One Salient Oversight sends this thought on gung-ho idealogists:
From the department of not a communist country:
Cuba is to put more state-controlled farm land into private hands,
in a move to increase the island’s lagging food production.
Private farmers who do well will be able to increase their holdings by
up to 99 acres (40 hectares) for a 10-year period that can be renewed.
Until now, private farmers have only been able to run small areas of
President (Raul) Castro, who took over from his ailing brother Fidel in February, considers reducing costly food imports as a matter of national security.
Since the 1959 revolution, some Cubans have been allowed to run small family farms. But most agriculture has been placed in the hands of large, state-owned enterprises.
…these (enterprises) have proved highly inefficient – half the land is unused and today Cuba imports more than half its needs. Rising world food prices will cost the country an extra $1bn this year.
The presidential decree was published in the country’s Communist Party newspaper, Granma.
This is good news. I think it was me who argued that the reason communism was so successful in Cuba was because it wasn’t communism. Of course, there is nothing in this that suggests long-overdue democratic reforms – but it does allow some level of economic freedom. I guess Raul Castro weighed up the advantages of increasing food production with the disadvantages of allowing a spread of market capitalism and worked out that food triumphed blind ideology.
The history of communism is very useful for us all to remember. Blind adherence to ideological dogma was based upon the assumption that Marx, Engels and Lenin were 100% correct in what they said, thus elevating them to demigods and their writings as inerrant and pure. But, as time went by, it became obvious that adherence to ideology did not result in the outcomes that were needed, namely a growing standard of living for all segments of society. Cuba, like China, has chosen the path of measured economic reform while maintaining a strong, authoritative government.
Raul Castro has obviously discovered that there is something good to be learned from capitalism. We who live in market-friendly capitalist economies also need to learn that there is something good to be learned from communism.
Update: Hat tip to PeoninChief for Raul Castro’s recent speech