"Querido pueblo de Cuba. Hoy, 25 de noviembre, a las 10:29 horas de la noche falleció el Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana Fidel Castro Ruz. En cumplimiento a la voluntad expresa del Compañero Fidel, sus restos serán cremados. En las primeras horas de mañana sábado 26, la comisión organizadora de los funerales, brindará a nuestro pueblo una información detallada sobre la organización del Homenaje póstumo que se le tributará al fundador de la Revolución Cubana. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!" (video here).
The PCC assumes that its role is to preserve the communist society it achieved at the moment of revolutionary triumph. That distinction will have significant effects on the way in which the PCC approaches its relationships with outsiders and its internal governance. Preservation requires a single-minded focus on the consolidation of PCC power, though effectuated through the personalities of its leaders rather than through strong institutional structures. Preservationism might be understood as a window onto the stubborn Stalinist streak in Cuban institutionalizing ideology. The PCC is also Stalinist in the sense of the driving force of personality over institution. Institutions are essential instruments for the implementation of collective will, but that will is manifested through the politics of personality rather than situated within a matrix of rules that reflect collective application of ideological frameworks on individual issues. This succinctly describes the structural repercussions of the Latinized European Soviet style of Leninism and its reflections on the institution of the Communist Party after the moment of revolutionary triumph. (here).
6. The ideas that matter. There are several ideas that will long outlast Fidel Castro. Detached fro their author and the state and institutional structures within which they were applied without much success, these are the ideas that, continually developed, will likely challenge dominant views and the premises on which they are founded:
a. Regional Trade System theory. The Bolivian Alliance has failed for the moment. But its ideological basis is likely to survive and re-emerge in a variant form. ALBA’s greatest contribution might well be its ideology. Its mere existence serves as a basis for challenging assumptions in the creation and implementation of methods of integration. It provides a base through which this distinctive ideological voice can be leveraged by its state parties in Hemispheric integration debates. It seeks to balance the tensions between post colonial nationalism, internationalism and state sector dominance by substituting for private markets and private actors, state actors and tightly controlled markets. It is no longer focused on eliminating borders for the production and management of private capital; instead it is focused on using borders as a site for the assertion of public authority to control all aspects of social, political, cultural, and economic activity. Understood as an ideological joint venture among its participants, ALBA represents a space within which a consensus on alternatives to the existing preeminent economic model of globalization might be constructed. As such, it may represent one of Cuba’s greatest triumphs and also its greatest challenge to the normative tenets of the current framework of economic globalization. Thus contextualized, ALBA serves as a nexus for six great points of tension and connection within both modern trade theory practice and the construction of state system frameworks in Latin America. ALBA implicates tensions between integration and nationalism; between public and private models of integration; and between internal and external regional trade norms. It also highlights connections between the current form of trade frameworks and the construction of alternative forms of trade arrangements; between anti-Americanism and integration; and between conventional frameworks of Latin American trade and it challengers (e.g., here).b. Global Trade and Finance: Sovereign Debt. The dominant vision, firmly grounded in private law, posits that growth can occur only in a tightly integrated global economy founded on trade liberalization, privatization, and macrostability. When the state fails to pay its debts, it ought to be treated like any other failed corporate enterprise - a stay on debt collection efforts, broad enforcement of absolute priority, creditor approval of the proposed reorganization plan, and well protected new interim financing pending restructuring. Opposing the dominant vision is an anti-corporatist approach grounded in public law and the subordination of economics and markets to political control in the furtherance of deliberate state public policy and planning. States fail because it is in the interest of dominant states to use sovereign debt as a means of perpetuating subordination and a hierarchy of power among states. When a state fails to pay its debts, the focus ought to be on the creditor, and the fairness of the debt in terms of the larger public policy concerns - development, and the maximization of living standards for all individuals through state planning. (e.g., here)c. Global Trade and Finance: Supply and Value Chains. Well before it became fashionable to consider the human rights and development implications of globalization and the rise of transnational production chains, Fidel Castro had thought to theorize it from the perspective of developing states and the fundamental principle of state integrity. These ideas remain powerful even as the larger and richer states continue to nudge the states embedding in lower rungs of production chains toward a transnational legal and economic order (see, e.g., here). And indeed, the ideas that Castro articulated resonates with all developing states that see in the current system of global finance the means by which they remain stuck within the lower rungs of production chains and perpetually in debt (e.g., here).d. State Owned Enterprises and Labor Cooperatives:Since the 1970s, the relationship between productive property, and the state and individual has been contested in Marxist-Leninist nations. Though China has moved to permit robust private activity, and the private aggregations of capital in corporate form, Cuba has strictly adhered to traditional communist principles. In the face of recent financial upheavals, Cuba is seeking to liberalize its approach to economic organization, but in a way that would retain a state monopoly of the use of the corporate form while opening a small and well-managed consumer oriented private sector. Among the most innovative alternatives being developed is the cooperative, which has the potential to develop into a useful form of what this Article calls a proletarian corporation (e.g., here). At the same time the development of state owned enterprises as extensions of the political policy of the state may substantially rework corporate theory, sovereign immunity and the parameters within which one understands the nature and unique functions of the economic enterprise (e.g., here, here, and here).e. The role of the state in the development of human potential and the rise of the model worker. The question of the relationship of the state, society and the individual remains a vibrant one. While most states and normative orders have focused on the rights and dignity of the individual, constrained within very broadly drawn borders, Castro has sought to challenge the view of individual autonomy and choice--a markets driven notion, with a counter notion of individual obligation and perfectibility. This produces an intersting parallel to similar notions at the heart of Western religions and may find expression in new ways in the future (e.g., here).f. "Markets". It is clear that Fidel never embraced any notion of the utility of markets--either public or private. His world view was grounded int he idea that state planning--incorporating the normative values of the people as understood by its vanguard party, was a better (understood in economic terms) basis for the sorts of value based decision making that was at the heart of the markets-efficiency arguments of classical c¡economic theory. But classical central planning has not worked precisely because it has been impossible to fuse the techniques of the markets within the administrative cultures of public bureaucracies. But that may be changing and large scale integrated supply chains may pave the way for a reinvigoration of a "post markets" theorizing. Not one that rejects the market but one that understands that markets may be internalized within complex bureaucracies (first the global supply chains, and thereafter, perhaps, public decision making of a similar sort).
