- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Socialism, Freedom, and Cuba

Posted by: Nikhil Jaikumar ( DSA, MA, USA ) on August 09, 1999 at 00:49:58:

In Reply to: Cuba posted by Jason on August 08, 1999 at 14:08:56:

: : So professor, how does a nice capitalist paradise like Haiti stack up against the US? How about the Dominican Republic? Take a look at the poorest nations in the world... the bottom twenty or so are all capitalist ----holes. So what does that prove?

Correction, Mr. K. I agree with almsot everything you'e saying, but it is not true that the poorest countries in the world are all capitalist; not unless you adopt an unrealistically broad definition of capitalism. Many of these countries are really in a pre-capitalist, pre-socialist economic state. The list of the poorest countries, measured by standard of living, includes Burkina Faso (formerly communist, still socialist), Sierra Leone (pre-capitalist, pre-socialist), Afghanistan (stuck somewhere in the seventh century), as well as more capitalist-oriented nations like the former Zaire and Niger. What we should look at is not absolute standard of living but the rate of increase. If we do thsi, it seems clear that these countries saw tehir standard of living increase udner periods when they had socialist governments, and decrease or stagnate under periods of capitalism.

: The Dominican Republic and Haiti have always been poorer nations, and while I don't know enough about world politics to give an educated conclusion about why they are poorer, I doubt it is because they have capitalist economies.

Well, consider this. Indonesia is the worst-off country in SE Asia, worse off than Vietnam in spite of getting lots of American aid. (Vietnam, in contrast, was bombed more than any country in history and had its economy ruined by the war.) However, Vietnam has been a communist state while Indonesia has been a capitalist tyranny.

: Think about the US at the turn of this century. People were pooring in by the millions and many of them had no education to get high paying jobs. They came to the US for freedom and opportunity, which only a capitalist economy can provide. I wonder which country has more religious freedom: Cuba or Haiti/Dominican Republic?

Well, considering that the DR has an "established religion".....Honestly. The freest counrty in the world today, in terms of social, political and economic rights, is Sweden- hardly a "capitalist paradise". Communist Nicaragua, where the Sandinistas made an alliance with the Catholic Church, had far more religious freedom than Guatemala under the right-wing evangelist Rios Montt. Plenty of governments have synthesized the best of religion and socialism, including Tanzania, Zambia and Nicaragua.

: Cubans are not free because their socialist gov't restricts everything they do.

and over here the business class restriuct what we do. Do you ahve a preference? Why is it that when the 9th Congressional District in Massachusetts has a one-party election, it is upheld as a model of democracy, but when East Germany did the same thing, all teh conservatives screamed "Totalitarian!"

: The freedom promised US citizens by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution yields only to a capitalist economy.

See above. Sweden is the freest country in the world, and has a heavily regulated, socialist economy. India, the world's largest democracy, arguably with more religious freedom than the US, with far more choices among political parties, and with far more extensive programs to help minorities and disadvantaged groups, has a mixed, largely socialist economy. Namibia, considered to have one of the most free and liberal constitutions in the world, haqs a Marxist government. Come off it. It's been clear for a long time that democracy can thrive under socialism / communism, and now it should be equally clear that so can freedom.
How democratic is the American system, in which 2 parties monopolize the political system; in which you need to have money (and lots of it) to run for office or even to broadcast your views openly; in which minor parties do not receive public funding and major partoies do, guaranteeing Democrat - Republican dyarchy; in which the media is beholden to their corporate sponsors, ensuring that they adopt a reasonably pro-business line; in which Communists are often banned from acquiring citizenship; in which most peoepl don't even vote in elections; in which in many districts (inclduing mine) a candidate runs unopposed? Compare this to communist Nicaragua in '84, where every political tendency was permitted, from Marxist-Leninist to right-wing capitalist; where total freedom of speech was guaranteed; where every political party, regardless of strength, was given teh same amount of funding; and where the people, given the existence of seven different parties, resoundingly chose the Sandinista Front./

My knowledge about Haiti is evry poor, however I do know that the Dominican Republic was for about three decades under the thumb of a right-wing capitalist dictator, possibly the worst Caribbean tyrant of modern times. Today, Haitian migrants still work udner slave conditions in the sugar fields of the DR.

: In 1900, the standard of living in the US was more like a third-world country. However, the inovation, investment, and spread of new ideas and inventions that capitalism provides has improved the standard of living in the US to one of the highest in the world.

Actually, since the '30s, America has thrived under "liberal regulatory capitalsim" where the standard of living increases are due mostly to teh "liberal regulation', not to the "capitalism". As we get rid of welfare, prepare to see our health statistics worsen. Already, Americans live less long than Cubans; New Yorkers live less long than Shanghainese; males in Harlem live less long than in Sao Tome, Zimbabwe, or the People's Republic of Bangladesh.

:In 1900, it was a great accomplishment to graduate from high school, and today it's something that is basically expected. The US has about the best higher education system in the world today.

Yes, and its secondary education systemm, to a large extent, SUCKS.
Many people come here, are disgusted with the system, stay long enough to get their degree or doctorate, and then hightail it back to India, Europe or Korea.

:Wonder why Nike doesn't make it's shoes in the US? Might have something to do with the fact that American labor is just too valuable! The value of labor has increased, not decreased, with time under capitalism, and the same will likely happen in other countries.

Which would explain why real median wages have declined in America since the '70s....

: :What is unclear is the degree to which conditions within Cuba are mainly a result of poor leadership, economics, or the 39 year old embargo

: Poor leadership... that's for sure!

Evidence please?

: How about corruption? Mind telling me why socialist and communist governments seem to be infamous for corruption?

Actually, Nigeria and Indonesia, two capitalist paradises, are the most corrupt countries in the world- and socialist Denmark is the least corrupt.

: The embargo was created because Cuba was hostile toward the US. The US was protecting itself.

Oh, that's realistic. That makes about as much sense as saying that the SU was "protecting itself" against Imre Nagy in Hungary. It was the US that dropped biological weapons in Cuba, not teh other way around. It was teh US that launched an incvasion of Cuba, not the other way aropund. It was the US taht tried toa ssassinate Castro, not the Cubans who tried to assassinate Reagan. Cuba did get involved in a few foreign wars of liberation, for eminently justifiable reason; they helped fight apartheid in soutehrn Africa, colonialism in the Congo, a murderous dictator in Nicaragua and death squads in El Salvcador. Do you really think teh world woudl be a better place if Cuba hadn't gotten involved?

Thanks for listening,


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  • Haiti. Red Deathy Socialist Party Uk August 09 1999 (0)

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