....In a speech to party cadres and students at the University of Havana in November 2005, then Cuban president Fidel Castro addressed this challenge of communist leadership and political consciousness. He pointed not only to the consequences for working people and youth in Cuba of Washington’s decades-long military threats and economic warfare, but the social inequalities, political pressures, and corruption produced by Cuba’s inescapable immersion in the capitalist world.
“Do you believe that this revolutionary socialist process can fall apart or not?” Castro asked those present at the University of Havana meeting in 2005. When they answered with a resounding “No!” Castro replied: “Have you ever given that some thought? Have you ever deeply reflected about it?”
Earlier Castro had described in some detail the corrosion of proletarian solidarity in Cuba brought about by growing numbers of “parasites who produce nothing and just take”—siphoning gasoline from cars on the street, or from pumps at state-run filling stations, or stealing in myriad ways the wealth created by the labor of working people. He compared the incomes of these individuals to those of Cubans “working in factories, in industries,” in the electrical and water utilities, or even to doctors, engineers, or university professors.
Such theft of social resources and materials, Castro said, is not just “a present-day illness.” Nor is it simply a product, he said, of the Special Period—the term used in Cuba to describe the years of deep economic crisis and hardship in the 1990s following the collapse of Cuba’s trade with and assistance from the Soviet Union and regimes across Eastern and Central Europe. But the Special Period “aggravated” the situation, Castro said, because “we saw the growth of much inequality and certain people were able to accumulate a lot of money.”
“Were you aware of all these inequalities I have been talking about?” Castro asked those gathered at the University of Havana. “Were you aware of certain generalized habits?” Several minutes later, Castro repeated his question: Is the “revolutionary process irreversible, or not? What ideas or degree of consciousness would make the reversal of the revolutionary process impossible?”
Recalling “what has happened more than once” over the past century in countries where bourgeois rule had been toppled, Castro emphasized that “some people thought that socialism could be constructed with capitalist methods. That is one of the great historical errors,” he said, including of “those who called themselves theoreticians, blanketing themselves from head to toe in the books of Marx, Engels, Lenin and many others.
“That is why I commented that one of our greatest mistakes at the beginning of, and often during, the revolution was believing that someone knew how to build socialism.” No, that could only be discovered in practice by the combat-tested and politicized toilers themselves.
Due to the political consciousness of Cuban working people, and their readiness to defend their historic gains arms in hand, Castro said that the danger of destruction of the revolution comes not from an assault or invasion from U.S. imperialism. The Cuban Revolution, he said, has reached “the point where we can affirm today that our country is militarily invulnerable, and not because of arms of mass destruction,” which the Cuban government neither possesses nor aspires to develop or deploy. “We have a people who have learned to handle weapons. We have an entire nation which, in spite of our errors, holds such a high degree of culture, education, and consciousness that it will never allow this country to become their colony again.”
The revolution “can self-destruct,” however, Castro reiterated. “They can never destroy us, but we can destroy ourselves, and it would be our fault.”
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