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The Knowledge Economy and Socialism: Science and Society in Cuba


Named one of “five of the best science picks” on Nature

“Cuba’s future must, by necessity, be a future of scientists,” Fidel Castro proclaimed in 1960. As Agustín Lage Dávila shows in this pathbreaking book, Cuba has in fact become a global leader in both the generation and application of scientific knowledge—as demonstrated by its ubiquitous production of socially useful products, from vaccines and medicines, to organic food. Speaking from his position as a noted Cuban immunologist, Dr. Lage shows how Cuba achieved such prominence, positing that the training of its scientists, their scientific practices, and their relationships with the Cuban people are intimately connected to the socialist culture that derived from the Cuban Revolution.

Lage offers clearly written and easily understood answers to questions critical to the very survival of humanity. Why is culture critical to science? What distinguishes Cuba’s socialist culture from that of capitalist societies? What are the social responsibilities of scientists? How has Cuba made such incredible scientific advances in the face of the brutal and illegal U.S. blockade? How can a country like Cuba earn needed foreign exchange through the sale of its knowledge-intensive products to countries in the Global North while maintaining its ethical, socialist ideals? Lage’s interrogation of these questions will be of interest to scientists and economic planners around the world, to all those struggling for a better world–and, no doubt, even to those corporations competing with Cuba in global markets.

What people are saying about The Knowledge Economy and Socialism

Cuba, a country with scarce resources which has sustained an economic blockade throughout its modern history, maintains a vigorous biotechnology sector that has developed vaccines against meningitis, cancer, and Covid. In his newly translated book, The Knowledge Economy and Socialism, Agustín Lage, director of Havana’s Center of Molecular Immunology and a politically engaged delegate to the National Assembly, accounts for this apparent paradox by describing how science and technology, when unshackled from the constraints of the capitalist profit system, can be directed to solving pressing human needs. The social transformations enabling this are not without problems, and these are discussed frankly and with theoretical depth in this unique and important collection of essays.
Stuart A. Newman, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, New York Medical College

I am confident that even those who desire the failure of Cuban socialism will not abandon the book after reading the Introduction. For champions of “a better capitalism” (an oxymoron because it is not possible to improve a system that metastasizes like aggressive cancer) this book will be bad news. If they are enlightened and knowledgeable enemies of socialism, they will have to approach this book with respect. It would not surprise me if some even reconsider their prejudices or ways of thinking.
Professor Néstor G. Del Prado, Center of Molecular Immunology, Havana

Agustín Lage is both a participant and an observer in the development of Cuban science, an outstanding molecular biologist, and a militant in the Cuban Communist Party. At the core of Agustín Lage’s work: That just as the factory and the farm marked the end of feudal systems of production, the economy of knowledge is the emergence of the new means of production. This is his most penetrating insight into the emerging contradictions of capitalism: scientific knowledge is cumulative and complex so that any company has to buy licenses from their competitors in order to produce something. It is patented and held as private information, undermining the scientific tradition of a community that shared ideas. Competition leads to turn over of labor, which disrupts the tacit knowledge of collectives and makes it not worthwhile (“cost effective”) to educate workers. Just as capitalism gave us the factory system that replaced the artisan guilds, so the economy of knowledge is increasingly incompatible with capitalism and is characteristic of socialism.”
Richard Levins, polymath, revered educator, committed antiwar activist and internationalist, and a scientific advisor for Cuba

Dr. Agustín Lage Dávila is an internationally known and respected immunologist. He was for many years director of the Cuban Center of Molecular Immunology. A dedicated communist, he has been at the forefront of scientific education and economic development through science in Cuba.

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Publication Date: 03/31/2024

Number of Pages: 320

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68590-042-7

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-68590-043-4

eBook ISBN: 978-1-68590-044-1