Cuba and the two souls of socialism
The Movimiento Libertario Cubano (MLC) start off with an extraordinary piece of Stalinist visciousness, "The Responsibility of the Intellectuals: Cuba, the U.S. and Human Rights", where Petras attacks the likes of Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, Eduardo Galeano, Immanuel Wallerstein and Jose Saramago for criticising the Castro regime's stifling of dissent. The dissidents the regime locks up are, Petras writes, US agents. And Cuba is on war footing, because America is at war with her - a war directed by Zionists no less. ("The Bush government has declared that Cuba is on the list of military targets subject to mass destruction and war. And in case our moralistic intellectuals don’t know it: What Bush, Rumsfeld and the war-mongering Zionists in the Administration say -- they do.")
The most extraordinary passage in the Petras piece is this: "Cuba is justified in giving its attackers a kick in the balls and sending them to cut sugar cane to earn an honest living." Quite aside from the notion that being a Professor Emeritus and writing books on Zionist conspiracies is an honest living, this is surely one of the most horrible and dishonest defences of totalitarianism I've seen.
The MLC note, however, that Petras appears to have mellowed between 2003 and 2006, with a more nuanced view of the situation. They then proceed to demolish that more nuanced view too, as an utterly deluded representation of Cuba's brutal reality. While few on the left are as extreme as Petras' 2003 statements, his 2006 statements are quite typical of the fellow travelling view of many "democratic" socialists and liberals, so their critique should be required reading.
They end with this rousing declaration:
The “socialism” built by the “Communist” party and its leader is not reversible for the simple reason that it never was and the only chance in sight is nothing less than the development of a vast autonomous project that returns to the people everything the state and its “vanguard” perversely took from them. And this is inseparable from an ample and lasting and unrestricted regime of liberties: liberty to think and opine, liberty to organize, liberty to mobilize and liberty for people to take charge of their own lives without mediation or interference. Because in the end, socialism will be libertarian or it will not be: a historical confirmation that James Petras’ timid, hesitant and belated step forward doesn’t quite acknowledge.You can also read a more recent interview with the MLC in English here. (Hat tip: Arieh)
Related: Interview with Venezuelan libertarians; Cuban anarchism: history of a movement; The Sam Dolgoff Archive; Ni Bush, Ni Chavez.
Footnote: title of this post in homage to Hal Draper.