Monday, August 08, 2011

NO "HAMLET" TODAY: INSTEAD, CHE GUEVARA!


That's Che Guevara and Fidel way back when, after the Cuban Revolution. Boy, Che looked good in pictures. Come to think of it, so did Fidel. Communist leaders like Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot and Kim Jong-il looked horrible in photos, but the camera loved these guys. They looked like somebody you could joke with...somebody it would be fun to pal around with.

Che in particular got a reputation for being cool. Rock musicians and Hollywood stars used to wear Che t-shirts. That's (above) Carlos Santana sporting his at an Oscar ceremony.

That's (above) Johhny Depp wearing his.

Johnny Depp isn't a communist. I imagine he just saw Che as a symbol of rebellion against the Man, and maybe of his belief that communism, if it does nothing else, at least feeds the poor.

I don't think that's true, but at least I understand why somebody would believe that. What I don't understand is why Che would be the focus of that belief.  Che was a food destroyer, not a food creator. He and Fidel turned an up and coming country into an economic basket case. Before the revolution Cuba had a higher per capita income than Austria, Japan, and Spain. It had the third highest protein consumption in the Western Hemisphere. What has it been since the revolution? It's a poor country which requires the dollars sent from relatives living in exile to prevent disaster.




It's time to ask some questions: when has communism ever made a country rich? Was China better off under Mao's communism or under the present state capitalism? Was India better off under Nehru's socialism, or under capitalism? Who's feeding their people better, North or South Korea? Remember how everybody predicted economic doom for Chile when Allende was kicked out? Today it's one of the most successful countries in South America. Look at post-war Vietnam. Why would anyone who cares about the poor have anything good to say about communism?



But I digress from my topic, which is Che. I hate to say it, but Che was not a nice guy. He was a Stalinist. He couldn't sign the death orders fast enough. Che's Cuba hated rock and roll, which they regarded as American music, and had young people beaten and arrested for wearing long hair. Gays were put into a forced labor camp with a sign over the gate that read, "WORK WILL MAKE A MAN OUT OF YOU." He had utter disdain for blacks...all this, and yet only a short time ago he was the darling of American Rock and Roll. Go figure.

But...I have to admit...he took a good picture.

BTW: My information about Che comes from a book I'm reading now called "Exposing The Real Che Guevara" by Ernesto Fontoya.

49 comments:

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Everybody: Sorry I didn't put up a reading of "To be or not to be" like I promised. I came across an unexpected problem.

You don't realize it til you have a reason to look at the lines closely, but the piece is completely in earnest. There's not a hint of self parody. It's hard to make fun of something where the author tries so hard to express an interesting thought clearly and sincerely.

The photos that worked best were the ones that treated the subject completely seriously. That's okay, but this isn't that kind of blog. Maybe I'll post some of them one of these days.

Sigh...

martinus said...

I find it really depressing that Che is such a hero.
No one even realises that Che institutionalised the horrible homophobia in Cuba. People never believe me!
Also, there is this inherent idea that the left is good, and the right is bad.

The fact that he was photogenic definitely plays a part in his fame.
Unfortunately I have started seeing people wearing Pol Pott, and Mao shirts, and we all know they were monsters.

Anonymous said...

Your reticence to lampoon his words is commendable, but har! I'd love to see it.

The Raven said...

"Before the revolution Cuba had a higher per capita income than Austria, Japan, and Spain. It had the third highest protein consumption in the Western Hemisphere"

When a writer resorts to "protein consumption" to defend a government, I can pretty much guarantee that the writer is covering up the reality of a horrible government.

Pre-Castro Cuba was run by the Mafia, a major destination for what we would now call sex tourism, and grindingly poor outside of Havana. If your author does not include that, you need to find a better author.

Guevara was one of these Latin American figures that is nearly unimaginable to people who did not grow up there, because the depth and meanness of Latin American corruption is almost unimaginable: an idealist corrupted by violence. He was not a Nice Guy, but in Latin America, nice guys don't even finish the race--they get shot by their competitors. They feed us corvids well in Latin America.

