Thursday, August 31, 2006

I am on the Weakest Link, Goodbye

Well this isn't socialist news as such, but it is news about a socialist - and hopefully not as dire as Galloway on Big Brother! For those of you who know me, I'm sure you're used to me making a twat out of myself. But if you want to see me make a twat out of myself in front of 6 million people, watch the Weakest Link on Thursday 7th September, 5.15pm BBC2. I'm sure this is going to be terribly embarrassing, and they'll cut it to make me look a complete idiot, but hey, it's all in the name of fun. I got a cutting remark in on her fox hunting, which they may or not let in. And I'm sure they'll be all to happy to name and shame me as a member (at the time anyway) of George Galloway's party. I won't tell you what happens, you'll have to watch and see, and I hope you all have a good laugh at my expense!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Why walk away?

I don't understand. According to Tommy Sheridan the "overwhelming majority" of SSP members support him. After his court case he told the Daily Record he was going to smash the "scabs" who failed to support his version of events; drive them out of the leadership. The 'SSP Majority' blog talks of "democratic renewal" of the SSP. The conference has been brought forward to October. So why has Tommy decided to walk out of the SSP. Is it not worth 'saving' the party he did so much to help build from the existing leadership?

Without commenting on the issues in dispute (I'll do that elsewhere) it seems extraordinary that the SSP can be abandoned so easily after years of work and success on the electoral terrain. The ostensible reason which Tommy gave was that there would be a long political fight with his opponents, even if he won the convenor election, and this would not be worth the effort. This is barely credible, because at this stage, it was clear that if Tommy won the convenor's position, then probably the majority of those he is in conflict with would have walked out of the party. Even though he has said he regrets using the label "scabs" it is scarcely credible that they could have remained in the same organisation.

The problem with a split such as this is that, given the absence of a party discussion, there is no political clarity on its roots. It was too much to hope that the two platforms, the CWI and Socialist Worker, would say no to Tommy's attempt to bounce them into leaving.

What will the working class make of it? Undoubtedly some people will draw the conclusion that those bloody socialists are falling out with each other again. They will now suffer the cost of the divisions which exist on the British level, with fractious organisations fighting each other rather than concentrating on fighting for the interests of the working class. It's a bloody disaster.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.

Well worth reading from Craig Murray (Although I am sceptical of his view of Striling University Communist party having comrades beaten up for not following the line, which sounds like unnecessary red-baiting embelishment to me)

As Britain's outspoken Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray helped expose vicious human rights abuses by the US-funded regime of Islam Karimov. He is now a prominent critic of Western policy in the region. this is what he wrote on his blog:

The UK Terror plot: what's really going on?

I have been reading very carefully through all the Sunday newspapers to try and analyse the truth from all the scores of pages claiming to detail the so-called bomb plot. Unlike the great herd of so-called security experts doing the media analysis, I have the advantage of having had the very highest security clearances myself, having done a huge amount of professional intelligence analysis, and having been inside the spin machine.

So this, I believe, is the true story.None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms.

What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests.Then an interrogation in Pakistan revealed the details of this amazing plot to blow up multiple planes - which, rather extraordinarily, had not turned up in a year of surveillance.

Of course, the interrogators of the Pakistani dictator have their ways of making people sing like canaries. As I witnessed in Uzbekistan, you can get the most extraordinary information this way. Trouble is it always tends to give the interrogators all they might want, and more, in a desperate effort to stop or avert torture. What it doesn't give is the truth.

The gentleman being "interrogated" had fled the UK after being wanted for questioning over the murder of his uncle some years ago. That might be felt to cast some doubt on his reliability. It might also be felt that factors other than political ones might be at play within these relationships. Much is also being made of large transfers of money outside the formal economy.

Not in fact too unusual in the British Muslim community, but if this activity is criminal, there are many possibilities that have nothing to do with terrorism.We then have the extraordinary question of Bush and Blair discussing the possible arrests over the weekend. Why? I think the answer to that is plain. Both in desperate domestic political trouble, they longed for "Another 9/11". The intelligence from Pakistan, however dodgy, gave them a new 9/11 they could sell to the media.

