[OPE-L:6691] Re: Cuba Conference June 18-July 2

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Date: Sat Mar 09 2002 - 14:24:07 EST

At 05:11 AM 3/9/2002 -0500, you wrote:
>Mike L (and others?): haven't you gone to conferences
>like this in the past?  What are they like?
>In solidarity, Jerry
> > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> > From: Cliff DuRand <cliffdurand@STARGATE.NET>
> > Date: Sat, 9 Mar 2002 05:12:05 -0500
> > Subject: Cuba Conference June 18-July 2
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >      Havana, Cuba, June 18-July 2, 2002

Hi Jerry, comrades, etc
         Well, since this question was directed specifically to me, I can't 
not respond.  A good thing because, upon breaking with my lurking status, I 
also want to address (separately) the question of Alan's letter and 
associated issues.
         I've participated in this conference twice-- in 1996 and 2001. The 
conference is basically organised on the US side by the radical 
philosophers but URPE has a regular presence (especially in the form of Al 
Campbell). Roughly, about 70 or so foreigners come each year and there are, 
I would guess, about 120 or so Cuban participants. The conference is 
week-long and is organised in the form of commissions or working groups, 
and these meet as often as is required by the number of papers submitted 
that fall within their scope. Eg., in 1996, I participated in a commission 
(of about 20 people) on market socialism that met for 2 days (mornings and 
afternoons). In addition to people like David Schweickart and Al Campbell 
(who have rather different views on market socialism), the Cubans also had 
a wide range of views-- from those who were strong supporters of a Chinese 
model to those who were very critical of the effects of markets on 
solidarity (the subject of my own paper.. and with whom I bonded 
immediately). Since these were not one-shot paper presentations, the most 
significant part of the conference for me was that I developed strong 
contacts with specific Cuban scholars there which have continued since. 
(It's led to lectures at the university and several institutes, and one 
person I met in 1996, the head of the history of economic thought society 
there, will be doing the preface for a Cuban edition of the expanded 
edition of my book--- assuming the final details with the publisher can be 
worked out.)
         For last year's conference, I took the initiative to organise a 
commission on social property, working with a Cuban friend. The result was 
a commission which met several times and in which there were quite 
interesting discussions from the Cubans on questions such the new 
agricultural co-ops. My own contribution was a paper exploring the problem 
of rent as the result of differential access to (commonly-owned) means of 
production. One outgrowth of that is that I just came back from discussions 
with people at the Institute of Philosophy (which would be better named the 
institute for the study of relations of production in Cuba) about a 
conference there on social property in December, which would probably be 
part of a larger conference on Capital that they are planning. (At this 
point, the outstanding questions are dates and the costs of translation.)
         In short, if you are interested in Cuba and meeting Cuban 
counterparts, this annual 'philosophers' conference' is the best entry 
point I can imagine. In addition to the conference sessions themselves, 
too, the organisers set up visits every afternoon to specific places (eg., 
workplaces, health facilities, etc) and every evening there are lectures 
from cubans on specific aspects of the society-- eg., internal enterprise 
changes, the electoral system, the 'battle of ideas', etc.).
         OK, much more than I expected to say. If you have any questions, 
drop me a note. For any questions about the problems of US citizens going 
to Cuba, Cliff DuRand can provide you all the answers. I should mention, 
too, that participation is not limited to North Americans-- there have been 
people from Europe, Israel and China the two years I went; it has always 
been seen, though, as especially important as a defiance of US travel 
regulations. So go!

         in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: Phone (604) 291-4669
         Fax   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 872-0494
         Fax   (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810

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