SparkyMK3 said...

S'okay Eddie.

Yeah, i personally am a believer in Capitalism. Communism scares me.

By the way, i posted some of my old artwork on my blog. Can you stop by it and leave me a comment on them please? It gets lonely over there!

http://classiccartoonreviews.blogspot.com/

Jamil R. Lahham said...

The system isn't bad, people are. Communism isn't bad, you over simplify it with your statement here. Look around us, capitalism isn't doing so hot either is it now? in the "richest" country on earth "The mother of capitalism" hunger, illiteracy, and joblessness percentages are unprecedented, if that's the best humans can come up with then keep it the hell away from me, and if I were to follow your logic correctly here capitalism=bad. And Che didn't bring Cuba's economy down with his views, quite the opposite, he realized very early after the victory of the revolution that Fidel's end goals did not represent what they set up to do at the beginning, there for he LEFT Cuba to help revolutions else where. He fully understood what Castro was setting up to do and decided not to have a part of that. What amazes me is that he was arrested by the Bolivians with the help of the CIA (And we all know how trust worthy the CIA is) and legally he should have been brought to an international court like any other war criminal, and instead they let a "Nobody" shoot him in a hut in the middle of nowhere THEN, chop him to pieces so that no one finds his body. I don't know about you but this sounds like a Mafia job to me. The truth is, the US government will never teach us the truth about this guy, in fact they're not interested in telling us the truth about anything, so why bother!

diego cumplido said...

My god Eddie. I strongly disagree with you about the marvels of capitalism, and specially about Chile's case. It seems to me that you don't know about it more than what U.S media said back then. That's not reality.

My god I don't know even where to start (and I don't want to be boring).

First of all, economic success doesn't mean anything. Pinochet and neoliberalism ruined this country. We've become one of the most unequal countries of the world, our art and culture was basically destroyed, we've got huge percentages of unhappiness and depression, the nice architecture of the past has been destroyed with awful inmobiliary projects, we're contaminated: our capital city is full of smog (among a lot of other things), our flora and fauna: absolutely abused. Our education system sucks. Our health system sucks. The population has become illiterate and stupid. Everything is expensive anyway. The list is infinite.

All of this for what? buying bigger cars and T.V sets?

I'm not even getting into the horrors of Pinochet's regime and the actual good things about Allende's government and the unfair treatment it received in a context of cold-war paranoia.

If you want to comment on the subject I recommend you to watch a couple of documentaries first. It's not a simple thing to talk about.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jamil: Well, I think there is such a thing as a bad system, apart from bad people in the system.

Marx believed in dictatorship...the dictatorship of the proletriat. Lenin modified that to mean dictatorship of the proletarian party. Stalin modified that to mean dictatorship of the leader of the dominant faction in the proletarian party. In other words...a king, whether the term is used or not. That's a bad system. Abuse isn't an accidental byproduct, but the inevitable result of a system like that.

I'm not a socialist, but if you're determined to go down that path, you should investigate non-Marxist varients of socialism.

Raven: Watch out...the cure is sometimes worse than the disease. Marxism doesn't eradicate poverty, it just makes it a crime to report on it.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Diego: I'm as mad about bad architecture and environmental disasters as you are, but those characterize communist countries, too. You're just not allowed to report on it there. Those are modern diseases that transcend systems.

I have no love for Pinochet, but Allende identified himself as a Marxist-Leninist, and you have to ask yourself what that means. Lenin believed that elections were only a temporary step in gaining power. After that the electoral process is dissolved on the theory that no parliamentary body should compete for rule with the Communist Party.

After the Bolshevik revolution the Kronstadt sailors asked for the Soviets (parliaments) that Lenin promised in his slogan, "All power to the Soviets." Lenin's answer was to wipe the sailors out. Remember that Allende called himself a Leninist. Read Lenin's books and see what kind of man Allende admired.

