“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past-
They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”
“I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating… it causes war, hypocrisy and competition”
“The revolution is a dictatorship of the exploited against the exploiters- The revenues of Cuban state-run companies are used exclusively for the benefit of the people, to whom they belong”
“No thieves, no traitors, no interventionists! This time the revolution is for real!” Fidel Castro
On the death of Fidel Castro, President Michael D Higgins issued a statement “expressing his great sadness, saying that he will be remembered as a giant among global leaders. His view was not only of freedom for his people, but for all the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet”.
Fidel Castro the 90-year-old iconic leader of the Cuban Revolution was an inspiration to all people struggling against oppression. Having completed the overthrow of Batista, on January 8th 1959 his revolutionaries triumphantly entered Havana. There he delivered his first major speech before tens of thousands of Cuban people at the vanquished dictator’s military headquarters. He inspired his country with strength and symbolism, an inspiration that echoed with all oppressed countries and peoples.
Socialism is a dream of extending democracy over economics, for revolutionaries that means taking existing industries and resources under democratic control to serve the interests of society rather than the few. Many revolutionaries who take power under such ‘Socialist’ slogans quickly adopt to the realities of the existing world order and cut deals with it. Then under a new national – revolutionary flag, they, like the power overthrown enrich themselves and persuade their fellow revolutionaries to become the new police, the new army and maintain the essence of the old order. They become the guardians of capital.
STRANGLE THE REVOLUTION.
From the moment it became apparent that Castro Aand his revolutionaries meant what they said, the Washington / Wall Street Consensus, were determined that the revolution must be strangled. In some ways, they unfortunately succeeded.
Socialism is more than just extending democracy over economics, for a socialist state to succeed, its power must come from the bottom up, this democracy must be transparent. The mass of people must feel that power, they must feel ownership of everything and be willing to carry that responsibility. The wealth of their production must be seen to come back to the people. But most of all, for Socialism to work, there must be peace. Socialism is indeed a delicate flower and delicate flowers are easy to poison.
- PROGRESS NEEDS PEACE. An emerging socialist state can be stifled by encircling it with an army, threatening it, invading it. Even if the invasion fails, the pressure will force the country to build and maintain a huge standing army. That will bleed the country’s wealth away from schools, hospitals, housing and the welfare of the people and channel it into military hardware and the expense of maintaining an army.
- If the adjoining state in this case the USA is very powerful and antagonistic to socialism, it can and did strangled it economically, cut it off from international trade. Its products were blocked from being sold on the international markets and vital goods were blocked from entering the country.
In addition to the problem of funding a large standing army, Cuba was forced to become militarised. Such countries, like the army itself must be organised and run in a pyramidal top down command structure, thus effectively undermining the emergence of a socialist democracy.
Every state has an internal opposition, in Cuba’s case it was those who lost their estates and their rights over resources and those who wanted the return of a society where they were free to profit on the labour of others. These external and internal forces who wished for and worked to roll back the revolution were funded and supported by the USA.
After the USA sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion, Fidel Castro survived over 600 attempts by the gangsters of capital to murder him. Despite Castro laughing off these attempts to kill him, internal paranoia grew in proportion to the threat to the state and it leader. These events further stifled the development of socialism and worked to limit democratic expression.
Despite all these trials the Cuban revolution oversaw vast improvements in the provision of basic services throughout the country, such as health care, education, welfare and housing. Unprecedented advances in literacy were made across the island.
The revolution provided military and social aid to struggling countries all over the world and was the first to respond to natural disasters. But most of all, it upheld the dignity of humanity world-wide, it held aloft the possibility, the idea, that a small Caribbean society of 11 million people could exist without being on its knees before the Washington / Wall Street Consensus.
Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution defied the United States for nearly half a century, and survived 11 American presidents One can only hope that the capacity of the Cuban people to resist ‘Americanisation’ can go on until the people of the United States of America and indeed the world come to understand that they too might extend democracy over economics. That they too, might try to build a society not based on the poisonous cocktail of greed and competition, but one where the happiness of society and the dignity of people were paramount.
A book of condolence will be open at the Mansion House to-day to allow people to pay their respects. The book is open from 11am to 4pm on Monday and Tuesday.