Viewing Cuba Dialectically through a New Afrikan Maoist Lens
On the occasion of Comrade Assata Shakur’s birthday, I believe that it is ever more necessary to situate Cuba as what it is in regards to the New Afrikan liberation struggle. This, of course, for my dogmato-revisionist readers of the very loud Gonzaloite school, does not mean that I believe that Cuba is a socialist country, nor that there is any actually existing socialism today. The political economy of the Cuban state is state capitalist and there have been ever more concessions to private property and economic liberalism — in essence, it is on the capitalist road and has never really been on the socialist road. The most left of the Cubans, Che Guevara, roundly criticized the Soviet path that the rightist Raúl Castro and the centrist Fidel dragged the country down, however he got caught up in his own left opportunist military strategy and died a heroic death in Bolivia. However, many Maoists fail to correctly assess the reality of the Black Liberation struggle and Cuba’s position therein, and thus end up embarrassing themselves. The most notorious example was when the Revolutionary Communist Party self-exiled itself from the Puerto Rican liberation struggle in the late 1970s with their atrocious “both superpowers out of Puerto Rico” line. The other superpower? Cuba, which was seen as being a non-thinking proxy of the social-imperialist USSR. This sort of dogmatic, undialectical thinking leads to isolation from the mass movement for Communist revolution, and alienation of our real friends.
The militant left loves Assata, rightfully so. They also love Malcolm X, R.F. Williams, and the Black Panther Party. What do they all have in common? All sought refuge in or praised Cuba. Assata remains there today. Moral support and paeans to revolution mean nothing when there is a country 90 miles off the shore of the fascist beast that offered material assistance and freedom from prison for our freedom fighters. This is only understood by those of us who are Assata’s people. Cuba is populated mainly by people who look like us, being taken from the same West African stock and forced to toil in sugarcane fields to make the bloated Spanish Empire even richer. There is a natural affinity between the Cuban and New Afrikan people because most of the ones who matter, the working class and peasantry, are Black like us. So when this toiling mass of Black people picked up weapons and liberated themselves from the American Cosa Nosta, Yankee corporations, and their slave, Batista (who the US government itself admitted was a terrible leader), the heart of every right thinking and freedom loving Black person overflowed with joy, and we began thinking about how to do the same for ourselves in the United States. The road to thinking about and beginning to wage armed struggle that many Black people in the 1960s and ’70s went down started in Cuba in 1959. Every Black militant studied the Cuban experience and some even went there to see for themselves what was happening and what we could learn.
Of course, many of those who sought refuge in Cuba got in trouble, mainly due to anti-revisionist positions which irritated the rightist Cubans’ Soviet allies/patrons. This being said, it is paternalistic to think that the Cuban government simply marched to the tune of the Soviet social-imperialists because they wanted to — the main reason for the alliance in the first place was fear of an invasion from the United States so the Soviets opportunistically took advantage of the situation for their own cynical geopolitical purposes. This was cold, hard realpolitik on both sides, ideology played second fiddle. Movements and countries that fail to take adequate accounting of the real situation on the ground while engaging in a bunch of ideological grandstanding tend to not be around very long — call this a rightist position if you like, but prove me wrong in practice. The reason that the Bolsheviks and the CCP won and the Communist Parties in India and the Philippines are winning is not because of the strength of their words or the correctness of their theory, but their flexibility in applying this correct theory and adapting to changing situations. This being said, too many concessions and compromises for tactical reasons without putting them in the context of a revolutionary strategy that will lead to Communism will eventually morph into strategic rightism and result in the destruction of the revolution’s essentials and the conversion of the people’s state into its opposite.
Cuba mingled the blood of their soldiers with our people in Africa. Cuban soldiers, many of which were of African extraction returning home, were essential to the defeat of the apartheid South African military and the liberation of Angola. This is not something to smirk at, or write off, or attribute to social imperialism striking the tune. Thomas Sankara was also inspired by Cuban health advances and his famous vaccination program in Burkina Faso was directly advised and assisted by the Cuban government. Cuba has also supported national liberation struggles from Ireland to Palestine, again, because even though it is not a Socialist country, it is a country that knows the pain of oppression and has a vested interest in seeing those torn by it liberated. The future position of Cuba is entirely dependent on its people. It is not the place of Maoists in the West who have yet to strike real, damaging blows against imperialism (other than with paint and internet statements) in our own countries to sit and pontificate about what the Cuban people should do to achieve “real socialism”. Let’s get the noose from around their necks by liberating the world from America.