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View Diary: Che Guevara Smacks Bush! (205 comments)

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  •  Che (4.00)
    himself was not very opposed to torture, execution, and murder.  It seems to me he was rather the war monger himself.  And I don't think we should be celebrating the fact that other countries are uniting in opposition to us.  We should be embarassed that we do nothing to correct our own policies here.

    I just don't see the fascination with Che.  I'll stick with MLK and Ghandi as mt revolutionary heros.  Revolutionaries that did things right and created lasting change rather than a climate of violence and instability.

    Che also went on record to say that if the Russian missles in Cuba had been under their control, they would have fired them.  What a lovely fellow.

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    by Closet VB Coder on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 06:51:02 AM PST

    •  BUT (4.00)
      even though Che came from a middle-class family of European descent himself, he did recognize the plight of the indigenous populations in South America- and something greatly underplayed in this diary is the cultural hegemony of Europe in Latin America. It's all about the economic repercussions of these "changes," whereas many of the postcolonial problems are left unmentioned. The economic issues are part and parcel of the cultural: the denial and oppression of the indigenous populations of South and Central America. THAT'S just as important as who's being elected: what are their stances on THESE issues?  
      •  AND (none)
        litho brings this up nicely.
      •  I agree (none)
        I agree that addressing the economic hardships of the working class in these countries is extremely important.  And it is equally important that such issues are resolved peacefully and democratically.  But fail to see how this is in the spirit of Che, a violent man who drifted from war to war offering much in terms of violence and little in terms of solutions

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        by Closet VB Coder on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 07:17:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure, (4.00)
          but he wouldn't be the first to pinpoint violent revolution as a means to an end...others have been in far better conditions and launched into all-out revolution...there's one country I can think of in particular where the social elites didn't like taxation without representation and ended up in a bloody war...

          Don't get me wrong- I don't advocate murdering those who disagree. In the end, though, he fell to the same fate of those he murdered- and at the hands of our goverment, no less.

          I wonder (out loud) if there's really much of a difference in the ways socialist/communist revolutionaries affected change in the 20th Century and say, our forefathers. Either way, they both left the door open for gross abuses of power.  

          •  A valid point (none)
            But worth noting that all successful revolution comes by popular movement, it is not imposed upon a country from the outside or from a fringe group within.  In the case of Che, there was a strong desire to fight the outside powers with no real concern about who represented the people he wished to liberate.  He seemed more pre-occupied with revolution then with any changed created by his revoution.  He essentially liked to join with anyone with a gun that can give him what he wanted.

            No different then his American counterparts.  His idea of revolution was to remove an imposed oppressive regime with another imposed oppressive regime.

            Which, to me, makes him a simple warmonger rather than an idealist struggling for real change.  His tactics and public statements also re-enforce my view of him.

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            by Closet VB Coder on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 08:39:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Peacefully and Democratically? (4.00)
          When have the economic hardships of the working class, and most especially, their indigenous component, ever been handled peacefully and democratically in Latin America?   I'm not one to advocate violence but you're talking about societies with rigidly divided social, racial and economic lines, lines that have been forged over centuries, in which the state and ruling classes more often than not have the military, economic and social resources quite firmly in their pocket.  These are socities in which torture, intimidation, coercion, corruption etc are just the order of the day. Socities in which the powers that be are so deeply entrenched in their spheres of influence that a little dialogue and democracy is not going to wrestle them out without the use of similar weapons of intimidation and coercion.  

          Talking about taking a knife to a gun fight.

          we will fan the flames of our anger and pain/til you feel the shame of what you do in God's name

          by Michi on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 08:28:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good Point (none)
            I'd more stress democratically, or by the will of the people rather than the will of another warlord from an opposing faction.  Peacefully is optimal, but somewhat unrealistic in many cases I guess.

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            by Closet VB Coder on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 09:03:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Che recognized their plight ... (3.87)
        ...but he totally misunderstood the people, as his quixotic efforts in Bolivia proved. The revolution he proposed - like the later one of Sendero Luminoso in Peru - were just another round in alien impositions, a left-wing colonialism, which, in the case of Sendero, was every bit as vicious as that carried out by the Conquistadors, though its foot-soldiers were themselves indigenes.

        One of the biggest objections I had to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua - although I supported their deposing of the Somoza Dynasty - was their utter reactionaryism when it came to the remnant indigenous tribes of their eastern coast. From Guatemala to Peru, anywhere there remains a substantial indigenous population in Latin America, one can see truly monstrous oppression of the descendants of "first peoples." It seems to make no difference whether the latest president calls himself a neo-liberal, progressive or socialist.