The media has bought, wholesale, all the rubbish they have been shovelled. We then have the appalling political propaganda of John Reid, Home Secretary, making a speech warning us all of the dreadful evil threatening us and complaining that "Some people don't get" the need to abandon all our traditional liberties. He then went on, according to his own propaganda machine, to stay up all night and minutely direct the arrests. There could be no clearer evidence that our Police are now just a political tool. Like all the best nasty regimes, the knock on the door came in the middle of the night, at 2.30am. Those arrested included a mother with a six week old baby.

For those who don't know, it is worth introducing Reid. A hardened Stalinist with a long term reputation for personal violence, at Stirling Univeristy he was the Communist Party's "Enforcer", (in days when the Communist Party ran Stirling University Students' Union, which it should not be forgotten was a business with a very substantial cash turnover). Reid was sent to beat up those who deviated from the Party line.

We will now never know if any of those arrested would have gone on to make a bomb or buy a plane ticket. Most of them do not fit the "Loner" profile you would expect - a tiny percentage of suicide bombers have happy marriages and young children. As they were all under surveillance, and certainly would have been on airport watch lists, there could have been little danger in letting them proceed closer to maturity - that is certainly what we would have done with the IRA.

In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.

Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Come and See

Someone once told me, and I found it true, that you don’t really know what love is until you have children. Similarly I don’t think I ever really hated the fascists until I saw “Come and See”.

Last night we showed this Russian war film at our regular socialist film night in Swindon, there were 15 people there including officials from the T&G and GMB, and members of the Unison branch committee. The 1985 movie follows a young and simple peasant boy through leaving his family to join the red army partisans, separated from them he passes through the circles of hell, as he experiences and witnesses the bestial degeneracy of the Nazi occupiers.

The film has been described as a Russian “Apocalypse Now”, but that is a lazy comparison. The surrealism of “Apocalypse Now” was quite studied and literary, whereas the dream like quality of “Come and See” derives only from the difficulty we have of believing what we are seeing. In any event the narrative structure of portraying war as a charnel house run by madmen, and viewed through the eyes of a simpleton witness owes nothing to Hollywood, and was first used in European literature in the 17th Century in Grimmelhausen’s deeply disturbing “Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch“ (rarely read in English, but well worth it, usually translated as “Simplex Simplicissimus”) and his slightly later “Ausführliche und wunderseltzame Lebensbeschreibung der Ertzbetrügerin und Landstörtzerin Courasche“ (Mother Courage).

Normally war films, even those that portray atrocities, present them in such a familiar format, that we are habituated to war, and blase to the violence. To a certain degree this was even true of “Shindler’s List”, where the conventionality of the story and the Hollywood sentimentality stood as a barrier from the audience really being traumatised. The remarkable achievement of Elem Klimov’s film is that there is no sentiment, indeed there is hardly any character development, we do not identify with the simple boy because we are manipulated to thinking he is like us, but only because he is a human being.

We all know that the Nazis burned whole villages, women and children in barns, over 600 massacres in Belarus alone, but only in this film are you in the barn. We all know that the Nazi Einsatzgruppen were cruel murderers, but in this film we see (all too believably) both the Bacchanalian sensuality of the carnage, but also the detachment that it was only a job, and one they believed ideologically necessary.

But neither is the film inaccessible or boring. It has a slow start, but the tempo accelerates throughout the film, and it is thoroughly spellbinding.

To return once more to the “Apocalypse Now” comparison, in that film (following the theme in Conrad’s book) the Kurtz character finds the horror of what he is capable of by leaving civilisation behind. This is a fundamentally racist account of colonialism, whereas in “Come and See”, as the Einstazgruppe rounds up the families and children for slaughter, they are playing a propaganda recording to the Russians that they will be transported to Germany, which is a civilised country where everyone has a toothbrush. The barbarism of war is a barbarism not derived from our primitive past, but the dark underside of our own society.

