Wednesday, July 11, 2012
comments from out there
When I posted "my new debit card" (see below) on a political discussion board yesterday, I figured it wouldn't be too long before ignorance and reactionism, driven by fear and rage, would pop up like a zit. And before too long, we got
He (Che Guevara) was a ruthless killer that went around trying to impose his beliefs by force. He is glorified by those who share his idealistic views, so they ignore his methods, like all ideologues do when it is done by "their" side.
The truth is I never was much interested in Che's life (because he was a communist) nor his image. As in the case of another revolutionary, George Washington, the image is has grown larger than the life, and obscures it rather than shedding any light on it.
Since I knew so little, I went to Guevara's Wiki biography, which is extensive, and found out a few things. For example, when he was young
Guevara traveled throughout Latin America and was radically transformed by the endemic poverty and alienation he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region's ingrained economic inequalities were an intrinsic result of capitalism, monopolism, neocolonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution.
I can't find anything there to disagree with, but at that point I would have asked him "What kind of revolution do you have in mind?" Because even then, I would not have given serious thought to Marxist-style revolution.
But a Marxist is what Guevara was, and as a revolutionary and a warrior, he was effective, relentless and implacable. The Wiki bio notes that "Guevara became feared for his brutality and ruthlessness."
Guevara was also responsible for the sometimes summary execution of a number of men accused of being informers, deserters or spies. In his diaries, Guevara described the first such execution of Eutimio Guerra, a peasant army guide who admitted treason when it was discovered he accepted the promise of ten thousand pesos for repeatedly giving away the rebel's position for attack by the Cuban air force. Such information also allowed Batista's army to burn the homes of rebel-friendly peasants. Upon Guerra's request that they "end his life quickly", Che stepped forward and shot him in the head, writing "The situation was uncomfortable for the people and for Eutimio so I ended the problem giving him a shot with a .32 pistol in the right side of the brain, with exit orifice in the right temporal [lobe]."
He died as he lived, violently.
Now that communism is as dead as a smoked oyster (something our domestic wingnuts haven't reckoned with, but then they're a little slow on the uptake), we can get a better perspective on the last 150 years. Communism may have been the god that failed, but it was the first effective response to the rise of industrialism and the rise of capital concentration that went with it. It was the first serious attempt to deal with the grotesque social deformities that are the inevitable by-product of captial concentration, which Mittens Romney is still trying to sell as a good thing, you know, the glorious virtue of Bush's tax giveaway for billionaires, etc.
I give credit to Che for his recognition that revolution was necessary as it still is, and for his courage, which we still need. If he didn't recognize that the viable template for world revolution was crafted by Gandhi rather than Lenin and Mao, all I can say is he wasn't perfect, and it's very risky to judge people's past actions from a present-day perspective.
And since I find there's a lot there to admire, and I think I'll use the card and buy the shirt.