        •  My Mexican, Cuban & Brazilian (4.00)
          friends admire Che for this:  He could have stayed in Cuba, accepted a cushy job for life, and been a powerful leader in that small nation.  Instead, he gave up all those trappings to seek revolution - in his mind - to liberate the indigenous people.  They recognize that he was misguided, that he did not have popular support and that was the cause of his ultimate capture and execution.

          But what they take away as their 'lesson' is that Che was a man who tried to put poverty-striken, downtrodden people ahead of his own comfort - that he forsake the trappings of office and power to TRY to help (even though, I repeat, they recognize that his efforts may have been misguided.).

          There are very few saints in the world. There are only those who try and those who do not try.

        •  Bad things definitely happened (none)
          on the Miskito Coast. But you have to give the Sandinistas credit for acknowledging their mistakes and eventually getting around to negotiating in good faith.

          If I'm not mistaken, the Autonomy Law was approved in 1987, when the FSLN still enjoyed full control over the executive and legislature and the contras were in temporary retreat.

          •  While the ... (none)
            ...Sandinistas saw the Autonomy Law as a means to shut down what started out as a genuine rebellion in the east, and that more or less worked, the Miskito peoples viewed the law's many contradictions as an obstacle to real control.
            •  What's impressive (none)
              about the Autonomy Law is the circumstances under which it was negotiated. While it didn't go into effect until 1987, the negotiations actually began in 1986 or even earlier, as the Sandinistas were under the most severe military pressure from the contras, and Reagan was clearly backing the Miskitos as a third front in the war.

              I think international solidarity pressure was key, because the FSLN leadership seemed clearly disposed to address the problem militarily, but in the end the Sandinistas did in fact negotiate and gave up substantial concessions from their initial posiiton.

              The Miskitos might very well not be happy with all the terms of the Autonomy Law, and perhaps if the negotiations hadn't occurred in the middle of an imperialist war of conquest -- with the imperialists taking their side -- things might have worked out differently.

      •  Hugo Chavez Understands It... (4.00)
        ...Here is a quote from his Democracy Now interview with Amy Goodman.

        Racism is very characteristic of imperialism. Racism is very characteristic of capitalism. Katrina is - indeed, has a lot to do with racism - no doubt about it. Hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth, because of my curly hair. And I'm so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it's African. So we need a new morality, a new ethic at this point. And from my Christian point of view, we need a revolution of the ethic. And in the political and economic fields we need to take back the flag of socialism, in my view - in order to be able to defeat - with the will of the people, with the participation of the people - to beat those ominous phenomenon such as racism.

    •  Perhaps the fascination with Che (4.00)
      is grounded in what he opposed. MLK and Ghandi are much better heroes, as you say. But as a Pole I understand that anyone who fights against domination can easily become a hero.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      You can kill one, but another is born.
      The words are written down, the deed, the date.

      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 07:07:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Che's good for one thing; the t-shirt biz! (4.00)

      'All great change in America begins at the dinner table.' Reagan

      by PhillyGal on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 07:17:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right you are (none)
      I cringe whenever I see someone who shares the same values as me when it comes to freedom and democracy wear a shirt or a pin featuring Che's image. He had some good things to say, but the man doesn't deserve one bit of praise. Here's more from Wikipedia:


      Che Guevara became as prominent in the new government as he had been in the revolutionary army. In 1959, he was appointed commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison. During his six months' tenure there from January 2 through June 12, 1959[7], he oversaw the trial and execution of many people, including former Batista regime officials, members of the BRAC[8] secret police, alleged war criminals, and political dissidents. Different sources cite different numbers of executions. Some sources say 156 people were executed, while others give far higher figures. Cuban journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che as early as 1954, writes in his book "Yo Soy El Che!" that Guevara sent 1,897 men to the firing squad. In his book "Che Guevara: A Biography," Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering "several thousand" executions during the first few years of the Revolutionary Government. Pierre San Martin, a former prisoner, recalled in a November 1996, El Nuevo Herald article, that he along with multiple other prisoners witnessed Che personally execute a 12 year old boy for trying to defend his father from the firing squads. [9]

      "Semper fi, motherfucker!" -The Rock in the worst movie ever made

      by Sean C on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 07:22:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have to agree ... (4.00)
      I'm glad to see some changes in Latin America that the U.S. isn't directly in control of, but I don't think Che - in theory or practice - has much to do with that.