Adam Tavares said...

The concentration of power is what causes poverty. It can happen in a capitalist system and a communist one. Money attracts money and monopolies over vital industries can happen in a free-market if the government isn't strong enough to break them up, at that point the business with the monopoly basically operates as a shadow government anyway. It doesn't matter which system allows it to happen and which flag is flapping over the capitol.

Batista's Cuba was pretty corrupt too, but they had the good fortune of not having to suffer a trade embargo. It's hard to maintain a high standard of living when you basically can't trade with 90% of the world and you're only the size of Tennessee.

I'm not a booster for communism, but capitalism doesn't get a free pass either. It's all in the details. I know it's hard to critique communism without sounding like an unfettered free-market capitalist fan-boy. I think both are extremes driven by ideology and are best avoided. Whatever spreads power and wealth out the most, rewards merit, while simultaneously allowing for "large-scale collective-good" type infrastructure projects to exist, is the political system for me, but... I... don't... know... which... one... that... is... It could be any of them if designed well.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that guys like Batista were such oppressive bastards that they made extremists on the other side appealing. Look how progressive the Arab world was just 50 years ago before the Wahabbists and theocrats took over.

I'm not a fan of communism but America's propping up of oppressive right wing dictatorship makes it unsurprising that it took hold in so many places.

diego cumplido said...

Okay, I'm not a big defender of communism either. And I'm not a huge fan of Salvador Allende. I've got mixed feelings about the man. What I know is: 1) Financial trouble wasn't necessarily caused by government politics, it had a lot to do with fear induced by right-wing media and politicians who put a lot of effort on trying to sabotage the government plans. Plans that were not crazy communist ideas. It was reasonable stuff as far as I know. Maybe he should have been more cautious. But there was a lot of popular effervescence back then, so he felt the support backing him up I guess.

I don't know about that marxist-leninist thing. It was cold war and capitalism is also full of weird and wrong ideas. He wasn't in the communist party and had a lot of friends with different political views anyway. I don't know what I would've believed back then.

I may agree with you about the modern diseases that transcend systems. But I think that we've got more extreme cases around here for some reason.

Anyway, I don't think the fight between communism and capitalism is still a valid one. Communism is obsolete and neoliberal capitalism is not working. And there's a difference between classic capitalism and neoliberalism. I'm for a moderate capitalism if that's possible today. And that's with my limited knowledgments.... cause I'm sure there are other economic possibilities that are completely ignored.

And about my country: The kind of economy we have here is completely out of control. Capitalism is softer in other countries.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Adam, Diego, Anon, Raven: Haw! Even my anti-Che book doesn't have much good to say about Batista.

I don't take the embargo very seriously as a cause for Cuba's economic woes, because most of the world ignored it or circumvented it. Communist Cuba just wasn't very efficient at creating goods the rest of the world wanted to buy.

Also, I can only imagine what Cuba's international credit rating must be like. Their seizure of foreign companies, and the fact that they didn't even pay the Soviets back doesn't exactly make that country a place you'd want to invest in.

What would have happened if Batista had stayed in power? Well, my totally uninformed guess is that he wouldn't have stayed in power. Ordinary non-communist Cubans would have gotten rid of him. But even if he had stayed, and even if he'd remained corrupt, my guess is that Cuba would have long ago become the richest country in Central America, maybe the richest country South of the U.S.

My guess it would have diversified from agriculture to electronics and autos and things like that. A friendly country only 90 miles from Florida would have attracted as much of America's outsourcing as it could possibly handle. And it would still have raked in the tourist dollars.

Anonymous said...

http://poorsquinky.com/art/ Are you aware of this? Seems like someones mirroring your blog for a blogspam site.

Joshua Marchant (Scrawnycartoons) said...

Hey Eddie, this is one of your most popular posts in a while! I guess that vacation really put you back in step with what the people want!