Today the killing fields are not in Belarus but in Iraq and Lebanon. Neither the Americans nor the Israelis are politically comparable to Hitler's Nazis, but war has its own logic.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Israel Attacks US

Great piece of satire by Jerry Ghinelli:

The government of Israel today launched a massive air assault on suspected terrorist targets along coastal cities of the United States of America. Termed operation Just Reward II, hundreds of Israeli fighter jets streamed across the Atlantic in precise formation and fired surgical air strikes at alleged terrorist strongholds in the heavy Muslim populations of Jersey City and North Bergen, New Jersey. The jets then continued south into Elizabeth and Newark, inflicting massive destruction in the densely populated northeastern US state. Reaction to the attacks was swift. President Bush asked for restraint, but stated emphatically that “Israel had the right to defend itself.” The President, who took an oath to defend the US and to preserve, protect and defend it against all foreign and domestic enemies, said that the fight against suspected terrorist sites and alleged al-Qaeda involvement, coupled with our close relationship with Israel, requires special sacrifices by the American people and special exceptions to both US and international law.Earlier in the day, the US Congress passed a unanimous resolution in both houses, backing the Jewish state. Even New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez voted with the 98 other US Senators, backing Israel’s right to self-defense. Claiming there were terrorists in New Jersey who had links to al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as other radical Islamic groups, New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer appeared at a UN rally just across the river from the Israeli incursion and pledged their unwavering support for Israel. “We are all Israelis now,” Senator Clinton proudly proclaimed.
Read more.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Protest at RAF Brize Norton

Carterton, Oxfordshire

This RAF base is being used to refuel American transport aircraft taking weapons to Israel for use in Lebanon.
This is active military support for Israel by the British government

Two protests.

Saturday 12th August
12;00 noon/ Protest at main gates
Organised by Swindon Stop the War Coalition and CND.

Saturday 2nd December – National Demonstration, assemble 12:00 noon in Carterton.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Police surround terrorist's house

I was pleased to see Kelvin, and Roy, two peace activists from Swindon, cooperating with the police seeking to arrest Tony Blair.

Police had erected a barricade at the end of Downing Street to prevent the terrorist escaping.

watch the Video.

Thanks to Simon Bridewell for Audio and video of the speeches at the demo.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Is this what democracy looks like?

Last Friday I went to BBC Radio 4’s “Any Questions” that was being broadcast from Swindon. What a curious and frustrating evening!

There were about 150 people in the audience, and I recognised well informed and articulate activists from the World Development Movement, the anti war campaigns, animal welfare activists and anti—ID card campaigners.. Indeed the warm up debate for 30 minutes before we went on air was lively and interesting.

During this warm up the new editor of the Today programme fielded questions. There were a number of probing and thoughtful questions, and the debate was engaging and passionate. I asked why the BBC had referred to the capture of Israeli soldiers as “kidnapping” whereas the seizure of almost the entire Palestinian government by the Israelis was described as “seizure”. He admitted that the BBC had been wrong. An Asian man asked why the BBC referred to legitimate political movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorists, and life long “Small is beautiful” activist, John Papworth, asked why the BBC news concentrated on trivia, while the big issue like the war and global warming were sidelined. What a prophetic question!

The panel was: Sir Max Hastings: right wing journo; Jackie Ballard, Director General of the RSPCA, and former Lib Dem MP; Roger Scruton, neo-liberal philosopher and local boy; and Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council.

The first question set the tone, that even on issues of war and peace, the BBC were taking a whimsical tone. “if Bush and Blair were being considered for sainthood, how would you rate them on a scale of 1 to 100”. That was as close to politics that we got all evening, and did give Max Hastings the opportunity for a passionate attack on Blair, Bush and the Iraq war.

But then it all went downhill. Jackie Ballard is barely sentient, and I have had pets more capable of insightful comment. Colin Blackmore was very well informed about the issue of animal experimentation, but had no real opinions on any other subject, and Roger Scruton was able to hide the depth of his libertarian politics behind the country gent, "law and order" persona he projects.

