Castro in Moscow
by P. Jen
[First printed in Spartacist#1, February-March 1964]
Premier Fidel Castro, caught in the complex web of Washington-Peking-Moscow relationships, has begun to become, more clearly enmeshed in the machinations of the Russian leadership. Statements made in both Castro's Soviet TV interview of January 21, and the Joint Soviet-Cuban Communique of January 22 reveal unmistakably that Khrushchev hail begun to consolidate his grip on the PURS (the Cuban party) and its leader. Although there will undoubtedly be further vacillations, Castro has, without question, begun to trail behind the Soviet Union in foreign policy.
Castro, appearing on Moscow TV January 21, said, "At the same time [after the October missile crisis] there was a relaxation of international tension, a relaxation in the cold war. All this was a result of the policy and the efforts of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp on' beha,lf of peace." (Emphasis added.)
One of the "concrete" results of those efforts was, in the Joint Soviet-Cuban Communique of" January 22, greeted favorably by the Cuban government: "The government of the Republic of Cuba regards the successes achieved by the Soviet Union in the struggle for the discontinuation of nuclear tests and the agreement on nonorbiting of vehicles with nuclear weapons as a step forward promoting peace and disarmament."
Giving further support to the policies of the Soviet bureaucracy: "Comrade Fidel Castro expressed his approval of the measures taken by the Central Committee of the CPSU to eliminate the existing differences and to consolidate cohesion and unity in the ranks of the international communist movement." (Joint Soviet-Cuban Communique.)
It is clear from this that in the context of the Sino-Soviet dispute Castro has unequivocally joined' "the ieaders of the CPSU," who, in the words of the Chinese "are the greatest of all revisionists as well as the greatest of all sectarians and splitters known to history." (Printed Feb. 4 in Jenmin Jih Pao, the Chinese CP daily paper.)
Not only Soviet policy, but Soviet political life in general, and the leader of the CPSU in particular, have received the approval of Fidel Castro. "I am very much interested in Soviet experience" Castro said on Soviet TV Jan. 21. "I am very interested in the role played by your Party, the role of the advanced detachment, the role of organizer and inspirer of all the activity in the Soviet Union. I am interested in the participation of the Party on all labour fronts-in agriculture, in industry, in cultural activities, in all spheres of production, in all spheres of politics, and in the army. My attention is attracted hy the wonderful role which the Party has been playing in the Soviet Union for nearly half a century now!'
For the last three-almost four decades, however, "the wonderful role which the Party has been playing, in the Soviet Union" has included Stalin's frame-up trials; the decapitation of the Red Army on the eve of World War II; the betrayals of the proletarian revolution in China (1925-27), Germany (1929-33), France (1934-36; 1945-present), Italy (1944-present), Iraq (1958), etc.; and the present strategic outlook of capitulation to imperialism.
"We have been able to appreciate," said Castro on Moscow TV, "the way in which the Party [CPSU] has trained specialists, has fostered the revolutionary way of thought, in the people, trained astronauts, scientists, has produced the cadres who are today developing the economy and the entire life in the Soviet Union, has produced the cadres who are now building communism. The Party is a symbol of revolutionary continuity and the people's confidence in themselves." (emphasis added.)
Castro's evaluation of Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, the leader of this so-called "Communist" Party which is building "communism" in a single country, is full of warmth and admiration. "I have full right to evaluate and admire this man, who combines in one person so many splendid qualities: intellect, excellent character, kindness and strength - the qualities which make him a great leader. And the more I know Comrade Nikita Sergeycvich, the more time I spend with him, the more warmer grow my feelings for him, the more I admire him, the higher is my opinion of him as a man." (Castro on Moscow TV, Jan. 21.) ,,'
Fidel Castro's words supply their own commentary. Those who want the full text of his interview on Moscow TV, as well as the Joint Communique, can find these in the supplement in the Moscow News, January 25, 1964.
For socialists who saw in Castro's militant stand a revolutionary communist leadership or some reasonable facsimile thereof, the recent swing to the right must come as a surprise and even a shock. Castro's perceptible yielding to Soviet economic pressure, while perhaps mistakenly understandable from one point of view (that of building the national economy), is inexcusable from another (that of the international proletarian revolution), and in fact strategically defeats the former. It is only on the basis of the proletarian revolution in the advanced countries that the Cuban economy can develop to it's full potential. Tactical considerations must be seen as a part of and subordinate to strategic ones. Flowing from the empiricism of the Cuban leadership the strategic aim (if it ever existed) of world proletarian revolution has been sacrificed to the narrow, short-sighted, "pragmatic" goal of stable prices for Cuban sugar. If it is still objected that Castro had no choice, then we, at least, do not have to apologize for his actions In Moscow. Castro indeed had no choice: he was the prisoner not only of his own policies, but also of his historical origin which was the basis for those policies. Suffice it to .say that if our movement had come to power in Cuba it would have been out of a quite different historical situation. We criticize the Castro leadership as part ot the process of building the Bolshevik leadership that will be an integral part of such a situation. The historical game of changing places with various leaders is not one that Marxistst engage in. Soviet economic blackmail techniques are, of course, well known to the people of Albania and China, and it is to Castro's credit that he held out as long as he did.