      I would have been happier to see in this Diary a paragraph or two of critique of some of the ideas and behavior of the man Chris has focused on to bring attention to what's happening in Latin America hoy en día. Not to mention his camarada Fidel, who has been far more a thorn in the side of Cubans than of the United States.

      Mr. Ortega also. I was in Nicaragua several times - for several months each time - during the 1980s. The vicious contra war pushed the Sandinistas into behavior they might not otherwise have taken. Reagan & Cronies should have done hard time for their policies there. But Ortega's totalitarian approach to socialism - much decried by political parties on his left - did almost as much damage to the country as Ollie North and his illegal weapons deals. If I were a Nicaraguan, I'd be hard-pressed to cast a ballot for him.

      •  My view is more nuanced (4.00)
        While I think there are legitimate critiques to be made of Che, Fidel, and Daniel Ortega, it's helpful to keep them in context.

        Both Che and Fidel developed their political style in the early days of the Cold War. Motorcycle Diaries was referenced up thread a bit, and it really is a great movie, showing exactly how and why Che developed his commitment to social justice. The movie leaves off, however, as Che is boarding a plane to Guatemala, where he takes part in the reformist government of Jacobo Arbenz.

        No one doubts Arbenz was using democratic means to implement the kinds of reforms Che felt were necessary, but we all know what happened to him. In June 1954, the CIA sponsored a coup to overthrow his government, and Guatemala entered a long period of successively more brutal and corrupt military regimes.

        Che fled Guatemala as the CIA siezed power, and in Mexico made contact with Fidel, who himself had just been released from the dictator Batista's prison. Together, they organized the rebel invasion of Cuba in November 1956. I would argue the Guatemala experience is formative for both Fidel and Che. Remember what Hamilton wrote in Federalist #8 about states which face the constant threat of foreign invasion:

        The perpetual menacings of danger oblige the government to be always prepared to repel it; its armies must be numerous enough for instant defense. The continual necessity for their services enhances the importance of the soldier, and proportionably degrades the condition of the citizen. The military state becomes elevated above the civil. The inhabitants of territories, often the theatre of war, are unavoidably subjected to frequent infringements on their rights, which serve to weaken their sense of those rights; and by degrees the people are brought to consider the soldiery not only as their protectors, but as their superiors. The transition from this disposition to that of considering them masters, is neither remote nor difficult; but it is very difficult to prevail upon a people under such impressions, to make a bold or effectual resistance to usurpations supported by the military power.

        As for Nicaragua, I would say that during the Sandinista government the party did a relatively effective job of keeping Ortega under control. Yeah, there were some abuses and an awful lot of bureaucratic inefficiency, but most of Ortega's descent into populism and corruption occurred after the FSLN had already been expelled by the US.

        •  Excellent post. (none)
          Che's early experiences with overthrown democracies definitely shaped his revolutionary views.
        •  And Gandhi already proved Che wrong (none)
          Che might have an excuse if Gandhi had not already been sucessful in India at this point in history. But Gandhi HAD been successful tossing the British Empire out of India using nonviolence before Che and Castro got started in Cuba.

          There was no excuse for the murderous actions of Che and Castro.

          •  Stop with Gandhi, already. (4.00)
            Yes, he was very effective. But you know what? He was effective because he was able to get a response from the sense of justice of the British people. MLK, likewise, appealed to the better instincts of Americans -- his success is to the credit of the basic decency of average Americans, once they could be brought to understand the wrong that was being done by Jim Crow.

            People, by and large, do have a sense of fairness, and in a democracy, this response can be appealed to... provided righting the injustice won't hurt them personally. Landowning classes, of course, do have plenty of rationalizations to defend themselves from perceiving that their ownership is inequitable. And the tactics of shaming don't work against out and out dictators. Dictators don't care about fairness. If they did, they wouldn't ever have gotten to be dictators, now would they?

            Batista, or Papa Doc, or Idi Amin, or Saddam Hussein would simply have had any aspiring Gandhis in their countries put up against a wall and shot. Would have? Heck, they probably did, many times over -- but we haven't heard anything about those people because they died unknown.

            Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

            by Canadian Reader on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 01:16:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Self-defense/just war is a different topic. (none)
              I really don't know what Gandhi thought about the concepts of self defense for a nation state or "just wars." I know Gandhi never tried to have the Indian Armed Forces disbanded, so he recognized at least some basic needs for self-defense for a nation-state.