There were a number of problems. Firstly, despite the fact we know that several questions were submitted about Iraq, Lebanon, the labour party leadership, the fate of Cuba after Fidel, and other topical issues, the producers blocked all of those in favour of questions like: “what brings culture to a town”, and “Have clever clogs gone to the dogs”, or “has feminism done away with real men”

There were indeed questions about animal rights and ID cards, but everyone on the panel agreed with each other on animal rights, and despite being director of the RSPCA Jackie Ballard had clearly never thought about the issue. On ID cards, they were all in principle in favour, but none of them had strong opinions. This is very poor research on half of the BBC, picking questions that the panel were not able to truly debate.

The questions were also a complete stitch up. Although hundreds of questions were submitted, the first question about Blair’s sainthood was from someone clearly on first name terms with the local BBC, and two questions went to Matt Holland, a local self publicist, one of which he passed to his daughter. A local poet, Tony Hillier, told me his question had been given to him by the producers. Afterwards there was a lot of dissatisfaction from audience members that no serious issues had been discussed. What a stitch up.

There was also a problem in there being no politicians on the panel, so Roger Scruton was able to make racist remarks about immigrants during the question on culture, and outrageous comments about what women "really want" (to stay at home and be supported by their husbands apparently), as answer to a question on feminism, and yet no-one challenged him.

The other problem is that Any Questions follows the “Brain’s Trust” format, that the panel are experts and the audience are there to listen in awe at their wisdom. This meant there was no way of challenging the consensus of the panel, or bringing out the breadth of opinion over for example ID cars or animal rights that exists.

The Brain’s Trust was an phenomenon of the 1940s when they really did have the intellectuals of the day on the radio to debate, and the audience was much less educated. It would be hard to imagine that the BBC could find an audience less well informed or educated than Jackie Ballard anywhere in the world, unless they bought it from a garden centre. It also requires some genuine desire to debate, not just be pleased with the sound of your own voice. Roger Scruton for example is an intelligent and controversial figure, but he needs to be counterbalanced with someone who will take on his neo-liberal arguments.

Everything about the programme was second rate, they even had the B list Dimbelby to host it! It reflects the BBC's conception of democracy, where the great and the good pontificate, and the majority of the population are just there to clap.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Have things got worse in Russia?

In a recent comment to the posting about Cuba, SWP member Redaspie, queried whether there had been a drop in the standards of living in the former USSR, and the other Comecon countries. This is an interesting question, because whether or not there has been a social collapse in Russia is relevant to the debate of whether or not Russia was indeed state capitalist. It is also pertinent to Dave Broder' of the AWL who is arguing in the same thread of comments that he wouldn't be upset if the Cuban government was replaced by free market capitalism.

Using as sources those well known apologists for Stalinism,
Unicef, the World Bank and the BBC, we find that the world bank reported in 2000 that in the USSR overall incomes have dropped by 50%. In some regions, such as the Caucasus and central Asia, over half the population now live in absolute poverty - defined as living on an income of $2 per day or less.

Unicef report 18 million children on less than $2 per day, 60 million children in poverty.
Unicef reports; "In Central Asian countries less than half of 15-to-18-year-olds now attend secondary school. Ten years ago more than two-thirds attended. " There were also at least one million displaced as refugess by war within the borders of the former USSR.

World bank: "
Since the poverty levels peaked in 1999 at 41.5%, poverty was cut in half by 2002 to 19.6%. About 30 million people have improved their financial standing, however the number of people in poverty is still high - every fifth Russian lives well below the official poverty line. According to the World Bank, the most vulnerable group was the rural population. About 30.4% of the rural population lives in poverty, while 15.7% of the urban population is poor. Children under 16 have a higher incidence of poverty, about 25%. According to the report, the North Caucasus, South Siberia and parts of Central Russia are the poorest regions in Russia."

