The Road from Revolution to the Restoration of Capitalism
written by Michael Pröbsting
(International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency)
Published in 2013
List of Tables (see below)
List of Figures (see below)
Misery and Imperialist Super-Exploitation before the Cuban Revolution in 1959
Revolutionary Upheavals and Treacherous Stalinists
The Petty-Bourgeois Castroite Movimiento 26 de Julio
Background of Cuba’s Liquidation of Capitalism
i) The Cuban Working Class as an Active Force in the Revolution
ii) Aggression of US imperialism
iii) Support and Alignment with the Stalinist Soviet Bureaucracy
Cuba’s Bureaucratic Social Revolution towards a Stalinist Degenerated Workers State
The Cuban Working Class and Its Political Expropriation by the Castroite Stalinists
i) Trotsky’s Theory of the Permanent Revolution
ii) The Nature of the Stalinist Bureaucracy in a Degenerated Workers State
iii) Trotsky’s Program of Political Revolution against the Stalinist Dictatorship
iv) The Program of Political Revolution against the Castroite/Stalinist Regime in Cuba
v) Stalinism and the Restoration of Capitalism
Social Gains of the Revolution in Danger
Many Roads Lead to Capitalist Restoration
Crossing the Rubicon in Cuba: The 2010/11 Reforms
Implementing the Law of Value in State-Owned Enterprises: Restructuring and Mass Lay-Offs
Promoting Capitalism in the Agrarian Sector
Promoting a Private Capitalist Sector
Helping to Strengthen the Formation of a Domestic Capitalist Class of Private Property Owners
Cutting Back the Social Benefits to Create an Industrial Reserve Army of Labor
Women Particularly Affected by Capitalist Restoration
Opening the Economy for Imperialist Capital
Semi-Colonial Cuba to Get on Imperialist China’s Bandwagon
Keeping the Authoritarian Rule of the Stalinist PCC
Excurse: A Short Note on Cuba and the Maccabiah Games
Defend the Social Achievements!
Down with the Castroite dictatorship! Democracy for the working class and the popular masses!
Down with US Embargo! Defend Cuba against US imperialism and the Gusanos!
Expropriate and Expel the Chinese Imperialists!
A Program for Workers Power!
Internationalization of the Revolution!
For a Revolutionary Party! For the Fifth Workers International!
Map of Cuba
Appendix: Major Events in Cuban History 1868-1962
About the Author
RCIT: What We Stand For
List of Tables
Table 1: Cuba: The Private Sector in Agriculture 1961
Table 2: Composition of the 100-member Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party in 1965
Table 3: Gross Fixed Capital Formation in Cuba, 2002-2010
Table 4: Availability of Basic Goods and Services per Capita - Cuba 1958-1978
Table 5: Private Sector Share in GDP and Employment in Eastern Europe and the Former USSR 1991-2002
Table 6: China: Employment by Ownership in Selected Years 1980-2000
Table 7: China: GDP by Ownership in Selected Years 1980-2000
Table 8: China: State Share of Gross Industrial Output Value, 1991-1999
Table 9: Workers Employed in the Entire Economy, and the Private and Cooperative Sectors, 2008-2011
Table 10: More Entrepreneurs in the Workforce
Table 11: Cuba’s Creditors, 2008 and 2010
Table 12: Foreign Investment Inflows to Cuba, 1993-2001
Table 13: FDI flows in Cuba, 2006-2011
Table 14: FDI Flows as a Percentage of Gross Fixed Capital Formation 2006-2010
List of Figures (The Figures can only be viewed in the PDF file, see above)
Figure 1: Cuban Domestic Industrial Output 1989-2010
Figure 2: Cuban Sugar Production, Area under Cultivation, and Yield
Figure 3: Capital Formation in China: 1978-2007
Figure 4: Cuba: Self-Employment Licenses Granted 1989-2012
Figure 5: Cuba: Self-Employment as Percent of Total Employment 1970-2011
The issue of Cuban Revolution has been of central importance to the workers’ movement, not only in Latin America but throughout the entire world. Initially, the heroic struggle against the dictatorship of Batista and its paymaster – US imperialism – could only arouse the broadest sympathies of the exploited and oppressed around the globe. Subsequently, the lessons to be drawn from the Cuban Revolution, as well as a correct assessment of the Castroite leadership and its bureaucratic dictatorship, have played a central role in debates within in the socialist and anti-imperialist movements.
There is no doubt that the current economic and political developments in Cuba will again become a central issue in the coming years. This time, however, the focus will be on the restoration of capitalism taking place in Cuba and the leading role of the Castroite bureaucracy in this process.
A correct evaluation of these developments, as well as drawing the necessary conclusions for the revolutionary program and tactics, will be central not only for the working class liberation struggle in Cuba, but also for that in Latin America and, more broadly, internationally. Comprehending the Castroite march towards capitalism presupposes a correct understanding of the process of capitalist restoration in China and the latter’s development into an imperialist power.
We in the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) are only too aware that the dominant forces in the workers’ movement unfortunately turn a blind eye to these processes. The Stalinist and Bolivarian partisans have uncritically supported the Castroite dictatorship and its politics in the past, and all signs point to their remaining loyal to the regime even now when it is restoring capitalism. This is not surprising, since most Stalinist and Bolivarian parties also glorify imperialist China and support its domestic and foreign policy.
It is also important to explain to the supporters of various centrist-Trotskyist currents that Cuba is no longer a bureaucratically deformed workers’ state, but that the regime has decisively crossed the Rubicon towards capitalism.
Naturally, these debates are not in themselves the goal, but rather are related to the burning need to build a revolutionary party in Cuba as well as worldwide. Lenin once stated: ”In its struggle for power the proletariat has no other weapon but organization.“ And indeed, without such a party the working class cannot liberate itself anywhere – neither in Cuba nor in any other country.
The RCIT and the author of these lines see this book as a contribution to the debate on Cuba’s development and the task of the building the revolutionary party. Therefore, we look forward to discussing the issues covered in this book with other revolutionary organizations and activists around the world. By doing so, we trust that the ideas and programs presented here will be clarified and improved, and that the resulting dialogue will further our joining hands, wherever possible, in our common struggle for the liberation of the working class and the oppressed.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere thanks to those comrades who have contributed to this book. As it is always the case in political thinking, this book is the result of collective collaboration and discussions with other comrades. I therefore want to thank my comrades Nina Gunić, Johannes Wiener, Shujat Liaqat, and Yossi Schwartz. I also would like to express profound gratitude to my comrade Marc Hangler who took so much work off my shoulders thereby allowing me to write this book. Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank to my comrade Gerard Stephens who took on the task of correcting my English, so influenced by German grammar.
Vienna, 17th August 2013
Cuba has become capitalist again. The Castroite-Stalinist bureaucracy has transformed itself into a new ruling class and utilizes its state apparatus to drive forward the restoration of capitalism in Cuba. Castroism is returning to its bourgeois roots. The regime is following the “Chinese road” of state-capitalist restoration. They are transforming Cuba from a degenerated workers’ state into a capitalist semi-colony which is primarily dependent on imperialist China. The task for the working class is no longer to organize a political revolution but a social revolution in order to overthrow the Castroite regime and establish an authentic workers and peasant government. 
In this book we will deal first with the history of the Cuban Revolution and the role of the Castroite M-26-7 movement as well as of the Stalinist PSP. We will outline the dynamic of class struggle and the lack of revolutionary leadership which led the overthrow of capitalism under the control of the counter-revolutionary bureaucracy which emerged out of a fusion of the Castroite M-26-7 with the Stalinist PSP apparatus.
In a second part we will elaborate on the Marxist theory of the degenerated workers states which were ruled by a Stalinist bureaucracy. We show that Trotsky – who was, together with Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik October Revolution in 1917 and later the founder of the Fourth International – already foresaw that the degenerated workers states inevitable had to decompose and be replaced either by a successful working class political revolution or a capitalist counterrevolution. We will elaborate that the petty-bourgeois, non-proletarian character of the Castroite and Stalinist bureaucracy is the key to understanding both the nature of the degeneration of the Cuban revolution in 1959-61 as well as the capitalist restoration which is currently taking place on the island. We will summarize Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution as well as the Trotskyist program against the Castroite-Stalinist regime.
In chapter three we discuss concretely the advance of the capitalist restoration, the measures of the Castroite regime and how it became a capitalist-restorationist regime in 2010/11. We will also show the important role of the emerging imperialist power China in this process.
In the last chapter we will elaborate key elements of a program for socialist revolution in Cuba and the urgent need for building a revolutionary party as part of the revolutionary Fifth Workers International which is the central goal of the our international organization – the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)
 The comrades of the Liaison Committee of Communists have recently published a substantial document titled Cuba Sold Out. In this article they arrive to the conclusion, that Cuba has become capitalist in the last years. (See at the CWG(A/NZ) website http://redrave.blogspot.co.at/2013/06/cuba-sold.html) They prove convincingly that the Castroite bureaucracy has allied itself with Chinese imperialism and that it follows the state-capitalist road of restoration. In discussing a draft of this document, the RCIT came to the conclusion that the comrades are correct on this issue. We decided to study the capitalist restoration in Cuba in a broader context, i.e., the history of the Cuban Revolution as well as its Stalinist degeneration and to relate these questions with the Marxist theory of the state. This book is the result of the RCIT’s discussions.
I. The Cuban Revolution 1959-61
Before we analyse the present process of capitalist restoration in Cuba we shall first deal with the emergence of modern Cuba. As it is widely known, Cuba was ruled by the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista before the revolution in 1959 and was highly dependent on and exploited by US imperialism. Under Batista’s regime, the secret service murdered about 20.000 people. Misery was wide-spread. Even in 1957, the best year economically during the middle 1950s, 17% of the labour force was unemployed, while another 13% was under-employed. In the country’s most important economic sector – the sugar industry, which employed about 475,000 workers (i.e., a quarter of the country’s labor force) – 60% of the workers were employed only for six months or less and only 30% were employed for more than ten months. Even the middle class faced stagnation in its income. In 1958, Cuban per capita income was at about the same level as it had been in 1947. 
Misery and Imperialist Super-Exploitation before the Cuban Revolution in 1959
The country was chronically weak in development and the bourgeoisie was particularly parasitic – even for regional standards. This reflected the fact that Cuba was a colony much longer, first of Spain and then the United States, than most Latin American countries which achieved independence from the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores much earlier in the 19th century. This extraordinary backwardness of the Cuban capitalist class and its total subordination to US imperialism was reflected in the extraordinary low level of capital accumulation. Between 1946 and 1952 capital accumulation – calculated as Gross Fixed Investment as a percentage of Gross Income – was only 9.3% in Cuba. (By comparison: In the same period, the share in Argentina was 18.7%, in Brazil 15.7% and in Mexico 13.4 %.) Not surprisingly, Cuba’s industry was poorly developed – most importantly the sugar production. At the same time, Cuba was a relative urbanized country: in 1953, about 57% of the population lived in cities.
US capital completely dominated Cuba’s economy – in particular sugar, mining, utilities, banking and manufacturing. US monopolies controlled 90% of the mining, telephone and electricity services in Cuba, 50% of railroads as well as land and 40% of sugar production. Cuban branches of US banks held 25% of all bank deposits. US Foreign Direct Investment in Cuba reached a peak of $1 billion in 1958 ($386 million in services, $270 million in petroleum and mining, $265 million in agriculture and $80 million in manufacturing). The United States were also the destination of about two-thirds of Cuban exports and supplied about three-quarters of its imports. The importance of these figures is underlined by the fact that foreign trade accounted for about two-thirds of Cuba's estimated national income at that time.
