In view of what has been written elsewhere in this paper about the revolutionary contribution of Comrade Fidel Castro, one cannot but treat with utter contempt and revulsion the counter-revolutionary ravings of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), one of the leading Trotskyite organisations in Britain.
In its obituary of Comrade Fidel, the SWP’s paper asserts: “History must judge Fidel Castro both as the freedom fighter whose defiance humiliated US imperialism, and as the ruler of a repressive unequal society.”
However, the obituary’s author goes on to say that the Cuban revolution was “nothing like a communist revolution as envisaged by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels”, whose central principle was that “the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves”.
Contrary to this principle, asserts the inaptly named Socialist Worker (SW), “Castro and his allies did all they could to limit the workers’ role to supporting the guerrillas” during the Cuban revolutionary struggle. And after the revolution, we are told, Castro considered the radicalised workers a threat and “clamped down on a reviving democracy inside the trade unions and seized the opposition press”.
Although Castro’s government declared for socialism in December 1961, in reality, says SW, Cuba became “a pawn in the nuclear arms race”. “The new Communist Party that Castro created in 1965 was a tool not of workers’ rebellion from below but of state control from above.”
The author goes on to declare that, although the Cuban government expropriated the old ruling classes, “a new ruling class” was formed on the basis of state property rather than workers’ power, leaving “the fundamentals of capitalist society untouched” while exploitation continued – as did the oppression that grew out of it. Cuban society was marked by “bad housing conditions and low wages”, especially as regards black Cubans, “who still face institutional racism”, says SW – without feeling the need to provide a shred of evidence for any of its baseless claims.
Even the SW is unable to deny Cuba’s gains in the field of health services and says that Cuba’s healthcare is “rightly celebrated”, but adds snidely (as Lenin used to say: ‘Schedrin’s but’): “it is used more for foreign policy … than provision for the poor”.
The SW obituary further asserts that in Cuba women face oppression, LGBT people are persecuted, and the opposition is repressed. It concludes with the following: Castro “gave encouragement to rebels and anti-imperialists across the world. It was right to support his resistance to the US’s attempts at revenge. But he cannot be absolved of abusing the idea of communism to rule over a capitalist society.” (Fidel Castro 1926-2016 by Dave Sewell, 26 November 2016)
Reading the pronouncements made by the incurable anti-communists of the SWP, the reader may be forgiven for thinking that the obituary was written not by someone claiming to be socialist but by an unreconstructed agent of the CIA. In its pronouncements, the SWP in essence has the same position as US imperialism: while US imperialism wants to engineer the overthrow of the Cuban government because it rightly perceives its socialist example to be a serious threat to the system of exploitation of one human being by another and one nation by another, the SWP wants the Cuban government to be got rid of because it is ‘not really socialist’.
The essence of these positions – one from the right and one from the left – is the same: namely, that both of them would like to see the back of Cuba’s socialist government.
This support for imperialism covered by left-sounding phrases should not really surprise us. This is the same SWP, after all, that greeted every counter-revolution in the former socialist countries with joy, which goes into a period of mourning each time the imperialist Labour party in Britain is defeated in an election, and which is brazenly continuing to support the jihadis unleashed by imperialism against the popular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
It is to be hoped that thinking workers will refuse to have anything to do with this proven agent of imperialism. The sooner our movement can rid itself of such false friends, the better able we will be to follow in the footsteps of Fidel and his comrades in organising socialist revolution in Britain.