Feedback: Cuban myths

Issue: 112

Samuel Farber

I am grateful for Chris Harman’s positive review of my book The Origins of the Cuban Revolution Reconsidered (Internatioanl Socialism 111). Nevertheless, I would like to address an issue that Chris mentioned almost in passing but which I feel requires clarification.

I don’t recall engaging in a polemic with Tony Cliff, or any other leader or member of the Socialist Review/International Socialism group, on the issue of whether ‘Castro was an enemy in the same league as US imperialism’. My opposition to both, then and now, has nothing to do with whether they are in the same league or not.

I do recall a tactical/political disagreement with Cliff that lasted literally a few hours. When the missile crisis of October 1962 broke out I went over to Cliff’s (and, of course, Chanie Rosenberg’s) house near the Arsenal tube station to discuss the situation. Initially Cliff supported the slogan put forward by the orthodox Trotskyists demanding ‘US missiles out of Cuba’. I, on the other hand, agreed with the slogan put forward by the anti-nuclear, direct action Committee of 100 for ‘all missiles out of Cuba’. As a number of comrades active in the Young Socialist newspaper Young Guard began to drop by the house, it became evident that they agreed with the Committee of 100’s slogan and not with Cliff’s. By the end of the day, Cliff dropped the matter and the group ended up supporting the slogan ‘All missiles out of Cuba’.

On a different subject, I want to note that my recent book is also available in paperback at £13.95, a much lower price than than the hardcover edition noted in the review.

Finally, I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiments expressed by Chris in his concluding remarks that ‘support for Cuba against US imperialism, its threats and its embargo must not turn into support for a Cuban model that offers nothing to the new revolutionary movements’.