Cuba was an important destination for the US monopolies’ capital export in the 1950s. In 1929, 27.3% of all US investments in Latin America went to Cuba.  In 1959 the value of US investments in Cuba exceeded that in every other Latin American country except Venezuela.
Revolutionary Upheavals and Treacherous Stalinists
The brief description given above shows that Cuba before 1959 was a capitalist semi-colony dependent of US imperialism, ruled by a reactionary dictatorship, in which the working class as well as the peasantry and the middle class faced depressing living conditions. In other words, Cuba was rife for revolutionary upheavals.
And indeed the country was shattered by many militant struggles both in the cities as well as in the countryside. However – as is so often the case – the working class and the peasantry did not have an authentic revolutionary party at its leadership but instead was led by the Stalinist Communist Party (PCC) as well as petty-bourgeois nationalists.
In March 1930, a general strike was organized by the outlawed Confederación Nacional Obrera de Cuba (CNOC) – the country’s trade union federation which was led by the PCC. 200,000 workers took part and paralyzed the island. The general strike ended only after fierce repression, arrests, torture and assassinations became commonplace. In September of the same year, an anti-government protest of students resulted in violence and the closing of the university. Militant strikes also occurred in 1929 and 1930 in key sectors of the economy like cigar-manufacturing, metallurgy, construction and textiles.
In August 1933, an even more militant general strike took place which inaugurated a revolutionary situation. The sugar workers set up soviets and armed militias. However, the revolution was betrayed by the rotten leadership of the Stalinist PCC. It agreed to a deal with the regime of Machado and called workers to stop the strike and go back to work in return for a few promises from president Machado, like the official recognition of CNOC and the release of all imprisoned. The Havana Federation of Labor and most workers refused to comply, Machado was finally forced to flee, but the revolutionary momentum was lost. In the next years, more strikes and general strikes followed. 
The continuing class polarization and political instability were the background for the guerilla movement which was started by Castro and his Movimiento 26 de Julio (M-26-7) in the early 1950s.
The Stalinist PCC (now renamed into PSP, Popular Socialist Party) however followed – as it was the general line of the Stalinized Comintern from the 1930s onwards – the reformist policy of the popular front, i.e., forming political alliances with petty-bourgeois and bourgeois forces and subordinating working class interests to those of to their allies. In this context, between 1937-39 the PCC formed an alliance with the bourgeois pro-US regime of Batista which came to power via a military coup in September 1933 and ruled until 1944. It praised the latter as a “great democrat” and a “leading exponent of our national policy, a personification of the holy ideals of Cuba”.  The PSP supported this “great democrat” at the elections in 1940 and – after his victory – two of their leaders became ministers in Batista’s government. While this alliance was not renewed during Batistas second period of rule (1952-1959), the PSP nevertheless refrained from playing an active role in the revolutionary struggle against the dictatorship.
Juan Marinello, one of the two Stalinist former ministers of Batista cabinet and later a member of Castro's Politburo, stated in 1957 his reformist opposition to the armed struggle because "there's no need for a popular insurrection". When the M-26-7 leadership called for a general strike to support guerilla actions, the PSP leadership failed to support it. Unsurprisingly, Castro denounced them in that they had "sabotaged the strike to promote the downfall of the (M-26-7) Movement." Later, Castro was to say in an interview to the Look magazine that "the Cuban Communists...have never opposed Batista, for whom they have seemed to feel a closer friendship." 
Only in 1958, when it became clear that Batista was losing the civil war and that the M-26-7 was likely to take power soon, did the Stalinists form an alliance with Castro.
Even after the revolutionary overthrow of the Batista regime, did the PSP – trapped in its reformist two-stage-theory – oppose the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. As late as August 1960, just two months before Castro's sweeping nationalization of the economy, the Stalinist leader Bias Roca announced that the Cuban Revolution was not socialist, but 'bourgeois-democratic'. 
The Petty-Bourgeois Castroite Movimiento 26 de Julio
The Movimiento 26 de Julio was a petty-bourgeois revolutionary-nationalist force. It was a popular-frontist movement which included both open bourgeois figures like Hubert Matos as well as left-wing forces around Che Guevara and Raúl Castro. Fidel Castro played the role of a bonaparte (the “lider maximo”) balancing between, and obscuring, these divisions.
The movement as a whole with Fidel Castro at the top followed a bourgeois program of reforms. This already became clear in Fidel Castro’s famous speech in 1953 in which he outlined the main demands of his movement: public investment for industrialization, land reform, reduction of housing rents and an education reform:
“A revolutionary government backed by the people and with the respect of the nation, after cleansing the different institutions of all venal and corrupt officials, would proceed immediately to the country's industrialization. (…) After settling the one hundred thousand small farmers as owners on the land which they previously rented, a revolutionary government would immediately proceed to settle the land problem. First, as set forth in the Constitution, it would establish the maximum amount of land to be held by each type of agricultural enterprise and would acquire the excess acreage by expropriation, recovery of swampland, planting of large nurseries, and reserving of zones for reforestation. Secondly, it would distribute the remaining land among peasant families with priority given to the larger ones, and would promote agricultural cooperatives for communal use of expensive equipment, freezing plants and unified professional technical management of farming and cattle raising. Finally, it would provide resources, equipment, protection and useful guidance to the peasants. (…) A revolutionary government would solve the housing problem by cutting all rents in half, by providing tax exemptions on homes inhabited by the owners; by tripling taxes on rented homes; by tearing down hovels and replacing them with modern apartment buildings; and by financing housing all over the island on a scale heretofore unheard of, with the criterion that, just as each rural family should possess its own tract of land, each city family should own its own house or apartment. (…) With these three projects and reforms, the problem of unemployment would automatically disappear and the task of improving public health and fighting against disease would become much less difficult. Finally, a revolutionary government would undertake the integral reform of the educational system.” 
In no way did the M-26-7 desire an overthrow of capitalism. In the manifesto from November 1956, the M-26-7 even stated:
“With regard to the specific relations between Cuba and the United States, the 26th of July Movement formulates a doctrine of constructive friendship.” 
Castro publicly opposed any plans for nationalization and his wish not to “enfeeble private enterprises”:
“Let me say for the record that we have no plans for the expropriation or nationalization of foreign investments here. True, the extension of government ownership to certain public utilities – some of them, such as the power companies, U.S. owned – was a point of our earliest programs; but we have currently suspended all planning on this matter. I personally have come to feel that nationalization is a cumbersome instrument. It does not seem to make the state any stronger, yet it enfeebles private enterprises.” 
However what differentiated them from the Stalinists was that they fought for their bourgeois reform program with revolutionary means – i.e., an armed guerilla struggle. While this heroically struggle certainly differentiated the Castros, Guevaras, et al. positively from the pathetic Stalinist bureaucrats and made them models for liberation movements for many years throughout the entire world, it was a petty-bourgeois, not a proletarian, strategy. The M-26-7’s guerilla tactics, focused on the Sierra Maestra and other rural areas, as the main form of struggle to which strikes in the cities only played a supportive role, guaranteed that the working class could not play an active and leading role in the country’s civil war. Quite the opposite, it guaranteed that the guerilla leadership around Castro controlled the arms and could take power without any control by the working class.
This did not mean that the M-26-7 movement simply ignored the working class. They indeed organized an underground Sección Obrera which had about 15,000 members. Later the M-26-7 helped to launch the Frente Obrero Nacional Unido (FONU) together with other unions. This new organization adopted a 12-point programme that called for a 20% wage increase, for opposition to mechanization along with other measures against unemployment, for an end to racial discrimination, for social protection for women, children and the unemployed, for the reinstatement of victimized workers, for trade union democracy and the end to the compulsory check-off as well as for the reinstatement of the 1940 constitution. 
The workers section of the M-26-7 played an important role in organizing several political general strikes in which sugar workers were actively involved. Thus, for example, during the strike which started on 30th November 1956, the workers in the processing plant of the ‘Ermita’ sugar estate, where the M-26-7 had two active cells, successfully attacked the police barracks on the plantation. 
While the M-26-7 supporters called this combination of mass action with armed resistance and sabotage ‘sindicalismo beligerente’, the fact remains that such working class action always only played a supportive role for the M-26-7’s main form of struggle – the rural guerilla war. In contrast to the Bolsheviks and the socialist revolution they led in 1917, the workers organizations and struggle never became the heart of the M-26-7’s struggle and the movement itself.
The petty-bourgeois character of the M-26-7 is also reflected in its social composition. Most of its leaders were university students and intellectuals and about 3/4 to 4/5 of the guerillas were peasants.  (We remind our readers that about 57% of the population lived in cities.)
An interesting and positive aspect of the M-26-7 movement was the fact that they had a number of women in its ranks. While they certainly didn’t play an equal role in the movement, it was exceptional in Latin America in the 1950s that the Cuban guerilla had a number of female fighters – there was even a women-only platoon, the “Mariana Grajales Women’s Platoon” formed in September 1958 by Fidel Castro. There were also many women active in urban underground work. Some even became leader like Celia Sánchez (the first woman to ever participate in combat, who became a top strategist during the struggle) and Vilma Espín (who became the President of the Federation of Cuban Women and a member of the Central Committee of the PCC). 
Finally, the bourgeois reform orientation of Castroism also became apparent in its concrete measures after taking power in January 1959. The M-26-7 leadership appointed the liberal judge Manuel Urrutia as president. Jose Miró Cardona, president of the Havana Bar Association, became prime minister. Foreign minister Roberto Agramonte was the dean of the philosophical faculty of the university in Havana, former ambassador and a leader of the bourgeois opposition party Partido del Pueblo Cubano (Ortodoxos). Luis Orlando Rodríguez – a newspaper owner – became interior minister, the lawyer Humberto Sorí agriculture minister and Manuel Ray, who was the architect of the Hilton hotels in Havana, was appointed as minster for public works. 
When we look more closely to the concrete measures undertaken by the new government after the overthrow of Batista in January 1959, it becomes obvious that no social revolution was planned by the new authorities, but rather a number of limited bourgeois-democratic reforms. They were well inside the framework of capitalism. As promised by Castro, the urban rents were lowered by 30-50% and urban and rural workers got wage increases. Government expenditure on social services (health, education and housing) was raised from $390 million to $1,321 million. “Conservative estimates have allowed that the sum effect of the various measures adopted between 1959 and 1961 was to transfer at least 15 percent of the Cuban national income from property-owning groups to the working masses.” 
As stated above, the center piece of the program of the Castroite rebels was the agrarian reform. The Agrarian Reform Law of 17th May 1959 decreed that the maximum size of private farm was 30 caballerías (about 402 hectares), except for those where productivity was 50% above the national average. The latter could be as large as 100 caballerías. Foreigners were prohibited from owning land as well as sugar mills, and tenancy, sharecropping, and similar agreements were prohibited. Where the land was already divided and had formerly been worked by tenant peasants or sharecroppers, it was distributed to them in parcels of 5 caballerías (67 hectares) each.  Where estates had been organized as a farming unit, the unit was preserved and cooperatives or state farms (granjas) were set up. 
While this agrarian reform of the new Castro government was without doubt progressive, it remained clearly within the limits of capitalism and left a substantial rural bourgeoisie in power. This was also true after two other more radical laws, which expropriated the US capitalists as well as the Cuban sugar mill owners. These limitations were even admitted by passionate supporters of new Cuban regime like the pro-Castro Stalinists of Monthly Review: “… even after all the reforms of 1959-1960, Cuban agriculture was still characterized by a markedly unequal division of land.” 
