The Problem of Democracy in Cuba: Between Vision and Reality

The Problem of Democracy in Cuba: Between Vision and Reality

The Problem of Democracy in Cuba: Between Vision and Reality

The Problem of Democracy in Cuba: Between Vision and Reality

Synopsis

Drawing on twenty-five years of first-hand research in Cuba, this book examines the relationship between socialism and democracy, in classical Marxist theory and in the practice of the Cuban revolution. While the author notes the role which underdevelopment and external threat have played in undermining the possibility for democratic socialism in this century, she focuses specifically upon a theoretical heritage plagued by silences, absences and simplifications concerning key political issues. In her application of this focus to the Cuban revolution, Bengelsdorf traces a pattern of confrontation with these absences around the issues of democracy. In this revisionist interpretation, she examines the succession of critical moments at which the question of democracy was raised and the nature of the leadership's response. She argues that the paternalism of the leadership in reining in possibilities it itself had evoked has been as destructive of the social project of the revolution as the dire economic straits in which Cuba finds itself in a post-socialist world.

Excerpt

A substantial portion of this book was written well before the world turned upside down at the end of the 1980s. Because of these tremendous changes, I found myself refusing to let it go, thinking that major revisions were certainly called for. What was perhaps most difficult and most agonizing for me was how little, in the end, I had to change. The chapters that lay out the theoretical framework of my argument remain much as they were in 1987, when the book was first accepted for publication, as do the first two chapters which deal with Cuba. The remaining chapters, which examine the jolting events and evolving trends and countertrends in Cuba since the mid-1980s, are, of course, of more recent vintage. Yet even as I wrote about the current situation on the island, I found it extraordinarily difficult to part with the manuscript: there is, in Cuba today, an overwhelming sense of impending change, and, typically as a North American, I realized I was awaiting the event. It took me time to realize the degree to which the transformation is already underway.

In sum, I have lived with this book for a very long time, gathering, as I went along, multiple debts. The first of these debts are to the people with whom I work, who have, without fail, provided the atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and personal support in which the book is rooted: I must mention here, in particular, Miriam Slater, Margaret Cerullo, Nina Payne, Jill Lewis, E. Frances White, Kay Johnson, Mitziko Sawada, Frank Holmquist, Michael Ford, Penina Glazer and Lynn Hanley. I am further indebted to the long list of people who have read, commented upon, and thereby helped me rethink drafts of the manuscript in earlier incarnations . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.