World Labor

How Cuba Sees the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union

By Walter Lippmann

Without the aid of the Soviet Union in the earliest years, Cubaís revolution would long since have been overthrown. The USSRís help was indispensable, but it had complex and contradictory consequences.

When the Soviet Unionís aid stopped after capitalismís restoration, Cubaís leadership had to make radical adjustments, which had their own complex and contradictory consequences. Thoughtful Cubans have had to ask themselves how and why the Soviet Union collapsed or if it was overthrown, how that happened. Fidel Castro has spoken about this, but this is the first time I am aware that Cuban scholars have prepared their own detailed study.

The book, 399 pages long, is a scholarly analysis of the process which unfolded there, and which of course is still going on as these lines are written. Itís not the first book which has come out here on the subject, but itís the most detailed.

This bookís first edition was launched not long ago and just about every copy was snapped up wherever it was sold. Hopefully another edition will come out here on the island. Iím sure that Spanish-speakers everywhere would find a lot to think about in this major work as the rise and fall of the first workersí state is a subject of enduring interest to everyone in the workersí movement.

Alan Woods, the well-known Trotskyist leader from the United Kingdom, made the preface to this Cuban assessment. His last book Reason and Revolution, a comprehensive defense of Marxist philosophy, as well as dialectical and historical materialism in light of modern science, written together with Ted Grant, is today available in major bookstores throughout the island, in a Cuban edition also published by Editorial Sciencas Sociales.

Alan Woods has visited Cuba, speaks Spanish and has presented his ideas to audiences here on the island on a number of occasions. Having myself spent many years active in the Trotskyist movement, I appreciate the very clear and thoughtful way in which these concepts are presented to the Cuban readership.

Cuba isnít going Trotskyist. The islandís ideology isnít in fixed and final form. It grows and evolves. But it does mean that today the views of these Marxists are available to be taken seriously by Cubans who are interested in these profoundly important matters.

Those on the political, revolutionary and Marxist left, who think Cuba is Stalinist, who refuse, as do some, to recognize that a socialist revolution has taken place, or who call for a political revolution to overthrow what they see as the islandís Stalinist bureaucracy, will have quite a challenge to explain how Cubaís leading publishing house could present to the islandís reading public a new, original analysis, based on their own research, and have it presented to the Cuban public—with an introduction from a thoroughly Trotskyist point of view. It should be interesting.

CubaNews is planning to bring out the first and final chapters of this most interesting book as soon as we can get the translations prepared and edited. Iím grateful to Jordi Martorell, a collaborator of Alan Woods for his assistance reviewing this translation.

I also hope that this book can find an English-language audience. Iím sure socialists, Marxists and Communists everywhere will want to learn how a pair of Cuban experts on these topics look at the fall of the Soviet Union, and what lessons they draw from the USSRís experience. Any readers who are fluent in Spanish and would like to help out in this effort are welcome to contact me at

Cuba News, July 11, 2006