Nevertheless, even after these three reforms, the private sector accounted for 56% of all agricultural land. From Table 1 we can see that the rural bourgeoisie – about 11,000 agrarian capitalists (6.8% of all private farms and – including their families – less than 1% of the total population) – owned 47.2% of all private land, which was nearly a quarter of the whole agricultural land in Cuba.
Table 1 Cuba: The Private Sector in Agriculture 1961 
Size of Farms Number of Farms Thousands of Hectares
Up to 67 Hectares 154,703 (93.2%) 2,348.1 (52.8%)
67 to 134 Hectares 6,062 (3.7%) 607.5 (13.6%)
134 to 268 Hectares 3,105 (1.9%) 610.3 (13.7%)
268 to 402 Hectares 1,457 (0.88%) 507.6 (11.4%)
Over 402 Hectares 592 (0.35%) 377.5 (8.5%)
Total 165,919 (100%) 4,451.0 (100%)
It was only via a second agrarian reform, in 1963, that all private land beyond five caballerías was expropriated. Owners were compensated with up to 250 pesos a month for ten years. Against its initial intentions, the Castroite government was forced to go further than they wanted. While they initially wanted a democratic and more socially just capitalism, they were compelled to completely liquidate the bourgeoisie since the later was conspiring – together with US imperialism – for counterrevolution.
Even the pro-Castro Stalinists of Monthly Review were forced to admit that the Cuban government expropriated the rural bourgeoisie only when it was forced because of the civil war and imperialist aggression:
“This was a rural bourgeoisie in the full sense of the term and, as was to be expected, it was in its great majority hostile to the Revolution. This hostility was manifested in many ways (…) but above all by providing a social base for the counterrevolutionary guerilla bands recruiting largely among exiles and armed by the CIA. (…) and the possibility of a new and bigger Bay of Pigs invasion was always present. Under these circumstances, the revolutionary government (…) decided to liquidate the counterrevolutionary rural bourgeoisie.” 
Background of Cuba’s Liquidation of Capitalism
However, due to a combination of specific circumstances, the Castro regime was forced to go much further than it intended. Contrary to the original intentions of the Castroite leadership and the Stalinist PSP, Cuba underwent a social transformation from a capitalist semi-colony into a degenerated workers state in 1960.
So why did it take place? The reason was the combination of extraordinary circumstances:
i) The Castro leadership was under extreme pressure from the popular masses who expected a radical transformation of the country and their living conditions after the fall of Batista, and who therefore launched a wave of strikes and mass mobilizations when their expectations were not met.
ii) US imperialism was not prepared to accept even bourgeois-democratic reforms (in particular the agrarian reform) and the refining of Soviet oil. It presented the Castroite leadership with the choice either to capitulate or to break with US imperialism.
iii) Finally the Castro leadership was not only under massive pressure both from below (the masses) as well as from above (US imperialism) – it was also offered a way out of this cul-de-sac: the Soviet bureaucracy was willing – against the backdrop of the Cold War with US imperialism – to politically and economically support Cuba as an outpost.
Under these specific circumstances, the Castroite regime could now transform itself from a petty-bourgeoisie bureaucracy at the top of a disintegrating capitalist semi-colony into a petty-bourgeoisie bureaucracy at the top of a degenerated workers state. In this way, it could solve the following problems:
a) It could make substantial social concessions to the masses, pacify them and at the same time impose a political dictatorship over them.
b) It could – with the help of the USSR –withstand the massive pressure of its giant neighbour, the greatest imperialist power on earth.
c) Consequently, it could – as a bureaucratic caste – retain a leading position in the Cuban society with all the material privileges associated with it.
i) The Cuban Working Class as an Active Force in the Revolution
Let us now explain this in more detail. It is a widespread myth – propagated by Castroists, various Western centrists, as well as liberals – that the Cuban Revolution was made by a few hundred armed guerrillas. The working class – so it is said – was passive throughout the revolutionary events.
Centrist tendencies like the International Socialist Tendency of the late Tony Cliff (SWP in Britain) even used this myth to justify their fundamental revisions of Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution: “A case in which neither the working class nor the peasantry played a serious role, but where middle-class intellectuals filled the whole arena of struggle, is Fidel Castro’s rise to power.” 
Based on this distortion of history the Cliff/IST tradition claims that the tasks of the permanent revolution don’t need to be fulfilled by the working class but can be implemented by the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia (which they call the theory of the “deflected permanent revolution “):
“The impotence of the contending social classes, workers and capitalists, peasants and landlords, the inherent historical weakness of the middle class, and the omnipotence of the new Castro elite, who were not bound by any set of coherent, organised interests, explains the ease with which Castro’s moderate programme of the years 1953-58, based on private enterprise, was cast aside and replaced by a radical programme of state ownership and planning. It was not before 16 April 1961 that Castro announced that the revolution had been socialist.” 
However, the truth is that the working class was not at all passive but played a highly active role in the revolutionary process in the years before the Revolution as well as during the revolutionary years 1959-61.
As we have already mentioned, the Cuban working class played a central role in launching several mass and general strikes and, above all, the revolutionary uprising in August 1933 which was betrayed by the Stalinists. During the 1940s, Cuba had the highest percentage of trade unionised workers in Latin America. When Batista took power in 1952 by a coup d’état, the British embassy reported in an internal memorandum on its background: “I am more and more convinced that the basic reason for the Armed Forces having staged the revolution was their utter disgust of the growing and unrestrained power of Labour.” 
Under the Batista dictatorship, workers were faced with brutal repression as well as the trade union leadership of Eusebio Mujal, who collaborated openly with Batista. However despite these difficult conditions a number of important struggles took place. In September 1955, there were a series of bank strikes led by opponents of Batista. An even more important struggle took place in December 1955 when more than 200,000 sugar workers went on strike in protest against a government move that would have reduced their wages. Strike leaders included members of the PSP and the M-26-7, and even some pro-Mujal union officials who felt the need to support the strike to maintain some support in the rank and file. The strike received broad solidarity, including from students. The M-26-7 leader Armando Hart reported: “A number of towns were virtually taken over by the strikers and supporters. Virtually all economic activity in these towns was paralysed, leading them to be termed ‘dead cities’” 
Other major working class struggles before the revolution were the Santiago strike of August 1957 and the attempted general strike of April 1958. The latter one failed because the petty-bourgeois M-26-7 leadership organized it in a secret, bureaucratic way so that workers did not know about it in advance as well as the Stalinist PSP refusal to support it.
The high point, obviously, was the final general strike in early January 1959 which occurred in parallel with the downfall of Batista and the victory of the rebel movement. It lasted for one week and demonstrated that the Revolution was not a coup d’état but a popular supported overthrow of the Batista dictatorship.
However, the general strike in early January did not signal the end working class activities, but rather inaugurated a whole new period of highly intensive class struggle. In fact, after the revolutionary overthrow of the Batista dictatorship, a wave of spontaneous workers strikes, occupations as well as land seizures by the peasants broke out. As a result, during 1959 there were four more general strikes on 21 January, 13 March, 23 July and 25 October. They were called by the CTC which was now under the control of the M-26-7 bureaucrats but which was also under massive pressure from the rank and file workers.
Steve Cushion, a socialist historian and author of a number of studies about the Cuban workers movement, writes about the situation after the general strike in early January 1959: “The strike also served as a launch pad for a wave of strikes and demonstrations organised by the purged trade unions whose new local leaders responded to the upsurge of militancy by workers wanting to reclaim the losses they felt they had suffered under the dictatorship because of the collaborationist policies adopted by the CTC under Mujal. Strikes and the threat of strike action became common and workers made considerable gains in wages and conditions during the first half of 1959, frequently with the support of the new Ministry of Labour. As the immediate demands were settled and the first wave of enthusiasm receded, the Ministry and the national leadership of the CTC increasingly imposed a restraining hand, which was at first opposed by a PSP that had been excluded from the CTC leadership. 
The active role and pressure of the Cuban workers during the militant years 1959-60 is even admitted by anti-communist opponents of the revolution like Efren Cordova, a well-known historian of the Cuban labor movement. He writes:
“Another device developed during this period [early 1960] was the direct occupation of the business concerned by the workers, following a real or fabricated dispute, as a pretext for government intervention … The pattern for the takeover was for the workers to discuss with management a series of demands threatening a strike unless all of them were met. Usually included among the demands … was an outright call for the management’s resignation. When the demands were turned down, the group of workers involved proceeded to occupy the enterprise concerned. Street demonstrations usually followed the occupation.” 
The British embassy sent a frightened report to London: “As of labour, I hear on all sides that it is getting completely out of hand.” 
However, as in so many revolutions of the past century, the militancy of the working class was not equaled by an appropriate, politically mature and class-conscious leadership. The Cuban Trotskyists, while rooted in the working class, were too small in numbers to challenge the Castroite and Stalinist misleaderships. As a result, no revolutionary party of the working class existed. The class struggle therefore, while putting massive pressure on the existing petty-bourgeois leaderships, would in the end be diverted to safe channels by those leaderships, stopping the working class from taking power.
During the weeks following the victorious uprising, the Castroite M-26-7 leadership managed to get its bureaucrats elected to top posts of the CTC. This was not surprising since they had a huge prestige after the revolution. Given the still existing friction between the Castroites and the Stalinists, the former made sure that the PSP bureaucrats were excluded from the CTC leadership. (They were re-integrated later in that year.)
The anti-working class nature of the M-26-7 was once more demonstrated by its reaction to the upswing of class struggle. Worried by the spontaneous spread of mass strikes, the Castroite M-26-7 used its newly won hegemony in the trade union movement to get the CTC leadership to announce a six month no-strike pledge.
The Cuban socialist historian Samuel Farber confirms this reactionary position of the Castroite leadership as well as the conservative position of the Stalinists:
“Castro’s government, very much afraid of losing control of the working class, let alone afraid of economic instability, tried to discourage strikes. The government convinced the new revolutionary union movement led by David Salvador, a former Communist who had become a 26th of July Movement leader in the clandestine struggle against Batista, to go along with its efforts in this direction. For their part, the Communists still had an arms-length relationship with the government and tried to push it in a more radical direction. While the PSP voluntarily avoided calling for or encouraging strikes even in the earliest days of the revolution, the party took the position that “strikes, when they are necessary and just, help rather than harm the Revolution.” 
Similarly, the victorious uprising in January opened a number of land seizures by poor peasants. Again the M-26-7 leadership reacted with hostility. In a TV interview on 19.2.1959, Castro announced:
“We are opposed to anarchic land distribution. We have drafted a law which stipulates that (persons involved in) any land distribution which is made without waiting for the new agrarian law will lose their right to benefits from the new agrarian reform. Those who have appropriated lands from January 1 to the present date have no right to those lands. Any provocation to distribution of lands disregarding the revolutionaries and the agrarian law is criminal.” 
Three days later, the Stalinist PSP, which had initially supported the land seizure in order to regain some support, published a statement agreeing with Castro “that it was necessary to put a stop to the anarchic seizures of land.” 
Nevertheless, during this revolutionary period, many poor peasants took over land without formal approval by the state bureaucracy. This becomes obvious if we examine the following figures. During 1959 and 1960, the number of peasants who actually received property titles was small: at 31,500. However, three to four times as many peasants gained access to land without formal property rights. 