Alexandra Ochirova, the chairperson of the Chamber’s committee (A Kremlin initiated committee) on social development said 20 million Russians live below the subsistence level, and this accounts for 15 or more percent the population. More specifically, one Russian in seven cannot meet even his or her basic demands for food and clothing.
Poverty in Russia is very special for the fact it embraces not only separate sections of the able-bodied population, but more importantly, the ones who have employment,” Ochirova said. “These are mostly workers on government payroll, as well as children aged younger than 16 years old, the disabled and pensioners,” she said. But the most dangerous type of impoverishment is poverty among single mothers. “It’s neediness reproducing neediness,” Ochirova said. A gap in population’s earnings remains huge, too, as the incomes of 80% population decrease all the time while those of the remaining 20% continue growing"

"Russia is a unique country where poverty strikes the working population,” says Mikhail Shmakov, the president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions. “Poverty is multiplying since the government, the country’s biggest employer, curbs a growth of wages,”

In a report to US Congress on economic state of Russia; “In January 2005, the Russian government monetized many previously in-kind social benefits for retirees, military personnel, and state employees. The cash payments, however, only partly compensated for the lost benefits. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia experienced widespread economic dislocation and a drop of close to 50% in GDP. Conditions worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States impoverished much of the population, some 15% of which is still living below the government’s official (very low) poverty level. Russia is also plagued by environmental degradation and ecological catastrophes of staggering proportions; the near-collapse of the health system; sharp declines in life expectancy and the birth rate; and widespread organized crime and corruption. The population has fallen by over 5 million in the past decade, despite net in-migration of 5 million from other former Soviet republics.”

Another interesting source is the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration: “Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, that country’s economic and social system worked in a practical sense — meaning most people had a place to live and food to eat. Although standards of living were below those in the West, particularly in housing, daily life was predictable. The Soviet leadership was legitimately able to say that their form of socialism had succeeded in virtually eliminating the kind of poverty that existed in Czarist Russia. Russian citizens now live in different times. The country’s transformation to a more open economic system has created, temporarily at least, a large, new group of people in poverty.”

The recent TV series following 21 year olds from the former USSR (you know one of those progs that follow people every 7 years) was heartbreaking. Whole towns that previously had viable industries now at a subsistence level. There was an interesting report recently on the BBC about how there has been a disastrous collapse of bio-diversity in Siberia, as in eastern Russia people have had to return to hunting for basic subsistence.

In the former DDR, comprehenisve education lost, rent controlled apartments lost, full employment lost. abortion rights reduced, full employment lost. Former citizens of the DDR discriminated against as their academic qualifications not recognised, paid lower wages than Wessies, etc. Yugoslavia has been consumed by ethnic conflict.

Even if we take one of the economic success stories, Lithuania, we find that country is the biggest source of women traded as slaves into prostitution, according to the
International labour organisation. Hungary has become a centre for exploitation sex tourism.

Whe comrades talk about the restoration of capitalism in the former Comecon countries as just a shift in the mode of exploitation, or a "step sideways", perhaps they should look at the real consequences?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Raul Castro speaks

This is the latest speech by Raul Castro, made in June this year. He discusses, in his capacity as head of the army, the view held by the Cuban government that in 2003 there was an increased danger of invasion by the USA, whose confidence was engorged by the ease of their onslaught on Iraq. That danger passed, but clearly the US government has its eye on intervening in Cuba should Fidel step down. Raul discusses this scenario.
(Raul pictured with Che and Fidel below)

“We should not forget that [the American government] have drawn up a so so-called transition to capitalism, banking on an end to the Revolution when its historical leadership is no longer here. For that reason they are maintaining the so-called Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba with a designated U.S. administrator and everyone to the front, like in the good old days of the Yankee cannons throughout Latin America.

“We are confronting an enemy whose obstinacy and arrogance frequently leads it to commit errors, but that does not mean that it is stupid. It knows that the special confidence given by the people to the founding leader of a Revolution, is not transmitted, as if it were an inheritance, to those who occupy the main leadership posts in the country in the future.

“I reiterate what I have affirmed on many occasions: the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution is solely and uniquely the Communist Party, as an institution that brings together the revolutionary vanguard and is a sure guarantee of Cuban unity in all times, can be the worthy inheritor of the confidence deposited by the people in its
leader. That is what we are working for and that is how it will be, the rest is pure speculation, not to call it by another name.