That said, I don't know much about Che or communism, So I'll sit back down

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: Holy Cow! You're right. Somebody is mirroring my site! I don't know what to think about it.

Anonymous said...

Eddie, I think you could write a very interesting post on the "To be or not to be" soliloquy and what it means to be impervious to self-parody. It's not that the play itself can't be parodied. I can imagine a Kurtzman/Mad spoof of Hamlet (or King Lear, or Macbeth...) being extremely funny. But the speech itself, as you say, is too sincere. I remember reading somewhere that W S Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) hated Shakespeare, and tried to write parodies of him to show how anyone could write like that. The parodies didn't come close to Shakespeare, because they just sound like Gilbert writing in Ye Olde English. What does that say about the difference between sincerity and parody? Anyway, I'd love to see your further thoughts.

Here's something you might enjoy, by the late great Sir Frank Kermode. It attempts to describe how Shakespeare came to be able to use language the way he did, and questions whether he went too far!

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v21/n24/frank-kermode/writing-about-shakespeare

Oh, and on the subject of Cuba, this is long but well worth reading if you have the time:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/12_3_urbanities-why_havana.html

Ivan K. said...

This is probably the weirdest Uncle Eddie's blog entry, from my point of view.

First, the total anti- attitude about the subject matter. If you have such a bad opinion on something, why make that the sole object of attention? Something's fishy there.

About Cuba, I tend to disagree, and these images speak a lot more than I could say: http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/6to-congreso-pcc/comite_central.jpg http://www.radionuevitas.icrt.cu/images/stories/galerias/VI_congreso_pcc/congreso_pcc1.JPG

You see, the people on the pics look neither dangerous, stupid nor anti-intellectual. There is no great stiffness or uniformity either.

One obviously idiotic thing is that Americans almost invariably assume that Communism means a society led by Communist parties which, in turn, claim they have created a paradise on earth. Well, no. Communism in the Marxist vocabulary is a society of the future: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism I've lived in a society run by a Communist Union, and it was _never_ called "communism."

I still haven't got my breath back from the above bumps, when one of the commenters started to talk about Chile. Chile, was it mentioned recently? Have I just misread the word Che? Is it a typo? No, none of it, but people are really discussing Chile, out of the blue! ...
And what they say is quite contrary to what I've recently read about it, here:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts189.html
http://www.policyofliberty.net/HPdA/RobertsAraujo.html
http://www.opednews.com/a/135325?show=votes#allcomments

And then, this copy of Uncle Eddie's blog! I've never seen anything like it before!

Ben Leeser said...

Methinks I haven't learned enough about the way the world works to categorize myself as a "capitalist" or a "communist" just yet - I'm 16 years old, jeez. But I do know enough about communism to understand to mass-produce t-shirts with Che's face on them and sell them using capitalist commerce is a bit of a silly thing to do.

I also know enough about communism to know that Che was an oppressor, not a liberator. Authoritarianism is authoritarianism, "left-wing" and "right-wing" is a bit of a false paradigm in this case. But fair's fair, he did have a cool beard.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Stephen: Wow! The Cuba article you linked too was great! It's one of the best examples of travel writing that I've ever seen. Many thanks.

I'll read the Kermode (and look up Gilbert's Shakespeare parodies) after I get some coffee.

Ivan: It's good to get the perspective of someone who's lived in a communist country, and actually liked it. What do you think of Stephen's article on Havana?

Ben: I notice from the comments that some young people seem to regard the Cold War as a needless squabble between equally rigid ideologies. I really don't think that was the case.

Anonymous said...

So Bolivians killed Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid AND Che? Call Bolivia home to the baddest badasses on the planet! It's where the world's outlaws go to get slaughtered. There's a bloody t-shirt design in that but I doubt Jonny Depp would wear it. Except on his private island, where he can safely pretend to stick it to the man.

Mike Fontanelli said...

Viva la EvoluciĆ³n!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Mike: Haw!

Mike Fontanelli said...

