Friday, October 12, 2007

Viva Che!

Remembering Che Guevara on the anniversary of his death as a true hero. Che had a deep love of the masses coupled with hatred for those who callously exploit them. In Latin America, now as then, the class divide is markedly visible. It is no wonder that this is the terrain where 21st socialism is gaining ground.

A previous post on this blog from 2005 titled Che's Ride offers a review of the Motorcycle Diaries, a semi-biographical film about Che.

Following is an edited excerpt from an article by Peter Taaffe on this month, October 2007.

Like millions throughout the world, we [Marxists] hailed his heroic efforts in combating capitalism and imperialism. Che Guevara was and remains an enduring symbol of implacable resistance to a destructive and wasteful system, and the inevitability of a revolt against it by its victims. What a contrast between Che Guevara and the politically bankrupt and cowardly misleaders of the labour movement today!

As Tony Saunois's analysis published recently on demonstrates, Che Guevara was not a 'plaster saint'; he made mistakes. But he was also capable of reassessing his actions and learning from them.


Che Guevara, at the time of his death, was an increasingly vocal critic of Stalinism, which he began to reject after he had visited the 'Eastern bloc'. He read Trotsky and had a book by Trotsky in his belongings when he was murdered. Moreover, the charge of 'wanting a nuclear holocaust' because he supported nuclear missiles being installed in Cuba is false to the core. Does every capitalist government that supports nuclear weapons for 'defence' do this because they want to unleash a nuclear holocaust? Merely to pose the question shows how absurd is the charge that [some] has levelled against Guevara.

The Cuban revolution from the outset was besieged by imperialism. It had just experienced the CIA-sponsored 'Bay of Pigs' invasion. It was, therefore, entirely understandable for Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to seek to defend, through the acquisition of arms, the gains of the revolution.

There is a discussion to be had as to whether it was tactically wise for Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to support the installation of nuclear weapons in Cuba. They honestly believed it was necessary for the defence of Cuba but the real ultimate defence of the Cuban revolution was in the mass support in Latin America and worldwide.


The tragedy of Che Guevara is that he was assassinated while he was still developing his ideas. We supported this heroic figure in his combat against imperialism. But, at the same time, we pointed to some of the deficiencies in his 'guerrillaist' strategy, counter-posing to this the social role of the mass working class of Latin America.

The reprinted article below shows the consistent attitude of Marxism towards Che Guevara, not ex-post facto, but at the time of his death and since.

Taaffe, Peter. Latin America - Marxism or Guerrillaism?, 2007 (reprinted article c. 1968).

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