3
   

Che Guavara...forty years on.

 
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Oct, 2007 09:53 pm
I get the rage that edgarblythe points to re atrocities and long term subjugation. I get that Che (was, I dunno) a violent kid, and that the reasons in place and his own violence may have fed violence to which which Robert points. (I still haven't read the big post from nimh, will.)
And,

I think violence breeds inchoate hatred and wish more were out there intervening on the cycle.

(No, I'm not disputing there has been injustice.)

I don't just want to make nice. But violence feeds, and feeds, and feeds.

Occasionally, communication between parties feeds too (which we all know).
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Oct, 2007 10:14 pm
edgarblythe wrote:

You go on with your posts and I shall go on with mine, and that's all I have by way of reply.


Hey, I'm sorry if I've offended you edgarblythe. Wasn't at all my intention.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Oct, 2007 11:26 pm
nimh wrote:
edgarblythe wrote:
Violence was being used, by superior forces, before and after Che made his try. Anybody who thinks the US forces were going to dialog for a better world does not know the situation, as it existed on the ground, then. Torture and killing by dictators was allowed by the Americans. They had CIA active in all trouble spots.

Right, but isnt this just a "they did it too" argument?

I know the CIA was undermining any leftwing government in the world it could hit, democratic ones included. I know that the US, through the CIA, supported coup d'etats and dictatorships and terror against civilian movements across Latin-America and beyond. I know all that.

But - and? Does Che's and Castro's wanton terror against any Cubans opposed to their new regime, their disastrous economic and agricultural mismanagement that caused new waves of hunger in the countryside, their oppression of all dissent, become any more palatable by pointing out that the CIA and Batista were really, really bad as well?

No, the US wasnt "going to dialog for a better world", but thats a bit of a straw man since nobody here so far has said it was -- but yeah, and? Did that justify, or even necessitate the communist terror of the likes of Che?

Hell, I think that Cuba's communists had actually stood a better chance of effectively opposing the US and its machinations if it had refrained from the kind of terror Che's men unleashed and the kind of dictatorship Castro imposed, and instead had pursued a more plural and less crazed leftist course. By actually acting like the brutes that US propaganda made them out to be from the start, they were, if anything, playing into the hands of the CIA.


Interesting.


You know, I have been thinking of opening a Castro thread for a while, and you may have nudged me into it....since I seem to get no really nuanced picture of him, just demonising from the right, and hagiography from large sections of the left.....I'll do it when I get home...and hope that Fbaezer and Craven will join in.


Robert Gentel wrote:
Edgar,

You keep focusing on the violence against the "enemy" which is misleading since we are talking about their penchant for violent subjugation of their own people. I'm not faulting them for starting violent revolutions alone but their penchant for violence in general.

Of course a violent coup was the only way to obtain regime change in Cuba. Yes you aren't going to "dialog" your way into Batista's resignation.

But that has nothing to do with the fact that once their achieved their revolution they began to execute and torture people to keep the power they had wrested from their "enemies".

Once they won, they kept killing people to stay on top. Che was a brutal executioner. And this has absolutely nothing to do with US colonialism and everything to do with these particular individuals having predispositions for violence and being megalomaniacs.

Che always wanted "action". He wasn't ever happy being a peaceful cog in the revolution and he consistently sought more violent parts to play in the movements he joined. I am not saying they should have tried to protest peacefully against their foreign enemies. I am criticizing them for wanton murder of their own people and brutal subjugation of their own people.



Ah..thank you...you answered a question I was planning to ask you, but hadn't yet.


So...are there real examples of situations where violence was necessary to get change, and to defend change...but the ensuing regime has not then slipped into mirroring the abuses it fought against? Or is that one of the awful ironies of revolution?


(I note this mirroring effect in movements to effect change in many, many systems, not just i the political sphere.)


Nicaragua would seem an example.....??????
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 01:49 am
dagmaraka wrote:
no, nimh. i am nowhere saying that i lived under communism and thus i and only i know what it looks like. (If I wanted to say it , I would have.)

but i would argue whether the Kerala communist party really lead a communist government and state. After all, abolishing parties (there's only to be the vanguard at the beginning) and abolishing classes and property are among the core ideas of communism. Sure you can stretch it, but if you're running a capitalist economy in a pluralist country, ummm, that's too far.
I don't doubt that the followers see themselves as convinced communists, but that's the philosophical level. we're talking systems. Kerala was certainly NOT a communist state by any stretch of imagination, even if ruled by the communist party. India is a democratic (arguably) federation with a plenty capitalistic economy, even in Kerala. Communist party? Whatever, if they want to call themselves that, I don't object. Communist state? Absolutely wasn't. See the difference? That is all I am saying.




Have you a good link/s on Kerala?