Another crucial development in the revolutionary process in Cuba in 1959-61 was the formation of popular armed militias. This was the result of the determination of the masses to defend the gains of the revolution against its combined foreign and domestic enemies, despite the numerical weakness of the rebel army, which still compromised only a few thousand fighters. Consequently, as early as the summer of 1959, class-conscious sectors of the working class, poor peasants as well as militant women organizations, demanded the arming of the people. Referring to various resolutions from mass assemblies, the historian Albert Manke reports:
“In many sectors the popular call for arms to defend the revolution and the Revolutionary Government came up and—mostly in leftist labor sectors, but too in the emerging associations of humble peasants and specific organizations like the Unidad Femenina Revolucionaria—partly converted into the foundation of popular militias.” 
While the Castroite government had an interest in arming the people, at the same time it very much wanted to control this drive towards popular armament. Their interest in supporting distribution of arms to the people was the defense of the revolution, and hence their own power. But they were determined to avoid an independent armed mass organization which could have questioned and endangered the Castroite/Stalinist bureaucracy.
The lack of a strong revolutionary party, which would have impelled such an independent armed mass organization, led to the successful channeling of the popular militias. Manke summarizes: “In the beginning of January 1960 that relatively spontaneous movement of support for the defense of the revolution and of the Castro government started to be channeled into an armed institution called National Revolutionary Militias (MNR) directed by the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR).”  Later, in 1964, the militias were dissolved and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR, Revolutionary Armed Forces, the official army) remained as the only military force.
In short, the popular front government and the petty-bourgeois Castro leadership were alarmed by the massive increase of class struggle and tried to stop it in order not to endanger their bureaucratic control of the political transformation. They were certainly helped in this by the blunt aggression of US imperialism which helped the Castroites to keep the loyalty of the workers. The Cuban socialist historian Farber summarizes this dynamic in the following way:
“During the earliest stages of the revolution, most Cubans were in a true state of euphoria while all sorts of long suppressed popular demands, complaints, and requests emerged into the public limelight, often with the support of strikes. Castro and the revolutionary government quickly became concerned about the frequency of such strikes and virtually eliminated them while preventing the development of any sense of frustration, let alone betrayal, among Cuban workers.” 
In another book, Farber correctly described the political dynamic of the revolutionary process in 1959-61:
"There is nothing less involved here than the development of autonomous revolutionary consciousness among the masses of the Cuban people as opposed to the dictates of an elite political party which has a complete monopoly of the press and other means of communications."
ii) Aggression of US imperialism
It is beyond the scope of this document to give a detailed history of US policy towards Cuba after the overthrow of Batista. We will only summarize the most important developments which influenced the dynamics of the revolution. In the first few months, the US government hoped for a compromise. When a Cuban delegation headed by Fidel Castro visited the USA in April 1959, they received a relatively warm reception. When a reporter asked Castro about his ties to Communists, the Cuban leader replied, “Democracy is my ideal. (…) I am not a Communist. (…) There is no doubt for me between democracy and Communism.” Castro appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and again denied any connection with Communism, for which he received praise from such legislators as Alabama Senator John Sparkman and Congressman James G. Fulton of Pennsylvania. 
However already during this early period, many people in the US ruling class had a far more hostile attitude. The former US ambassador in Cuba, Spruille Braden, shared the radical rightist views of the then CIA director, Allen Welsh Dulles, who, when referring to the containment of communist influence in the western hemisphere, once famously stated: “Do nothing to offend the dictators; they are the only people we can depend on.”
When the Cuban government launched its agrarian reform legislation in May 1959, the situation changed. This is because agrarian reform threatened US interests. Let us recall that Cuba was – beside Venezuela – the most important destination for US capital export in Latin America. When the Castro government later nationalized all property owned by North American citizens in Cuba, it was calculated that these assets were worth over 1,000 million dollars! 
From this point in time, the US government openly worked to blackmail Cuba and to overthrow its government. In June 1960, the Cuban government requested the Western petroleum refineries – Texaco, Esso and Shell – to process crude oil it had purchased from the Soviet Union. When the companies refused, they were expropriated. At the same time, the US Congress authorized the President to cut off the Cuban sugar quota (seven hundred thousand tons sugar). In response, on 6 July 1960, the Cuban government expropriated all US-owned agricultural property in Cuba, as well as US investments in some other branches of the economy. On 15 July, the newly established Bank for Foreign Trade became Cuba's sole foreign-trade agency. On 7 August, all large US-owned industrial and agrarian enterprises were expropriated. And on 17 September, all US banks were confiscated. Another law, enacted on 13 October 1960, nationalized all large Cuban-owned sugar mills together with the cane fields belonging to the same owners. On 19 October, the US government prohibited exports to Cuba, except for non-subsidized foodstuffs and medicines. On 24 October, Cuba expropriated all US-owned wholesale and retail trade enterprises as well as any remaining smaller US-owned industrial and agrarian enterprises. The United States withdrew Ambassador Philip Bonsai on 29 October. US-Cuban diplomatic relations were finally and formally broken in the waning days of the Eisenhower administration in January 1961.
As early as January 1960, the CIA set up a special task force composed mainly of veterans of the military intervention against the Arbenz government in Guatemala. This task force prepared a wide-ranging attack on the Castro regime. In March, the US government put in place a systematic plan of covert action against the Castro regime. Military preparations were started which – as is well known – culminated in the US and Cuban exile invasion force that landed at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, which was successfully routed by the Cuban masses and militias in three days. During the so-called missile crisis between the US and the USSR in October 1962, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended to President Kennedy a massive military attack on Cuba. In addition, the CIA carried out several assassination attempts on Castro. Even a study, authored by the US Army War College itself, had to admit later: “To say the least, this was a most aggressive position.”
Why did US imperialism react so aggressively despite the relatively limited bourgeois-democratic reform program which the Castro government initially pursued? The reason is simply that even such a democratic reform program was too much for US imperialism. Cuba was, de facto, a US colony until 1959. It was an Eldorado for US monopoly capital, the Mafia, and US tourists. It was a kind of extended US territory in opposite the coast of Florida. A certain reduction of this total US control, the loss of some of their sugar monopolies, the “provocation” that Cuba was opening trade with other countries – in particular the USSR – all this was too much for US imperialism.
We also have to remember that this a high point of the Cold War between the imperialist camp – led by the US – and the Stalinist camp of the degenerated workers states, led by the USSR. While the US imperialists had built up their military contingents and bases close to the borders of the USSR and its allies, they were not prepared to accept any Soviet influence close to their own borders.
In addition, US imperialism was then at the height of its power. Latin America was its backyard. The US ruling class was accustomed to easily restraining any Latin American country from pursuing an independent course. Usually, it was sufficient to politically and/or economically blackmail the country in question. However, if necessary a coup d’état could easily be organized, as the CIA had done against the liberal government of President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán in Guatemala in June 1954.
What was different this time was that US imperialism tried to blackmail a country whose working people had engaged in mass mobilizations, strikes, and land occupations for years and, in particular, after January 1959. In addition, the people were partly armed since Batista’s military was disintegrating and the government had to arm people in order to defend its power against the counterrevolution. To sum up, US imperialism openly tried to blackmail a people which was militant, organized and who just had experienced a successful revolution. Hence the pressure on the Castro government by its own people, not to give in to US imperialist pressure, was massive. Under these circumstances, the Castroite leadership had the alternative either to capitulate or to break with US imperialism.
iii) Support and Alignment with the Stalinist Soviet Bureaucracy
This leads us to the third central reason for Cuba’s transformation from a semi-colonial capitalist country into a Degenerated Workers State. We have seen that the Castroite government was under massive pressure both from below – from the mobilized and partly armed working class and peasantry – as well as from above, by aggressive US imperialism which threatened to starve the country.
Most likely, these two factors alone would not have been sufficient to transform Cuba. But the Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR was prepared to give Cuba political, economical and military assistance against US imperialism, and it was this that opened the door to Cuba’s becoming a Degenerated Workers State.
When the US cut the quota for Cuban sugar, the Soviet Union was prepared to buy it. After the United States’ 1960 decision to cut Cuba’s sugar quota and impose a full trade embargo in 1962, the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, China stepped in. In February 1960, Soviet deputy premier Anastas Mikoyan visited Cuba and negotiated a trade accord, whereby the USSR agreed to purchase one million tons of Cuban sugar per year and to provide the island nation with loans and crude oil shipments at reduced prices. In May, both countries established diplomatic relations. Soon, the Soviet Union and other socialist nations fully replaced the United States as Cuba’s main trading partners. Whereas in 1959 the United States absorbed 74% of Cuba’s exports and delivered 65% of its imports, only two years later the Stalinist states received 73% of the island’s exports and shipped 70% of its imports. 
Similarly the Soviet military sent weapons and helped to organize the Cuban army.
The Soviet bureaucracy had an interest to extend its influence to better defend itself against the world-dominating imperialist camp – led by the US - in order to control the revolutionary process in Cuba so that it would not spread to the all of Latin America.
Of course, it was completely legitimate for the new Cuban government to seek support from the Soviet Union against US imperialism, and revolutionaries would have called the USSR and other states to rally to the defense of Cuba against Washington’s gunboat policy. However, we must also bear in mind that the growing influence of the Moscow bureaucracy strengthened the Castroite/Stalinist ruling elite to reorganize its state apparatus independent of the working class and poor peasantry. It is revealing that the very first steps in collaboration between the Castroite government and the Moscow bureaucracy already took place in April 1959, when the Cubans requested support to reorganize the army and the intelligence service. Recall, that it was at this time that the Castroite leadership sought to calm down and control the worker and peasant struggles, while it simultaneously strove to rebuild a bourgeois-type state apparatus. As we shall see, it succeeded in doing this with the willing help of the Moscow bureaucracy as well as the Cuban Stalinist PSP apparatus.
Cuba’s Bureaucratic Social Revolution towards a Stalinist Degenerated Workers State
It was this combination of factors that allowed the Castroite leadership – which in this process merged with the Stalinist party apparatus – to achieve the following:
* They could form a bourgeois-type bureaucratic state apparatus which was divorced from the working class and poor peasantry so that it could control the revolutionary wave of struggles and finally politically expropriate the working class.
* When US imperialism blackmailed Cuba, the Castroite government was able to withstand this pressure both because of the support of the anti-imperialist masses as well as because of the material support by the Soviet Union.
* Under the total economic boycott by US imperialism (with the support of the other imperialist states) and the pressure of the revolutionary masses, the Castroite regime only had one choice – in order to stay in power – to expropriate the bourgeoisie in an bureaucratically way and reorganize the Cuban economy under the conditions of proletarian property relations. This was made possible because of the support from the Soviet bureaucracy.
In this period of sharp class struggles and fundamental changes, important transformations took place. In the first period after January 1959, a dual power situation emerged and a popular front government with a number of open bourgeois figures took office. Given the rapid class polarization – with a growing militant working class and peasantry and an increasingly hostile US imperialism and domestic bourgeoisie – the government shifted to the left. A number of open bourgeois figures were forced to resign and were replaced by “Fidelistas”. First, after the aggressive US reaction to the agrarian reform, Castro threw out Sori Marin (Minister of Agriculture), Elena Mederos (Minister of Health), Luis Orlando Rodriguez (Minister of the Interior), Angel Fernandez (Minister of Justice) and Foreign Minister Agramonte.
However, the Popular Front continued to exist with bourgeois figures like Cas Fresquet (Minister of Finance) and Bunilla (Minister of Commerce) remaining in their posts as well as Pazos continued to stand in charge of the Bank of Cuba.
But the deepening class struggle forced Castro to go further and to drive all direct agents of the capitalists from the government. By November 1959, the popular front was terminated along with the dual power situation.