@Stephen:

WS Gilbert was a creative genius, the equal in his way of Wilde and Shaw, if not Shakespeare. I think I've read every line Gilbert ever wrote professionally, but I've never read that he "hated Shakespeare." I'll stand corrected if you can prove it.

BTW, here's something Gilbert specifically wrote on the subject. His authorship is undisputed. He may have been being sarcastic or facetious, but it doesn't sound like it. It doesn't seem to me that he disliked or didn't appreciate Shakespeare, quite the opposite:

Unappreciated Shakespeare by W.S. Gilbert

pappy d said...

Cuba had a great economy under Batista. What destabilised his regime was that cash flow was so unequally divided. The rich were very rich, the vast majority of profits from the island went directly overseas & the people were starving.

The real enemy of a vibrant economy is democracy. See China's progress under single-party management! In the US, modified single-party rule has saved the global economy by backing the banks up with the good faith & credit of the taxpayer. The banks are borrowing money at rock-bottom interest rates. The theories of Milton Friedman & the "Chigago Boys" were fully & properly implemented in Chile by the dictator & see how much more successful he was compared to Thatcher & Reagan.

None of this would have been possible under democracy.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Stephen, Mike: I actually prefer the edited versions of Shakespeare's plays. I hate to say it but the man could be painfully long-winded at times.

We have to face up to the fact that Shakespeare padded. I don't mind when the padding was as funny and beautiful as the "Queen Maab" speech in "Romeo and Juliet," but sometimes it just inexplicably ran on.

My guess is that the mature Shakespeare was aware of the problem but was under some external constraint that forced him to do it. Maybe somebody leaned on him to make the plays longer so the audience would feel it got its money's worth.

Maybe the padded parts were there to allow fruit sellers to hawk their fruit to the audience.

As time went by Shakespeare was inclined to create unnecessary characters and put most of his padding (which I believe he hated) into their roles. That way his best writing for other characters could play at a natural length.

Am I certain of this? Nope. It's just a guess.

Pappy: Haw! An interesting comment, but I don't agree. Geez, you can lapse into fascism that way. I don't mean that you're a fascist...you're very obviously not...just that, well, you know what I mean.

Alberto said...

Being Cuban it's nice to see someone who knows that Che was a nasty, awful person, and that for the most part people are better off in capitalistic societies. Being part of an art community you don't get to meet a lot of people in that mindset... Unless you're in China however where their artists rebel against their communist state (There's an interesting Frontline episode called "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei?" highly recommended), I think overall artist's are hardwired to rebel against whatever reality they are born into.

As for the Che shirt. I just enjoy the fact that they probably paid money for it and that in reality Che would of probably hated their guts.

I take it that book you're reading is by a Cuban Author?

BlakeJ said...

Nice post, Eddie! I first saw those shirts without knowing who it was (and would never wear them). I read an article called "8 Historic Symbols That Mean The Opposite Of What You Think", and it talks about Che being the evil man he is.

I'd also love to hear you talk more about Shakespeare. What should I pick up first? I've read Romeo and Juliet (and seen the movie) and Julius Ceasar in High School for a start.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that we don't have any writings by Shakespere on how he approaches writing and his views on the industry etc.

Kind of like Raymond Chandlers essay on Detective novels.

Lucas Nine said...

The "Al Capp syndrome" again...

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Blake: That article sounds interesting. I'll look for it.

What Shakespeare on film? I'd say the Zaferelli (spelled right?)/ Olivia Hussy Romeo and Juliette (that you've already seen), and the mighty trilogy by Olivier: Hamlet, Henry V, and especially Richard III. Olivier did Othello too, but it's not very good. Branaugh's Henry V and Hamlet are also worth seeing after you've seen Olivier's versions.

On CD there's Orson Welles' one hour radio version of Julius Caesar. Whatever you do, don't buy the longer stage version. Avoid the horrible Brando movie.