Is that where The God of Small Things author lives?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 05:35 am
dlowan wrote:
Interestingly, I was reading that Che was disturbed by Cuba's closeness to the USSR...but I also hear him denounced as Stalinist....?

I don't know where you read that Guevara was disturbed by Cuba's closeness to the USSR, but you certainly didn't read it in MSN's Encarta encyclopedia.

dlowan wrote:
A strong opponent of United States influence in the developing world, he also helped guide the Castro regime on its leftward path and was influential in persuading Castro to align Cuba with the Soviet Union and other Communist nations.

For what it's worth, this account is consistent with what I learned about the Cuban revolution in school.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 05:54 am
edgarblythe wrote:
Che - and Castro - would have been ignored, if they sought dialog or peaceful protest.

Two questions for you, Edgar:

1) Is that the only binary choice you see available? Gandhi-like nun-type peaceful demonstration vs the terror and dogmatic dictatorship Che and Castro imposed? You really dont think that just because nun-type peacableness didnt work, that left no alternative but the doctrinary revolutionary terror that Che and Castro imposed?

edgarblythe wrote:
The murdered nuns are an example of how peaceful protests were met.


2) Well, and how would the end result have looked like in comparison with what happened now, even if the resistance against Batista had stuck to the purely civic/non-violent path? More nuns would have been murdered.. more demonstrations would have been clamped down.. before, perhaps, a tipping point was reached and the regime overthrown, either through the popular protests directly or by forces from within. It worked with Marcos in the Phillipines.. it worked in Portugal in '75.

How would the total number of deaths then have compared to the total number of victims of Castro's dictatorship over the past 40 years? I'm thinking it would probably compare quite favourably.. perhaps even if the attempt had ultimately failed.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 06:36 am
dagmaraka wrote:
No worse than his enemies is right, perhaps. But 'just as bad' is perhaps also right.

I wasn't sure about this, so I consulted R.J. Rummel. Rummel is a statistician at the university of Hawaii. He specializes in governments killing their own citizens, an act for which he coined the name democide. Rummel is my standard source for statistics of this kind, and (more importantly) political scientists also appear to consider him as one of their most respected sources. (I think you're a political scientist, Dag, so if I'm wrong please correct me.) Rummel reviews the literature and gives a range of estimates for the number of people killed by their government. Here are his middle estimates for Cuba:
    Under Batista, the Cuban government killed 1000 of its citizens from 1952 to 1959, for an average rate of 143 per year. Cuba's average population during this period was 6.2 million. Under Castro, the Cuban government killed 73000 of its citizens from 1959 to 1987, for an average rate of 2607 per year. Cuba's average population during this period was 9 million.

A technical warning before I link to the source: It's a huge .gif file, apparently a scan from Rummel's book Death by government. You won't be able to read it in your browser. To read the file, save it to your harddisk and open it with Microsoft image viewer. Okay, you've been warned. Here's the source. Rummel also presents a more accessible summary table, allowing comparisons between democide by Cuba's governments and those by other murderous regimes.

If Che Guevara fans were honest, the tagline on their still-ubiquitous Che T-shirts would be: "Che -- he helped Castro kill 73000 people. But hey, that's just 73 times as many as the bad guys killed!"
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 06:44 am
nimh wrote:
How would the total number of deaths then have compared to the total number of victims of Castro's dictatorship over the past 40 years? I'm thinking it would probably compare quite favourably.. perhaps even if the attempt had ultimately failed.

Wow. Seems I've answered your question, kind of, without even seeing it.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 06:54 am
Interesting stats, Thomas.


I read the concerned about Cuba's closeness to the Soviet Unionin one of the articles I read before posting the thread......I honestly cannot recall which.


I think it was a referred to as a latish development in his life.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 07:06 am
Robert Gentel wrote:
Edgar,

[..] But that has nothing to do with the fact that once their achieved their revolution they began to execute and torture people to keep the power they had wrested from their "enemies".

Once they won, they kept killing people to stay on top. Che was a brutal executioner. And this has absolutely nothing to do with US colonialism and everything to do with these particular individuals having predispositions for violence and being megalomaniacs.

Che always wanted "action". He wasn't ever happy being a peaceful cog in the revolution and he consistently sought more violent parts to play in the movements he joined. I am not saying they should have tried to protest peacefully against their foreign enemies. I am criticizing them for wanton murder of their own people and brutal subjugation of their own people.


Thats a very good point as well - and should actually be a pretty uncontroversial point, so I'm not getting Edgar's aggrievedness at it.

In light of what Robert wrote here, I'll admit I may be too optimistic about what the chances of a non-violent revolution eventually would have been - though it worked with Marcos, whose rule was brutal as well. But even so, the hostile outside world in itself does not excuse or justify the extent to which Che and Fidel resorted to violence and state terror, during the revolution but especially afterwards.

