Courtesy Reuters

Revolution in Cuba

DID the events of last August which put an end to the tyrannical dictatorship of General Machado in Cuba constitute a genuine revolution? If by revolution we understand merely the sudden shift of power from one man to another, the answer is clearly yes. Yet even with this definition, there is room to question how responsible a nation may be for a revolution characterized by anomalies both in its cause and course. Thus the revolution was produced as the consequence of the activities of a foreign diplomat, and its later developments continued in large measure to be conditioned by that same intrusion. To what degree do these facts detract from the genuine revolutionary character of the governmental change which has occurred in Cuba?

The answer depends on how strictly we define the nature of a revolution. There are revolutions and revolutions. There are simple transfers of authority of the superficial and factional type so common in Latin-American history; and there are revolts of more profound significance. Externally, every revolution worthy of the name is a process; that is, it is not one act, but a series of acts which describe an acute curve, with a preliminary phase of incubation, an apex moment represented by the revolt itself, and a decline toward normality, in which the revolutionary impulses finally achieve realization or frustration. Internally, every revolution is based on the imposition, by violence or otherwise, of an opposing will on the will of the constituted governmental authority. The classification of a revolution depends on whether this will is partial, merely that of a faction, or genuinely collective and national.

An examination, first in its external aspect, of the process of the Cuban revolution (which, it goes without saying, is still to be completed), leads to the recognition of a typical quality which predominates over the dubious elements in the situation mentioned above. The revolt itself consisted, as is well known, in the peremptory displacement of President Machado and his government by the

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