Against this background, the Castroite M-26-7 was forced to deepen its alliance with the Stalinist PSP. The latter was the only remaining party with a sizeable apparatus and roots in the working class and the trade unions. In addition, it had the advantage of possessing close relations with the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union which was an increasingly important factor for the Castroite leadership given the country’s isolation due to US imperialism. So while in the first period of the revolution, the M-26-7 leadership tried to exclude the PSP from the government as well as the trade union leadership, it was now forced to re-integrate them. The left wing of the M-26-7 was now in the ascendant and the process of founding a unified party apparatus with the Stalinist PSP began in December 1959.
In the end, this started a process of several years which culminated with the merging of the two forces and the founding, in 1965, of the Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC, Communist Party of Cuba). This process took place under the hegemony of the M-26-7 leadership around Fidel Castro. A number of old PSP leaders were purged in this process. However this fusion was possible because of the similar petty-bourgeois class nature of the bureaucracy both of the Castroite M-26-7 leadership and the Stalinist PSP apparatus. Once they agreed to rule Cuba on the basis of a bureaucratically degenerated workers state in alliance with the Soviet Union, they possessed a sufficient common basis for a fusion.
With the purge of the openly capitalist ministers, the character of the Castro government changed. It was no longer a popular front government. However given the fact that the M-26-7/PSP-government neither based itself on workers’ and peasants’ organs (councils, militias) nor followed an anti-capitalist program of expropriating the bourgeoisie at that time, it became a bourgeois workers’ and peasants’ government in the sense of the Communist International in Lenin’s and Trotsky’s time. The Comintern’s characterization of such a type of a workers’ and peasants’ government was accurate for the Castro regime in late 1959. It was not a “revolutionary workers' government, but in fact coalition a government of the bourgeoisie and anti-revolutionary labour leaders. Such governments are tolerated by the enfeebled bourgeoisie in critical times as a means of deceiving the proletariat about the real class character of the State, or to ward off, with the help of the corrupt workers' leaders, the revolutionary offensive of the proletariat and to gain time.”  (In this quote, the Comintern speaks about a workers’ government but they applied the same approach to workers’ and peasants’ governments.)
Such a government of “petty bourgeois representatives of the workers and peasants” – to use the words of Leon Trotsky in the Transitional Program – was determined not to relinquish power to the working class and the poor peasantry and to continue to run the country within the limits of bourgeois-democratic reforms. However – as we described above – both US imperialism and the Cuban bourgeoisie deeply mistrusted the M-26-7/PSP-government. In addition, they thought it would be relatively easy to get rid of the new government and to re-establish the old order. As a result, the reactionary forces escalated the pressure and sabotage against the Castro government while at the same time the militant working class and poor peasantry demanded a deepening of the revolution.
This forced the M-26-7/PSP-government to decide: either capitulate to US imperialism and the domestic bourgeoisie – with the certain result of a total loss of power – or break with them completely. This meant to expropriate the foreign and Cuban capitalists, to ally itself with the Soviet Union and to reorganize the economy (bureaucratically) on a new foundation – a planned economy based on proletarian property relations.
Because of the massive pressure of the radicalized working class and peasantry and because of the possibility of support from the Soviet Union, the M-26-7/PSP-government decided to go further than it initially intended and started to expropriate the bourgeoisie. It was no longer a bourgeois workers and peasants’ government but rather, became in the summer of 1960, a bureaucratic anti-capitalist workers’ government. By this is meant, according to the understanding of the RCIT, a government forced to attack and break the economic power of the bourgeoisie, but using carefully controlled bureaucratic measures and mobilizations – similar to the type of Stalinist governments in Eastern Europe in 1948-49.
In our book on the Stalinist quelling of working class revolutionary activity after World War II, we described the Marxist understanding of such bureaucratic anti-capitalist workers’ government in the following way:
“The government has the programme of anti-capitalist measures constituting the expropriation of the bourgeoisie whilst simultaneously depriving the working class of political power. Thus it prevents the formation or development of organs of proletarian struggle, self-organisations and democracy (soviets) with methods which range from political misleaderships to outright military repression. (...) However, what defines a bureaucratic workers' government is that it is not under the control or conscious pressure of the organs that can form the basis of a full political dictatorship of the proletariat. It is thus anti-capitalist but a bridge to a degenerate not a healthy workers' state.” 
With the establishment of this bureaucratic anti-capitalist workers’ government in the summer of 1960, Cuba’s state changed its class character. It was no longer a capitalist semi-colony but became a degenerated workers state. The Castro government had become a regime which moved decisively against capital and capitalism to create a bureaucratically-planned economy on the Stalinist model. Again, this change entailed the change of class character of the state. As Marxists, we define the character of a given state “by the character of the forms of property and productive relations which the given state guards and defends.” (Trotsky)  Of course, a number of political and economic steps still had to be taken to fully establish a bureaucratically planned economy. In addition, the imperialist aggression – most prominently the invasion at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 – had to be thwarted. But the Rubicon to overturn the class character of the state into a degenerated workers state was crossed in the summer of 1960.
This became clear from the measures taken by the Castro government from the summer of 1960 onwards. As we described above, a number of steps took place in the summer of 1960 which led to the nationalization of the industry – including the decisive sugar industry – and banks, the imposition of the foreign trade monopoly as well as the creation of a Junta Central de Planificacion (Juceplan, Central Planning Board) in February 1961 to plan and direct the country's economic development. By the end of 1960, 80% of Cuba’s industrial capacity was nationalized and the agrarian reform had been dramatically speeded up.
These measures led to a transformation of the class character of Cuba’s economy. It didn’t operate any longer on the basis of the law of value, but rather on the basis of bureaucratic planning. Thus in the early 1960s, Cuba’s economy ceased to be capitalist. It was transformed into an economy based on proletarian property relations, albeit in a bureaucratically-distorted form. 
The Cuban Working Class and Its Political Expropriation by the Castroite Stalinists
As we have already stated, the anti-capitalist social transformation in Cuba went ahead in a bureaucratic way, preventing the working class from politically taking power. When we speak about a bureaucratic social revolution we don’t mean – as the Cliffites suggest – that the proletariat was merely a passive observer of the acting Castroite government. We rather mean that the working class and peasantry – while exerting massive pressure both on the Castroite government as well as the reactionary class enemy – did not consciously lead the revolutionary process.
Why was this so? Essentially, because the working class and the peasantry lacked the following: democratic organs to discuss and decide on the political and economic issues (councils/soviets); armed organs to implement these decisions (popular militias); and – most importantly –a political vanguard party which had a program and an organization to lead the class to victory.
As a result of this, the social expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the formation of planned proletarian property relations went hand in hand with a bureaucratic political expropriation of the working class by the Castroite Stalinists.
We have already described, above, the bureaucratic steps the Castroite regime undertook against the spontaneous workers strikes, land seizures and formation of militias. The political expropriation of the working class was also obvious on the political party and trade union level.
In the trade union movement, all opposition was crushed and a fully-empowered bureaucracy, not controllable from without, and fiercely loyal to the M-26-7/PSP-government was imposed. To give an overview over the rapid bureaucratization in the trade union movement, we reproduce here the analysis of Samuel Farber:
“About 50 percent of the labor leaders, most of whom belonged to the 26th of July Movement and had been freely elected in the spring 1959 local and national union elections, were removed; many were persecuted and jailed as well.
In August 1961, less than two years after the fateful Tenth Congress of the CTC, the government approved new legislation that brought the nature and function of Cuban trade unions into alignment with those of the Soviet bloc. According to the new law, the main objectives of the unions were to help in the attainment of the national production and development plans; to promote efficiency and expansion of social and public services; to improve the administration of all sectors of the economy; and to carry out political education.
The Eleventh CTC Congress, which took place in November 1961, could not have been more different from the congress two years earlier. Unanimity had now replaced controversy. With no contest allowed for the leading positions at stake, all leaders were elected by acclamation. Not surprisingly, old Stalinist leader Lázaro Peña regained the position of secretary general that he had last held in the forties under Batista.
Of the seventeen national union leaders in 1959, only five remained in the twelve-member leadership group “elected” at the conclusion of the congress. In order to save production costs, the Eleventh Congress also agreed to give up gains that many unions had won before the revolution.
It approved the eight-hour day, thereby adding work time to those union members who had already gained the seven-hour day. The nine days of sick pay, previously paid automatically, would be paid only to those who could prove that they were actually sick. The extra month’s pay as an end-of-the-year bonus was abolished.
Although an abstract case could be made for the desirability of at least some of these changes in a new socialist order, here they were imposed from above with little or no discussion. There was no open confrontation with the opposing views actually held by a large number of Cuban workers, who could not openly express them, nor organize in support of what they thought.
Even the dramatic change of leadership carried out at the 1961 congress did not put an end to the process of erasing all remaining traces of independent unionism. By the end of the Twelfth CTC Congress in 1966, only one of the members of the 1961 national committee remained. Of the twenty-five other heads of labor federations in 1961, only one remained in office by 1966.“ 
No other trade unions were allowed. Workers had no legal right to strike. The same process took place on the political party level. No other party was allowed beside the ruling party.
The Cuban Trotskyists – organized in the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Trotskista) (POR[T]) – were firmly repressed. Gary Tennant, an expert in the history of Cuban Trotskyism, gives an excellent overview in his academic work. He shows that the POR(T) comrades supported the revolution and participated in the work and activity of the newly established revolutionary mass organisations. They worked in the Movimiento de Superación del Barrio Sur de Guantánamo, undertook voluntary work in the countryside, participated in the literacy campaign, and joined the Federación de Mujeres Cubanas, the CDRs, and the newly organised militias.
This, however, did not stop the Stalinists to accuse them of being “provocateurs” who are inciting US aggression and who were instruments of the FBI and CIA. The Castroite government – including Che Guevara  – suppressed the Trotskyist paper Voz Proletaria and smashed the printing plates of the Spanish translation of Trotsky's The Permanent Revolution. They harassed the Trotskyists and threw a number of them into prison. 
The bureaucratization was also visible inside the ruling party itself. As already mentioned, the Castroite M-26-7 undertook a series of steps towards fusion with the Stalinist PSP. The PSP cadres were central in the staffing of the administrative apparatus and hence gained increasing influence. The fusion between the two parts first led to the creation of the Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas (ORI, Integrated Revolutionary Organisation) in July 1961. The “fusion” in fact took the form of a takeover of the Stalinist party apparatus by the Castroites, a project which caused considerable conflict with leading “old guard” Stalinists. When the National Directorate of the ORI was announced, it consisted of 25 members: 13 from M-26-7, 10 from the PSP, and two from the Directorio Revolucionario.  None of them was elected by anyone. They were simply appointed by Fidel Castro.
Soon a conflict emerged between the Castroites and the old guard of the PSP. It ended bureaucratically with the denunciation of the old PSP leader Anibal Escalante by Castro for creating a “counter-revolutionary monstrosity”. He was expelled in March 1962 and left the country until 1964.
When the PCC was set up in October 1965, the strength of the Fidelistas could be seen in the fact that the military bureaucratic clique around Castro dominated it, while the former PSP bureaucrats played a subordinate role. The entire eight-man Political Bureau were Fidelistas.
The composition of the new Central Committee shows also another important aspect. It demonstrates the petty-bourgeois character of the party’s leadership. Hardly any workers or workers’ leaders were in it. They were completely dominated by representatives of the bureaucracy of the repressive state apparatus. Table 2 shows that, of the 100 Central Committee members, 81% either came from the army’s officer corps or the secret service.