The Sandinistas, even if their rule was hardly spotless either and eventually degraded into corruption and personality cult as well, did not resort to the kind of state terror Che and Fidel unleashed - and they had to grapple with continuous US/CIA-funded guerrillas in their own country!

If you are to be honest and get beyond the "they did it too/the others were worse" logic, you have to be willing to assess Cuba's communist dictatorship on its own actions. CIA intrigues do not provide a justification, or even a rational explanation, for the extent of doctrinary, ruthless and hardline reign of terror Che pursued. They also did not make four decades of stultifying dictatorship necessary, let alone justified.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 07:10 am
nimh wrote:
edgarblythe wrote:
The murdered nuns are an example of how peaceful protests were met.


2) Well, and how would the end result have looked like in comparison with what happened now[?]

How would the total number of deaths then have compared to the total number of victims of Castro's dictatorship over the past 40 years? I'm thinking it would probably compare quite favourably.. perhaps even if the attempt had ultimately failed.


Thomas wrote:
Rummel reviews the literature and gives a range of estimates for the number of people killed by their government. Here are his middle estimates for Cuba:
    Under Batista, the Cuban government killed 1000 of its citizens from 1952 to 1959, for an average rate of 143 per year. Cuba's average population during this period was 6.2 million. Under Castro, the Cuban government killed 73000 of its citizens from 1959 to 1987, for an average rate of 2607 per year. Cuba's average population during this period was 9 million.
[..] If Che Guevara fans were honest, the tagline on their still-ubiquitous Che T-shirts would be: "Che -- he helped Castro kill 73000 people. But hey, that's just 73 times as many as the bad guys killed!"


You did indeed answer my question, and the answer is about as devastating as I suspected it to be...
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 07:21 am
On a lengthy but minor, off-topic digression (excuse me..)

dagmaraka wrote:
no, nimh. i am nowhere saying that i lived under communism and thus i and only i know what it looks like. (If I wanted to say it , I would have.)

No, thats not quite what I said you said. Not that "you alone" know what communism looks like. I said that it seemed like you held the communist system you lived under as the definition of communism, and if another system didnt fit its model - ie, didnt have "anyone opposing the ruling party [winding] up in prison or dead" - it's not "real" communism.

dagmaraka wrote:
I don't doubt that the followers see themselves as convinced communists, but that's the philosophical level. we're talking systems. Kerala was certainly NOT a communist state by any stretch of imagination, even if ruled by the communist party. India is a democratic (arguably) federation with a plenty capitalistic economy, even in Kerala. Communist party? Whatever, if they want to call themselves that, I don't object. Communist state? Absolutely wasn't. See the difference? That is all I am saying.

Yes, I see what you're saying. System versus ideology, theory versus practice - for sure. And like I said, I dont know anything about India.

But you still have the problem that definitions of what a communist state would/should be about, what it should look like and how it should be achieved, developed over time in different directions. And of course, the Euro-communists never got the chance to implement their version, so we will never know what it would have looked like. But I think it's pretty clear that it would not have involved "anyone opposing the ruling party [winding] up in prison or dead" anymore. Even in the "real existing socialism" of the Soviet communist states, the system developed in somewhat different ways over time, and neither in Tito's Yugoslavia, nor in Kadar's Hungary, did "anyone opposing the ruling party [winding] up in prison or dead" anymore, as the logic of "if you're not with us you're against us" was inversed into its opposite.

So I get your point, but I think that with your definition that if a system doesnt involve throwing everyone who opposes the ruling party in prison or worse, it's not real communism, you overreached, that's all really.

dagmaraka wrote:
I do have a question though, nimh: where do you draw a line then between a communist and a social democratic state? if everything is stretchy like you describe, they sort of morph together, which is not an idea that appeals to me.

But, I mean, they do, don't they? Not communism and social-democracy as much, but rather the range that spans from communism through "socialism" to social-democracy. Thats always been a continuum where borders between one and the other have been defined in x number of ways.

I mean, there's parties that we'd consider social-democratic but call themselves socialist, and yet the worst of communist dictatorships also claimed the name socialist; hell, the Russian communist party was called social-democratic until it took over power. I know you're talking systems rather than parties, just saying that these terms - and the people that lived in them, claimed them and/or believed in them - can't be as easily cordoned off as a politicologist would want to.

"Communist", for sure, was long easily distinguishable from all the rest for its fealty to the Soviet Union and model - there were no communist political parties before 1917. But after Khrushchev, both communist parties and communist regimes in the developing world started variegating in their definition of what being communist and ruling in a communist way means. And then you get the question, when is it still communist, when no longer? China, communist or dictatorial capitalist? The way Angola, Mozambique, Namibia developed for a decade or two after independence - communist, socialist, or just nationalist? Or void of principles altogether, the name just a banner to hide a naked grab for power?

