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Soc 140 Lec Nov 27

Soc 140 Lec Nov 27 - Soc 140 Lec Nov 27 2007 Socialist...

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Soc 140 Lec Nov. 27, 2007 Socialist States: Cuba - Problem of Democracy - Constant External Threats - Silences/Contradictions in Marxism - Underdevelopment - Autonomous Institutions - Participation - Influence - Rectification - Post 1990 Changes - All of these various expressions of US interference both before the overthrow of Bautista and since 1959 have had a crucial impact on the political sphere in Cuba since that time. - A country under siege from the outside, in this case from a huge neighbor to the north, often reacts by delimiting the space for opposition (true for capitalist and socialist states). - Each and every country that has set itself on the course on the transition to socialism has experienced outside threats to its projects. It might be in the form of military aggression (Bay of Pigs, etc.) and economic strangulation (Cuban embargo). - This has resulted in a semi-permanent state of emergency. This presents us with a central paradox in the practice of socialism: Liberal freedoms such as a the freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, etc. must be a measure of democracy in a transitional society. - Yet, the emergency conditions that have consistently characterized these societies have meant that these very freedoms are adversely affected. - External threats have consistently compelled socialist revolutions to move in the direction of militarization, internal surveillance, and centralized and secretive decision making processes regardless of where they started out/their initial tendencies. This has been the product of external threats. - However, Carolle Bengelsdorf suggests that there are other factors in addition to external threats that we need to look at. In addition to an externally hostile environment, other factors have played a role in determining politics. She believes that part of the answer, the puzzle posed by the clear lack of participation by the majority of the Cuban population in the decisions that affect their lives. - Part of the answer to this puzzle to the lack of participation originates in gaps in Marx’s original writings on socialism. In those writings, the Marxist project of communism is infused with a profoundly emancipatory vision. That vision is based upon the dealienation of human beings in every arena of their existence. (when Marx wrote about society under capitalism, he spoke of alienation). - This emancipatory vision entails within it the idea of expanding the formal definition of democracy. At the center of the Marxist definition of the socialist society lies egalitarian popular participation. That egalitarian popular participation is directed at carrying out public policy in all spheres and also at controlling the process of production.
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