Drawing on years of field research in Cuba, this text examines the relationship between socialism and democracy, in classical Marxist theory and in the practice of the Cuban revolution. While the author notes the roles that underdevelopment and external threat have played in undermining the possibility for democratic socialism in this century, she focuses specifically upon a theoretical heritage plagued by silences, absences and simplifications concerning key political questions. Within this framework, she then turns to the Cuban revolution and, in a revisionist interpretation, identifies the succession of critical moments at which the question of democracy was raised and the nature of the leadership's response, or lack thereof. She maintains that the consistency with which the leadership reined in, at these moments, the possibilities it itself had evoked, compounded by its extreme paternalism, has been as destructive of the social project of the revolution as the dire economic straits in which Cuba finds itself in a post-socialist world. For courses in Latin American studies, Cuban studies, comparative socialist history, and political theory, this probing analysis provides a unique and informative look at the ideological legacy of a nation struggling to endure the changing tides of history.