Thursday, November 08, 2018

6-Introducing "Cuba's Caribbean Marxism: Essays on Ideology, Government, Society, and Economy in the Post Fidel Castro Era" ("'Order, Discipline and Exigency:' From Ideology to Lineamientos and Reform With Cuban Characteristics")


I reported the publication of Cuba’s Caribbean Marxism: Essays on Ideology, Government, Society, and Economy in the Post Fidel Castro Era (Little Sir Press 2018; ISBN: 978-1-949943-00-9 (pbk); I SBN: 978-1-949943-01-6 (ebk)) (here). Cuba’s Caribbean Marxism is the first offering through Little Sir Press, a self-publishing collective that is a new project in broader knowledge dissemination of the Coalition for Peace & Ethics (more about that project here). Join us!’s Caribbean Marxism eBook may be accessed through these sites:    

Paperback ordering information to follow. Individual Chapters also may be ordered in pdf format.

I promised that over the course of future posts I would be introducing readers to the book. This post continues with an introduction to Chapter 4 ("'Order, Discipline and Exigency:' From Ideology to Lineamientos and Reform With Cuban Characteristics"),  which follows below.  Here for access to other posts in this series.  HERE for the video recording of the launch event for Cuba's Caribbean Marxism: Essays on Ideology, Government, Society, and Economy in the Post Fidel Castro Era, which took place 12 November 2018 at Penn State.

“Order, Discipline and Exigency:” From Ideology to Lineamientos and Reform With Cuban Characteristics 
      By 2010, most significant actors within and outside of Cuba had come to believe that the current system of state organization, and in particular the economic model at the heart of half a century of a particular form of implementation of Revolutionary ideology, was not working. “Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has revealed for the first time that he believes Cuba’s economic model does not work. Raúl Castro, the country’s president has made a similar blunt assessment a number of times before, but his revolutionary leader brother has never made such an admission.” (“Now Comrade Castro admits Cuban economic system ‘doesn’t work’” 2010). Something had to be done. That “something” came in the form, first of a limited opening up of sole proprietorships and small farm holding for Cubans. (Backer Sept. 24, 2010). It has culminated in one of the most public projects of politically directed change since the 1959 Revolution, the Lineamientos de la política económica y social del partido y la Revolución. (Partido Comunista de Cuba April 18, 2011) (“Lineamientos” or Guidelines).
         Through the Lineamientos, the Partido Comunista Cubano (Cuban Communist Party (PCC)) sought to develop a comprehensive approach to the reform of its political and economic model.  At the same time, the Lineamientos were not a signal of transformation. While the core principles and political ideology of the state would not change, the working style of the Party and the operations of the state and methods of implementing that ideology were meant to change substantially. A the same time, the changes, as finally adopted in the Lineamientos were not meant to break with the past. The Lineamientos, then, spoke to change, but one tethered quite firmly to the core principles of the past. These core principles substantially constrained the scope and character of reform in quite specific ways.  They included among them a commitment to class struggle, a rejection of markets as a governance or operational device, the subordination of economic activity to political objectives, a distrust of the private sector, and a conviction that the Revolution could be protected only by isolating Cuba from the corrupting influences of foreign (bourgeois) economics. As such, the Lineamientos could point to development, but only to development consistent with these core principles. 
         The Lineamientos reveal, as well the underlying philosophy framing the mechanics of reform, a philosophy laconically emphasized by Raúl Castro in his Closing address to the 6th PCC Congress, April 2011--order, discipline, and exigency. 
Ya expresamos en el Informe Central que no nos hacíamos ilusiones de que los Lineamientos y las medidas a ellos asociadas, por sí solos, fueran la solución a todos los problemas existentes. Para alcanzar el éxito en esta cuestión estratégica y en las demás, es preciso que de inmediato nos concentremos en hacer cumplir los acuerdos de este Congreso, bajo un denominador común en nuestra conducta: el ORDEN, la DISCIPLINA y la EXIGENCIA. . . . Estamos convencidos de que el principal enemigo que enfrentamos y enfrentaremos serán nuestras propias deficiencias y que por tanto, una tarea de tamaña dimensión para el futuro de la nación, no podrá admitir improvisaciones ni apresuramientos. (Castro Ruz 19 April 2011) [We said in the Central Report that we are not under the illusion that the Guidelines and the related measures can by themselves solve all of our problems. Our success in this strategic issue and every other will certainly require that we focus on the execution of the agreements reached at this Congress. To that end, our conduct must be guided by one common denominator: ORDER, DISCIPLINE and EXIGENCE. . . . We are convinced that the main enemy we are confronting and shall confront will be our own inefficiencies and that an endeavor of such a great significance to the future of our country cannot be tackled recklessly or hastily.] (Castro Ruz 21 April 2011).