              People do have the right to defend themselves from mass murderers, and there are defenses one can make in an armed conflict when things go terribly wrong on a battlefield. Things can and do go terribly wrong on battlefields. That's why we try to avoid war.

              What Che and Castro did that was so wrong was after the battles of their revolution were over. There is no justification of any kind for murdering unarmed prisoners who are in your custody.

        •  Jon Lee Anderson (none)
          What do you think of his biography Che?
      •  I had a friend who lived (none)
        under Samosa.  It was hard not to want anything but that crooked oligarchy but Ortega didn't hold up well either. Still it is all part of the growing pains I am afraid.

        Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

        by hairspray on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 08:53:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm all for MLK and Ghandi (4.00)
      but we live in a relatively privileged country that supported the rape and torture of nuns, assasinations of priests , and massacre of indigenous populations.

      I suppose pacifists icons and peaceful protests may have been effective but I doubt it.

      •  And... (none)
        compare the depictions of more militant members of the civil rights movements in the U.S. (Malcolm X, the Black Panthers) to the peaceful (MLK, Jr.). There's immediately an evident backlash- but can we say that one was ultimately more effective than the other, or were the militants framed as such as a means of quashing their message?
    •  Che revisionism is chic right now (3.85)
      There's a false romantic image of Che being fueled right now by things like the film "The Mototcycle Diaries."

      Che was a murderous rat bastard like the rest of the faux communists of the 20th century that wrapped their totalitarian dictatorships in a propaganda veneer of Marxist lingo. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Che, and Saddam Hussein all sold out the working folks they claimed to fighting for to seize absolute power. Communism as definied by Marx has never, and probably never will exist. As most politics on the fringes tend to be, it's just too utopian in it's outlook. People simply won't ever be selfless, egoless, and honest enough to implement it. It might work for another species, but not this one.

      Probably the closest any nation got to what Marx promoted was Israel right after it became a nation in 1947. Universal service, communes (kibbutzim) making the desert bloom. The Likud Party destroyed whatever there was good in that aspect of Israel, too.

      I've been watching what's happening down in Latin America. I don't see Stalinism growing down there. I see European Social Democracy. That's a huge threat to the neo-cons, though. The Rich only get to keep most of the money in the social democracy model. They want ALL the money.

      •  Don't equate Che (none)
        with Castro's policies after Che left Cuba.

        We also need to lay at least half of that blame at the feet of the US.

        •  Che was plenty murderous all by himself. (3.50)
          Che as a guerrilla fighter...

          "...Guevara's critics (Anderson,1997; Fuentes, 2004; Matos, 2002; Morán Arce, 1980; Rojo del Río, 1981) report that he exhibited no great skill in combat, at times during "La Ofensiva" he lacked boldness as for instance when he abandoned Daniel and his men. However, he always demanded intrepidity, and outstanding self-discipline from his subordinates. He had high regard for himself (Guevara, Waters (ed.) 1996) and but far less for others, and was known for racist comments. He soon became one of Castro's most useful aides, and a far readier executioner than such as Universo Sanchez. Guevara was also responsible for the execution of many men accused of being informers, rapists, deserters or spies (e.g. Fuentes, 2004). At least some of these were alleged rivals (e.g. Morán Arce, 1980) or inconvenient non-ideologues...."

          Che in Cuba after revolution...

          "...Che Guevara became as prominent in the new government as he had been in the revolutionary army. In 1959, he was appointed commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison. During his six months' tenure there from January 2 through June 12, 1959[7], he oversaw the trial and execution of many people, including former Batista regime officials, members of the BRAC[8] secret police, alleged war criminals, and political dissidents. Different sources cite different numbers of executions. Some sources say 156 people were executed, while others give far higher figures. Cuban journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che as early as 1954, writes in his book "Yo Soy El Che!" that Guevara sent 1,897 men to the firing squad. In his book "Che Guevara: A Biography," Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering "several thousand" executions during the first few years of the Revolutionary Government. Pierre San Martin, a former prisoner, recalled in a November 1996, El Nuevo Herald article, that he along with multiple other prisoners witnessed Che personally execute a 12 year old boy for trying to defend his father from the firing squads. [9]..."

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          Che Guevara was a murderous rat bastard all by himself. The US did not put any guns in his hand,  or force him to pull the trigger. He killed far more than enemy soldiers. Che killed helpless prisoners. Thousands of them.