g. Inidgenization. One of the most curious notions developed by Castro was the idea of the displacement of traditional indigenous populations by a new indigenous population that consists of the blending of all peoples, first nations and settlers into a single ethnic community. The indigenization of population in settler states--like Cuba, raises substantial issues about the current move toward segregation and compartmentalization, of the preservation, of ethnic communities. This is bound to be highly controversial (e.g., here and here)
7. For the short term expect the following:
a. How much will Castro's death change economic development in Cuba? Initially there will be very little change. The Cuban state and party is run the midst of finalizing its new conceptualization of its socio-political system. That “Conceptualization” has made it very clear that Fidel’s ideals of a Central Planning Marxism, which essentially rejects the value of markets beyond state control, combined with a focus on building “model workers” within “ model planning” will likely dominate thinking in official circles at least for the short and medium term. It is in this sense, certainly that Fidel will continue to be quite influential. On Central Planning Marxism versus the markets Marxism, of the Chinese, see https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2819231
b. How much will it change Cuban-US relations especially in ways that would open Cuba up to business with US companies? Fidel’s death has been long anticipated but it remains symbolically important, in the way that thew death of an early parent is important to adult children—he hasn’t been at the center for a while but his presence had an important centering effect on politics, society, etc. For Cuba in the short run I believe that means caution and an unwillingness to take risks. I had wondered why the Cuban military appeared far more alert in the past few weeks—most people thought it was on account on the US elections; it is also plausible to suggest that the military was being prepared for any eventuality when the reality of Fidel’s death was announced. the cause. Otherwise, the course that Raul Castro has plotted—a slow steady progress that is quite strictly managed from the Cuban state side will continue in effect. US companies will find it no more or less difficult to do business forms he Cuban side of the equation. But that itself, at the moment does not auger well for US companies. What is worth watching is the willingness of the US and Cuba to continue to talk about opening support services—communications, banking and the like.
c. What is Trump's policy towards Cuba and is this really the overriding factor rendering the passing of Castro less relevant? It is hard to tell what precisely Mr. Trump will do with his Cuba policy. Certainly if we were to engage in Soviet style “readings of the signs”, then it is likely that having surrounded himself with more traditionalist Cuban elements in the United States that there will be some roll back. The Cuban Adjustment Program may be on the chopping block, as will some of the normalization gestures—though which ones is unclear. On the other hand, Mr. Trump may not deny his supporters the opportunity to make money, and that may color the form of engagement going forward. But indeed, from the American side of things, Fidel has long passed from the scene and US policy is grounded in the assumption that (1) Raul is different (and that is certainly true enough); (2) and that Raul can embed those differences in policy. Yet on the Cuban side it is clear that Raul is different to some extent, but not enough to change the fundamental center of Cuban socio-economic or political policy. And the second that Fidel remains quite relevant within the principles of politics and economics that continue to be embedded in the Cuban system. Thus, special economic zones,targeted foreign investment within systems of principles based rules that serve as a basis for the exercise of discretion by Cuban officials grounded in the need to keep foreign investment at arms length and to ensure that the Cuban State inserts itself between foreign capital and its population, will continue to be the rule. The private sector will become more relevant, certainly, but big money transactions will involve the state.
d. Other considerations moving forward? Right now, I think, Fidel’s death will put a spotlight on the most important parts of the jigsaw pieces that will determine the shape of US Cuba relations Critical among these are the confidence of the State and Communist Party apparatus in their control of the state, and the reading by the Cuban’s of the intentions of the incoming US administration. But also important is the actual development of a US policy. The current two track negotiations—the public and private ones—are likely to be the first victim; whether they are started up again in January remains to be seen. There is no doubt to Mr. Trump will likely amplify the ideological parts of US engagement with Cuba; the real question is whether the US and Cuba can continue doing business beneath the ramped up rhetoric on both sides that is likely to come after January.