Saturday, July 30, 2016

Larry Catá Backer: Reconcieving the Government of Western Marxist Leninist States--"Comment to the 'Conceptualización del Modelo Economico y Social Cubano de Desarrollo Socialista'

The recently concluded 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) produced little by way of surprises. The tone was set by the First Secretary when he suggested that a slow and steady course, with little deviation, should be the guiding principle of the Congress. It is with this in mind that one should consider one of the principal documents that was produced by the 7th PCC Congress, the 'Conceptualisation of the Cuban socio-economic socialist development model' ("Conceptualización del modelo económico y social Cubano de desarrollo socialista"), which is intended to complement the Guidelines (Lineamientos) of the 6th PCC Congress, and provide the theoretical foundation for its further implementation.  Adopted in principle, the Conceptualización serves to answer the question: what sort of theoretical model will guide the development of Socialism in Cuba. The Conceptualización is of particular interest for its potential divergence from the construction of Chinese post-Soviet Socialist Market theory within the context of socialist modernization.

These two distinct views of socialist modernization deserve some attention, if only because of their potential influence within developing states whose relationship to the dominant normative framework of markets based globalization may not be entirely embedded within their social, economic and political systems.

To that end Flora Sapio and I offer some comments and analysis of the Concepotualización

 This post includes Larry Catá Backer's Comment to the Conceptualización. PowerPoints of this analysis may be accessed HERE. This analysis was first presented as part of an analysis of movements in Cuban Socialist theory for the 26th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, Miami Florida July 29, 2016.

Author's note

The following commentary presents in outline summary form an initial analysis to the Conceptualización.  More in depth analysis to follow.

1. Focus

       Central Questions:
       Does the 7th PCC Congress mark the return to traditional models of Cuban Marxist Leninist macro-economics and politics?
       Does it suggest (Conceptualización) a development of a contemporary Central Planning Marxism Model to suit the present historical stage of development of Cuba?
       If so, is it different from or incompatible with the Chinese Markets Marxism Model?
       Consider the 7th PCC Congress
       Analyze the substantive consequences of its sputtering reform trajectory
       Conceptualización del modelo económico y social Cubano de desarrollo socialista: Plan nacional de desarrollo económico y social hasta 2030: Propuesta de vision de la nación, ejes y sectores estratégicos
       Consider broader consequences

2. 7th Party Congress: “Fear and Loathing;” or Caution and Incrementalism?

       Overall theme: The Shadow of . . .
       “Fear and Loathing”
       U.S.; markets; neo-liberalism; globalization
       Caution and Incrementalism?
       In the shadow of the Lineamientos
       Explaining/excusing the slow pace of reform and opening up
       Structural Consequences
       Delay (key documents unavailable)
       Fidel Castro and the Foreign Ministry
       Internal factions differences become more acute
       Fewer individuals may participate in consultation
       Key battle over the extent of reform and the willingness to open up (and to whom)

3. The New “Central Planning Marxism”

       Basis for the conceptualization of reform
       The language that will be used to understand “facts”
       Norms against which action is assessed
       The framework for giving meaning to concepts and structuring its implementation
       Close alignment between Conceptualización, and the 2030 development plan.
Analysis follows the organization of the Conceptualización:
Chapter 1: The Principles that Sustain the Model and Necessary Transformations
Chapter 2: The Ownership of the Means of Production
Chapter 3: Economic Central Planning
Chapter 4: Social Politics
Final Considerations

4. Introducción: Ideological Framework.

       Theoretical basis  and characteristics: “Expone las bases teóricas y características esenciales del Modelo Económico y Social Cuba no de Desarrollo Socialista” (¶ 2)
       con el objetivo de avanzar hacia una sociedad superior (¶ 9).
       en función de avanzar hacia una sociedad socialista, próspera y sostenible (¶ 10).
       Specify foundational premises for the construction of Cuban socialism in this stage in its development, its structures and strategic goals
       La sociedad cubana se encuentra en el proceso histórico de construcción del socialismo, como alternativa viable para superar el capitalismo y, con ello, contribuir modestamente a la supervivencia de la Humanidad. (¶ 8).
       y se ajusta a las nuevas condiciones internas y el contexto internacional contemporáneo (¶ 12).
       Essential basis is the concept of Revolution (2000) of Fidel Castro
       Grounded in a long entanglement with and development of strategies of opposition to the U.S. leading to the reform and opening up of the Lineamientos (¶¶14- 35)
       From these were forged 7 basic principles to construct socialist development that is prosperous and sustainable (“para un desarrollo socialista próspero y sostenible”) (¶ 36-43):
       (a) unity and independence of the Cuban people; (b) popular support of the leadership role of the PCC; (c) the universality of social welfare services;  (d) the strengthening of Cuban values; (e) active engagement of a socialist civil society; (f) productive capacity to engage in global commerce in specified sectors; (g) augmented international prestige and standing among the community of nations.