          Please stop with this romantic Che clap-trap. It's all crap. Che Guevara had a chance to be an inspirational figure, and he CHOSE to be a murderous rat bastard instead.

          Stop looking for heroes of from Leninist/Stalinist era. There were none. Not even Gorbachev. He had blood all over his hands, too. He just recognized the handwriting on the wall, and had to choose between starving the Russian people, and ending Stalinism.

          •  It's amazing to me (none)
            that otherwise reasonable people will say things about Che (who fought a revolution against a murderous US-backed dictatorship) that they will not also say about American colonists fighting British rule (things that many British historians note about the revolution) or about US presidents such as Ronald Reagan, who have far more Latin American blood on their hands (through support of brutal governments and their death squads) than Che Guevara ever will.
            •  The US did not make Che kill prisoners. (4.00)
              Che Guevara killed helpless prisoners in his custody long after the revolution was over. Che Guevara CHOSE to be a murderous tyrant just like Stalin did.

              There are no heroes of Stalinism.

              Why in the &%$# would you make yourself look so stupid promoting this dated Stalinist propaganda that's so easy to disprove, when there are REAL HEROES out there like Gandhi, MLK, etc. that deserve having their image on t-shirt long after they are gone?

              •  I'm not promoting anything (none)
                but the end of imperialism.  I am only pointing out the hypocrisy of your deep-seeded hate for the Cuban Revolution and it's personalities.  

                Sure Gandhi and MLK are leaders that we should emulate...you'll get no argument from me in that respect.  If there is a T-shirt out there, I would like one.

                •  I hate murderers, not Cubans or revolutionaries. (none)
                  Castro was a murderer. So was Che. The revolution in Cuba could have freed those oppressed by Batista without murdering thousands of helpless prisoners. I (and many others) are furious that Castro and Che ruined what could have been a great step forward for the people of Cuba with murderous tyranny.

                  That said... I think we're mostly on the same page regarding Gandhi and MLK the the example they have left for people to emulate. I just think you should stick with them, and leave the false propaganda about Castro and Che behind. Castro and Che chose to betray their people.

                  •  Again (none)
                    I am not spreading any propaganda.  I am talking about the realities of Cuba under constant threat of (and actual) invasion from the US.  

                    And I again ask if you use those same words to describe the murder of prisoners, Tories, Hessians during the American revolution or to describe a long list of US Presidents who have blood on their hands from funding, supplying, and supporting murderous regimes.

                    •  Distraction to change subject (none)
                      You're trying to justify one murderous rat bastard by pointing to other murders. Guess what. All the murderers are wrong. Gandhi proved that.

                      You're also trying to distract from the truth about Che being a murderer by pulling the focus into a bunch of other directions. My response to that is... Che was a murderer.

                      I'm getting increasingly suspicious you want to blow the shit outta something in the name of peace.

                      •  Talk about changing the subject... (none)
                        I never denied that Che killed people.  I am only pointing out that the vast majority of our own heroes would also be considered 'murderers' according to your criteria.  Apparently you don't want to face the consequences of that extension of your logic.
                        •  Strawman. Strawman. Strawman. (none)
                          I pointed to MLK and Gandhi as heroes.

                          You have created this $%#@& strawman of OTHER people from history to use as justification of actions taken by Che and other Stalinists. Well, you're talking to someone who, for example, refuses to attend DEM Jefferson/Jackson day dinners because of what Jackson did to the Cherokees. I've got Howard Zinn books in the bookholder kept on my desk at all time, not stuffed in ther back of the bookshelf. I KNOW some of the things that have been done by Americans.

                          The answer is real simple. Murder doesn't justify murder, and two wrongs do not make a right.

                          You need to go a lot deeper into history. You need to find BETTER heroes.

                          •  You continue to put words in my mouth (none)
                            that I never uttered.  MLK and Gandhi are my heroes.    They are the example we should follow in our lives and that I try to follow in my own life.  

                            I merely pointed out the hypocrisy in your views of Che, which is easily recognizable to everyone but yourself.  If you would denounce those who were and are much worse than Che with the same venom with which you denounce Che, I would have no problem with your views.  I know this is not the case, because I have given you ample opportunity to do so here, and you refuse.  Instead, you continue to parrot propaganda from the elitist right-wing portions of the Cuban-American community.    

