Fidel Castro in Context
Such achievements are all the more notable given that they have occurred within a context characterised by imperial predations, a punishing economic embargo, and politically influential, belligerent hysterics from the Cuban exile crowd headquartered in Florida, a mere 160 km from the Cuban coast.

It is within this context that Fidel’s legacy must be analysed. And it is this context that grants him legitimacy as a symbol of resistance against hegemony.

Despite sensational braying over the decades about the Cuban menace, Castro never posed a physical threat to the US. Rather, the danger always lay in the example he set, which exposed the possibility of challenging the pernicious self-declared US monopoly over human existence – and for which he merits remembrance as a hero.

Noam Chomsky on Cuba

Cuba has become a symbol of courageous resistance to attack. Since 1959 Cuba has been under attack from the hemispheric superpower. It has been invaded, subjected to more terror than maybe the rest of the world combined–certainly any other country that I can think of–and it’s under an economic stranglehold that has been ruled completely illegal by every relevant international body, It has been at the receiving end of terrorism, repression and denunciation, but it survives.

If you look back at the declassified record and the problems that Cuba was posing and therefore had to be overthrown, one intelligence analyst said that “the very existence of the Castro regime is successful defiance of US policies that go back a hundred and fifty years”. He’s not talking about the Russians. He is talking about the Monroe Doctrine, which says we are the masters of the hemisphere. It goes on to say that this really dangerous as it offers a model that others might want to follow. That’s what is called “communist aggression”. You have a model that somebody wants to follow. So you have to destroy the virus.

Kissinger, for example, during the other 9/11–the one that happened in 1973–was concerned that Allende, with his democratic victory and social programs would spread contagion not only in Latin America, but even in Italy where the United States at the very same time was carrying out large scale subversive operations to try to undermine Italian democracy and even supported fascist parties in Italy.

Yes, Cuba is the symbol of successful defiance that accounts for the venomous hostility. The very existence of the regime, independent of what it does, by not subordinating itself to power is just an unacceptable defiance for the rest of the world. It’s a symbol of what can be done without using harsh conditions. It’s once again a case of those under the most severe conditions are doing things that others can’t do.

So, for example, let’s take Cuba’s role in the liberation of Africa. It’s an astonishing achievement that has almost been totally suppressed. Now you can read about it in scholarship, but the contribution that Cuba made to the self-liberation of Africa is fantastic. And that was against the entire concentrated power of the world. All the imperialist powers were trying to block it. It finally worked and Cuba’s contribution was unique. That’s another reason why Cuba is hated. Just the plain fact that black soldiers from Cuba were able to beat back a South African invasion of Angola sent shock waves throughout the continent. The black movements were inspired by it. The white South Africans were psychologically crushed by the fact that South African forces could be defeated by a black army. The United States were infuriated. If you look at the next couple of years, the terrorist attacks on Cuba got much worse.

But yes, it’s a symbol of successful defiance. One can have arguments about what society is like and what it does, but that’s for Cubans to decide. But for the world its symbolic significance is not slight.

Cuban Anarchism

“The regime was conducting this economic campaign with rigor, and had gone after all of the big businesses, ranches, sugar mills, tobacco fields, etc. In other words, it was confiscating all of the national wealth that until this time had been in the hands of the big bourgeoisie, national capitalism, and U.S./Cuban banking. The anarchists didn’t criticize these “nationalization” measures. What they opposed was state ownership/dictatorship over all of Cuba’s wealth.”
-Frank Fernandez

Friends of Durruti-Revolutionary Junta

As to foreign policy, we shall accept no armistice; and, when it comes to propagandising our revolution, we are of the view that that work must be done among the production centres abroad; not in any chancellories, let alone any cabals.

We must speak to the workers abroad in the language of revolution. So far the vocabulary of democracy has been employed. It has to be brought home to the workers’ organisations, to everyone, that they must act: to sabotage fascist production: to refuse to load raw materials or war materials for the assassins of the Spanish people. And that they must demonstrate in the streets, to demand fair treatment by their governments for the cause we defend, which is the cause of the world’s proletariat.
Our programme

Revolutions cannot succeed if they have no guiding lights, no immediate objectives. That is what we find lacking in the July revolution. Although it had the strength, the CNT did not know how to mould and shape the activity that arose spontaneously in the street. The very leadership was startled by events which were, as far as they were concerned, totally unexpected.