There's a lot of bad CD versions of Midsummer Night's Dream out there, and only one good one that I know of. I'm trying to track it down now. I don't like any of the film versions I've seen.

pappy d said...

Hmmm. Can you still call it fascist if it's international?

It tickles me that somebody capitalised on Che's "celebrity" by selling his image on T-shirts. He should have had better representation. Good career move dying young, though.

Anonymous said...

@Mike:

I agree with you about Gilbert's genius, and not just for the Savoy operas; the Bab Ballads are superb comic verse.

I had to dig around, but I think this is what I was half-remembering. It comes from "Gilbert and Sullivan and Their Victorian World" by Christopher Hibbert.

"As for his predecessors as dramatists, he had little time for any of them, not even Shakespeare, of whom he entertained no higher an opinion now than when he was a student. 'I was bored by The Tempest, as I was by Richard II and Julius Caesar, three ridiculously bad plays," he once said. "I dare say Shakespeare was a great poet. I am not qualified to express a technical opinion on that point, but I consider myself an authority on dramatic work, and I have no hesitation in expressing a professional opinion that all his works should be kept off the boards."

If this was Gilbert's opinion of Shakespeare, then the article you linked to shows how scrupulously fair he could be regarding the reputation of a fellow dramatist!

Here's Gilbert's parody of Hamlet. According to Wikipedia, P G Wodehouse played Guildenstern in a school production, and an adaptation for TV was done in 1938!

http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/other_gilbert/rosencrantz/script.html

Anonymous said...

"After the Bolshevik revolution the Kronstadt sailors asked for the Soviets (parliaments) that Lenin promised in his slogan, "All power to the Soviets." Lenin's answer was to wipe the sailors out."

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand then enin introduced the NEP (New Economic Policy) which was his most succesful yet (didnt he die by the very end of it so he didnt see his own results?)

anyway: uncle eddie picked and chose what truth to convey there, which isnt very admirable

Anonymous said...

Also, didn't roughy a third of Cubans (containing a lot of very wealthy ones) have access to clean, running water under Batista?
And then when Communism came in, it sky-rocketted to almost 100% ?

" But even if he had stayed, and even if he'd remained corrupt, my guess is that Cuba would have long ago become the richest country in Central America, maybe the richest country South of the U.S. "

Come on now, Eddie.
Australia and New Zealand are below the US geographically.


Also @ Pappy

The guy who made "that" Che image was a locally-famous Irish painter called Jim Fitzpatrick, and people over here buckle in PRIDE over that fact.
http://www.jimfitzpatrick.ie/update/che.html

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: "If" the communists bettered the quality of the drinking water, then I congratulate them. It's hard to take statistics from communist countries seriously, though. Cuba doesn't have a free press and I can only imagine what would happen to a Cuban who publicly disagreed with a statistic like this one.

If statistical comparisons between present day Cuba and the Cuba of 1957 are of interest to you, then you should read the book I mentioned. It's full of statistics, none of them flattering to the communists.

As for Australia and New Zealand...I thought everyone would know I was talking about the Americas. When you do a blog which attempts to make important points in just a few words, you look for opportunities to cut out every unnecessary word.

Thanks for the link to Fitzpatrick. I liked a couple of his pictures, and it's interesting to know that he created the classic Che image. I'm surprised that he's that proud of it, in view of the way Cuba turned out. Cuba today is a poverty-ridden police state.

Anon: You'll have to elaborate on that. I don't see how the incidents you mentioned relate to each other.

pappy d said...

I'm shocked that Fitzpatrick isn't ashamed of ripping off a 3rd world photographer & making a gift of it to the people.

A then-unknown Cuban artist??!

Well, I suspect that Fitzpatrick knew damn well who he was at the time. Why else would the photographer still be anonymous?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Alberto: I assume the author's Cuban. I don't have the book at hand.

Steve A. said...

Eddie, it seems you've opened up a can of worms here.