“Just as we have won all the battles, as much within Cuba as in fulfilling our internationalist duty, we shall overcome the enemy who tries to hide within our ranks, we shall further consolidate the Revolution and we shall make ourselves stronger on all fronts.”

The important point to note in this speech is that Raul stresses that Cuba has a collegiate leadership – via the Communist Party – not individual rule by Fidel. Furthermore, by stressing the role of the Communist Party, Raul is dispelling any idea that the Army (his army) might take over the government. Although Raul is tipped in some quarters as an automatic successor to Fidel, the constitution requires an election of the 601 deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power, which then elects the Council of State, who then elects the President.

Within the Party there are those who favour taking the Chinese or Vietnamese road of opening Cuba to international capital. The faction around Fidel, including Raul, are opposed to that policy. It is highly unlikely that any succession to Fidel would lead to an open debate between party factions, but behind the scenes there will be manoeuvring, and Raul’s succession cannot be guaranteed.

But he may be the best candidate. Although he lacks the personal charisma and diplomatic experience of Fidel, he does have the authority of participation in the revolution. He has also proven ability, having been chief of the army during its victorious war against the South African Apartheid forces in Angola. Under raul's leadership, the Cuban army were also the only non-Arab country to ever fight rifle in hand against israel - when 1500 Cubans fought on the Golan heights during the 1973 war. He is also the candidate who embodies continuity of economic policy.

But he is also 75 years old. Long term stability requires that the Castro supporters in the party reach out and encourage popular participation in defence of the revolution.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Raul Castro takes the helm

By a curious coincidence today’s Morning Star includes an article by US activist, Ron Ridenour, concerning the future of Cuba, entitled “beyond the Crossroads”. He quotes Raul Castro from his 1994 speech “Si, se puede” (Yes, one can), which signalled "the start of a campaign against passivity, routine and bureaucracy."

Ridenour points out that there have been tangible signs of success. “In contrast to a plethora of prostitutes and hustlers, these opportunists are now rare. I never frequent tourist spots where some prostitutes are said to hang out, but there are fewer and they are not walking the streets. Some young men still hustle stolen cigars, but they are fewer and they are more wary of being caught.”

But Ridenour also poses the very good question: “If the working class was really opposed to "passivity, routine and bureaucracy," why did it not initiate its own campaign against them?”
As Ridenour explains: “This is so, first and foremost, because the working class does not control the means of production or the country's internal and external politics - not directly. Union leadership has some input at top levels, but union leadership is appointed by the top. There are no demonstrations without the top authorising and organising them. Strikes are not permitted, although technically not illegal. Communist Party directors do not allow real grass-roots debate about policies in the media. Critique only occurs when leadership decides to take up a controversial theme.”

There was an interesting article about this question in Counterpunch recently by Saul Landau (who made the 1968 film "Fidel") that while supportive of the Cuban revolution makes the point: "Young Cubans, on and off the island demonstrate high levels of culture, except when political themes arise; their eyes glaze. "After I returned from Vietnam in March, a Cuban friend asked about that country. Prospering," I said."Imagine, the Americans bombed them into the Stone Age and they're prospering. Not a bomb has fallen on Havana and yet we live like we're in the Stone Age."This habitual whine should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Cuba's investment in human capital did initially stimulate political consciousness. Cubans defended their revolution against a relentless US dirty war, because they understood their cause ­and their enemies. An anti-imperial and a class struggle! Through the 1970s, Cubans remembered the murderous practices and invidious capitalism of the pre-revolutionary era. Today, 75 percent of the population doesn't remember Batista's cruelty or US neo-colonialism. Lacking vivid memory and without having political input, they have grown tired of Party jargon and slogans that bear little relationship to their reality."

As Castro has recently passed power provisionally to his brother Raul, the important question is raised. To defend the revolution how can its mass popular base be strengthened? Raul is of course not the only candidate for taking the job, other possible candidates include: Vice-President Carlos Lage, Parliament Speaker Ricardo Alarcón, and Foreign Minister Pérez Roque.
But whoever takes over will they have to combat the cynicism that so many Cubans feel, and trust popular participation in debate. There is a need for a campaign for socialist democracy to defend the revolution.