Cuba: Revolution in Motion is published by:
Fernwood Books Ltd.
PO Box 1981
phone (705) 743-8990
fax (705) 743-8353
Available in paperback, $19.95 Cdn.
Cuba: A functioning alternative to globalization
By George Elliott Clarke
The Republic of Cuba was the first place I ever visited where most of the people look just like me and other Africadians - black, white, brown, mixed. It's special to me for that reason, but also because, as a Cuban says in Rosemary Sullivan's exquisite Cuba: Grace Under Pressure (McArthur, $50), the nation is "an alternative to what is happening in the world... There is less selfishness and more community effort (here)."
Isaac Saney, a professor in the transition-year program at Halifax's Dalhousie University, feels similarly. A native African-Nova Scotian raised in Trinidad, Saney's passion for Cuba and its attempt to forge its own way to communal prosperity and social justice is shiningly clear in his non-fiction, first book, Cuba: A Revolution in Motion (Fernwood, $19.95).
In 240 pages of researched, intensively analytical prose, Saney examines Cuban history, its government, its record on gender and racial equality, its legal system, its relations with the United States, and the "lessons" its development approach may teach other nations. This book is of urgent importance in a world dominated by an imperial superpower that, currently, seems to respect only its own rules, not those of international justice - or trade - and whose endless, reckless wars on drugs and terrorism endanger us all.
Indeed, it's a miracle that Cuba, constantly bullied by the next-door U.S., has survived, since 1959, as a separate state, and that it's still, despite the 1991 collapse of its Soviet backers, "socialist."
Saney seeks to understand how Cuba has maintained its special status as a "lone island of anti- imperialism, anti-capitalism and socialism in the so-called "age of globalization" and to explain the refreshed relevance of the Cuban Revolution "in the face of an unprecedented economic contraction."
One reason, says Saney, for Cuba's steady-as-she-goes progress, is "its unique democracy." Though "invariably portrayed as a . . . veritable 'gulag' . . . controlled by one man, Fidel Castro," Saney holds the government rests on "Poder Popular" - people's power: Cuba is "an island-wide parliament," providing, to cite Castro, "the democracy of the humble, by the humble and for the humble." Saney contrasts this mode with "capitalist democracy," wherein sovereignty "rests not with the people but with entrenched and powerful interests who utilize their control over (the government) to perpetuate their domination."
The erection of Cuban government on "workers' parliaments" assists efforts to end sexism and racism. Saney notes, "in terms of political representation of women, Cuba ranks first in the Americas," and it boasts subsidized "day care, maternity leave, abortion and family planning." Women dominate the nation's economy.
Blacks, suppressed by the pre-1959 governments, are now valorized: Castro himself declared Cubans "a Latin-African people." Moreover, as Saney stresses, "Cuba was the only country to send troops to combat South African aggression," thus "accelerating" apartheid's end.
Despite such commitments, Cuba remains, as Saney documents, a place where machismo and racism still exist. But here the government combats both relentlessly.
A law school graduate, Saney studies closely Cuban revolutionary law, explaining its occasional use of executions as the result of Cuba's "de facto state of war" with the U.S.
Documenting the history of U.S.-Cuban relations, Saney tells the secret plans, in the 1960s, for the U.S. to unleash "a wave of violent terrorism" against its own citizens, and blame it on Cuba so as to provoke a war. (This truth foreshadows 9/11 conspiracy theories.)
Saney concludes his text with the assertion that "the struggle to affirm Cuba's independence and sovereignty is inextricably bound up with the socialist project," a fact allowing Cuba to lead Latin America and much of the Third World in quality of life and economic growth.
For the rest of us, as Saney's text shows, the lesson of Cuba is that the global-capitalist society is not the only one available. There is room for independent paths chosen by aroused and informed citizens in true command of their own - I mean, yes, their own - governments.
George Elliott Clarke, a Nova Scotia-born author and poet, teaches literature at the University of Toronto. In 2001, he won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.