I think it would help you to understand Che better if you were to read his own "Diarios de Motocicleta" (Motorcycle Diaries). There is also a great movie that is based on these writings and it follows it quite closely. In it you can see how he went from a Med student in Buenos Aires to someone who was willing to die for the fight against injustice.

Che started out with Socialist ideals, which I think too often gets confused and mixed up with Communism. Communism does not work! But a Democracy with a healthy bit of unadulterated Socialism does. we can see this in Canada, Europe, and some of the more stable Latin American states. Cuba was forced to turn to the Soviets and Communism due to pressures by the US.

As for his violent steak, let us not forget that many of our own "national heroes" killed innocent people by the hundreds. Heck, we have who I believe to be one of the most ruthless murderers in history on our $20 bill.

The point I'm making is that who Che started out as and who he became are two different men. Many people, including myself, admire the selfless revolutionary who thought that he could change the world. Not the political leader in Cuba who was ultimately corrupted by power.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Steve: Thanks for the comment. I'll try to see the film, but I expect to have a hard time getting sentimental about Che's youth. I'm sure he was a kinder, more sympathetic person when he was younger, but I imagine that applies to most of the world's dictators. Probably the young Hitler was a nicer guy than the adult version, but so what?

I would be interested in understanding Che's intellectual development in his early years. I understand why someone would develop a romantic idea of fighting to free people from oppression. That's fine. Even a lot of capitalists believe in that. What I don't understand is why such a person would choose to ally himself with communism which is one of the most oppressive systems ever created.

I hate to say it, but the young Che strikes me as a sloppy thinker (I don't mean you, I'm talking about Che). My guess is he was someone who acted on impression and impulse rather than thinking things through.

I wonder what the young Che thought about the books that outlined Stalin's atrocities. My guess is that he never bothered to read them. He simply wasn't interested. It's hard to admire someone like that, even when they're young and haven't started killing people yet.

Anonymous said...

Weell thing is, the people running the show currently, and at the time that the Stalinistic flavour of communism got a footing, disqualify communism and anything threatening the current platform of their power. So its very important for them to bunch together corrupt totalitarian communism, and the idea or offsprings of it and even wussy european "liberal socialism".
Drawing conclusions from whats happening in a piss poor nation with systematic corruption where youre clasping at other people to survive isn't very logical. Guess what happens when someone climbs the ladder whatever ism "they" (its more complicated than that - its bigger than them and separate to their own motives as human beings) aspire to?
Corruption and the tiny little fact that it was one SYSTEM under dog fighting another system in a rough time lead to the atrocities.
Just like America, the Uk, europe has its fair share of them. Where is the difference? Does it only count if its your own people? And withstanding socioeconomical differences.. As said.
Marxist communism is flawed, no doubt about it, but simply discussing "communism" as in meaning discussing one separate movement in history and not the actual ideas is not very fruititous. I full heartedly agree about Che Guevara as an icon.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: Thanks for the comment. I answered much of what you said in the post and in the replies to other comments.

You should read the post about the book, "Mao's Famine." I think I put it up about two or three months ago. In that book you'll see that Mao's beliefs killed those people, not any necessity that was forced onChina by outsiders. Read elsewher about Pol Pot (spelled right?). Read about Stalin's deliberate starvation of 11 million Ukranians. None of these disasters were forced on those countries by their enemies. You have some reading to do.

BTW: I'm not obsessed with fighting the Cold War again. My hope is that we can put all that behind us and move on to more current problems. I just believe that misery and death on a large scale should be remembered so we don't make the same mistakes again.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely - I did not mean to say that it was all down to outer pressure, I'm just saying corrupt totalitarian states are that first and foremost. Also that the modern trade economy and banking and the less controlled but related system that forecame it starved and killed people as well, communism is a small blip in that historical context, and it is all related. And I'm not pointing fingers but rather saying it's not all in the ideology but in other things which is why I meant it seems unconstructive to discuss communism as it played out in the nano second of history it existed, as the -ism rather than in a historical and specific context. And it was not just directed at you. :)
As you can guess I'm a lefty, but looking back at history it's all the same to me, and I'm no marxist evangelist. Forces in poor countries on the brink use marxism as a opportunistic hoistingpole to revolt, more fortunate ones in the main power cluster play the same game but balance and adjust their stakes accordingly. Not so much about ideology but power struggles rooted in who trades with who, who owns what and so on.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: How does corruption in the West compare with Mao killing 42 million people in The Great Leap Forward?

