Monday, December 25, 2006

The Proving Ground of Communism

People in the Movement often point to Cuba as the shining example of communist theory gone right. There is an argument that because of the success of the Cuban system, it is undeniable that communism is not dead and can be successfully implemented, even in an increasingly capitalist/republican democracy world. They point to the cheap medicines, the success of socialist-oriented policy, and the survival of the Cuban economy in the face of American embargoes.

But I cannot say that I agree with the above statement. My first thought, when reading of the recent news of Castro's steady decline, was that the real test of Cuban communism is just around the corner. It must be understood that the success of the Cuban system can be attributed to one of either two things: the Communist system, or the leadership of Fidel Castro. Some might argue that it is a confluence of the two, that one would lead to another and vice-versa. Yes, I can agree with a point of view that states that these two factors are closely tied, but it doesn't do to simply argue chicken-egg on this point. One of these holds more importance then the other. And the question of "which one?" will be answered once one is removed. In the very near future, Fidel Castro will be replaced; even now, we see it in the increasingly present Raoul Castro. What will become of Cuba then? If the country can continue its isolation and practice of communist economic policies, then we can say with increased confidence that yes, Cuba's success was contingent upon its economic policies. However, what happens if it fails? It means that the system wasn't what really made the difference; rather it was the presence of an able and strong leader in the character of Fidel Castro.

Another problem with using Cuba as an example of success brought about by a politico-economic theory is that history has shown that economic success has no correlation between a system/theory and the actual state of the economy. In other words the system/theory of governance used in a country won't spell out success or failure for that country's economy. British monarchy in the 15th-19th centuries ruled the British Empire with absolute power. Not so much as God on earth as the British royalty in Buckingham or anywhere else in the world that was the British Empire. They didn't operate on free trade; they established ruthless monopolies, governed by the East India Trading Co. And they got rich, and until now, the exchange rate of the British pound in comparison to the Euro and USD is a testament of the success of that economy built by centuries of exploration, exploitation and monopoly. In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yu established an authoritarian regime. Today, they are one of the strongest economies in South East Asia. Last case in point is the dual success of two vastly different systems: India, with is free market federal system, and China, with its socialist party-dictated system. Both are experiencing rapid economic growth.

No matter what system is used, the success of a country is actually dependant on the people. You can't say that one system or political/economic theory is better then another. It all depends on how the people use a particular system to further the interests of their nation.

Communism? We'll see, but it's not as certain as the people in the Movement would like to believe.


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