Table 2 Composition of the 100-member Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party in 1965 
Share of former member of the Stalinist PSP 18%
Share of army officers 69%
Amongst them active officers 39%
Share of officers from the intelligence services 12%
The suppression of workers democracy and the massive bureaucratization of the ruling party as well as the mass organizations went hand-in-hand with the strengthening of the bureaucracy as a materially-privileged and corrupt stratum. This process started immediately after the successful revolution. In the following, we quote from a report by Carlos Franqui, an anti-Stalinist communist and leading cadre of M-26-7 from its start. He became an early critique of the bureaucratization of the Cuban Revolution, went into exile and finally broke with the regime when Castro supported the Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia in 1968. He describes how the new elite – with exceptions like Che Guevara – soon acquired the luxurious housings of the old upper class:
“At that time [in 1961] Security was moving comandantes, ministers and anyone of any importance into new houses. Some of us tried to stay where we were – Che, Faustino, Celia, Haydée, Chomón, Orlando Blanco, and I among them. The new houses were those that had been abandoned by the Havana middle class. This reopened the polemic that had been simmering since 1959. Many of us went right back to our old apartments after the war while others wanted to ‘profane’ (as they said) the houses of the rich. It was they who were ‘profaned’. These houses came equipped with 24-hour, round-the-clock guards – because of the counter-revolutionary threat, but it was also a good way to keep an eye on you in the Soviet style. Celia, Haydée, and I had eluded the new-house situation simply because we were civilians… I had been living in my own flat all this time with no problem. (…) Since I wouldn’t obey the order to move, Fidel stepped in, told me I was in danger and that I would simply have to follow orders. The next day the Urban Reform people handed me the keys to my new house. I’d be a hypocrite if I were to say I didn’t like what I found – swimming pool, books, nice furniture, garden, air conditioning – but at the same time I felt guilty. Fidel himself never had those problems, since he was accustomed to living in houses like that…What was really happening was that we were creating a new elite, despite all the rhetoric about the need to protect us, the need for upper-echelon people to be able to relax. This new elite would one day be dangerous.” 
This bureaucratization intensified later and led to massive stealing of fortunes by high-ranking bureaucrats, as the socialist Cuba expert and solidarity activist Janette Habel describes in her study on the political developments in the island since the revolution. She summarizes:
“Waste and corruption have led to a feeling of discontent among the regime’s base of support, the wage-earning strata, faced with the growing wealth of certain sectors of farmers, as well as the privileges enjoyed by the administrative bureaucracy and top officials of the economic and state apparatus. Signs of economic inefficiency, waste, theft and the misappropriation of goods have been joined by the black market and currency trafficking, the spread of prostitution, and a growth of petty delinquency near tourist centers” 
Indeed, it is the rule of the Castroite-Stalinist bureaucracy which is responsible for the degeneration of the Cuban revolution as well as the containment of its internationalization towards the whole Latin American continent. The program of revolutionary communists for Cuba after 1960/61, therefore, was based on the need of the working class to organize for the defence of the revolution both against its foreign as well as its domestic counterrevolutionary enemies, while at the same time prepare for the political revolution to overthrow the bureaucracy and establish a healthy workers state.
 Most figures in this chapter have been reproduced from Louis A. Perez: Cuba, c. 1930-59; in: The Cambridge History of Latin America, Volume VII, Latin America since 1930: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, New York 1990, pp. 419-455 as well as Jorge Dominguez: Cuba since 1959; in: The Cambridge History of Latin America, Volume VII, Latin America since 1930: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, New York 1990, pp. 457-508; Jaime Suchlicki; Historical Setting; in: Cuba a country study, Federal Research Division Library of Congress, Edited by Rex A. Hudson, Washington 2002, pp. 1-88
 George Lambie: The Cuban Revolution in the 21st Century, Pluto Press 2010, p. 120
 See on this for example Gary Tennant: Dissident Cuban Communism: The Case of Trotskyism, 1932-1965, 1999, http://www.cubantrotskyism.net/PhD/central.htm, Chapter 3.2; Gary Tennant: The Background: Nationalism and Communism in Cuba, in: The Hidden Pearl of the Caribbean. Trotskyism in Cuba, Revolutionary History Vol. 7, No. 3, London 2000, pp. 9-39; Louis A. Perez: Cuba, c. 1930-59; in: The Cambridge History of Latin America, Volume VII, Latin America since 1930: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, New York 1990, pp. 419-455.
 Quoted in Hans Magnus-Enzensberger: Bildnis einer Partei. Vorgeschichte, Struktur und Ideologie der PCC, in: Kursbuch No. 18, Frankfurt a.M. 1969, p. 195
 Quoted in Joseph L. Love: Economic ideas and ideologies in Latin America since 1930 393; in: The Cambridge History of Latin America, Volume VI, Latin America since 1930: Economy, Society and Politics Fart 1 Economy and Society, New York 1994, p. 442
 Fidel Castro: Die Geschichte wird mich freisprechen (1953); in: Fidel Castro: Fanal Kuba, Berlin 1963, pp. 25-27; in English: History Will Absolve Me, http://www.marxists.org/history/cuba/archive/castro/1953/10/16.htm
 Kepa Artaraz: Cuba and Western Intellectuals since 1959, New York 2009, p. 31; see also on the so-called Sierra Manifesto Julia E. Sweig: Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the urban underground, Harvard University Press 2004, pp. 29-38. In October 1958 Castro said that it was the desire of the movement to establish the best and friendliest relations with the United States (quoted in: Ross E. Chapman: The Socialist Evolvement of The Cuban Revolution 1948-1960 (1973). Honors Theses. Paper 875, p. 109).
 Quoted in: Ross E. Chapman: The Socialist Evolvement of the Cuban Revolution 1948-1960 (1973). Honors Theses. Paper 875, p. 69
 See Steve Cushion: The Cold War and Organised Labour in Batista's Cuba, Institute for the Study of the Americas, p. 11
 See Steve Cushion: Cuban Popular Resistance to the 1953 London Sugar Agreement, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London, Commodities of Empire Working Paper No.15, March 2010, p. 12
 Figures from the pro-Castroite publication of the US magazine Monthly Review Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy: Cuba. Anatomy of a Revolution, New York 1960, p. 74
 See Julie D. Shayne: The Revolution Question: Feminisms in El Salvador, Chile, and Cuba, Rutgers University Press 2004, pp. 115-134 as well as the interesting biography of Sánchez by Richard Haney: Celia Sánchez: Cuba's revolutionary heart, Algora Publishing 2005.
 See on this Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy: Cuba. Anatomy of a Revolution, New York 1960, p. 84
 See Celso Furtado: Economic Development of Latin America. Historical Background and Contemporary Problems, New York 1984, p. 288
 Former tenants, sharecroppers, and squatters got two caballerías of the land they had tilled free, and the owners of the land could be compelled to sell them three more caballerías for a total of five.
 See Celso Furtado: Economic Development of Latin America. Historical Background and Contemporary Problems, New York 1984, p. 287; Otto T. Solbrig: Structure, Performance, and Policy in Agriculture; in: in: The Cambridge Economic History of Latin America, Volume II: The Long Twentieth Century, New York 2006, p. 500
 Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy: Socialism in Cuba, New York 1969, pp. 111
 Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy: Socialism in Cuba, New York 1969, p. 112, our calculations
 Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy: Socialism in Cuba, New York 1969, pp. 112-113
 Tony Cliff: Die Ursprünge der Internationalen Sozialisten, Frankfurt a.M. 2000, p. 69; in English: Tony Cliff: Deflected Permanent Revolution, International Socialism (1st series), No.12, Spring 1963, (1963), http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1963/xx/permrev.htm
 Tony Cliff: Deflected Permanent Revolution, International Socialism (1st series), No.12, Spring 1963, (1963), http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1963/xx/permrev.htm
 Quoted in Steve Cushion: The Most Expensive Port in the World: Dock workers and the Cuban Revolution 1948-1959, Society for Caribbean Studies Annual Conference Papers 2010, p. 1
 Quoted in Chris Slee: Cuba: How the Workers and Peasants Made the Revolution, Resistance Books 2008 (DSP Australia), p. 16
 Steve Cushion: Working Class Militancy and the Downfall of Batista: the relationship between mass action and the armed struggle in Cuba 1952-59, 2007, p. 30
 Quoted in Chris Slee: Cuba: How the Workers and Peasants Made the Revolution, Resistance Books 2008 (DSP Australia), p. 29
 Quoted in Steve Cushion: Organised labour and the Batista regime: A British diplomatic perspective; in: The International Journal of Cuban Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1 (June 2009), p. 70
 On the history of the Cuban Trotskyists see Gary Tennant: Dissident Cuban Communism: The Case of Trotskyism, 1932-1965, 1999, http://www.cubantrotskyism.net/PhD/central.htm; The Hidden Pearl of the Caribbean. Trotskyism in Cuba, Revolutionary History Vol. 7, No. 3, London 2000
 Quoted in Samuel Farber: Revolution and Reaction, 1933-1960, Wesleyan University Press, 1976, p. 230
 Declaraciones del PSP: El PSP pide a los campesinos que impidan pro si mismo las ocupaciones de tierras; Considera innecesaria y peligrosa la Ley 87,” Hoy, 22 febrero 1959; quoted in Samuel Farber: Cuba’s Workers After the Revolution (Excerpts from his book “Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959”), December 7, 2011 http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=57178
 Luis Martínez-Fernández: Sugar and Revolution: 1952–2002; in: M. Pont (Editor): Cuba Futures: Historical Perspectives, Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies, p. 80
 Albert Manke: From Fighting Batista to Defending the Revolution: Mobilization and Popular Support for Revolutionary Change, 1952–1961; in: M. Pont (Editor): Cuba Futures: Historical Perspectives, Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies, p. 112
 Albert Manke: From Fighting Batista to Defending the Revolution: Mobilization and Popular Support for Revolutionary Change, 1952–1961; in: M. Pont (Editor): Cuba Futures: Historical Perspectives, Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies, p. 116
 Samuel Farber: The Origins of the Cuban Revolution reconsidered, The University of North Carolina Press 2006, pp. 133-134
 Samuel Farber: Revolution and Social Structure in Cuba, 1933-1959; PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1969, quoted in: Janet Elaine Rogers: Interpretations of the Cuban Revolution, Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5282, 1974, p. 114
 Quoted in G.S. Prentzas: The Cuban Revolution, Infobase Learning 2012, p. 73
 Samuel Farber: The Origins of the Cuban Revolution reconsidered, The University of North Carolina Press 2006, pp. 79-80; Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy: Cuba. Anatomy of a Revolution, New York 1960, p. 86
 Quoted in Robert O. Kirkland: Observing Our Hermanos de Armas: U.S. Military Attachés in Guatemala, Cuba, and Bolivia, 1950-1964. Latin American Studies: Social Sciences and Law. New York/London: Routledge 2003, p. 88
 See Celso Furtado: Economic Development of Latin America. Historical Background and Contemporary Problems, New York 1984, p. 289
 See Jorge Dominguez: Cuba since 1959; in: The Cambridge History of Latin America, Volume VII, Latin America since 1930: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, New York 1990, p. 462
 On the chronology of the failed CIA invasion see Alejandro de Quesada: The Bay of Pigs. Cuba 1961, Osprey Publishing 2009.
