Sábado, 17 de Noviembre de 2018
Última actualización: 01:38 CET
Constitutional Reform

From the Nation-State to the Party-State

Caps for sale. (LISA REYNOLDS WOLFE)

From a legal perspective, the Cuban state is a historical/juridical aberration, an anomaly that runs contrary to reason, human nature and justice. This fact, downplayed or utterly ignored by academics, comes to the fore as a result of the new Constitution through which Raúl Castro wishes to burnish the image of his Party-State, which is, essentially, a poorly disguised version of an absolute monarchy, an illegitimate hybridization, as it does not emanate from the people’s will. And the Party/State did not arise as a product of the state’s natural historical evolution. Rather, it is false, imposed by force.

More than a thousand years before Christ, after the tribe disappeared as a form of pre-state social organization, based on groupings of numerous families, city-states were formed, fundamental in Mesopotamia and in Greece, with Babylon, Athens, Sparta and Thebes. In the Americas the Mayan civilization had Chichén-Itzá, founded in the 6th century, and in the Middle Ages, Florence and Bruges shone. Today there are some modern remnants of the city-state, like The Vatican, Monaco and Singapore.

Called a polis in Greece, they were comprised of peoples organised around one city and its surrounding agricultural and grazing areas, forests, and ports of trade. They were economically self-sufficient and sovereign, and defended their territory. Free men (there were slaves) were represented in their governments, voted, and were personally responsible for compliance with laws.

At the end of the Middle Ages the nation-state appeared during the Renaissance and, especially, after the Thirty Years’ War in Germany and the conclusion of the Eighty Years’ War between Spain and the Netherlands, in 1648. A new social order based on sovereignty, this time national, was established in Europe, reaching its full institutionalisation and blossoming in America with the Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776, and the Constitution of 1787. 

George Washington was the first head of state in history elected at the polls by the people, and holding the title of President. In the USA the rule of law was instituted, along with a genuine separation of powers, which harmonized the interests of the individual and the community, and the right to property, as a natural result of cooperation between citizens.

That is to say, inspired by the political, social and philosophical thought of the European Enlightenment, the complete modern state arose in America, before the French Revolution put an end, in 1789, to the Ancien Régime of absolute monarchies. In the New World, however, the heads of tens of thousands of citizens were not lopped off by the guillotine.

Currently, due to the technological revolution and globalization, something like an international state is forming, as countries and their inhabitants are more interconnected than ever. An early manifestation of this state of the future, no longer self-sufficient, and that cedes part of its sovereignty to the "group", is the European Union.

The hybrid deviation: "I am the State"

However, this historical evolution of the state, as explained, produced an offshoot: the party/state, which rose to power in 1917 following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. As soon as Lenin took power, the Communist Party swallowed up the state, and supplanted it. What had been a political party became something else, as party and state melded, a pattern that was repeated in the 35 countries where Communism was imposed, including Cuba. Those peoples subjected to "real socialism", in fact, regressed to a form of absolute monarchy, in which the state was everything and the individual, nothing.

The Florentine Nicolás Machiavelli, considered the father of modern political science, used the word “state” for the first time in 1513, in his book The Prince. He called it stato, from the Latin status, citing the concept of raison d’Etre to justify certain governmental measures, even if they were illegal, or abusive, to maintain the established order or to defeat enemies and dissidents. In this way Machiavelli pointed to the possibility of an authoritarian modus operandi, one which Marxism/Leninism embraced, as did fascism.

But none of the theoretical architects of the modern state –John Locke, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Jefferson, or even Thomas Hobbes or Machiavelli himself– imagined that one day a type of political party would cease to be so when it rose to power, and actually become the state itself.

The Communist Party/State of Cuba, forged by Fidel Castro in his image and likeness, is a massive state-administrative-ideological- paramilitary apparatus of a repressive nature, whose mission is to maintain the people’s "revolutionary loyalty" at all costs, through imperious social control, intimidation –whether covert or explicit, against activists or non-activists– and a constant barrage of propaganda.

If there is a regime that perfectly embodies the spirit of King Louis XIV of France’s famous statement "L'Etat, c'est moi" ("I am the State"), it is the Communist Party, in which the party is the state itself, the two being one.

A ruling Communist Party assumes all public powers, suppresses private property, and monopolizes the economy, the media, education, health, culture, and citizens' private lives.

Most Cubans do not know the names of any leaders of the Provincial Assembly of the People's Power, or of their municipal governments, but everyone knows the name of the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, who heads up the Party/State in every territory, and wields real power.

92.1% of the citizens, politically excluded

The tyrannical nature of Castroism is not only evident in its traits typical of a police state, but also because it excludes more than 90% of the population from political participation. Constitutionally, the PCC is the maximum expression of political power on the island, but has only 700,000 members (its membership has not grown in 20 years,) and the Union of Young Communists lists some 450,000 members, in a country with 11.2 million inhabitants. In other words, 9 out of every 10 Cubans are not Communists.

According to official data, the island now has 8.9 million adult citizens (over the age of 16), such that only 7.9% of adults are members of the PCC. The other 92.1% are not Communists. This minuscule number of Communists, however, constitutes an elite of privileged citizens, the only ones who can occupy the public positions of the Cuban State and Government, the Armed Forces, and the so-called “Parliament”. In Cuba there is no head of any office of any importance, or any representative, who is not a member of the PCC. 

Thus, Cuba’s Party/State does not represent all the country’s citizens, but rather only its first-class ones; that is, the members of the PCC. This means that just 7.9% of the population (working in the PCC) chooses the delegates who, every five years, at the Party congresses, "elect" the leadership, which, in turn, rules the nation.

One advantage of a dictatorial elite in charge of a political party turned-state is that it permanently invokes the raison D’etat postulated by Machiavelli, as the abrogation of modern basic freedoms in Cuba, abusive practices, and the marginalization of the people from political life, are all justified based on the "national interest".

Conclusion: there was more freedom and citizen rights in a Sumerian tribe 5,500 years ago, in Babylon, or in the medieval times of Charlemagne, than there is in Cuba in today.