If I understand your point, it's that communism went through a violent period where it killed an awful lot of possibly innocent people, but it laid the groundwork for a more humane system which will in the long run save a lot more lives than it killed. Do I understand you correctly?

That doesn't make any sense. You're attempting to justify the mass killing of people today in the belief that it might (might!!?) benefit people in the future. What if it doesn't? What if the economists that claim socialism is inefficient were right? That's all those people dead for nothing.

I hate to say it but you and I (and I definitely include myself in this category) probably weren't properly educated. I know I wasn't. We tend to make snap judgements about issues we don't have the background to understand, and our idealism makes us easy to manipulate.

I'm not saying that people like us should stay out of politics, just that we should avoid extremes where people tend to get hurt. We should ally ourselves only with people who attempt to persuade with debate rather than guns.

And in the meantime...self-educate.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Ivan: Sorry, I forgot to answer your comment. I don't have time to look up your links right now, but check back in a couple of of days, and remind me if i forget again.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Ivan: I used the links and I can see that I misunderstood what you were saying. With my new understanding I would say that your mesage is that Allende sucked, but Cuba is ruled by a congress of people who look nice in a photograph, and therefore that country must be in good hands.

I think you put too much emphasis on how people look in photographs. Besides, is this a true congress? If there's not a free press, and only people who are okayed by the communists can run for office, can this legislative body claim to represent the people?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Eddie, a bit late but just thought I'd respond now that I read it; no! You misunderstood. That was not at all what I meant. I mean that the general discourse, and terminology especially in America, bunches together communism (an ism, ideology that also can mean more than one thing) with the few goverments employing some form of it in the past, in the same way some might do with Islam (Islam is not just the cultural tradition associated with it). And hence shooting it down in full, and disqualifying it as an _idea_ - Communism = massmurder.
When capitalism has been known to kill people as well, especially in the past - and it should all be looked at in an historical context - that was what I mean with that.

Also I would not hold that stance for the simple reason that I dont believe in full fledged marxist communism.
And I agree, I dont think I know it all, I was just saying in a general sense, that I can vouch for more, that the ruling terminology is a bit skewed, and deliberately so.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: You're not a Marxist, but I'm guessing that you believe communism has a kind of admirable moral intention, even if they haven't made the system work yet. You seem to believe that if they keep trying they might someday get it right. Well, I guess anything's possible, but really...how likely is that?

Dictatorship of the proletarian party is at the heart of Marxist Leninist theory. The party controls what you read, what news you hear, what opinions you can have...well, it's a long list. If you say something they don't like they can put you into a forced labor camp, or even shoot you. Where's the admirable good intention in any of that?

It's true that Marx believed that the state would someday wither away, but he was very vague about how that would come about, and he didn't seem to put much thought or passion into it. He just had an innocent faith that the leaders of the strongest, most centralized police states in history would someday realize they weren't needed, and hand the government over to the people. Honestly, how likely is that?

You're no doubt thinking of thinking of people like Gorbachov (spelled right?}, or the present leaders of China, who I admit are not as bad as Stalin or Mao. These are people who abandoned communism in favor of some less repressive system, but why settle for less repressive? And what about all the people who died or were made were made miserable by the old system? Marx had it all wrong. Governments should create the conditions that will improve the lives of people now living.

As to how the word communism should be interpreted...I try to avoid conversations about the meaning of words. It just gets in the way of real conversation.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: Thanks for the interesting link! It feels right.