Conclusions: Cuban Exceptionalism Revisited

  • Bert Hoffmann
  • Laurence Whitehead
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


What are the social laws or “rules” to which twentieth-century Cuba appears such a flagrant exception? Those who believed that the fall of the Berlin Wall had inaugurated “the end of history” will need to concede that at least in this corner of the Caribbean history seems to be taking another generation to extinguish itself. It is still just about possible to counter that triumphalist claim with Castro’s equally resonant slogan “history will absolve me.” Those who believe that state intervention to control the entire economy and marginalize the price system had been proven unviable and doomed to collapse will have to cope with the evidence that, compared to other post-Soviet economies, after the initial slump between 1989 and 1993 Cuba’s economic performance has been at least average, or perhaps even slightly better than most. Those who have argued that there is now only one hegemonic “superpower,” and that U.S. military, economic, political, and cultural supremacy is now such that outright resistance to it has become futile, must face the fact that the Castro regime, as tiny as the Cuban economy may be in a global perspective, still continues to flaunt its resistance, and even to attract occasional new allies to its cause. Those who would argue that no single autocrat can remain sane and politically effective after exercising virtually unlimited power over his home territory for up to half a century, have still not come to terms with the secrets of Fidel Castro’s psychology and his personal authority. Those who believe that the unquestionable yearnings of ordinary Cuban citizens for personal freedom, economic opportunity, the right to travel and access information must be sufficient to overwhelm all the artificial props used to sustain a “closed” system of Communist Party control, have not yet grasped either the offsetting power of the regime’s “David versus Goliath” imagery or the density of its formal and informal social controls beyond the security apparatus.


Informal Social Control Transitional Justice Cumulative Causation Cuban Revolution Politburo Member 
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Copyright information

© Bert Hoffmann and Laurence Whitehead 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bert Hoffmann
  • Laurence Whitehead

There are no affiliations available

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