A Canadian Bestseller!
1st U.S. Printing Sold Out
Havana Book Launch Photos
The Dominion Paper Review!
This is the book we have been waiting for.
--Dr. Donald Bray & Dr. Marjorie Bray
It is the best textbook in terms of conveying what I want to convey to a class that I have ever assigned.
--Dr. Marjorie Bray
The Brays teach at California State University-Los Angeles and are founding
members of the prestigious journal, Latin American Perspectives.
I lamented that it had not come out in time to be THE required text for my
Special Topics In Cuban Culture And Society course. It is not just one of the best introductions to a much contested subject, but also one of the most thoughtful discussions; very political in the true sense of the word. I have been hoping for something like that to be available. Next Spring, I shall teach the course again, and will certainly use it as the main text. I am recommending it to everyone, particularly students with an individual interest in Cuba.
--Dr. Claudia Kaiser-Lenoir
Saney provides a most impressive sweep over the dynamics of survival and change in the Cuban revolution over the last decade. As a highly informative and insightful look into the Cuban Revolution today there is no book like it. It is a must read not only for Cubanologists but anyone interested in understanding not only how the Revolution has managed to survive decades of US imperialism and the most severe crisis in its history but the fact that it continues to work--and serve as an example, if not model, of a systematic alternative to world capitalism. Well researched and very well written.
--Dr. Henry Veltmeyer - Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada and co-author "Globalization Unmasked: Imperialism In The 21st Century"
Saney's book is a comprehensive and balanced primer on Cuba and the progress its Revolution has brought the Cuban people. It is highly readable for anyone interested in understanding that nation's ongoing struggle for social justice. In particular, his discussion of inequality and race is the best available in the literature.
--Dr. Cliff Durand - Morgan State University (Chicago) and coordinator of the Annual Conference of North American and Cuban Philosophers and Social Scientists.
Almost forty-five years have passed since the Cuban Revolution. Has it been successful? Has it failed? Have racism and sexism been eradicated? Is there criminal justice? These are only some of the issues that Saney tackles in this easy-to-read yet profound book in which he offers a rare insight into how Cuba, a small and underdeveloped island nation, has been able to respond positively to the social needs of its population. One of the many strengths of this seminal work is the perspective that Cuban society and the Cuban revolution is, and always has been, in motion - a dynamic process. It's refreshing to find a book that presents the Cuban revolution neither as finished product nor as panacea, that looks coolly and analytically at the achievements, errors, tensions and reflections that have characterized its fascinating history. In particular, Saney's treatment of race and racism in Cuba is one of the most thoughtful and provocative to date, especially on the intersection between their structural and attitudinal dimensions. Yes, racism and inequality are reappearing, but in what form? And why? And is it inevitable? Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Cuba and many visits to the island, Saney dissects the threads of these and other questions in a way that helps renew and animate the debate of race and class not just in relation to Cuba but globally. The author goes a long way towards helping turn around the massive disinformation campaign that has for so long surrounded Cuba, bringing forth all the weight, significance and resonance of this turbulent country in the process. Does a socialist model have something to say about sustainable human development? Can a tiny country find its way through the web of neoliberal globalization without compromising its autonomy or social gains? Is an anti- racist state inherently an anti-capitalist state? Saney touches on all these points and more, placing Cuba squarely within the world at large.
-- Susan Hurlich - A journalist and anthropologist who has been living and working in Cuba for more than 10 years.
This invaluable guide situates modern Cuba's economic and political institutions, its current problems and successes (including, significantly, in issues of race and inequality) in the context in which they must be understood... the implacable hostility of U.S. imperialism and the struggles of the Cuban people for a better world; Saney's book explains why, despite all its difficulties, Cuba continues to inspire people around the world.
-- Dr. Michael A. Lebowitz - Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University and Author of "Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class" (Palgrave Macmillan revised edition: 2003).