Photo: Peter Deel
The need for change, reform or updating is inherent to any economic, political and social system which intends to survive over time. A few years ago, when the urgent need for change to Cuban socialism began to be discussed, the nation’s leaders immediately declared that change was not necessary because it had already been realized in 1959 and in subsequent years. This attempt to impose a non-dialectic concept contradicted their earlier defense of a Marxist-Leninist dialectic, forgetting that everything is in a constant process of change. Therefore, the word “change” was rejected.
When talk of reform began, the reaction was even worse. The attitude was “there is nothing to reform here,” and those labelled “reformist” were booted from office in ridicule. The authorities did not consider themselves to be reformists, having opposed reformists in Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, China, etc., while staunchly defending the purity of Soviet socialism until glasnost and perestroika led them to accuse it to of being reformist.
Although they disavowed the term, the changes and reforms, without being referred to as such, were applied to an economic model that was utterly bankrupt. It was at this point the magic word “update” appeared. They were not going to undertake either changes or reforms here. Instead they were going to “update the model” while respecting its “untouchable socialist principles.” Since desire and reality are almost never in lock step, reality intruded and forced them to “update” more than had theoretically been predicted, but much less than was actually needed. In an effort to set permissible limits, the so-called “guidelines” were formulated and approved. They now intend to “conceptualize,” which means to constrain and regulate things. Our leaders are certainly devotees of semantics. In the search for verbs, words and terminology used to manipulate reality, they are experts.
The great unknown of 2013 is whether they will accelerate, broaden or put a stop to the updates. An economy in intensive therapy, with a truly bleak outlook for foreign exchange and the fiscal longevity of the current leadership, creates a reasonable uncertainty. Come what may, we must keep trying to expand the small gains already achieved, in the economic as well as political and social spheres. This should be the primary task for the new year.
December 19 2012