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Chapter 4

Helen Desfosses and Jacques Levesque provide an insightful look into the aspirations of Third World socialism and its attraction in the decolonization and development processes:

We must recognize that in the Third World context socialism represents a search for a development model and a response to anti-imperialist sentiments. Furthermore, it provides a framework for coping with the dualistic mood of transitional peoples and leaders, who both seek and fear industrialization. In this sense, socialism can be defined as the "natural ideology" of a transitional society...In these countries, as in the Europe of a century ago, socialism promises the achievements and benefits of capitalism and industrialization, but without the exploitation that is attributed to the capitalist class....Thus, socialism responds to the love-hate attitude of transitional peoples toward industrialism: it holds out the prospect of rapid progress toward the wonders associated with development, and it presents someone to blame for the painfulness of the process.1
The anti-Western westernism that can be read into socialism - the fact that socialism, as Adam B. Ulam remarked, is "capitalism without the capitalists" - is also a great source of its appeal to Third World leaders. The nationalistic strivings toward independence and self-determination, toward economic and political developments, also involve a hatred of foreign domination and a desire to appropriate the technological and income levels associated with the West, without sacrificing the more humane values of the indigenous society. Socialism, with its Marxist emphasis on achieving capitalism without the profit motive, its Leninist emphasis on national liberation revolutions, and its Maoist stress on the revolutionary struggle between bourgeois and proletarian nations, satisfies the need of Third World countries to explain their backwardness and to fight continued oppression.2

It is also important to note that the adoption of socialism in Cuba and Mozambique was seen as the most viable option for development processes that required centralized coordination of the expenditure of scarce resources, a strong state to guarantee the implementation of social policy meant to eradicate sexism, racism, and classism, and to redistribute land and wealth so as to stabilize and uplift their populaces through equality of both opportunity and condition.

It should be clear from the evidence presented in this thesis that Cuba and Mozambique, were one, true socialist states, and two, existing under conditions where socialist development could appropriately be applied to eliminate the problems left by colonialism, and furthermore, to propel them into developed status. Hence, the application of socialism in the Third World should be recognized, because of its social successes and ability to address the wrongs of the past, as a viable development model for the global South. However, solutions need to be found to the problems inherent in the model, which, for Cuba and Mozambique, have been: the detachment of centralized authorities from ground level experience and expertise (as shown by the failed agricultural initiatives in Mozambique); the concentration of increasing amounts of money in social projects for the "sustenance" instead of the "progression" of the population through economic development from reinvestment of surplus capital (where in Cuba and Mozambique, welfare provision outstripped the capital earmarked for these programs because of inability to regenerate revenue); and the primacy of the ideological over the practical, in particular through the push for the creation of a "New Man," and the less than pragmatic economic policy choices that put solidarity and ideology over practicality (shown by how Cuba's economy had languished in sugar monoculture due to non-market based trade relations with the Soviet Union and how Mozambique excluded itself from crucial sources of income by shutting its borders to Rhodesia and South Africa).

Of importance to note here is that all the problems faced by these nations were rooted in scarce amounts of capital. While this is mainly a function of their status as Third World countries, this in itself can be deemed for the socialist South both an internal and external condition subverting development. The argument might, however, be made that because of these fiscal problems socialism can not survive in the Third World without Northern patronage, and therefore it is a faulty model. To this contention, I submit that liberal democratic governments in the South also face difficulties in financing their politico-economic system, due to the cost of extensive devolution of government and conflicting visions of development at all levels of a decentralized pluralist democracy, which spreads scarce resources thinly and often causes redundancy in the execution of government functions.3

Ultimately though, as this paper has shown, the socialist project needed by Cuba and Mozambique failed due to external factors rather than internal flaws in socialism as reflected in the problems with the domestic policies adopted by their governments. While it is understood that states, particularly in this information era, do not exist or survive in a vacuum, I believe that particular largely avoidable factors were introduced from the outside that created the cracks in the development projects taken by these two countries which fundamentally and crucially undermined what were otherwise viable and appropriate development projects.

It seems that foremost among these external factors are: the need to deal with colonial (and neo-colonial) levels of development; active subversion by a regional power, including war; and less avoidable factors, like weather, oil shocks, and the capitalist market. These have all proved to have done more to subvert development in the global South than irresolvable faults within the socialist framework itself as a development model.

What is to Be Learned
The goal of this paper was to note the early success that Third World socialist developing nations Cuba and Mozambique had in modernizing their economies and putting in place social programs aimed at the improvement of the lives of their citizens. While the projects ran into walls as most socialist countries did due to the overwhelming toll that centralized planning exacts, I hope that I have sufficiently proved that this path was desirable and that it was largely successful internally until external factors subverted the program.

In the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union and many other socialist countries, it is very easy to suggest that the flaws of socialism are inherent, as the majority fell within a 5 year window. The truth, however, is deeper than that, and as the name suggests, the Cold War caused these nations to engage in a battle beyond their borders which implicates the role of external factors. This was particularly the case in the resource strapped Third World nations whose conflicts with capitalist nations eventually became too expensive to carry on, especially when compounded by the fall of the socialist bloc.

It is my contention that through this paper I can bring to light the benefits of a socialist development path in the Third World by showing how it appealed to these governments, where its historical foundations already lay, and how its implementation did much to help the populations of these countries, so as to chip the surface of the axiomatic false idol of capitalist development as a universally beneficial and appropriate model. With studies like these we can hopefully open our minds sheltered in the relative peace of the post-Cold War era to the vast variety of development choices that do exist, whether in cooperation with neoliberal capitalism or in opposition to it. In so doing we can hopefully find models that fit the country rather than forcing countries to conform to the model.

Chapter 4: Notes

1. Helen Desfosses and Jacques Levesque eds., Socialism in the Third World (1975), v.
2. Desfosses & Levesque, vi.
3. See particularly the unpublished works of Robert Cameron, lecturer at the University of Cape Town, for a discussion of the costs of decentralization in the Third World.

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(1952- )
Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers. Also a member of the Cuban Communist Party politburo, vice president of the Council of State.