 Jorge I. Dominguez: U.S.-Cuban Relations: From the Cold War to the Colder War; in: Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997),p. 69
 Lieutenant Colonel Carl G. Roe: U. S. and Cuban Relations: Prospects for the Future, US Army War College 1991, p. 4
 Luis Martínez-Fernández: Sugar and Revolution: 1952–2002; in: M. Pont (Editor): Cuba Futures: Historical Perspectives, Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies, pp. 80-81
 Samuel Farber: The Origins of the Cuban Revolution reconsidered, The University of North Carolina Press 2006, p. 146
 Communist International: Theses on Comintern Tactics, adopted on 5th December 1922 at the Fourth Congress of the Communist International; in: The Communist International 1919-1943. Documents Selected and Edited by Jane Degras, Volume I 1919-1922, p. 427
 League for a Revolutionary Communist International / Workers Power (Britain): The Degenerated Revolution. The Origin and Nature of the Stalinist States (1982), p. 51
 Leon Trotsky: Not a Workers' and not a Bourgeois State? (1937); in: Trotsky Writings, 1937-38, p. 61 (our emphasis)
 In our predecessor organization we mistakenly thought for a long time that the decisive turning point to change the class character of a state was only when the character of the economy itself has changed. Consequently, this error was also incorporated in our book The Degenerated Revolution from the early 1980s. We ignored the fact that, for a given period, there can be a discrepancy between the class character of a state and of the economy. In fact this was also the case in the great October Revolution in 1917. While the state became a healthy workers state from the moment when the Bolsheviks took power in autumn of 1917, this lasted till spring and summer of 1918 when the bourgeoisie was expropriated and the central sectors of the economy were put under the command of the proletarian state. Similarly, the Eastern European states changed their class character when the Stalinist regimes became bureaucratic anti-capitalist workers’ governments and took decisive measures to expropriate the bourgeoisie and abolish the law of value. We overcame this weakness in our understanding at the LRCI’s V. Congress in 2000:
“Instead, we should recognise them as workers' states from the point at which the governments and states began to move decisively against capital and capitalism and to create bureaucratically planned economies on the Stalin model, i.e., in 1948-49.” (League for a Revolutionary Communist International: The error of the 'Moribund Workers State' - a correction, Resolution of the LRCI’s V. Congress in July 2000, in: Workers Power (Britain) No. 248, November 2000, p. 12)
 We refer readers to the useful summary of the Cuban Revolution in the chapter “Castro’s ’Cuban road‘ from populism to Stalinism” in the previously mentioned book The Degenerated Revolution, published by our predecessor organization, Workers Power (Britain) and the League for a Revolutionary Communist International.
 It shall be noted that while Che Guevara initially supported the repression of the Trotskyists, he later developed substantial criticism against the bureaucratization of the revolution and the conservative foreign policy of the Stalinist states. During this latter period, before he left Cuba in 1965 for his guerilla campaigns in the Congo and Bolivia, Guevara did his best to use his influence in order to help and free the imprisoned Trotskyists. (For more on this, see Gary Tennant: The Reorganized Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Trotskista) and the 1959 Revolution, in: The Hidden Pearl of the Caribbean. Trotskyism in Cuba, Revolutionary History Vol. 7, No. 3, London 2000, pp. 193-195.)
This of course does not mean that Guevara became a Trotskyist. He was rather a left-wing radical Stalinist who however partly transcended important characteristics of Stalinism – in particular his support for internationalization of the revolution opposed to the reactionary Stalinist dogma of “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism. Our criticism of Che Guevara’s political mistakes does not prevent our admiring his unlimited and selfless dedication to the revolutionary struggle against imperialism and capital. His personal example remains today an inspiration for thousands of revolutionary activists. This example is, by the way, also the personified negation of the corrupt, greedy and pro-capitalist bureaucrats who are rule Cuba today.
 For more on the repression of the Cuban Trotskyists by the Castroite government see chapter 7.1.2 The Activity and Suppression of the POR(T), 1960-65 in Gary Tennant: Dissident Cuban Communism: The Case of Trotskyism, 1932-1965, 1999, http://www.cubantrotskyism.net/PhD/central.htm
 Directorio Revolucionario (Revolutionary Direction) was a university-student based petty-bourgeois guerilla group which took part in the struggle against Batista.
 Hans Magnus-Enzensberger: Bildnis einer Partei. Vorgeschichte, Struktur und Ideologie der PCC, in: Kursbuch No. 18, Frankfurt a.M. 1969, p. 208
 Quoted in Peter Taaffe: Cuba: Socialism and Democracy. Debates on the Revolution and Cuba Today, published by the Committee for a Workers International 2000, pp. 65-66
 Janette Habel: Cuba: The Revolution in Peril, Verso 1991, pp. 58-59; In German: Janette Habel: Kuba: Die Revolution in Gefahr, Köln 1993, p. 91
II. Stalinism, Permanent Revolution and Capitalist Restoration in the Light of Marxist Theory
In the following chapter we will outline some theoretical considerations which are important for a Marxist understanding both of Cuba’s transformation into a degenerated workers state in the early 1960s as well as its recent return towards capitalism.
i) Trotsky’s Theory of the Permanent Revolution
A number of centrist, quasi- -Trotskyists claimed, and some still claim, that the Castro leadership led Cuba towards a healthy worker state, or at least one with some bureaucratic deformations, but which could be removed via some reforms and hence a political revolution of the working class was not necessary.
The United Secretariat of the Fourth International of Pablo and Mandel unconditionally supported Castro. Nahuel Moreno proclaimed himself a Castroite and said his objective was to create united Castroite parties throughout Latin America. In Bolivia, where Guevara was operating in 1967, Guillermo Lora, leader of the “Trotskyist” the POR, claimed that this “foco” was the vanguard of the Bolivian revolution. 
This was and is, of course, totally wrong. The fact that the Castro leadership not only oppressed the Cuban working class for decades but is also leading it now in a bureaucratic-authoritarian way towards capitalism, shows once more its non-revolutionary character.
The Castroite leadership never understood – and could not understand, due to its petty-bourgeois nature – and many quasi-Trotskyists ignored that only the program of permanent revolution could have avoided such an outcome. The Achilles’ heel of the Cuban revolution was the lack of a revolutionary workers’ party which could have led the proletariat and the popular masses towards the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, as well as the bourgeois state apparatus through working class power (workers control, soviets, militias, etc.).
It would also have meant to fight for the internationalization of the revolution – not via some guerilla foci adventures – but by building a revolutionary workers’ international. Such a new revolutionary International would have advanced the international class struggle instead of praising the Soviet invasion in Czechoslovakia in 1968, or politically supporting the treacherous Popular Front government of Allende in Chile 1970-73.
Such a program of permanent revolution is a key element of the working class program in the modern era of imperialism. It was developed by Leon Trotsky who elaborated it based on the experience of the three Russian Revolutions in 1905 and 1917, as well as various failed revolution like that in China from 1925-27. Understanding this theory is essential not only to understand the failure of the Cuban revolution, but also to find the way forward for the coming class struggles in Cuba and world-wide.
What are the central elements of this theory? Let us briefly summarize Trotsky’s concept of permanent revolution. It is based on the dialectical concept that the revolution cannot be divided schematically into stages which are separated from one another. This does not mean that there are not different stages in the development of the revolution. Of course, this is the case. But in all stages of the revolution, it is one and the same class which must lead the struggle in order to win the democratic, as well as economic, goals of the revolution: the working class. Naturally the working class must seek allies amongst the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie. But it is the proletariat and only the proletariat which can lead the struggle to victory. The reason for this is that the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie – regardless of their numerical size – are not classes that can act independently and, therefore, they cannot play a leading role. They must rather subordinate themselves sooner or later under one of the two main classes of capitalist society – the proletariat or the bourgeoisie.
From this follows that during all stages of the revolution the strategic goal is to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, and not to take power in the name of any other class. While temporary blocs with sectors of the bourgeoisie cannot be excluded, it would be criminal for the working class to subordinate its goals and interests so as not to wreck a potential alliance with such bourgeois forces. It would be even more criminal to support the taking of power by bourgeois forces. Every sector of the semi-colonial bourgeoisie will look for a compromise with imperialism and thereby betray the working class and the popular masses.
The theory of permanent revolution assumes that, if the revolution is not continued up to the socialist seizure of power, it will inevitably end with the victory of the ruling class and a counter-revolution. Similarly, the theory of permanent revolution maintains that the revolution cannot remain victorious in a single country (as Stalin claimed), but must spread internationally. The modern economy, especially in the age of global capitalism, makes all countries dependent on the international exchange of goods, technology and knowledge. Moreover, sooner or later, the imperialist powers would not tolerate a victorious revolution in a single country. Marxists therefore support the strategy of Permanent Revolution not because it is more radical or ”exciting,” but because it represents the only realistic way to overcome the capitalist system and establish a truly socialist society.
In his book The Permanent Revolution, written in 1929, Trotsky explained the three basic elements of this theory:
”The permanent revolution, in the sense which Marx attached to this concept, means a revolution which makes no compromise with any single form of class rule, which does not stop at the democratic stage, which goes over to socialist measures and to war against reaction from without: that is, a revolution whose every successive stage is rooted in the preceding one and which can end only in the complete liquidation of class society.
To dispel the chaos that has been created around the theory of the permanent revolution, it is necessary to distinguish three lines of thought that are united in this theory.
First, it embraces the problem of the transition from the democratic revolution to the socialist. This is in essence the historical origin of the theory. (…)
The theory of the permanent revolution, which originated in 1905, declared war upon these ideas and moods. It pointed out that the democratic tasks of the backward bourgeois nations lead directly, in our epoch, to the dictatorship of the proletariat and that the dictatorship of the proletariat puts socialist tasks on the order of the day. Therein lay the central idea of the theory. While the traditional view was that the road to the dictatorship of the proletariat led through a long period of democracy, the theory of the permanent revolution established the fact that for backward countries the road to democracy passed through the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thus democracy is not a regime that remains self-sufficient for decades, but is only a direct prelude to the socialist revolution. Each is bound to the other by an unbroken chain. Thus there is established between the democratic revolution and the socialist reconstruction of society a permanent state of revolutionary development.
The second aspect of the ‘permanent’ theory has to do with the socialist revolution as such. For an indefinitely long time and in constant internal struggle, all social relations undergo transformation. Society keeps on changing its skin. Each stage of transformation stems directly from the preceding. This process necessarily retains a political character, that is, it develops through collisions between various groups in the society which is in transformation. Outbreaks of civil war and foreign wars alternate with periods of ‘peaceful’ reform. Revolutions in economy, technique, science, the family, morals and everyday life develop in complex reciprocal action and do not allow society to achieve equilibrium. Therein lies the permanent character of the socialist revolution as such.
The international character of the socialist revolution, which constitutes the third aspect of the theory of the permanent revolution, flows from the present state of economy and the social structure of humanity. Internationalism is no abstract principle but a theoretical and political reflection of the character of world economy, of the world development of productive forces and the world scale of the class struggle. The socialist revolution begins on national foundations – but it cannot be completed within these foundations. The maintenance of the proletarian revolution within a national framework can only be a provisional state of affairs, even though, as the experience of the Soviet Union shows, one of long duration. In an isolated proletarian dictatorship, the internal and external contradictions grow inevitably along with the successes achieved. If it remains isolated, the proletarian state must finally fall victim to these contradictions. The way out for it lies only in the victory of the proletariat of the advanced countries. Viewed from this standpoint, a national revolution is not a self-contained whole; it is only a link in the international chain. The international revolution constitutes a permanent process, despite temporary declines and ebbs.“ 
Such is the theoretical concept of revolutionary Marxism regarding the internal mechanics of the revolutionary process. However, these internal mechanics can only be actualized if a revolutionary workers party, which consciously understands and implements such a program, possesses the leadership of the working class. Indeed this was one of the major failures of various centrist splitters of the Fourth International which believed that the program of permanent revolution can be implemented by “unconscious revolutionaries” like the Castroites. 
