For some left-socialists like Farber, no society seems to have measured up since the Paris Commune of 1871. But patient readers will be rewarded by his frequent insights, stimulating historical comparisons, and command of the data relating to Cuba’s economic and social performance. Many have faulted Cuba’s Stalinist bureaucratic centralization, but few critiques are as replete with concrete examples of foolishness and foul-ups. Farber harshly criticizes Cuba’s treatment of blacks, homosexuals, and political dissidents and exposes the Castro regime’s practice of obfuscating policy debates through character assassination. But he takes seriously Raúl Castro’s economic reform agenda, seeing it as a variant of the Sino-Vietnamese model of state capitalism combined with political authoritarianism. The big winners, Farber speculates, could be senior officials of the Cuban military and the Communist Party, the foundations of a new managerial and technocratic class that could conceivably form an alliance with the more moderate wing of Cuban American capitalists based in Florida.
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