They had no idea which course of action to pursue. There was no theory. Year after year we had spent speculating around abstractions. What is to be done? The leaders were asking themselves then. And they allowed the revolution to be lost.

Such exalted moments leave no time for hesitancy. Rather, one must know where one is headed. This is precisely the vacuum we seek to fill, since we feel that what happened in July and May must never happen again.

We are introducing a slight variation in anarchism into our programme. The establishment of a revolutionary Junta.

As we see it, the revolution needs organisms to oversee it, and repress, in an organised sense, hostile sectors. As current events have shown such sectors do not accept oblivion unless they are crushed.

There may be anarchist comrades who feel certain ideological misgivings, but the lesson of experience is enough to induce us to stop pussy-footing.

Unless we want a repetition of what is happening with the present revolution, we must proceed with the utmost energy against those who are not identified with the working class.

After this brief preamble, we shall now proceed to set out the items of our programme.

I-Establishment of a Revolutionary Junta or National Defence Council
This body will be organised as follows: members of the revolutionary Junta will be elected by democratic vote in the union organisations. Account is to be taken of the number of comrades away at the front; these comrades must have the right to representation. The Junta will steer clear of economic affairs, which are the exclusive preserve of the unions.

The functions of the revolutionary Junta are as follows:

a) The management of the war

b) The supervision of revolutionary order

c) International affairs

d) Revolutionary propaganda.

Posts to come up regularly for re-allocation so as to prevent anyone growing attached to them. And the trade union assemblies will exercise control over the Junta’s activities.

II – All economic power to the syndicates
Since July the unions have supplied evidence of the great capacity for constructive labour. Had we not relegated them to a secondary position, they would have yielded a great return on the investment. It will be the unions that structure the proletarian economy.

An Economic Council may also be set up, taking into consideration the natures of the Industrial Unions and Industrial federations, to improve on the co-ordination of economic activities.

III – Free municipality
Prior to the coming of the foreign dynasties, municipal rights were defended with great tenacity in Spain. Such decentralisation precluded the erection of a new State system. And in this new Spain which the proletariat looks forward to, the charter of freedoms that went under at Villalar shall rise again. And the so-called Catalan and Basque problems . . . will be resolved.

The Municipality shall take charge of those functions of society that fall outside the preserve of the unions. And since the society we are going to build shall be composed exclusively of producers, it will be the unions, no less, that will provide sustenance for the municipalities. And, as there is no disparity of interests, there can be no conflict.

The Municipalities will be organised at the level of local, comarcal and peninsula federations. Unions and municipalities will maintain liaison at local, comarcal and national levels.

Towards a fresh revolution
The demise of the July revolution has been rapid. None of the revolutions generally regarded as the archetypes of social revolution experienced such a giddy decline.

There can be no theorising about events following one another in stages, because revolution is not yet a fact. It is imperative that the inexhaustive genius of proletarian Spain be tapped once again. We must go out and make a new beginning.

Revolutions occur with great frequency in our country. Sometimes they are embarked upon with out the requisite conditions being present and with no possibility of success. One has to be able to divine the precise moment, psychologically and insurrectionally speaking. The outcome hangs on the correct choice.

The phrase “equalisation of classes” placed in the context of the political, economic and social equalisation of individuals obviously implies the abolition of classes. The logic is simple. If both worker and capitalist shared the same economic and social position then wage labour would not exist (in fact, it would be impossible as it is based on social and economic inequality) and so class society would not exist. Similarly, if the tenant and the landlord were socially equal then the landlord would have no power over the tenant, which would be impossible. Bakunin agreed with Marx on the ambiguity of the term and the Alliance changed its Programme to call for “the final and total abolition of classes and the political, economic and social equalisation of individuals of either sex.” [Bakunin, Op. Cit. p. 174] This change ensured the admittance of the Alliance sections into the International Workingmen’s Association (although this did not stop Marx, like his followers, bringing up this “mere slip of the pen” years later).

“It is clear that the defeat in Spain was due to a failure not of anarchist theory and tactics but a failure of anarchists to apply their theory and tactics. Instead of destroying the state, the CNT-FAI ignored it. For a revolution to be successful it needs to create organisations which can effectively replace the state and the market; that is, to create a widespread libertarian organisation for social and economic decision-making through which working class people can start to set their own agendas. Only by going down this route can the state and capitalism be effectively smashed.”
Does revolutionary Spain show that libertarian socialism can work in practice?