The problem as framed by the PCC First Secretary then, was not the ruling ideology as such, but the ability of the people under the leadership of its vanguard to undertake the tasks necessary to fulfill the promise of that ideology.  It is this perspective that then frames the approach to reform, and to the relationship between ideology, reform and implementation expressed through the Lineamientos. It is is balancing between a fundamental desire to preserve the status quo against the realities of Cuba’s situation, that illuminates the constraints within which Cuban political, legal, social, cultural, and economic “reform” can be understood.  
         The Lineamientos were developed over a long period and were widely distributed for public comment in the autumn of 2010. Indeed, the Cuban state apparatus and media made much of the democratic consultation undertaken prior to the consideration of the Guidelines by the Party. That consultation, though undertaken through the leadership of the PCC provided an unprecedented forum for popular participation, whose opinions were to be taken into account in finalizing the Lineamientos. 
Como resultado del trabajo de la Comisión de Política Económica del VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba, se elaboró el Proyecto de Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social que será discutido con toda la militancia, los trabajadores y la población en general para recoger y tener en cuenta sus opiniones y posteriormente será sometido a la aprobación del VI Congreso” (Cubadebate November 9, 2010 [As a result of the work of the Political Economy Commission of the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the Lineamientos project was elaborated that will be seriously discussed by workers and the general public to acquire and consider their opinions and thereafter to submit the final product to the 6th Congress]).
Cuban officials also distributed the draft Lineamientos widely outside of Cuba. Highly placed Cuban academics and others were permitted to attend events abroad to explain the Lineamientos and generate discussion. Indeed, on the eve of the 6th PCC Congress in 2011, highly placed economists were permitted to attend a conference in New York to discuss the Lineamientos and their potential impacts. (City University of New York April 2011). These included economists from the University of Havana’s prestigious Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (Piñeiro Harnecker 2011; Vidal Alejandro 2011; Nova González 2011; and Pérez Villanueva 2011). There were three principal objectives.  The first two were the obvious ones--to acquire a sense of reaction generally to the form and focus of the reforms, and to solicit technical suggestions for improvement of the specific provisions in the reforms. The third objective was more subtle and essentially political, and that was to fold the process of the Lineamientos into the reform of Leninist political process in Cuba.  The Lineamientos served as the first effort to put into operation of strong consultative element in the finalization of political reform.  The space for that consultation was precisely limited to the terms of the Lineamientos themselves and not the underlying political principles. This practice of Socialist Democracy was then refined and applied in substantially modified form 2016 in the finalization of the Conceptualización and by 2018 in the process of constitutional reform in Cuba discussed in more detail in Chapter 12 below.
The practice of transparency and national consultation culminated in the consideration of the Lineamientos, and their unanimous approval, at the long postponed 6th PCC Congress — the party in power in the Cuban state. The Party Congress was a well-staged event, planned to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion, as Raúl Castro noted in his speech closing the meeting:
Considero que la forma más digna y a la vez productiva de conmemorar el 50o Aniversario de la Victoria sobre la invasión mercenaria en Playa Girón, un día como hoy, el 19 de abril de 1961, es precisamente haber efectuado un magnífico Congreso del Partido, reunión que culmina tras algo más de cinco meses del inicio de las discusiones acerca de los Lineamientos, proceso de profundo carácter democrático y transparente, cuyo protagonismo indiscutible lo asumió el pueblo bajo la dirección del Partido (Raúl Castro Ruz, April 19, 2011, at 2) [“I believe that the most worthy, yet productive, manner to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Victory over the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón, a day like today, April 19, 1961, is precisely to have convened a great Party Congress, a meeting that serves as the culmination of more than five months from the start of discussions on the Guidelines, a process of profound democratic and transparent nature, in which the people, under the leadership of the Party, indisputably played a role.”].
As finally approved by the 6th Party Congress, the Lineamientos consist of 313 Sections. They provide suggestions for action that affects nearly every aspect of Cuban economic life, with consequential effects on social, cultural, educational and other sectors of activity that had been under the direction of the State. A companion booklet was also published: VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de Cuba, Información sobre el resultado del debate de los Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social del Partido y la Revolución (Mayo de 2011) (Partido Comunista de Cuba May 2011) (the “Tabloide”). The Tabloide presents a summary of the changes from the draft Lineamientos and the official reasons for the changes. Both are required reading for getting a sense of extent and direction of the economic (and necessarily political) changes that are being contemplated in Cuba.
