Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC


Castro on Material Incentives

FL022215 Havana Tele-Rebelde Network in Spanish 1250 GMT 2 Dec 86

[Remarks made by Cuban president Fidel Castro during 1 December final
session of the deferred Third Communist Party of Cuba Congress at Havana's
Palace of Conventions -- recorded]

[Text] What I believe is that our people are disciplined people. People are
more disciplined when candy is distributed or when they have the illusion
of perception that candy is being distributed. Money was being distributed
everywhere. [as heard] We really went from one extreme to another, from a
complete rejection of material incentives -- we had this problem at one
time -- to a fetishism with money. There was a belief that all problems
could be solved with money. There was also a belief that mechanisms could
solve problems. This was another false belief. There was also the belief
that in a socialist society problems could be solved with mechanisms. The
political work was neglected. We began to experience a number of negative
tendencies. I believe that our party, the people who compose the political
vanguard of our country, militants and party cadres, are undoubtedly being
chosen among this country's best citizens.

What concerned me the most when I became fully aware of all these
tendencies was that they could corrupt the party. But fortunately the party
is [word indistinct] they could also corrupt the working class.
Fortunately, the working class is far from being corrupted. [Words
indistinct]...could have devastating consequences. [words distinct] What
the revolution has done is evidence of that.

Problems are not solved by making concessions, going backwards, and
inventing capitalist mechanisms. I am certain that socialism is not built
with capitalist mechanisms or with any other kind of mechanisms. Mechanisms
are tools for building socialism as I said here recently during the
journalists meeting. It is above all a political and revolutionary task. I
see mechanisms as tools to build socialism. Socialism is not based on any
mechanism or any blind law as capitalism is.

I mentioned some examples about how we have been playing with mechanisms,
premium payments, and other many things and see the consequences we have
had. I believe we need to continue using these mechanisms. I have said
before that we are not going to commit the idealistic mistakes we have made
in the past.

In the area of material production we have no other choice than to pay
wages commensurate to work [vinculacion]. Socialism is not only concerned
with material production but also with the area of for example services or
education. Could any of you imagine that we could solve these very complex
educational problems we have been discussing about with economic incentives
and mechanisms?

I ask myself if our country's public health problem could be solved with
economic measures. If we could begin to pay according to the number of
patients physicians see each day or by the number of surgeries surgeons

I ask myself and ask you that after the discussions we have had on
education, if there is a formula that will solve the problems of education,
which are so important, decisive, fundamental, in a way other than with
political and revolutionary work. Does everything we have discussed here
have a solution?

I ask if the problems experienced by hospitals, health service centers, and
everything we want to do related to that field could be solved with
economic mechanisms, economic estimates, economic incentives, payment
according to work, and things of that sort, we could end up understanding
what socialist ideology is and how socialism is built. I believe that those
who think that socialism can be built only with economic mechanisms and
economic estimates are making a terrible ideologic mistake even if they
knew by heart Karl Marx's entire three or four volumes of "Das Kapital."
There is no doubt about that, I do not have the slightest doubt about that.
Of course, we should consider these mechanisms as tools of [words

It would not make sense to pay -- we did it once -- port workers the same
whether they handle 10 or 3 tons [of cargo]. We cannot pay a tractor
operator the same way. That is the reality, we do not have that kind of
operator, we have not created a position like that one where he is paid the
same for plowing one or seven [?hectares].

We never did that with canecutters even during the worst idealistic times.
We never paid canecutters a set salary because what would happen is just
what Raul mentioned: People would come down from the mountains to cut cane.
That is a reality.

I believe that a new man, a socialist, communist man has to be created. If
we focus too much on material incentives we are never going to shape a
communist man. If we do not develop a fraternal and solidarity spirit in
men we will never shape communist men. [words indistinct]

When he referred to real salary, he is pointing out one of the
characteristics of socialism which is to distribute fairly. It is to take
care of the needs of all children regardless of the fact that his father
works more or less, earns more or less. We have to take care of all who are
ill regardless of the fact that their father earns more or less [repeats
himself] capitalism mainly depends on all those incomes. That is what
socialism and communism is about.

It has been proven and history has proven that in the area of material
production we cannot make the mistake -- we already made it -- on equality
of compensation. I believe that we even have to look deeper into what
communism is because the founders of Marxism could not finish developing
their ideas. I believe they did not aspire to develop all of them, I
believe they left room for other men to make their small or modest
contribution to the ideals of socialism and communism. But in the program
of controlled goods [programa de gotas] there are full warehouses and
people help themselves thinking resources are plentiful. I explained during
the UPEC [Union of Cuban Journalists congress] that in socialism not
everything can be based on the theory of plentiful resources. It also
requires an awareness to distribute the available goods.

In Marx' times current problems were not present. Natural resource
shortages such as minerals and oil did not exist. Pollution and many other
problems did not exist. So socialism and communism cannot be built in
today's world without developing a combination of material and awareness.

Because socialism and communism cannot be based on the concept of abundance
of resources, it does not reflect reality.

I am completely convinced that the development of awareness, education,
revolutionary political work, is more and more important in today's world.
We are fortunate to have the party.

Well, when the revolution triumphed we did not have the party, the party
did not exist. The party was created during a long period of time. It first
had 10,000 and later 20,000 members. It would eventually have 100,000
members. It is true that our members were selected very well. There was a
party and a leadership. A leadership was not [words indistinct] but now is
when we really have a party. Now is when we have a party [repeats himself].
It is a large party, and experienced one. This has been made evident during
the debates and presentations made by the comrades who are dealing directly
with the problems.