A Modernizing Cuba Offers an Opportunity for Capitalists
Previously published on Jan 6, 2011
For a brief moment in the summer of 2010, we were reminded of the Elian Gonzalez story that a decade or so ago created great anguish among Cuban Americans. According to the now 16 year old EliÃ¡n, he is happy and a devout supporter of the Castro Regime. From the perspective of Cuban Americans and everyone else in our Country, he is a brainwashed marketing tool. Given recent reactions to issues like healthcare reform and the push to privatize socialist elements in our society, even though they have existed since the beginning of the United States, it would seem RaÃºl Castro is trying to reignite his brother's revolution instead of transitioning Cuba into a more democratic society while the world once again courts the pursuit of socialism.
Then again, it is important to remember communism is a dead husk of a ceremonial governing philosophy that serves as the front for a more benign form of dictatorship. While Cuba may grasp onto this structure of government for years to come, communist nations, China and Vietnam as bold examples, are only successful because they adopt sweeping capitalist reforms. For its part, Cuba is finally pursuing some capitalist reforms by phasing out somewhere around 500,000 public sector jobs in less than a year and allowing the private sector to take up the slack. Slow reforms have already helped Cuba modernize, especially in areas like biomedical research. Thanks to the Castro regime's successful focus on education, a thawing of diplomatic relations with the US could allow the Caribbean island to build a far freer capitalist system in a relatively short period of time.
Certainly, there will always be countries like Venezuela that will use their vast natural resources to profit then try to undermine all forms of capitalism and world powers like the US. In fact, every country does, and will, embrace socialist elements to improve the lives of their Peoples and create stability, but current and emerging capitalist principles will dominate the global economy. In the summer of 2009, "Wired" magazine published an article by Kevin Kelly entitled "The New Socialism" in which he looked at the effects of social media and projects like Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, and OpenSource to conclude a stateless form of socialism has developed. Although I am uncertain as to whether or not the use of the socialist term is accurate, the premise demonstrates why people in our society will not accept a Communist government nor a socialist regime that forces cooperation.
Meanwhile, I felt the writer needed to fully explore the evolution of capitalism in order to offer a more complete look at this reincarnation of "socialism." Profiteering in our modern world is not the same as it once was. It is important to remember an individual can contribute to the economy with at least three forms of capital: labor, novel intellectual property, and wealth. We have focused on the later form of capital over the past few decades, but hard work and innovative ideas are now more equitable in the globalized, well connected, constantly changing world of the internet. Unfortunately, we do a lot for free to get "paid" these days. Of course, traditional corporate structures shall have their place, but startups and smaller corporations will rule the roost. This means capitalism is also evolving toward a more individualized and customizable, yet more connected, industrial model.
Consequently, the socialism that survives in the Twenty-First Century will be the kind which compliments, instead of undermines, capitalism. The simple reason for this transition is that the modern person will not accept the notion that he or she has to obey the collective as everyone must be able to control the collective, i.e. we are looking for a far more democratic world. As for Cuba, the 2010 release of 52 political prisons, which was facilitated by the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish government, signaled a slight policy change under RaÃºl Castro that could be the seed for Cuba rejoining the capitalist International Community. Fidel Castro may continue to show his face, and age, in public for years to come in order to remind people Cuba is still his Country, but change will come very quickly once his generation of dying Communist superstars finally disappear. As such, capitalists must be poised to take advantage of that change.