                          •  Murdering people wrong. The hypocrite is YOU (none)
                            I don't accept the murderous actions of ANYONE. You're fine with murder if the one doing the murder is on your "side" of the poltical spectrum.

                            That makes me a follower of MLK and Gandhi, and you a hypocrite who spits on the examples of Gandhi and MLK.

                          •  I'll not continue to respond (none)
                            to someone who attributes statements, which I have never uttered, to me.   I have never accepted murder, but apparently you do given the large number of murderers you refuse to denounce.

                             

                          •  I denounce ALL murderers. (none)
                            I denounced all murders several times on this thread. You are lying if you claim I didn't. I refuse to accept all murderers as leaders or role models.

                            Che is a murderer. He murdered unarmed prisoners. You defend Che. You defend murder when it's convenient to you.

                  •  asdf (none)
                    would you say Ronals Reagan was a murderer too?

                    Go harry go! The American People.

                    by blacklib on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 05:24:58 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Che wasn't a Stalinist (none)
                Cuba in fact maintained fairly distant relations with the USSR during the time Che was in Cuba, and one of the reasons he left was because Fidel was moving too close to the Soviets.

                There's a Nietzschean component to Che, a bit of Bukharin, and a lot of philosophical Marx. He definitely was not in to rigid state controls, believing in the capacity of revolutionary violence to purify humanity and thereby create an anarchistic utopia.

                Would Stalin have abolished money?

                •  Bullshit. (none)
                  Do I need to repost the wikipedia article again with the evidence about Che murdering thousands of helpless prisoners? I will if I have to.

                  I don't give a shit about the bullshit propaganda and lies Che peddled. It was all crap. Che was every bit the murderer Stalin was.

                  •  Sure, repost it if you want (none)
                    Except it's not relevant to my post.

                    "Stalinist" does not equal "murderer." Che may have been a murderer (in the strictest sense that he certainly did kill people), but that fact alone doesn't make him a Stalinist.

                    General George S. Patton killed people. Was he a Stalinist?

                    The thing is, Stalinism refers to a real political movement, led by the Third International while Stalin and his successors dominated the USSR. There are specific approaches to state power associated with that movement, especially in the relationship between the citizen and the state and in economic policy. The historical evidence confirms Che did not share those specific approaches to state power, and that he in fact openly criticized the Soviet Union during his life.

                    So, if you want to waste more bandwidth posting irrelevant data, go ahead. Or -- more reasonably -- you could just drop the bullshit argument that Che was a Stalinist.

                    He wasn't. You might call him a revolutionary Marxist anarchist if you want, but Stalinist definitely does not fit.

                    •  Whatever... Che was a murderer. (none)
                      Someone showed me some of the flame wars between so-called Stalinists, Leninists, and Trotskyites on the usenet communism newsgroups. I'm not touching that silly mess with a 10 foot pole.

                      Whatever term you wish to apply as a general term to describe the whole 20th century "totalitarian dictatorship using a Marxist propaganda veneer" form of government present in the Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact Nations, China, Cuba etc., I'll use. I'm not getting distracted into a flame war over semantics. Just post the one word you prefer to use, and I'll use it.

                      •  Ah, but you already touched it (none)
                        by accusing Che of Stalinism.

                        Call him a revolutionary, and you're totally on target. Acknowledge that he accepted the use of violence to achieve revolutionary ends, and you're completely on target. State your rejection of violence under any circumstances, and you're still on absolutely safe ground.

                        Just don't invent an epithet and apply it to people indiscriminately. The word actually has meaning, and the meaning doesn't apply to Che.

                        •  Fine. Then Che's a Stalinist. (2.50)
                          I gave you a fair chance to use the word of your choice in regard to a general overarching term to describe the form of totalitarian government that called itself communism in the 20th century. You chose to use that lattitude to try to define murder as reasonable. Nice try, but I'm not that silly or stupid.

                          So we'll use my word for the duration of this thread. Stalinism. Che's a Stalinist. Che advoted totalitarian dictatorships using marxist terminology as a false front. So did Stalin. Che murdered unarmed prisoners to keep an iron grip on power. So did Stalin.

                          Patton doesn't even belong in this discussion, and is a distraction. Patton held basically no political power (except for a few months as a military governor in Germany). Patton was a military commander. He was a nut. He was relieved from command by twice for being a nut.

                          •  Should I call you a Nazi? (none)
                            Because it applies to you about as much as Stalinist applies to Che.

