[OPE-L:2292] Re: Re: Re:civil society

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Date: Tue Jan 25 2000 - 05:24:39 EST

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At 09:52 AM 1/25/2000 -0000, Paul C. wrote:
> > >Civil society is a euphemistic translation of the german, bourgeois
>> >is an equally valid one. So you are saying that socialism requires a
>> >democratic
>> >bourgeois society. Lenin believed it required a workers and peasants
>> >dictatorship. I would tend to side with Lenin.
>> >
>> Let's say we used the term "socialist civil society" (which I think would
>> be consistent with Jurriaan's intended meaning). What would the difference
>> be to what you identify as Lenin's position?
>We need some political common sense here. The slogan civil society
>was revived by the reformers in Eastern Europe who were consciously
>trying to re-establish bourgeois society.

        Yes, certainly. And, the funding of groups and institutions in order to
foster the development of "civil society" (through such conduits as the
National Endowment for Democracy) is at the core of US subversive activity
both as it was conducted in Eastern Europe (and, currently, Yugoslavia) and
also continuing explicitly in the "Track Two" strategy adopted in relation
to Cuba.
        Nevertheless, that does not negate the relevance of an alternate,
competing concept of "socialist civil society". Ie., why surrender that
terrain? Further, although you may not agree with its particular content,
"socialist civil society" is a concept that has been explicitly advanced in
Cuba--- as the following excerpt from the discussion document for the 5th
Party Congress (Oct 1997) indicates:

>The foundation of the Cuban political system is the election of district
delegates. The candidates are proposed and selected in meetings of
neighborhood residents; voting is free, secret and direct and ballot
counting is public. In order to be elected, candidates must receive more
than 50 percent of the votes. The delegates, who comprise the Municipal
Assemblies of People’s Power, periodically render accounts to their
electors, and can be removed from power by them at any time. Elected
representatives at all levels receive no pay whatsoever for this work. Our
electoral system is free of corruption, fraud, and the buying of votes. The
Party neither proposes candidates, nor elects them, nor removes them from
>This full democracy has upheld and continues to uphold our State of Law.
Not even during the most difficult moments or under the most critical
conditions in these years have we ever renounced the most widespread and
determined exercise of democracy.
>The guidelines approved by the 4th Party Congress, after an extremely
far-reaching process of consultation with the people, served as the basis
to modify substantial aspects of the 1976 Constitution and electoral
legislation. The election of National Assembly deputies and Provincial
Assembly delegates by direct and secret ballot was established; the fields
of jurisdiction of People’s Power and state administrative agencies were
more clearly defined; and the People’s Council system, the cornerstone of
the community’s participation in the solution of the problems facing it,
was generalized.
>The essence of the Cuban political system places emphasis on the authentic
incorporation of society as a whole in the decision-making process.
Discussion of matters of public interest, whether on a national or local
level, contributes to unity and is the starting point for the adoption and
application of practical measures.
>In this regard, there have been an ever-growing number of enriching
experiences, such as the community administration of the People’s Councils,
and the congresses involving unions, students and other mass and social
organizations, where the analysis carried out, with the presence of
government leaders, has served to define policies. There is a constant
promotion of the collective search for solutions, the distribution of
responsibilities, widespread social participation and control by the people.
>Mass organizations, social and professional groups and other kinds of
associations have provided a space and a channel for the interests and
concerns of all sectors of our socialist civil society.

        in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: Phone (604) 291-4669
        Fax (604) 291-5944
Home: Phone (604) 872-0494
        Fax (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810

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