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

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  •  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.

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