                            Che was a revolutionary. He believed revolution was a liberating experience, and that by participating in a revolution a person experienced a total individual renovation, who would be capable of living an entirely different kind of life. Old rules no longer applied, and new possibilities abounded.

                            When Che was Minister of Finance in Cuba, he abolished money. The idea was to let the true economic impulses of the New Man (as Che called the product of the revolutionary experience) to flourish. The result, of course, was a disaster.

                            Che also believed that physically eliminating people corrupted by the old regime was an appropriate way to liberate society so the revolutionary flourishing he believed in could be unleashed. So, he killed a lot of people he believed were corrupted by the old regime.

                            In the end, of course, Che's theory of revolution proved to be hopelessly naive, and the Cuban New Man turned out to be an awful lot like the old, pre-revolutionary man. Along the way a lot of innocent people got killed.

                            What's undeniable, however, is that Che's theory is centered on the individual, and in his writings and his actions he confirmed his belief that revolutionary violence was a means towards liberating the individual.

                            Stalinism, on the other hand, is clearly centered on the state, and whatever liberatory content it contains is pushed off to a distant and rhetorically impossible to achieve future. It's a system designed to keep the dictator in power, and bend all in the society to his will.

                          •  Just admit you're okay with murder, Litho (none)
                            I follow the examples of Gandhi and MLK. I'm not okay with someone going on killing sprees just because they happen to be defined by political scientists as being on the "left" side of some imaginary number line. I think thuggery is thuggery.

                            Just admit you're okay with murder as long as murder gets "your side" more political power. That's how Che felt.

                          •  Now why should I admit to (4.00)
                            something I don't believe, simply because you insist on calling Che something he wasn't?

                            I'll tell you the truth, your logic escapes me...

                          •  Che murdered unarmed prisoners (2.50)
                            If you can't accept that a person that is proven to have murdered thousands of unarmed prisoners is a murderer, then you're into "faith-based" communism. All opinion. All belief. No facts.
                          •  Nobody's disputing your facts (4.00)
                            we're disputing the context.

                            (Actually, I could quibble with the facts as well -- I believe most of Che's victims faced summary trials and were killed by firing squads -- but you're basically right that he's responsible for large numbers of deaths.)

                          •  Gandhi's hunger strike to save political opponents (none)
                            IMHO, Gandhi's treatment of his political opponents is a lesson to all mankind. Gandhi didn't just not personally take revenge on political opponents, he damn near killed himself in a hunger strike to stop riots and violence against Gandhi's political opponents.

                            What I'm trying to say is why waste time and energy defending Che when you could be using that time and energy promoting a much better role model like Gandhi?

                          •  Gandhi (4.00)
                            was also assassinated, and his followers created a corrupt, single-party, socialist state that both plunged the Indian sub-continent into civil war and pursued a failed economic policy for the better part of a century. The dominant political party in Gandhi's India is an ultra-nationalist, racist party that condones violent mob attacks on non-Hindu minorities.

                            Nobody's perfect, Bad Santa, and Che Guevara is perhaps more imperfect than many. But let's have our discussion of him based on who he actually was, what he actually did, and what he actually believed in, rather than in false and misleading stereotypes.

                            Che did in fact believe in something beautiful. His theory of politics, obviously quite different from Gandhi's, told him violence could help achieve that beautiful thing.

                            He was wrong.

                •  Che was much more inline with Mao... still (none)
                  Their were people involved in the revolution that wanted a socialist democracy and Che was dead set against this model. He was a very hard line communist and did kill to keep a lid on disent. He was not confident in his ideas to let people debate them. Che sided with castro for hardline communism and then split because he like the Maoist ideas better than the stalin or soviet model. He is only an idol in a damn the man kind of way. His actions make him less than savory.

                  I understand using relativism to judge makes him no different than others. Still he is no the soft good guy that many try and make him be.

                •  i'm pretty sure che was a stalinist, (none)
                  early on in the cuba phase.  he was not a trotskyist, but may have become a maoist.
                  •  Don't know (none)
                    enough about his specific ideological journey to say with any certainty.

                    By the time he's running Cuba, though, he's clearly more influenced by Maoism than straight Stalinism. But even there, it's the most voluntarist elements of Maoism that attract him. Che really seems to have believed that it was possible to leap directly from underdeveloped, peripheral capitalism to an advanced communist society, passing through only a brief dictatorship of the proletariat phase.

                    I think he left Cuba when he started to realize that wasn't happening. Then, of course, he fucks up in Congo, and then fucks up even more in Bolivia...