5. Capítulo 1: Los Principios Que Sustentan El Modelo (Core principles that serve as the foundation of the ideological model).

       Objective: build a total (an “all around”)Socialist Society: impulsar y consolidar la construcción de una sociedad socialista próspera y sostenible (¶ 49)
       Sustainability is a function of development
       Development a function of the Lineamientos (¶¶ 50-51)
       Develop both material and social productive forces to produce rich and model state ¶ 52-53
       1.1 Principios de nuestro socialismo que sustentan el Modelo ¶¶ 54-73 (Sustaining Principles)
       Principles: Synthesis of the continuation of the essential basis of Cuban socialism ¶ 57-73:
       Socialist human rights and moral values (¶58) (“Todo ello, en contraposición al egoísmo, el individualismo y el consumismo enajenante y depredador.”); nondiscrimination (¶68); right to work, health, education, etc. (¶ 69), to ensure social welfare (¶ 70-71)
       Leadership of the PCC as the Leninist vanguard party (¶59)
       The State as the guarantor and source of sovereign authority (¶60)
       Socialist democracy is exercised through the legislature under the leadership of the PCC (¶ 61)
       State as the source of popular rights and obligations (¶ 62).
       State control of the fundamental means of production (¶ 63) legitimating/democratizing (¶¶64-65)
       Highest objective: Preserving the state and Revolution (¶¶66; 72)
       Central Planning  is the principal means of socialist development (¶67)
       Control of individuals as a means of social production; Individuals obligation to protect state property and work hard (¶ 73)

6. Capítulo 1: Los Principios . . .Y Sus Principales Transformaciones (Transformations made necessary as a Consequence of the application of the basic principles).

       1.2. Transformaciones principales del Modelo ¶¶ 74-115
       Se refieren a las transformaciones que caracterizan los nuevos fundamentos del Modelo a partir de las condiciones internas y externas actuales (¶ 75)
       1.2.1. Consolidación del papel primordial de la propiedad social sobre los medios fundamentales de producción
       Necessary conditions for transformation: Creation of a revolutionary working class (¶80); modernization of SOEs (organization, technology, innovation)(¶¶81-2); Application of Socialist distribution to workers (wage markets) (¶83); SOE self financing  for development and improvement (¶¶84-85); Integrated SOE state ministry planning and direction (¶86); Unified currency (¶ 87)
       1.2.2. Reconocimiento y diversificación de diferentes formas de propiedad y de gestión, adecuadamente interrelacionadas (¶¶89-96)
       Enhanced “socialist foreign investment
       Recognition of complementary role of private property over specifically designated means of production which must be bent to the needs of perfecting the centrally planned economy (¶¶ 91-96)
       forma parte de los elementos que condicionan la necesidad objetiva del reconocimiento del mercado, en el que interactúen bajo la planificación como vía principal de dirección de la economía (¶94)
       1.2.3. Perfeccionamiento del Estado socialista, sus sistemas y órganos de dirección (¶¶97-115)
       State responsible for development of social and economic order (¶ 99)
       Central planning of the economy must control both the state sector and private markets (¶101-104)
       Import substitution and export growth as basic policy (¶ 105)
       Judicial norms to be developed in aid of this system con orden y disciplina (echoing Raúl Castro))

7. Capítulo 2: La Propiedad Sobre Los Medios De Producción (Ownership of the means of production)

       2.1. Principales formas de propiedad sobre los medios de producción (¶¶119-191) (forms of state ownership of means of poduction)
       a)  La propiedad socialista de todo el pueblo (¶¶121-157);
       1. Las unidades presupuestadas (non-commercial enterprises)
       2. las entidades empresariales de propiedad socialista de todo el pueblo (caracter mercantil). 
       b)  la propiedad cooperativa (¶¶ 158-167) (labor collectives);
       c)  la propiedad mixta (¶¶158-167) (joint ventures);
       d)  la propiedad privada (¶¶1673-186)
       (subject to rules restricting private accumulation of capital);
       e)  la propiedad de organizaciones políticas, de masas, sociales y otras formas asociativas (¶¶ 187-181) (mass organizations).
       2.2. Sobre el sistema de entidades de carácter empresarial (¶¶192-202)
       Recaps the only permitted forms of economic organization (¶¶193-200)
       State controls juridical persons in all respects through law (¶201)
       State reserves to itself the assignment of the provision of goods and services by any of these economic actors as it sees fit (¶201).

