by Jim Davies, 9/15/2010
Reportedly, Fidel Castro has said that the Cuban communist economic model hasn't worked. He said it in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg and in the context of his belief that American capitalism hasn't worked either, so it's not quite as ringing an endorsement of the latter as might be supposed after a quick glance at, for example, this Christian Science Monitor cartoon showing him as the latest Cuban refugee; but it's a milestone, nonetheless. The founder of one of the world's few remaining Marxist societies admits it doesn't work - something that's been obvious everywhere else for many decades. Better late than never.
During the same, last week his brother Raoul announced the layoff of an amazing 500,000 government workers in Cuba. The numbers are that 95% of everyone is employed by government, so this doubles the number working in private industry or not working at all. The change will still leave 90% in the "public sector", or some 9 million employees. Marxism leaves little room for free enterprise, and it shows. It will be fascinating to find out whether this doubling of the free work force, of the potentially productive sector, boosts the Cuban economy. Provided Raoul repeals a few shelves full of restrictive laws, I reckon it will; and he has made a start, by allowing the private ownership of land. If the US government allowed it, American investors could take advantage of that. But it doesn't.
Marx didn't invent the slogan "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" (it was coined in 1840 France by Louis Blanc) but he made it well known, and it's a fair summary of his sales pitch. It was tried, for 70 years, in the Soviet Union, and it miserably failed. When we think about it, the reasons are very clear: (a) to take from each person what he can provide means making him a slave, and (b) to give to what each person needs requires some arbiter to assess that need. Communism therefore necessarily involved the theft of labor and a massive bureaucracy to measure relative, competing needs. There can hardly be a stronger social foundation for total economic disaster.
In contrast the free market - a zero government society - lets each person do what work he wishes, and offer its fruits for sale to those who exercise a demand for them. There is no slavery, and "need" is expressed by sovereign purchasers, not arbitrary bureaucrats. There can be no stronger social foundation for maximum prosperity and harmony. Freedom is not only right, morally; freedom works.