Cooperatives and Socialism: A View from Cuba

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Since there is no market for supply for the producers, they are state reliant for production resources. They are thus not realized as a state autonomous enterprises and are subject to an intermediate organization that dictates centralized decisions, such as the types and quantity of supply they receive, how much to produce, at what prices to sell at, what is worth investing into, among others. Harnecker UBPCs' have difficulty managing internal accounting and the lack of incentives for work given limited distribution of profits.

The profitability of a UBPC is influenced by the type of crop it grows, with those growing milk or sugar, for example, being less profitable than those growing livestock or citrus. Profitability is measured by the return on the investment measured in Cuban pesos. An UBPC that receives one peso of profit per 50 centavos invested is more profitable than one that receives one peso profit per 80 centavos invested.

Many of the current workers have middle class backgrounds such as doctor, technicians and bureaucrats that lost opportunity to work after the collapse of the Soviet Union. UBPC has both youth and retired citizens working with them. The motive that coop members do not own their land but neither have to pay rent is emphasized in Alamar. After working many years, the promotion and share system equates to a doctors salary.

New Cooperative Policy Big for Socialism

The work day is typically 8 a. In the summer the work day is only five hours. Their work is centered on sustainability, and incorporating the natural carbon and water cycles into the process of making biodegradable fertilizers such as earthworm castings and cow dung to reduce environmental impact while still keeping food production high. Along with environmental sustainability, UBPC Alamar has achieved greater gender equality by instituting a policy from the demands of coop members that allow one hours leave for mothers to take their children to school, day care or medical appointments.

Engels was an office clerk in the textile business of his father, who offered prospects of eventually leaving the younger Engels a hefty inheritance. GRD: Cooperative enterprises are often thought of as small and basic, but look at the example of the Mondragon cooperative experiment in northern Spain. There, the worker-owned factories are very large, automated and competitive — similar to other factories in advanced capitalist countries.

A View from Cuba

A derivative of Mondragon is the workers grocery chain Eroski, which constitutes the largest company of its kind in the country. So, as we can see, cooperatives come in all shapes and sizes. HT: Is a cooperative political republic actually the third option between capitalism and socialism, or is it a limited an oscillating concept of the petty bourgeoisie?

HT: In the failed experiment in the USSR, cooperatives under perestroika ended up being a bridge to capitalist enterprises when the communists lost political power. GRD: A reasonable theory would be to understand that — if workers must possess productive property directly and cooperatively in a socialist country led by a vanguard party that does the macroeconomic planning and coordination be it a restaurant, hotel, factory, bus company, etc.

But what I recommend for Cuba is largely the same as for my country. HT: They say that sometimes those sitting outside a game of dominoes can see the plays better than those playing.

Cubans approve new constitution affirming role of socialism | News | Al Jazeera

What do you see? GRD: The traditional management system in Cuba is the necessary byproduct of percent government ownership. On the other hand, if the same mentality retains its paralyzing grip, then we can consider the socialist state as being endangered, with brutal imperialism waiting in the wings to reassert itself. To contact Vincent Morin Aguado, write: morfamily correodecuba.

Thank you for what seems to be a thoughtful analysis. Who decides how much to spend on scientific research for breast cancer or childhood diabetes?

Self-employment

The point of my questions is without a free market and without the possibility of huge rewards associated with huge investment risks, how do the great advances or simple joys in society come about? It is the modern cooperative, state co-ownership form. This means that there would be pluralism with regard to ownership of the means of production.

Many enterprises would be privately owned, with deeds and all the sort of thing; but much of significant enterprise would be owned primarily by the working associates, on the Mondragon coop corporation model. A good proportion of enterprise would be owned by government at every level of course, and civil service employment might even occupy a quarter or third of the workforce. The socialist state, and the people through their government, would decide all sorts of questions as you raise about education, healthcare, environmental protection and cleanup.


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What will the government do? Force me against my will? Toss me in jail? Liquidate me? Those have been the solutions of all the other utopian systems thus far tried. Why would yours be any different? Uh, Griffin, you are misinterpreting. I apologize for not making myself clear—there is so little time and space in this comments section.

New Cuban Cooperatives

People in a cooperative republic would have complete freedom to join or not to join a coop. Also, they would have the freedom to create new enterprise, within normal law. A coop republic simply would return private property rights to socialist society, and eliminate the dictat of the Marxian, state monopoly deviation. You see, Griffin, P-J Proudhon came to believe, esp. That force, he believed, is private property, for it is the only force strong enough to counter-balance the raw power of the state.

Bourgeois thinkers had already came to the same conclusion regarding private property versus the state power. Proudhon also called for, and tried to establish, a bank of the people to extend credit without the evil parasitism of usury interest. It is no wonder therefore that the bankers knew he had to go, and Engels and Marx came in and struggled to do the job.

You wrote that private businesses not operating on a co-op model would not be allowed. Therefore, I would have a choice of either working for a co-op, or starving to death, given there would be no other legal field of work or enterprise.

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Your system is simply another version of totalitarian socialism. Suppose I were to go out and start my own business anyway, hiring employees and paying incentives for good work. I could out-compete your co-operatives and my business would grow. But your State would come by and shut me down. I would refuse to stop my business and your police arrest me, seize my property and toss me in jail. So much for freedom and human rights in your utopia. Put a law in place that any company that employs more than say 5 people every 5 years has to give its employees a vote as to whether they wish to take over the company as a cooperative.

If they vote yes, they buy the company from the current owner according to a formula ie reimbursing plus whatever is fair. On the other hand it might be taking over existing debt. The original owner then has a choice either to stay on as manager as long as the cooperative members are agreed, apply to become a manager of another cooperative or company, freelance as a consultant or even start another business. So Griffin no Gulag, just a vote.

And if you would rather have money-grabbing Moses rake in the profit it would be your choice. Exactly as I described it above: the erosion of private property rights. Who is going to force me? A fair price cannot be determined in a system where the owner is being forced to sell against his will.

Camila Piñeiro Harnecker: Cooperatives and socialism in Cuba

Utter nonsense, Griffin. This would even include landlords of any size, and here is the reason why.

The new society would seek social cohesion, and would try to refocus the energies of landlords and all sophisticated citizens on the tasks of building a new society. To achieve the cooperation of landlords, many of whom are highly able, patriotic individuals and families, the new republic would compensate any and all loses of rental property equity. Private property is, in a very real sense, almost sacred to us, and this would be protected in all cases. You shot it down in an almost juvenile way. So much for your ability to do creative thinking. Thank God that cooperative socialism does not depend upon your brain and heart.


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  • That last sentence is contradicted by the preceding 4 sentences. Well, there goes the freedom of the press! No watchdog to observe and report on the powerful. No means by which the public can communicate criticism, raise complaints or advocate for alternative ideas. You do not participate in a meaningful discussion. You falsify our proposal for a new form of socialism, then turn around and hurl names and insults at the false creature you have created.

    Perhaps my contribution to the discussion is a little too meaningful for you? Your twist or misquote everything I have said or believe. Your game is to try and discredit modern cooperative, state co-ownership form of socialism. You will not succeed, Griffin, and history will forget you. I think you are mainly pissed, Griffin, because our cooperative socialism discards Marxism; and Marxism, by perverting the socialist program as state monopoly ownership, is the main ideology that disorients the socialist vanguard and keeps it from ending monopoly capitalism.

    I am not in the least bit pissed, Grady. Are you projecting?

    I have found that utopians, leftists and anarchists tend to do that quite a bit. Compulsory purchase is acceptable and happens all the time. If the government wants to build a road through your land it will do exactly that.

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