The Cuban Revolution : A Critical Perspective

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(1902 - 1990) ~ Russian Emigre and American Anarchist Activist : He rode the rails for the Wobblies, sometimes as a gandy dancer (or maintenance man), or else hopping boxcars, and he always looked for the chance to stand in front of a crowd and, in that broken cello of a voice. (From :
• "The increasing complexity of society is making anarchism MORE and NOT LESS relevant to modern life. It is precisely this complexity and diversity, above all their overriding concern for freedom and human values that led the anarchist thinkers to base their ideas on the principles of diffusion of power, self-management and federalism." (From : "The Relevance of Anarchy to Modern Society," by S....)
• "Society without order (as the word 'society' implies) is inconceivable. But the organization of order is not the exclusive monopoly of the State. For, if the State authority is the sole guarantee of order, who will watch the watchmen?" (From : "The Relevance of Anarchy to Modern Society," by S....)
• "The very fact that autonomy, decentralization and federalism are more practical alternatives to centralism and statism already presupposes that these vast organizational networks now performing the functions of society are prepared to replace the old bankrupt hyper-centralized administrations." (From : "The Relevance of Anarchy to Modern Society," by S....)


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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff The Cuban Revolution: an Anarchist Perspective Between reactionary "pro-Batistianos" and "revolutionary Castroites," an adequate assessment of the Cuban Revolution must take into account another, largely ignored dimension, i.e., the history of Cuban Anarchism and its influence on the development of the Cuban labor and socialist movements, the position of the Cuban anarchist movement with respect to the problems of the Cuban Revolution, and libertarian alternatives to Castroism. Today's Cuban "socialism" differs from the humanistic and libertarian values of true socialism as does tyranny from freedom. There is not the remotest affinity between authoritarian socialism or its Castro variety and the libertarian traditions of the Cuban labor and socialist movements. The character of the Latin American labor movement -- like the Spanish revolutionary m... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff Castro's Friendly Critics From Waldo Frank to Rene Dumont The repercussions of the Cuban Revolution are still being felt in Latin America and throughout the world. The character of the Revolution is being passionately debated. Many of Castro's original leftist and liberal supporters who have witnessed the gradual degeneration of the Revolution into a totalitarian dictatorship have been forced, much against their inclinations, to accept this disappointing reality. In the process of accounting for the degeneration, these friendly critics clarify certain crucial facts about the Cuban Revolution which confirm the libertarian position, although most of them vehemently deny that this is indeed the case. Still others, the more fanatical pro-Castroites, in trying to explain the dictatorial measures of the regime, fall into the most glaring contradiction... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff The Revolution in Perspective: the Economic Background To arrive at an objective assessment of the character of the Cuban Revolution, and the validity of the claims made both for and against it, it is first necessary to examine the economic background. The information here assembled is meant to dispel widespread misconceptions and establish the facts. Cuba, the largest of the Caribbean islands, with an area of 44,218 square miles, is greater in area than Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Israel, Israel, Iceland, or Ireland. Its population in 1961 was 6,900,000 with an annual birth rate of 2.3% as against the U.S. rate of 1.7%. By the 1970s Cuba's population reached 8,400,000. About 73% of the population is white; 12% black and 15% mestizo. Density of population was 153 inhabitants per square mile in the 1960s. The island was densely populated, but because of the high prop... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff Structure of Power in Cuba In the first phase of authoritarian revolutions, the revolutionary elite (sometimes commanded by a personal dictator) seizes and consolidates power on the pretext that it is acting in the "name of the people." But in order to govern the country and carry out the decrees of the leadership, every regime must eventually institutionalize its power by creating a permanent, legally established bureaucratic administrative apparatus. To implement institutionalization, Castro, in 1970, launched the reorganization of his government and the drafting of a new constitution, proclaiming that the Revolution had now come of age and the people could now be trusted to more self-rule. Castro promised the enactment of measures to expedite the decentralization of his administration; expand local autonomy and worker's self-management of industry, demo... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff The Character of the Cuban Revolution A Non-Social Revolution The myth, induced by the revolutionary euphoria of the pro-Castro left, that a genuine social-revolution took place in Cuba, is based on a number of major fallacies. Among them is the idea that a social revolution can take place in a small semi-developed island, a country with a population of about eight million, totally dependent for the uninterrupted flow of vital supplies upon either of the great super-powers, Russia or the U.S. They assume falsely that these voracious powers will not take advantage of Cuba's situation to promote their own selfish interests. There can be no more convincing evidence of this tragic impossibility than Castro's sycophantic attitude toward his benefactor, the Soviet Union, going so far as to applaud Russia's invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, a crime certai... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff The Ideology of Spanish Anarchism To understand the character of Cuban anarchism it is first necessary to summarize the main principles of Spanish anarcho-syndicalism from which the Cuban revolutionary movetnent derives its orientation. These principles were formulated by Bakunin and the libertarian sections of the old "First" International Workingmen's Association (IWMA) founded in 1864. Francisco Tomas, one of the organizers of the Spanish Region of the IWMA, reported that "...relations with the Cuban sections were frequent after 1881..." (Max Nettlau: Reconstruir; Jan. 15, 1975) The Declaration of Principles of the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, drafted by Bakunin in 1868 could be called the "Magna Carta" of Spanish Anarchism. The most relevant paragraph reads: . . . The Alliance seeks the complete and definitive aboliti... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff Anarchism in Cuba: the Forerunners Both anarchist ideas and the development of the Cuban labor movement trace back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Even today's Cuban communists recognize that: spite of the efforts of Paul Lafargue (Marx's son-in-law, stationed in Spain) and other marxists, the proletariat of the peninsula (Spain and Portugal) were strongly influenced by anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist ideas. And these ideas carried over to Cuba in the last quarter of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th century, decisively influencing the Cuban labor movement which was invariable anarchist. . . " (Serge Aguirre; Cuba Socialista--a Castroite monthly--September, 1965.) . . . During the whole epoch (from the 1890s until after the Russian Revolution) it was the anarcho-syndicalists who led the class struggles... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff THE BATISTA ERA On August 12, 1933, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, former Ambassador to Washington became President of Cuba (he bore the same name as his father who the was the first President of the Provisional Republic of Cuba in 1869--see above) In spite of the all out support of the U.S., his regime collapsed after being in office only 21 days. Cespedes was overthrown by the famous "sergeants revolt" (Sept. 4, 1933) led by the then unknown Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar. Fulgencio Batista was born in 1902 in Oriente Province. His father was a peasant laborer on a sugar plantation. In 1921, he enlisted as a private in the Cuban army, where he learned typing and stenography. In 1932 Batista became a military court stenographer with the rank of sergeant . Batista's Revolutionary Junta took power on the basis of a democratic program summed up in the followi... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff Anonymous Heroes of the Revolution On a par with the vulgar display of Lenin's embalmed corpse, the deliberate deification of Castro and his tiny band of disciples in the Sierra Maestra obscures the exploits of the mass of anonymous heroes and almost forgotten resistance groups who brought about the downfall of Batista. After Castro's deservedly celebrated, ill-fated attack on the Moncada Barracks (July 26, 1953) the Matanzas garrison was stormed by a group of heroic young militants from the Autentico Party (April 1956). All the attackers were massacred and many have not yet been identified. There were many other incidents. Now, Castro brazenly and falsely takes credit for the daring assault of the Revolutionary Student Directorate on the Presidential Palace to kill Batista (March 13, 1957) in which all the raiders (including the leader, Jose Antonio... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Cuban Revolution A Critical Perspective by Sam Dolgoff The Cuban Revolution: Anarchist Eyewitness Reports The Cuban Revolution: A Direct Report by Augustin Souchy Augustin Souchy is a veteran German Anarcho-Syndicalist. He was a delegate of the German Syndicalist Union to the Red International of Trade Unions (a Russian Communist Party front set up to dominate the world labor movement) in Moscow 1921. During the duration of the Spanish Civil War and Revolution (1936-1939) he was in charge of the International Information Bureau of the Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalist National Confederation of Labor (CNT) and in other capacities. Souchy observed at first hand the rural libertarian collectives and urban socialization and wrote extensively on this subject. He is an outstanding authority on collectivization, cooperatives and other problems of agrarian organization. With the Franco victory in Spain and the coming... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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WHY THE ANARCHISTS BROKE WITH CASTRO'S REGIME Strangling the Opposition Press To explain why the anarchists were forced to break with Castro it is first necessary to depict the cruel, unbearable harassments which made it impossible for any of the opposition groupings to function. The situation is graphically sketched out by a consciencious eyewitness report in the following extract: (Yves Guilbert; Castro l'Infidele, Paris, 1961, pp. 174-180) [S.D.] [Fidel Castro said on television, April 2, 1959] "When one newspaper is closed down, no newspaper will feel safe; when one man is persecuted because of his political ideas, no one can feel safe." Officially there is still freedom of the press in Cuba. There is no law limiting the right of expression. However, Castro's dictatorship could not tolerate the existence of a press not entirely devoted to him... Shortly after the beginning of the [January 1, 1959] Revolution, Castro re... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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THI: I,O.SITION OF TllE; ('UBAN ANIAItCHISTS: tiE[,l:CTl-:D DOt UMENTS; 1960-1974] firJCt/Htent.$ spa/?t7itig the C f7Ut se O] thf' ('t/bfit7 Rel'O/tniOt7 cle'770//.5ttute t/7e con.sislent approach OJ tile Ct/17Ut7 anarchists 1owar the p/rJhlen'.s oJ the ('ubut7 Re~oltnion a.s .s'./t77/ttfiri~.erl in Ihe ~5'taten7ent ~/ Prhttip/e.s tfirst docu'77et1t) und in tize conti'/rIing stalen7et71, "Cuha. I?evabtti'~/' u/''l Counter-Rel~o/''tio'7. " .111 thf' selecled docu/?7ent.s emp/7usi~,e COn.5t/tlC'/il'e proposal.s und pruclical liberturiat7 a/ternatives tRJ dic tutot s/7i/7 f5t/itingly sin7ilat to the rec 0~7tulel7flutions of the note agronfJmIst unfl ecot70/ Rene D7/n70t7t and fJ'her qualified critics. (.see int/ oat/c tifJn). /'or the anarc hi.sts (and with thent a growing nt/t77her o/ co/7Cernef/ people) .socia/ist production¬sociali.st77 itself¬cant701 a.s the Slulement rJl Principles insists. . . "he 1,iewed as a simple lechnif al proces.s. . . (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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[missing] 153 hl(~~~) I ilC ( UhOll IU]CIS C\t'm boastUtl tilitt in rc.spt'ct to the htliltling of ~Onlmll!li~lll (diStlihUti()H, IC\OIUtiOllLtl! COIl.SCiOU.SneSS t)f the people C([Udli/;ltiOll 0f illCOHle, CiC.) ('uha W;tS [dl ;tilt'ad of the So\iet Ullioll. Ilui all attcuipts to insti~`ltc soti;llisil, bv declec, ts Bakunin iol-esaw O\el a CkiltUI! ago, Icads h~cvitahiv to the enslavemerit of the people by the alitilol-it;tl-i;til State. They tttcililit to builtl comrlutttisll~ lailed bUcau~c tilC ''ItC\\ .socialist nial1 Call bc formed only within the context of a utw; nti ficc society, based not upon compulsion, but upon volulit;tl! coopcr.ttiorl. The attempt i tiled because it was not mipielilelitcci by thoroltgilgoing libertarian changes in the authoritarian structure ot Cuball society. Collnnunization and forming the new m m acittally camouflaged the militarization of Cuba. Castro made this clear: . soda\ I can see an immense army, the army of a hi... (From : University of Virginia Library.)

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On the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba Since the text of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba arrived after the completion of this book, comment is included in the appendix. (English Translation, Center for Cuban Studies, N.Y. 1976) Although Article 4 of the constitution proclaims that " . . . all power belongs to the working people who exercise it directly or through the Assemblies of People's Power. . . " the constitution actually institutionalizes and perpetuates the dictatorship in much the same manner as the Constitution of the Soviet Union promulgated by Stalin. A few examples: [Article 66:] . . . State organs are based. . . upon the principles of. . . unity of power [and the totalitarian Lenin-Stalin principle of] democratic centralism... [Article 5:] . . . the socialist State. . . consolidates the ideology and rules of living together and of proper conduct in Cuban society. . . directs the national economy. . . assures the e... (From : Anarchy Archives.)


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The Cuban Revolution -- Publication.

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