As part of the participation of the F Engels Foundation at the Havana Book Fair, Alan Woods was invited to speak at a number of higher education schools and institutions as well as to the leadership of the Federation of University Students (FEU).
We have already reported on the successful meeting at the Micro X student halls of residence. Later that same week, the president of the FEU at the same halls of residence gave us a very moving letter of thanks. They say that: “we cannot deny that this visit has had a great impact on us and we will remember it for the rest of our lives” and thanked us for having reported the meeting on marxist.com and engels.org.
On Thursday 19th, Alan Woods was invited to address students and teachers at the International School of Cinema and TV (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños. The school, located in the beautiful countryside just outside the town of San Antonio de los Baños, was set up in 1985 under the auspices of Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A group of students at the school set up a discussion circle called the Red Tomatoes with the main aim of generating political discussion amongst the students.
Alan Woods spoke to an audience composed of students from all over the American continent (from Canada to Argentina) as well as some of the teachers at the school. Alan gave an overview of the history of Art, from primitive communism to today's art under capitalism, showing the dialectical relationship between art forms and movements and the development of socio-economic systems. He emphasised that since the emergence of class society, art had ceased to be the property of the whole of the people, the majority of whom are alienated from it. Socialism would mean the reunification of art with society as a whole, he explained.
Alan also touched on the negative impact of Stalinism in stifling the free development of artistic forms. “Bureaucracy and dictatorial imposition is the death of Art,” he said. Even though Alan stressed that it would be wrong to judge artists on the basis of their politics (art must be considered according to its own laws and criteria), at the same time Alan made an appeal for artists to take up the revolutionary struggle for socialism, the only system in which art can flourish freely. A lively debate followed, touching not only questions of Marxism and Art, but also the Venezuelan revolution, the situation in Haiti, etc. We are very grateful to the students and teachers at the EICTV who made this meeting possible.
On Friday 20, Alan Woods was invited by Juan Sanchez Monroe, a former Cuban embassador and lecturer on international relations, to speak at the Raul Roa Higher Institute of International Relations. A group of lecturers and students listened to Alan speaking about world perspectives, the crisis of capitalism and international relations. Many questions followed Alan's speech about the Venezuelan revolution, the relations between Israel and the US, etc. One of the teachers present pointed out that while revolutionary opportunities were now present internationally, what was missing was a Communist International, and she quickly added that she was referring to the Comunist International of the first four congresses.
Later on the same day, the Federation of University Students (FEU), an organisation founded by Julio Antonio Mella and which has played a key role in Cuba's revolutionary history, invited Alan Woods to speak on his new book “Reformism or Revolution” to a joint meeting of its national and Havana province secretariats. Alan stressed the relevance of Marxist ideas for the revolutionary struggle today, as opposed to the rehashed reformist ideas proposed by Heinz Dieterich. More than 20 leading FEU comrades, including its president, vicepresident and international relations secretary, listened attentively and gave Alan a heartfelt ovation at the end. One of the comrades asked about the need to struggle against bureaucracy, as Fidel had said in his speech in November 2005. He pointed out that in the Soviet Union, bureaucracy had led directly to the restoration of capitalism. Alan replied that the only effective way to struggle against bureaucracy was to go back to the ideas of Lenin, particularly those he had outlined in State and Revolution.
This was certainly a very interesting meeting which revealed a generation of Cuban youth concerned with studying the genuine ideas of Marxism and re-engaging the Cuban students in the defence of the Cuban revolution. Unfortunately, a meeting they had organised at the Havana University had to be cancelled at the last minute, but the FEU comrades extended an invitation to Alan Woods to do a speaking tour of the Cuban universities.
- Havana International Book Fair 2009 – Homage to Celia Hart by Jordi Martorell (February 23, 2009)
- Alan Woods in the Xinhua News Agency (February 18, 2009)
- Cuba 50 years later – where is the revolution going? by Jorge Martin (February 17, 2009)
- Alan Woods launches “Reformism or revolution” at the Havana Book Fair (February 17, 2009)
- Alan Woods at the XVIII Havana Book Fair (February 17, 2009)