Did Castro hold back Cuba?

Cuban sign reading: 'To fight against the impossible and win.'

Alongside his depiction as a “brutal dictator”, negative reflections on Fidel Castro since his death on November 25 have focused on his “mismanagement” of the Cuban economy and the consequent “extremes of poverty” suffered by ordinary Cubans. This caricature is problematic – not only because it ignores the devastating economic impact of the United States embargo over 55 years, but also because it is premised on neoclassical economic assumptions. This means that by stressing economic policy over economic restraints, critics can shift responsibility for Cuba’s alleged poverty on to Castro without implicating successive US administrations that have imposed the suffocating … Continue reading

Was George Orwell a Marxist?

OrwellBurmaPassport

In short, George Orwell was a socialist but not a Marxist. One does not always follow the other. Here is an account from Isaac Deutscher on the specific gap between the Anglo-Saxon Left and Marxism: Like most British socialists, Orwell had never been a Marxist. The dialectical-materialist philosophy had always been too abstruse for him. From instinct rather than consciousness he had been a staunch rationalist. The distinction between the Marxist and the rationalist is of some importance. Contrary to an opinion widespread in Anglo-Saxon countries, Marxism is not at all rationalist in its philosophy: it does not assume that … Continue reading

James Connolly: Socialism and nationalism

In Ireland at the present time there are at work a variety of agencies seeking to preserve the national sentiment in the hearts of the people. These agencies, whether Irish Language movements, Literary Societies or Commemoration Committees, are undoubtedly doing a work of lasting benefit to this country in helping to save from extinction the precious racial and national history, language and characteristics of our people. Nevertheless, there is a danger that by too strict an adherence to their present methods of propaganda, and consequent neglect of vital living issues, they may only succeed in stereotyping our historical studies into … Continue reading