END THE U.S. BLOCKADE!-U.S. OUT OF GUANTANAMO!
This year marks the 58th anniversary of the Cuban July 26th movement, the 52nd anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution and the 44th anniversary of the execution of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara by the Bolivian Army after the defeat of his guerrilla forces and his capture in godforsaken rural Bolivia. I have reviewed the life of Che elsewhere in this space (see blog, dated July 5, 2006). Thus, it is fitting to remember an event of which he was a central actor. Additionally, the Cuban Revolution stood for my generation, the Generation of '68, and, hopefully, will for later generations as a symbol of revolutionary intransigence against United States imperialism.
Let us be clear about two things. First, this writer has defended the Cuban revolution since its inception; initially under a liberal- democratic premise of the right of nations, especially applicable to small nations pressed up against military forces of the imperialist powers, to self-determination; later under the above-mentioned premise and also that it should be defended on socialist grounds, not my idea of socialism- the Bolshevik, 1917 kind- but as an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist revolution nevertheless. That prospective continues to be this writer’s position today. Secondly, my conception of revolutionary strategy and thus of world politics has for a long time been far removed from Fidel Castro’s (and Che’s) strategy, which emphasized military victory by guerrilla forces in the countryside, rather than my position of mass action by the urban proletariat leading the rural masses. That said, despite those strategic political differences this militant can honor the Cuban revolution as a symbol of a fight that all anti-imperialist militants should defend.
Let me expand on these points, the first point by way of reminiscences. I am old enough to have actually seen Castro’s Rebel Army on television as it triumphantly entered Havana in 1959. Although I was only a teenager at the time and hardly politically sophisticated I, like others of my generation, saw in that ragtag, scruffy group the stuff of romantic revolutionary dreams. I was glad Batista had to flee and that ‘the people’ would rule in Cuba.
Later, in 1960 as the nationalizations occurred in response to American imperialist pressure, I defended them. In fact, as a general proposition I was, hazily and without any particular thought, in favor of nationalizations everywhere. In 1961, despite my then deeply felt affinity for the Kennedys, I was pleased that the counterrevolutionaries were routed at the Bag of Pigs. Increased Soviet aid and involvement in the economic and political infrastructure of beleaguered Cuba? No problem. The Cuban Missile Crisis, however, left me and virtually everyone in the world, shaking in our boots. Frankly, I saw this crisis (after the fact) as a typical for the time Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union with Cuba as the playground. Not as some independent Cuban ploy. In short, my experiences at that time can be summed up by the slogan- Fair Play for Cuba. So far, a conclusion that a good liberal could espouse as a manifestation of a nation’s, particularly a small nation’s, right to self-determination. It is only later, during the radicalization of the Vietnam War period that I moved beyond that position.
Now to the second point and the hard politics. If any revolution is defined by one person the Cuban revolution can stand as that example. From its inception it was Fidel’s show, for better or worse. The military command, the strategy, the political programs, and the various national and international alliances all filtered through him. On reflection, that points out the basis problem and my major difference with the Fidelistas. And it starts with question of revolutionary strategy. Taking power based on a strategy of guerrilla warfare is fundamentally difference from an urban insurrection led by a workers party (or parties) allied with, as in Cuba, landless peasants and agricultural workers responsible to workers and X (fill in the blank for whatever allies apply in the local situation) councils. And it showed those distortions then and continues to show them as the basis for decision making –top down. It is necessary to move on from there.
Believe me, this writer as well as countless others, all went through our phase of enthusing over the guerrilla road to socialism. But, as the fate of Che and others makes clear, the Cuban victory was the result of exceptional circumstances. Many revolutionaries stumbled over that hard fact and the best, including Che, paid for it with imprisonment or their lives. In short, the Bolshevik, 1917 model still stands up as a damn good model for the way to take power and to try to move on to the road to socialism. Still, although I have made plenty of political mistakes in my life I have never regretted my defense of the Cuban Revolution. And neither should militants today. As Che said- the duty of every revolutionary is to make the revolution- and to defend them too. Enough said. U.S. HANDS OFF CUBA! END THE BLOCKADE! U.S. OUT OF GUANTANAMO