8. Capítulo 3: La Dirección Planificada De La Economía (The direction of the planned economy, or the core notion of central planning in lieu of markets)

       The essence of central planning; engaging with markets (¶¶203-264);
       a) La planificación socialista (¶¶206);
       El desarrollo socialista se erige en función del ser humano considerando las dimensiones política, económico-financiera, social, demográfica, territorial, científico-tecnológica, formativo-cultural, de protección y conservación de los recursos y el medioambiente, entre otras. (¶220)
       b) la regulación (¶ 207)
       Means of market regulation (¶245 et seq): (1) regulate market access and induce rational consumption; (2) identify areas suitable for market functioning (market ghettos); (3) establish standards and regulate competition; (4) consumer protection; and (5) restrict monopoly conditions contrary to societal interests.
       c) la gestión del Estado (¶208)
       Resource management and regional economic integration (shadow of ALBA)
       d) el control (¶ 209)
       Monitoring, surveillance, and regulatory structures to detect offenses and enforce planning.
       El sistema nacional de estadísticas da respuesta a las necesidades del nuevo escenario en que interactúan diferentes formas de propiedad y gestión, utilizán- dose de manera combinada métodos directos e indirectos de captación de in- formación, como registros administrati- vos y contables, censos, encuestas y otros métodos de estimación. (¶ 264)

9. Capítulo 4 La Política Social (Socialist culture and the Revolutionary worker)

       Ties together economic and social development (¶¶ 265-311)
       El ideal de prosperidad de los ciudadanos se sustenta en perspectivas alcanzables de materialización de proyectos racionales de vida, individuales y colectivos, en correspondencia con los valores de nuestra sociedad, sustentados principalmente en los ingresos provenientes del trabajo, y los derechos constitucionales. (¶ 268)
       4.1. Los derechos económicos y sociales (¶¶273-298)
       Welfare state principles
       Education and culture as a socialization tool (¶281-284)
       The cultivation of a taste for beauty (¶285)
       Managing free time (286)
       4.2. El trabajo como fuente de bienestar y prosperidad (¶¶299-311) (a notion of labor as a means of production which, like capital, must be centrally directed and controlled)
       Wealth distribution and social justice tied together (¶300);
        basic principles (¶311)
       Accounting for wage differentials (¶¶301-302) and private property (¶306-7)
       Product markets must be managed to permit access to basic necessities (¶¶308-310)

10. Final Considerations

       Model: “una necesidad para lograr la irreversibilidad y el desarrollo de la construcción del socialismo en Cuba.” (¶312) (necessity of the Model and its underlying theory a necessity for the preservation and development of Cuban socialism)
       The shadow of Raúl Castro:
       Es preciso asegurar más explicación al pueblo, más disciplina y exigencia y un mayor y más cercano seguimiento al proceso de cambios. Hay que tener, como ya hemos dicho, los oídos y los pies bien puestos sobre la tierra. (¶319)
       An exercise in perfecting the Revolutionary insights as it is applied to changing conditions (¶322)
       para consolidar los logros de la Revolución e impulsar la construcción de nuestro socialismo prós pero y sostenible. (¶329)
       The U.S.(¶328)
       Regional integration (ALBA) and multilateral (¶¶ 325-327)

11. Consequences: Old Patterns in New Theoretical Clothing?

       How does one build a revolutionary working class that the state can exploit to perfect its control of the economy?
       Labor and capital treated alike as regulable means of production
       Labor as a productive force must be managed in the societal and cultural sphere like capital
       How does one constrict socialism without markets in a global context grounded in the value of markets?
       Substitution of direct control for objectives based management through markets
       Economic activity as instrumental which can be invested with moral values only through the direct control through leadership of Leninist vanguard
       Theory driven by reaction
       Fear of the United States
       Still the Great Satan
       Protection against driving the pace and context of reform and opening up
       Fear of markets
       Fear of engagement
       Necessity for control at every level
       Conflation of Marxist Leninism with state planning economic model
       Foundation for political legitimacy

12. And What of the Asian “Markets Marxism” Model?

       Strong echoes of Chinese Communist Party General Program but differences:
       Asian--as a means toward Socialist Modernization v
       Cuban--as a marginal complement to State Control and operation of Political Economyln object
       Path versus perfeccionamiento
       Asian: the “Socialist Road” toward Marxist society
       Cuban: Protecting the fruits of the Revolution and the socialist society created
       Internally  versus externally driven
       Asian: looking to internal condition
       Cuba: external enemies and regional integration
       Management versus Control
       Productive forces
       Asian: Use (liberate) toward Leninist ends
       Cuban: Use is an ends in itself

13. Tentative cnclusions

       7th PCC Congress and its Conceptualización suggests the difficulty of theorizing the normative basis of the state in times of crisis
       Disconnect between elites and masses
       Worldwide phenomenon
       Highlights a fundamental crisis in theorizing state power
       Document remains complex and remote; specialist text
       It does not speak to the masses
       Embedded with ambiguity

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