In 2011, the Lineamientos were seen to serve as a detailed, though still general, basis for reordering the economic framework within which Cuban socialism is understood and ultimately applied to the construction of government, society and economy. They suggested the opening to potentially significant structural changes in Cuban economic policy. Archibald Ritter rightly notes that the Lineamientos are both necessary, given the impossible economic condition of Cuba, and also represent an effort to create a legacy for the Cuban Revolution that can survive the Castro brothers. “The ‘Lineamientos’ represent an attempt by President Raúl Castro to forge his own ‘legacy’ and to emerge from the long shadow of his brother, as well as to set the Cuban economy on a new course. The ratification of the reform agenda represents a successful launch of the ‘legacy’ project” (Ritter June 17, 2011). He concludes, however, that “President Raúl Castro would indeed make a unique and valuable contribution to Cuba and its citizens were he to move Cuba definitively through dialogue and agreement among all Cubans towards a model that guarantees both economic and social rights as well as civil liberties and authentic democracy”(Ibid.).
Still, Cuban officials were careful to downplay the scope and likelihood of any swift realization of the potential suggested in the Lineamientos. While the West greeted these changes as an opening to even greater economic (and ultimately political) changes (Lyman 2011), those closest to the centers of Party and State power suggested a much more conservative vision of the place of the Lineamientos (Guerra 2011). There was a grim sense among the leadership that this possible revolutionary potential in the Lineamientos might well be made hostage to a particular understanding of the Revolution itself. Raúl Castro captured the mood of the leadership well:
La actualización del modelo económico no es un milagro que pueda obrarse de la noche a la mañana, como algunos piensan; su despliegue total se logrará gradualmente en el transcurso del quinquenio, pues es mucho el trabajo de detalle, planificación y coordinación, tanto en el plano jurídico como en la preparación minuciosa de todos los que intervengan en su ejecución práctica. También será necesario desarrollar una intensa labor de divulgación a la población sobre cada medida que vayamos adoptando y al mismo tiempo, mantener los pies y los oídos bien atentos y pegados a la tierra, para superar los obstáculos que encontremos y rectificar rápidamente los fallos que cometamos en su aplicación (Raúl Castro Ruz April 19, 2011). [The updating of the economic model is not a miracle that can happen overnight like some people believe. Its full development will only be attained gradually in the course of five years for it requires a conscientious work of planning and coordination both in legal terms and in the thorough training of all those involved in its implementation. It will also be necessary to work intensively providing the people with adequate information on every measure adopted while, at the same time, keeping our feet and ears firmly on and attentively to the ground, to be able to overcome the obstacles we encounter, and to quickly rectify the mistakes we make in implementation]
Indeed, when combined with the forceful the expression “Order, Discipline and Exigency” noted above, these capture the tone and mood of the current Cuban Communist Party line that is at the center of this new effort to remake Cuba without betraying the fundamental normative structures on which the 1959 Revolution is based.
Raúl Castro emphasized both the limited nature of the reforms (despite their comprehensive scope) and the speed with which they will be implemented. “Raúl Castro Closed the Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba. The First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) Raúl Castro said the . . . main enemy is in our own shortcomings and therefore, in such a great task to the future of the country we will make needed changes if necessary as indicated by Fidel and at the pace demanded by the circumstances” (Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in the Kingdom of Denmark 2011).
Moreover, the scope and effect of the Guidelines were highly contested (Backer May 17, 2011). There was certain expectations of resistance from traditionalists within the PCC. Fidel Castro himself remained ambivalent. Raúl Castro put a positive spin on his brother’s approval of the work of the 6th Party Congress. “No renunciaremos a hacer los cambios que hagan falta, como nos indicó Fidel en su reflexión de ayer, los que efectuaremos al ritmo que demanden las circunstancias objetivas y siempre con el apoyo y comprensión de la ciudadanía, sin poner nunca en riesgo nuestra arma más poderosa, la unidad de la nación en torno a la Revolución y sus programas” (Raúl Castro Ruz April 19, 2011 [We will not renounce those changes that are necessary, as Fidel himself urged in his Reflection of yesterday; those that we adopt will be implemented in accordance with the rhythms and objective circumstances  of the times and always with the support of citizens without ever putting at risk our most powerful weapon, the unity of the nation around the Revolution and its programs]). But it remained far from clear the extent to which Fidel Castro will support the actual efforts to implement the Guidelines, at least to the extent they substantially undo his own vision of state organization.
