition from Capitalism, through Socialism and towards Communism. If and when this finally happens in Venezuela, by no means will the country have turned into Cuba, because not even Cuba, as I just mentioned above, has implemented Pure Communism, at least to my knowledge (part of the reason why there are still economic and political issues despite the obvious and immense Social advancements achieved, which are themselves something to be argued about in depth, but at another time). So, both Venezuela and Cuba continue to fight the fight, aspiring to the eventual Victory of Pure Communism.

On the other hand, this video in no way “uncovers” Chavez, as the title suggests. It is insincere to title these 12 seconds of video that way. If the person wanted to honestly inform the public of the lies and other corrupt and disgusting practices that he/she is keen on accusing Chavez of, and which were supposedly corroborated by this video and interview, then it would have behooved him/her to record the entire program and not just the 12 seconds that the person so ignorantly assumed would help explain their anti-Chavism. The Context surrounding all three — the question, the answer and the interview itself — is imperative in order for the viewer to arrive at his own well-informed and educated conclusions, which is, after-all, the main point of NEWS and INFORMATION. But that has obviously not been done here. Nevertheless, they have still managed to discredit themselves (and their message) more than they had ever intended to do for Chavez and Socialism in general. The video at no point in its minuscule time-span shows Fidel “uncovering” Chavez – he’s not even mentioned; and this on top of the already evident prejudice in the person that recorded the entire 12 seconds instead of the entire show. On the contrary, the video accomplishes the very opposite by very concisely explaining the purity of Chavez’ Socialism – the Socialism of the 21st Century, which in these days, in fact, embraces and belongs to not only Socialist/Chavista Venezuela but rather the entire of our Beautiful Latin America; it explains very sincerely the goals of real Socialism – in one word: Communism!

The other thing I gather from the video is that Fidel explains, or rather responds, to the question of how he sees Socialism in Venezuela today. I think he answers that “for [him this is] Communism – the very same that Marx himself defined as such.” That which Marx defined as Communism in the 19th Century, at the top of his brilliancy and voiced through his great COMMUNIST MANIFESTO – that is Pure Communism which even I think Fidel, erroneously and hastily but with good and sincere intentions, has accredited to the great Bolivarian Venezuela.

Fidel simply seems to be explaining the inevitable (which, comparatively, is as inevitable as the depressions and other economic-ticking-time-bombs that Capitalism is subject to and which are daily and globally decimating it, just as it has scientifically been foreseen since feudal times): that regardless of the country or of the person in power – of course, as long as that person has Pure Ideals in mind and Humanitarian and Social Advancements at heart instead of Personal and Economic Gain – ideals truly characteristic of figures such as Chavez, Fidel, Correa and Morales, among others – regardless of these two variables, Pure and Uncorrupt Socialism, like Cuba’s and Venezuela’s, is that which simultaneously produces the necessary conditions needed to arrive at Communism as well as drives the society that adopts it towards Communism.

If anyone wishes to know more about Pure Communism I invite you to look for material to read or to ask me to direct you to some, which I’ll be happy to do, because there is definitely lots of it out there (and I have some gems too!) You just have to look for it. Because, honestly, going to Fox News and CNN for news about Chavez or Venezuela or Cuba – or about any other place, for that matter, whose politics or economics are not aligned with the Local Interests of the U.S.A. – is infinitely the worst choice…If we do, we may as well just burrow our heads deep inside the Earth, or better yet, simply undergo a voluntary lobotomy and get this fucking charade over and done with….

And of course any comments…ALWAYS WELCOMED! Let’s get the ball rolling here…Undoubtedly, not everyone agrees with what they’ve just read…

************************

HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE!

PATRIA, SOCIALISMO O MUERTE!