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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

David M. Kotz

Second Advisor

Mwangi wa Gĩthĩnji

Third Advisor

John Bracey

Subject Categories

Latin American Studies | Political Economy | Politics and Social Change


Cuba and Venezuela have been argued to be examples of state capitalism, populist capitalism, socialism, or simply the ambiguous “mixed economy.” By focusing on these countries as social formations in movement, or in transition, a more adequate understanding is presented. The first essay develops a theory of socialist transition, with focus on the dynamic, rather than static character of socialism. Furthermore, worker cooperatives are analyzed with a focus on the roles they play in the different stages of the transition to socialism. Finally, this framework is utilized to analyze the experience of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

The second essay utilizes this framework to analyze the particular cases of countries dominated by imperialist relations. As this essay argues, throughout history two opposing conceptions regarding the relation between anti-imperialism and socialist transition have been present in the Marxian tradition. The first argues that an anti- imperialist capitalist development stage within dominated regions is required before a socialist transition can begin. The second view argues that capitalist development is blocked in dominated regions, and as a result the only route to economic development is through a transition to socialism. This essay undertakes an examination of key Marxist thinkers and revolutionary processes across the globe to assess the theories and the processes associated with these conceptions.

Finally, the third essay assesses the current direction of institutional change in Cuba. Some analysts believe the current changes in the Cuban system indicate the beginning of a transition to capitalism, while others disagree. By focusing on one particular institution, the non-agricultural worker cooperatives, this essay demonstrates that the current reform process in Cuba has included features that could contribute to the mergence of a new socialist formation characterized by participatory planning.