Fidel Castro’s last words to the Party Congress in some sense foreshadowed the arc of development of the Lineamientos from the potential promise of 2011 to the constraining structures of ideological principles after 2016.  Speaking of the members of the 6th PCC Congress, Fidel Castro noted:
Por ello, persistir en los principios revolucionarios es, a mi juicio, el principal legado que podemos dejarle. No hay margen para el error en este instante de la historia humana. Nadie debe desconocer esa realidad. . . . La nueva generación está llamada a rectificar y cambiar sin vacilación todo lo que debe ser rectificado y cambiado, y seguir demostrando que el socialismo es también el arte de realizar lo imposible: construir y llevar a cabo la Revolución de los humildes, por los humildes y para los humildes, y defenderla durante medio siglo de la más poderosa potencia que jamás existió. (Fidel Castro Ruz April 17, 2011). [“Therefore to uphold revolutionary principles is in my view, the main legacy we can leave you. There is no margin for error in this moment of human history. No one should ignore that reality. . . . The new generation is called upon to rectify and change without hesitation all that must be corrected and changed, and continue to demonstrate that socialism is also the art of the impossible: to construct and carry out the revolution of the humble by the humble and for the humble, and defend it for half a century from the most powerful country that ever existed.”]
By the time of the 7th PCC Congress in 2016, some of the fears about the pace of the reform project of the Lineamientos appeared to have been realized. By the time of the 7th PCC Congress, “only 21 percent of the guidelines have been implemented, 77 percent are in the process of being implemented and no progress has been made on 2 percent” (Whitefield 2016). The blame remained pointed in the same direction: “‘The fundamental obstacle that we’ve confronted, just as we expected, is the weight of an obsolete mentality that takes the form of an attitude of inertia and lack of confidence in the future,’ Castro said” (Ibid.). And the solution was to remake the Lineamientos, reducing them to “268 guidelines — 31 with the original wording, 193 that have been reworked, and 44 news ones, Castro said” (Ibid.). These were arranged in the revised Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social del Partido y la Revolución para el periodo 2016-2021(Partido Comunista de Cuba 1 June 2017 hereafter Lineamientos 2017), which appear in relevant part in Appendix A at the end of this Chapter.
Though the focus of attention has been on the economic changes proposed in the Guidelines, few aspects of Cuban social, cultural and political life have been left untouched. Among the provisions found in the Guidelines are a small number that focus on what are called issues of Social Policy (Política Social). These target the great cultural-political achievements of the Revolution—medical care, education, culture, sport, social security, employment policy and state subsidies (Lineamientos 2011). By 2017, these categories of social policy had grown to include “el acceso a la atención médica, la educación, la cultura, el deporte, la recreación, la justicia, la tranquilidad ciudadana, la seguridad social y la protección mediante la asistencia social a las personas que lo necesiten” (Lineamientos 2017 ¶ 116) [access to medical care, education, culture, sport, recreation, justice, social tranquility, the security of society and social security to those in need]). The importance of these sectors, in their original 2011 form or as revised and extended in 2017, cannot be underestimated both in the internal and external relations of the state and Party. At least since 1994, the Cuban government and the Party have stressed “the safeguarding of education and health as the basic accomplishments of the revolution” (Lutjens 1996, 5).
This Chapter examines the way in which the Lineamientos seek to bring change to the core of Cuban Revolutionary achievement, in the area grouped under the title Social Policy (Política Social)focusing specifically on the Política Social provisions of the Lineamientos relating to education, sport and culture. These provisions survived substantially unchanged between 2011 and the 2017 update, and remain to some extent the unfinished business of reform. More importantly, these serve as an important part of the ideological heart of the Revolution, as well as a barometer of changes in the fundamental direction and application of the Party line and its effectuation. The treatment of these areas of Revolutionary achievement in the Lineamientos can suggest the extent and character of the fundamental changes that are being attempted and the extent to which these changes represent movement away form the core principles of the Revolution.
The Chapter starts with a description of the Lineamientos provisions touching on issues of Política Social as they relate to education, with a secondary look at the related provisions affecting health, sport and culture. It considers these Guidelines in light of those initially proposed and explore the extent of the changes within the framework of the Lineamientos as a whole. The second part of the Chapter focuses on analysis. The education provisions are less about the mechanics of education as they are an acknowledgement of education in the service of a state in which a smaller number of young must support a larger number of pensioners (Gonzalez & McCarthy 2004, 71– 78). The provisions on sport and culture seek to mold the model worker into a model member of society in ways that will eventually point to the pivotal role of the model individual under the ruling ideology elaborated in the Concpetualización.  It will suggest what the changes may mean for the future course of the development of Cuban state-Party ideology. It will examine some current criticisms of the current state of Cuban education. It will also discuss the ways that the fundamental assumptions underlying the Lineamientos regarding economic activity may drive the reorganization and provision of education, sport and culture in the coming years and their consequences for the development of Cuban socialism.

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