But without the revolutionary party, the objective process of sharpening class contradictions based on the uneven and combined development of class forces and relations can never be transformed into an actual permanent revolution. When confronted with similar arguments about the “objective process of the permanent revolution” by left-centrist Stalinists in the late 1920s, Trotsky explained:
“In capitalist society, every real revolution, above all if it takes place in a large country, and more particularly now, in the imperialist epoch, tends to transform itself into a permanent revolution; in other words, not to come to a halt at any of the stages it reaches, not to confine itself up to the complete transformation of society, up to the final abolition of class distinctions, consequently, up to the complete and final suppression of the very possibility of new revolutions. (…) The Chinese revolution contains within itself tendencies to become permanent in so far as it contains the possibility of the conquest of power by the proletariat. (…) Now, Lominadze has made of the possibility of a permanent development of the revolution (on the condition that the Communist policy be correct) a scholastic formula guaranteeing at one blow and for all time a revolutionary situation “for many years”. The permanent character of the revolution thus becomes a law placing itself above history, independent of the policy of the leadership and of the material development of revolutionary events.” 
This is even truer today, after we have seen the failures not only of the Cuban revolution but also the one in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela and many other countries. Only a revolutionary party which understands and fights for the program of permanent revolution, can lead the working class to a successful social and political revolution.
ii) The Nature of the Stalinist Bureaucracy in a Degenerated Workers State
By providing an overview of the development and contradictions of the Cuban Revolution, we have shown how the Castroite bureaucracy – while keeping the control over the working class – was forced to move much further than it intended and to install a degenerated workers state. This poses an important question which caused, by the way, huge confusion amongst Trotskyite centrist tendencies: How was it possible, from the viewpoint of Marxist theory, for a petty-bourgeois populist force like the M-26-7 – which did not even pretend to follow the goal of creating a socialist society – to be at the head of a political process which had as its outcome the formation of a degenerated workers state and the movement’s transformation into a self-proclaimed “Marxist-Leninist” party?
To answer this question, we have to understand the class character of the ruling bureaucracy in a degenerated workers state. As Trotsky explained repeatedly, this bureaucracy is not a class but rather a caste. It does not, as a class does, own the means of production, since the bureaucracy rules on the basis of proletarian, and not capitalist, relations of production. Under such proletarian relations of production, the law of value – which is the basis of capitalism – does not dominate the economy. The bureaucracy is, therefore, not an exploiting class which appropriates surplus value (as the capitalist class does). Rather, it constitutes a social stratum which plays no necessary role in the running of the economy and the society as a whole. Thus, it parasitically appropriates numerous privileges because of its commanding position in the state.
“Embezzlement and theft, the bureaucracy’s main sources of income, do not constitute a system of exploitation in the scientific sense of the term. But from the standpoint of the interests and position of the popular masses it is infinitely worse than any “organic” exploitation. The bureaucracy is not a possessing class, in the scientific sense of the term. But it contains within itself to a tenfold degree all the vices of a possessing class. It is precisely the absence of crystallized class relations and their very impossibility on the social foundation of the October revolution that invest the workings of the state machine with such a convulsive character. To perpetuate the systematic theft of the bureaucracy, its apparatus is compelled to resort to systematic acts of banditry. The sum total of all these things constitutes the system of Bonapartist gangsterism.“ 
From this it follows that the ruling bureaucracy in a degenerated workers’ state is neither part of the proletariat (which the bureaucracy oppresses and robs), nor does it constitute a capitalist class, but rather possesses a petty-bourgeois character. Because of its parasitism and its conservative, anti-revolutionary role, both in the fields of international as well as domestic policy, it serves the world bourgeoisie. However, as long as it stands at the top of a workers state and administers and defends the proletarian property relations, the bureaucracy is not part of a capitalist ruling class but is instead a petty-bourgeois, counter-revolutionary defender of the workers state.
Trotsky reached these conclusions during the factional struggle against the Stalinist leadership. In early 1928 he wrote:
“The petty-bourgeois elements in the AUCP [Communist Party in the USSR] rule the party and the state, but they are obliged to base themselves on the working class and to oppose imperialism. They are heading towards concessions to the bourgeoisie. But a sharper onslaught by the bourgeoisie can create a decisive shift to the left in the party.” 
It is clear that a fundamental antagonism exists between the economic basis of the workers state – the proletarian relations of production – and its anti-proletarian, petty-bourgeois bureaucracy which rules the political super-structure of the state. To maintain its rule, the Stalinist bureaucracy necessitates a state apparatus which is immune from control by the working class and the popular masses and which can, to the contrary, be utilized against the working class to defend the bureaucracy’s privileges. Such a state apparatus, which is totally alienated from the working class, has therefore a bourgeois character.
Trotsky explained that such class contradictions between the economy and the state are not only possible, but had indeed already existed several times in history. In a debate with Burnham and Carter, two leaders of the Socialist Workers Party (US), in 1937 Trotsky wrote:
“But does not history really know of cases of class conflict between the economy and the state? It does! After the “third estate” seized power, society for a period of several years still remained feudal. In the first months of Soviet rule the proletariat reigned on the basis of a bourgeois economy. In the field of agriculture the dictatorship of the proletariat operated for a number of years on the basis of a petty-bourgeois economy (to a considerable degree it does so even now).” 
In the same article, Trotsky continues by comparing the ruling bureaucracy in a Stalinist workers’ state with the bureaucracy of a trade union:
“The class character of the state is determined by its relation to the forms of property in the means of production. The character of a workers’ organization such as a trade union is determined by its relation to the distribution of national income. The fact that Green and Company defend private property in the means of production characterizes them as bourgeois. Should these gentlemen in addition defend the income of the bourgeoisie from attacks on the part of the workers; should they conduct a struggle against strikes, against the raising of wages, against help to the unemployed; then we would have an organization of scabs, and not a trade union. However, Green and Company, in order not to lose their base, must within certain limits lead the struggle of the workers for an increase – or at least against a diminution – of their share of the national income. (…)
The function of Stalin, like the function of Green, has a dual character. Stalin serves the bureaucracy and thus the world bourgeoisie; but he cannot serve the bureaucracy without defending that social foundation which the bureaucracy exploits in its own interests. To that extent does Stalin defend nationalized property from imperialist attacks and from the too impatient and avaricious layers of the bureaucracy itself. However, he carries through this defense with methods that prepare the general destruction of Soviet society. It is exactly because of this that the Stalinist clique must be overthrown. The proletariat cannot subcontract this work to the imperialists. In spite of Stalin, the proletariat defends the USSR from imperialist attacks. (…)
Comrades B. and C. are completely correct when they say that Stalin and Company by their politics serve the international bourgeoisie. But this correct thought must be established in the correct conditions of time and place. Hitler also serves the bourgeoisie. However, between the functions of Stalin and Hitler there is a difference. Hitler defends the bourgeois forms of property. Stalin adapts the interests of the bureaucracy to the proletarian forms of property. The same Stalin in Spain, i.e., on the soil of a bourgeois regime, executes the function of Hitler (in their political methods they generally differ little from one another). The juxtaposition of the different social roles of the one and the same Stalin in the USSR and in Spain demonstrates equally well that the bureaucracy is not an independent class but the tool of classes; and that it is impossible to define the social nature of a state by the virtue or villainy of the bureaucracy.
The assertion that the bureaucracy of a workers’ state has a bourgeois character must appear not only unintelligible but completely senseless to people stamped with a formal cast of mind. However, chemically pure types of state never existed, and do not exist in general. The semifeudal Prussian monarchy executed the most important tasks of the bourgeoisie, but executed them in its own manner, i.e., in a feudal, not a Jacobin style. In Japan we observe even today an analogous correlation between the bourgeois character of the state and the semifeudal character of the ruling caste. But all this does not hinder us from clearly differentiating between a feudal and a bourgeois society. True, one can raise the objection that the collaboration of feudal and bourgeois forces is immeasurably more easily realized than the collaboration of bourgeois and proletarian forces, inasmuch as the first instance presents a case of two forms of class exploitation. This is completely correct. But a workers’ state does not create a new society in one day. Marx wrote that in the first period of a workers’ state the bourgeois norms of distribution are still preserved. (…) One has to weigh well and think this thought out to the end. The workers’ state itself, as a state, is necessary exactly because the bourgeois norms of distribution still remain in force.
This means that even the most revolutionary bureaucracy is to a certain degree a bourgeois organ in the workers’ state. Of course, the degree of this bourgeoisification and the general tendency of development bear decisive significance. If the workers’ state loses its bureaucratization and gradually falls away, this means that its development marches along the road to socialism. On the contrary, if the bureaucracy becomes ever more powerful, authoritative, privileged, and conservative, this means that in the workers’ state the bourgeois tendencies grow at the expense of the socialist; in other words, that inner contradiction which to a certain degree is lodged in the workers’ state from the first days of its rise does not diminish, as the “norm” demands, but increases. However, so long as that contradiction has not passed from the sphere of distribution into the sphere of production, and has not blown up nationalized property and planned economy, the state remains a workers’ state.” 
When Le Temps, the leading paper of the French bourgeoisie, commented on the reinstitution of symbols of ranks in the Red Army, that this move reflects a wider process in the Soviet Union and concluded “The Soviets are getting more and more bourgeois”, Trotsky wrote:
“We encounter such statements by the thousand. They incontrovertibly demonstrate that the process of bourgeois degeneration among the leaders of Soviet society has gone a long way. At the same time they show that the further development of Soviet society is unthinkable without freeing that society’s socialist base from its bourgeois-bureaucratic and Bonapartist superstructure” 
Trotsky’s analysis of the social contradictions in Stalinist states has important consequences for the program of the working class liberation struggle. Trotsky explained that the working class cannot remove the bureaucracy via a reform, via pressure from below, but only by a political revolution, i.e., an armed insurrection to overthrow the bureaucratic caste. At the same time the working class does not have to expropriate a capitalist class but rather has only to reform the economic planning. Trotsky elaborated the tasks of the political revolution in his major work on Stalinism – The Revolution Betrayed:
“In order better to understand the character of the present Soviet Union, let us make two different hypotheses about its future. Let us assume first that the Soviet bureaucracy is overthrown by a revolutionary party having all the attributes of the old Bolshevism, enriched moreover by the world experience of the recent period. Such a party would begin with the restoration of democracy in the trade unions and the Soviets. It would be able to, and would have to, restore freedom of Soviet parties. Together with the masses, and at their head, it would carry out a ruthless purgation of the state apparatus. It would abolish ranks and decorations, all kinds of privileges, and would limit inequality in the payment of labor to the life necessities of the economy and the state apparatus. It would give the youth free opportunity to think independently, learn, criticize and grow. It would introduce profound changes in the distribution of the national income in correspondence with the interests and will of the worker and peasant masses. But so far as concerns property relations, the new power would not have to resort to revolutionary measures. It would retain and further develop the experiment of planned economy. After the political revolution – that is, the deposing of the bureaucracy – the proletariat would have to introduce in the economy a series of very important reforms, but not another social revolution.” 
While Trotsky did not formulate it explicitly, it is clear from his writings that he expected the working class revolution against the Stalinist bureaucracy to be much more violent than a possible capitalist restoration overthrowing the proletarian property relations. The reason is that the “bourgeois-bureaucratic” state machine (i.e., police, standing army, bureaucracy) is not a proletarian instrument, but one of the petty-bourgeois Stalinist bureaucracy which is much closer to the bourgeoisie than the working class. Therefore the political revolution required not the reform but the smashing of the Stalinist-Bonapartist state apparatus. 
In one of his final articles on the Stalinist bureaucracy, Trotsky