              •  Um... (none)
                I think the question is, who made the U.S. kill anybody? Why is Che demonized, while the U.S.'s actions seem so pardonable to you? Especially given the U.S.'s enormous position of power as compared to Che...?
                •  You clearly didn't read the thread. (none)
                  I denounce all murderous act, no matter who commits them. As I stated above, I have my Howard Zinn books within arms reach on my desk, not stuck back on a bookshelf collecting dust. I know exactly how wretched the US has acted in the past. I don't pardon any murderous act.

                  Pointing at the US for being murderous does not justify Che killing 1000s of unarmed prisoners in Cuban prisons. Murder is murder whoever does it.

            •  The problem (none)
              Is in trying to justify why one is good by pointing out that others may have been worse.  The fact is that Che and associates were of the same mold.  Install his leadership at the price of the people rather than to the benefit of the people.

              The fact that he fought an oppresive and murderous regime doesn't really matter when the one installed also turns out to be an oppressive and murderous regime.

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              by Closet VB Coder on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 08:52:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  asdf (4.00)
            One could certainly say plenty about how much blood on their hands Gen. Washington, Thomas Jefferson, et al. had with regard to the slaughter of our own indigenous peoples. I'm sure one can find at least a few folks who consider them among other Founding Fathers to be "rat bastards."
    •  Very good point (none)
      I totally agree that people should not mythologize Che too much, and certainly, one can care about the all-too-forgotten masses in Central and South America without liking him at all.  
    •  "Uniting in opposition to 'us' " (4.00)
      Let's not fall for the nationalism trap.  Nationalism and patriotism serve one purpose: to convince the general population that we are on the same side as the elites.  Bush loves to say things like "The U.S. will not cut and run from Iraq".  But who IS the U.S.?  Who the hell is he talking about?  Because he's definitely not talking about himself, his family, or any of his rich friends.  No, HE'S not in Iraq.  It's the working poor who are in Iraq.  THEY're the ones getting blown to bits by road-side bombs.

      My point being: People's movements are sweeping across South America in opposition to the policies being shoved down their throats by the corporate elite of our country.  They are uniting against neoliberal trade and the "Washington consensus."  They are uniting against imperialism.  But they are NOT uniting against "us", the people of the United States.  In fact, I'm sure they would be delighted beyond words if we busted our asses alongside them to rid the world of the "free trade" agreements that are laying waste to the vast majority of people in both North and South America, while richly lining the pockets of the corporate elite.  Bush and his rich friends would LOVE for us to think that the people of South America are "uniting in opposition to us."  But I think just the opposite, we are all on the same side, and a healthy dose of solidarity is in order.  As Chavez has said himself:

      "The great people of the United States are our brothers, my salute to them...one day the decay inside U.S. imperialism will end up toppling it, and the great people of Martin Luther King will be set free."

    •  In Defense of Che (none)
      A close inspection will quickly reveal Che's several  major deficiencies. But he is still a hero to me, precisely because he was willing to put his life on the line to struggle for justice. Calling him a war monger is outrageous. Che understood that we live in a world where the rich wage class war on the poor every day and he came to the conclusion that if the poor were ever to have justice and an opportunity to improve their lives they would have to fight back. His strategy for revolution in Latin America was obviously a bust, but his spirit has already inspired several generations of Latin American revolutionaries, from the Zapatistas to Hugo Chavez, who have pursued his vision of a better society by a wide variety of means.

      Che was a human being. He said and did some foolish things. But he did so in the context of a life dedicated to fighting for justice, and for that he is rightly honored across Latin America and around the world. His speculative comments about firing missiles at the U.S. should be placed in the context of the not at all speculative mass murder the U.S. was then raining down on Southeast Asia.

      Non-violent methods can be powerful in some circumstances, but they aren't always viable and I think that as people living in a country that has grown fat off the oppression and exploitation of much of the rest of the world that we should be very careful about preaching on what methods should be used to remove our boot from their necks, expecially when our military is dropping bombs on civilians in Iraq and fomenting coups against elected leaders like Chavez.

      And I DO celebrate the growing Latin American unity against U.S. imperialism. I don't view such celebration as an alternative to discontent with our failure to effectively check U.S. foreign policy her at home. On the contrary I understand that the unity in Latin America strengthens the hands of progressives and anti-imperialists in teh U.S..

      "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories" -- Amilcar Cabral

      by Christopher Day on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 04:05:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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