The vacillation of the Castro leadership between the positions put forward by the Soviet and Chinese bureaucracies, and its adherence, more or less, to the line of the latter, has permitted many socialists to indulge in certain illusions as to the nature of the Cuban leadership-illusions which that leadership has itself begun to dispel.
Moreover, these same socialists are harboring an even more fundamental illusion in their belief that a proletarian revolutionary outlook motivates the superficially revolutionary Chinese position. As long as the Maoist leadership speaks with a revolutionary vocabulary, many socialists are inclined to take it at its word. Nevertheless, it is clear from the whole history of the Chinese revolution that the attempt to build a following around the CCP line is only !or the purpose' of putting pressure on imperialism in order to force the latter to accommodate itself to the present Chinese state government.
The rightward shift of the Castro leadership has now posed the question of Marxist theory and its relation to practice before all those who consider themselves to be revolutionary communists. If the revolutionary workers' movement is to go forward it will have to come to grips with this and other questions, and arrive at a solution based on the independent action of the working class.
The Cuban leadership, while responding to the pressure of the masses, yet stands above and is organizationally independent of them. This organizational independence is a consequence of its historical origin, in which it came to power as the leadership not of workers' and peasants' soviets, but of a guerilla army. From this social basis flows the empirical and not Marxist nature of the Cuban leadership, as was stated clearly by "Che" Guevara: "In order to know where Cuba is going, the bp.st thing is to ask the government of the U.S. just how far it intends to go."
If many socialists who supported the Castro government as opposed to the counter-revolutionary Khrushchev regime did not see the need for a dialectical view of society, trusting instead to the "natural" course of events, their idealistic impressionism has at least been dealt a rude biow by the empirical wanderings of the Castro leadership.
The strategy of Marxists in the epoch of imperialist decay flows from our comprehension of the total and all sided development of the international class struggle, and thus from the needs of the international proletariat. This view, which grasps the interdependence and interrelatedness of all phenomena, has nothing ill common with the empiricism of not only the Cuban leadership, but also, unfortunately, many communists as well.
The Cuban leaders has reacted empirically to all the pressures, not only of the, U.S. imperialists, but of the Soviet bureaucrats as well, and have not only failed to carry out the essential tasks facing the revolutionary workers' movement, but have not even comprehended what these tasks are. And they have failed to comprehend these tasks precisely because of their incapacity, flowing from their social origins as a bourgeois democratic peasant movement, to think any other way except empirically. Empiricism, the ideology of the bourgeoisie after it has established its power, is necessarily the method of all tendencies which do not base themselves on the strategy of world proletarian revolution.
Even the most elementary bourgeois democratic reforms cannot be maintained in the backward countries except under the dictatorship of the proletariat. To depend other similar movements leading revolutions as far-reaching in their social transformations as the Cuban revolution has been is to let the initiative pass over 'into the hands of imperialism. It was only the Incapacity of Amencan Imperialism to accommodate itself to a radical petty bourgeois revolution that forced the Castro regime to go as far as it did - farther, indeed, than anyone in the July 26 movement had planned. The European imperialists have so far been more astute than their American confreres. The former have more correctly gauged the tIde of the nationalist movement and have yielded. much of their political and some of their economic power in Africa and Asia precisely to avoid what happened in Cuba. They permit the "socialist" Ben Bellas and Nkrumahs to rant against the imperialists; the latter would rather lose face than face the loss of areas for investment, even if such investment faces certain restrictions.
The justifiably tremendous tide of enthusiasm for, the Cuban revolution has. overflowed into the kind of uncritical adulation of the Castro leadership that is entirely unacceptable to Marxists. The causes of this are, however, clear: the smallness of the American communist movement; the relative quiescence of the American .working class; and the success of a radical petty bourgeois revolution that has defied American imperialism and stirred the imaginations not only of the oppressed colonial workers and peasants but of Americans radicals as well. In the face of the tremendous tasks that face so few revolutionary communists in this country, some of us have looked eIswhere and have become worshipers of the acomplished fact - Fidel Castro and Mao Tse Tung, not to mention Jimmy Hoffa and Malcolm X. Those of us who do not harbor any illusions about these leaders are attacked as sectarians. However, our analysis, in the case of Castro, has been dramatically confirmed. It is necessary to face the truth, unflinchingly, purge ourselves of all easy romantic notions, and get down to, the critical task of building a Marxist party in this country. A party based on illusions will never lead the working class to power.
Defend the Cuban Revolution!