Friday, February 20, 2009

Self-management In Cuba?

A debate is going on within the Cuban Communist Party as to the future direction of the country. One faction around Raul Castro wants a China option, basically opening the country to corporate pillage under the guise of developing socialism. Two opposing currents think differently. Mutualism is proposed by Pedro Campos (1) and worker-managed nationally owned industries by Camila Piñeiro Harnecker. (2) The following is a selection from an article by the International Marxist Tendency on the future of Cuba. They are quite critical of the Mutualist option, and are favorable to Camilia Harnecker's position. I will add my own comments in the next posting.

"As part of this debate on the renewal of Cuban socialism, some have proposed the idea of self-management as a way forward. Pedro Campos and others have signed a document in which they raise 13 programmatic measures as part of the debate towards the IV Party Congress that will take place later on this year. Without doubt, the document raises a number of interesting proposals, including the formation of “workers’ councils in all workplaces”. It is clear that Pedro Campos is deeply worried about the problems the Cuban economy is facing and is trying to find solutions which imply the full participation of the workers in the management of the economy and the decision making process at all levels. On this, we agree.

However, we think that the main idea of the document is not only wrong but also very dangerous. Basically, it proposes that in small and medium-sized enterprises “the property over the means of production would be given directly to workers in full, either through sale, paid up front or on credit, or transferred by the State”, and that the “companies of national or strategic interest” would be “co-managed between the State and the Workers’ Collective, where ownership and administration could or could not be shared by the relevant State body, handed over partially or completely as a lease or in usufruct to the workers”. In all these companies, “the form of payment of wages” would be replaced by “the equitable sharing out of part of the profits”.

This means that ownership of companies would be handed over to the workers who work in them and they, instead of receiving wages would share out any profits. This system which is being proposed is very similar to the “socialist self-management” which was implemented in Yugoslavia and which led to the economic collapse of that country and later on to its break up. This type of ownership and sharing out of profits inevitably generates an outlook which is not a collective one, but rather individual of each group of workers in each company. If there were, for instance, two transport companies in the same city, the workers in each one of them would be pushed to compete with the workers in the other in order to get higher profits to share out (this is exactly what happened in Yugoslavia)....

The fact that workers’ wages would be linked to profits would reproduce all the problems that co-operatives face in a capitalist economy. The workers would be forced to exploit themselves further in order to get enough profits to share out, or in order to get more profits than the workers in other companies they compete with, through longer hours, higher intensity of labour, leaving to one side health and safety considerations, etc. We understand that in the system proposed by Campos there would be competition since he says that: “the state monopoly controls in the domestic market which currently exist, would have to disappear and give way to commercial activity”.

In reality, self-management with a market, inevitably leads to capitalism, and it is not very different from the proposals of those who are pushing for market measures, material incentives and the privatisation of small and medium sized enterprises, which we have analysed earlier. Far from liberating the workers, this programme would turn them into capitalists.
Camila Piñeiro Harnecker has criticised both those who defend market mechanisms to stimulate production, and those who, like Pedro Campos, propose that the workers should be the direct owners of the companies in which they work. In an interesting article published in Temas magazine, Camila Piñeiro argues that: “the participation of the workers in the management of the companies would not only contribute to their full development, but also would be an important source of motivation." "




Blogger Frank Partisan said...

I think losing Celia Hart hurt. I didn't always agree with her, but her radicalism opened doors like none before. I found out she was pushed out of the CP. Not expelled, but not accepted.

I thought Jordi's article was the best summary of Cuban developments, Too long for my blog.

I think the part about the CP not supporting Castro's expropriations, is good ammunition in future fights with the right. They refuse to acknowledge Stalinism was a counterrevolution.

The young in Florida, don't have the hate the grandparents have.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Excellent series of articles, Larry.

As you suggest, the Raoul Castro option is by far the worst threat, and anything that forestalls "privatization" to an oligarchy on the Yeltsin model will be a good thing. Industry that is nominally socially owned but under worker self-management, can at any time be "privatized" by the state.

In fact, the Yugoslav model did not vest full title in the workforce, which is precisely why Yugoslav industry could be stolen from workers on the neoliberal model after the overthrow of Milsosevic.

BTW, the model of agricultural development after the collapse of the USSR--with the government actively sponsoring neighborhood market gardening--is most decidedly mutualist. And it's been a ringing success.

9:29 PM  

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