LIZARRAGA Fernando Alberto
Che and the socialist tradition. A reply to Mike Gonzalez
International Socialism Journal
International Socialism-Cambridge Printing
Lugar: London; Año: 2005 p. 144 - 155
Mike Gonzalez has launched a formidable challenge to all those who see in Che?s symbolism a guiding star for their political actions. Certainly, Gonzalez does not intend to adjust his arguments to mainstream feelings on Guevara. On the contrary, his latest book, Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution seems at first glance to be a harsh attack on Guevara and, above all, a scathing critique of the Argentinian?s conception of Marxism and revolutionary strategy. In what follows I intend to identify some topics on which my disagreements with Gonzalez are most visible, and I will try to offer some evidence for an alternative reading of these matters. To be precise, there are two points on which I would like to focus: first, Che?s understanding of class struggle and the role of the working class in the revolutionary transformation of capitalist society; and second, his idea that moral incentives were superior and more efficient than material incentives for the construction of socialism. In a nutshell, I hold that the Cuban Economic Debate was not only technical, but it was also political, and to be precise, it was a debate on the political economy of the transition to socialism. It involved more than arguing about concrete policies, it was about the nature of socialist and communist societies. Che defined socialism as a combination of high productivity and a new consciousness, without one being more important than the other. If he was committed to social need in the first place, in spite of dire scarcity, it was because he set out to build a communist society having in mind the distributive principle meant to rule that society, that is, distribution according to needs. This is not mere utopianism, but utopian imagination, an extremely useful mechanism to outline the desirable state of affairs and to choose the right policies to reach that goal.