Castro has proclaimed himself to be "a Socialist, a Marxist, and a Leninist". As a socialist, Castro believes in converting Cuba, and the wider world, from a capitalist system in which business and industry is owned by private individuals and organizations, into a socialist system in which all business and industry are owned by the state on behalf of the populace. In the former, there is a class divide between the wealthy classes who control the means of production (i.e. the factories, farms, media etc) and the poorer working classes who labor on them, whilst in the latter, socialists argue, this class divide would be obliterated as society becomes more egalitarian.
Marxism is the sociopolitical theory developed by German sociologists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid-19th century. It holds as its foundation the idea of class struggle; that society mainly changes and progresses as one socioeconomic class takes power from another. Thus Marxists believe that capitalism replaced feudalism in the Early Modern period as the wealthy industrial class, or bourgeoisie, took political and economic power from the traditional land-owning class, the aristocracy and monarchy. In the same process, Marxists predict that socialism will replace capitalism as the industrial working class, or proletariat, seize power from the bourgeoisie through revolutionary action. In this way, Marxism is believed by its supporters to provide a scientific explanation for why socialism should, and will, replace capitalism in human society.
Leninism refers to the theories put forward by Russian revolutionary, political theorist and politician Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party who was a leading figure in the October Revolution that overthrew the Russian capitalist government and replaced it with a socialist alternative in 1917. Taking Marxism as its basis, Leninism revolves around putting forward ideas for how to convert a capitalist state into a socialist one. Castro used Leninist thought as a model upon which to convert the Cuban state and society into a socialist form.
Castro is also a keen proponent of Cuban nationalism, with historian Richard Gott remarking that one of the keys to Castro's success was in his ability to utilize the "twin themes of socialism and nationalism" and keep them "endlessly in play." Castro describes Marx and the Cuban nationalist José Martí (1853–1895) as his most significant political influences, although Gott believed that ultimately Martí remained more important than Marx in Castro's politics. Castro described Martí's political ideas as "a philosophy of independence and an exceptional humanistic philosophy". Castro has taken a relatively socially conservative stance on many issues, opposing alcohol, drugs, gambling and prostitution, which he viewed as moral evils. Instead he has advocated hard work, family values, integrity and self-discipline.
Read more about this topic: Fidel Castro
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