Friday, July 26, 2019

PowerPoints of Presentation: "Cuban Socialist Democracy 2.0—Popular Participation, Affirmation, and Engagement from Lineamientos to Cuba’s 2019 Constitution Presentation for the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Annual Meeting

The Association of the Study of the Cuban Economy is hosting its Annual Conference 25-27 July, 2019 in Miami, Florida.  I have provided more information HERE: Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Annual Conference: "Cuba - Growth or Decline? Is the Revolution Dead?".

I will be presenting the results o
f some of the ideas we started to theorize in "The Democratic Constitution of Illiberal States—An Empirical Approach to Theorizing Popular Participation, Representation and Constitutional Reform in Cuba," with Flora Sapio (Università degli Studi di Napoli “Orientale” (Italy)), and James Korman (Penn State School of International Affairs MIA 2019).  

More specifically I consider here the historical origins of the two principal  expressions of the democratic impulse that has emerged after 2011 in Cuba. The first is the movement toward the use of popular affirmation as a means of legitimating the work and programs of the vanguard Cuban Communist Party (PCC) through elections--both for representative to the National Assembly and for fundamental changes to the state which may be brought to the masses for referendum. The second is the movement toward endogenous forms of democratic expression, in this case through a refinement of well managed systems of popular engagement with policies and programs developed under the leadership of the PCC and then submitted to the National Assembly and "the people" for consultation, on the basis of which changes would be considered. Together, and nicely evidenced in the Constitutional Reform Project of 2018-2019, these trajectories are meant to provide the outline of Cuban Socialist Democracy 2.0.  

Finally, I consider a set of cautions against reading either too much into the theorization offered, or to judge these measures against the principles of liberal democratic organization and operation as a baseline.  The first caution is meant to expose the substantial difficulties of the development of a theory without a theory, one built out of practice elements that are themselves unstable. It also serves as a caution (common in the analysis of political theory in illiberal states) of the sometimes gross gaps between what one can glean as theory, and the actual functional effects and operation of the system on the ground.  The second is to caution against the transposition of liberal democratic conceits into a project designed to reject those conceits and to attempt to go in another direction.  

With these caveats in mind, it is still possible to see in the work of the Cuban Party-State, some glimmerings of a theory of democracy activity that serves as a potential challenge to the principles of liberal democratic organization that has, for some time, assumed that it occupies all of the possible space for discussion of democratic theory. That theoretical challenge, of course, is undermined by the realities of its implementation in Cuba.  And yet, the deficiencies of the implementation of the grand theories of liberal democracy in its own environment militates against making that gap decisive for judging the theory.

The PowerPoints of the presentation follow.  Please contact me for a copy of the paper.

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