Just saying - if you take the midpoint of social-democracy and the mid-point of communist, then the chasm that divides them is huge in all ways, and especially clear in the global north. There is just no comparison. But in between them does lie a continuum where things do kind of morph together, rather than a neat gap. Thats just the way human politics work, I guess - neat ideological and systemic categories get blurred and mixed up and variegated upon until it's not entirely clear anymore where one starts and the other ends. No different than if you look at the shades of conservative vs authoritarian vs totalitarian vs fascist -- there's nothing a mainstream conservative and a facsist have in common, but once you start digging in the continuum in between (Horthy, Antonescu, etc) it's sometimes hard to tell where the exact categorical borders lie.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 07:25 am
Whoa!


Just finished your long article, Nimh.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 07:30 am
Heavy huh.

Every person who ever wore a Che shirt should be forced to read it..
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 07:40 am
Nimh, let me attempt to mediate between you and Dag by saying this: she is right and you are wrong.

While one can debate endlessly about the "true" meanings of words, the best way to settle such debates is to just look up the meanings in a dictionary. The term "communism", in particular, has a clear and consistent definition no matter which dictionary you look into.I will only refer you to Webster's.

Webster wrote:
Communism
Main Entry: com·mu·nism
Pronunciation: \ˈkäm-yə-ˌni-zəm, -yü-\
Function: noun
Etymology: French communisme, from commun common
Date: 1840
1 a: a theory advocating elimination of private property b: a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
2 capitalized a: a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics b: a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production c: a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably d: communist systems collectively.

By the dictionary definition of "Communism", Cold-war Slovakia was arguably communist, depending on how broadly you interpret "available to all as needed". Today's Indian, French, and Italian communists, even though they retain their historically inherited names, are not communistic by the dictionary definition. Unlike their East-European precursors, they do not advocate a society where most private property is abolished, most goods are collectively owned, and so forth.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 09:30 am
Thomas wrote:
By the dictionary definition of "Communism", Cold-war Slovakia was arguably communist, depending on how broadly you interpret "available to all as needed". Today's Indian, French, and Italian communists, even though they retain their historically inherited names, are not communistic by the dictionary definition. Unlike their East-European precursors, they do not advocate a society where most private property is abolished, most goods are collectively owned, and so forth.

Eh. Are you sure that today's communist parties in France and Italy do not any longer envisage "a society where most private property is abolished, most goods are collectively owned, and so forth" as end goal of their struggle?

Moreover, the quibble I had with Dag over communist parties/governments/regimes being 'really' communist or not was, you will note, not about their convictions on private property, but about whether they would by definition have had "anyone opposing the ruling party [winding] up in prison or dead". That would be implied, but only partially, in definition 2 b) from Webster and arguably, but indirectly at most, by definition 2 a); and not necessarily by any of the other definitions.

There have been actual communist governments/regimes that did not rule in such a way, and obviously plenty of ardently communist movements and parties that had come to decry that kind of state terror.

I must say I'm a bit surprised, then, about how the dictionary definition airbrushes out the entire Euro-communist, anarchist communist, and other communist currents that did not advocate either "the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" or "a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party" controls everything. I'm sure past adherents of such currents would take offense as being defined away by the dictionary writers this way as not really being communist - it would surely be news to them.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 09:34 am
Mind you, we're drifting terribly off-topic..
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 09:37 am
nimh wrote:
Mind you, we're drifting terribly off-topic..



I'm not bothered, if that is a concern.


It's pleasant and interesting to see rational political debate here, and I am enjoying reading your points of view.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 10:13 am
OK, on this count then:

nimh wrote:
Thomas wrote:
Today's Indian, French, and Italian communists, even though they retain their historically inherited names, are not communistic by the dictionary definition. Unlike their East-European precursors, they do not advocate a society where most private property is abolished, most goods are collectively owned, and so forth.

Eh. Are you sure that today's communist parties in France and Italy do not any longer envisage "a society where most private property is abolished, most goods are collectively owned, and so forth" as end goal of their struggle?

The political program of the French Communist Party is a bit coy about coming out with full collectivisation as end goal, but its rhetoric and the intermediate goals they formulate definitely are all still stridently directed that way. For example:

  • "Alors que tant de richesses, d'intelligences, d'aspirations, de potentiels existent pour vivre autrement, dans la justice et la solidarité, la mondialisation capitaliste est engagée dans une fuite en avant qui conduit la planète et les peuples du monde entier dans le mur. Il faut en finir avec cette logique folle. Nous, communistes, ne nous résignons pas."

  • "L'humanité, notre pays produisent de plus en plus de richesses, mais elles sont accaparées pour des opérations financières de plus en plus destructrices. La société doit retrouver le pouvoir de répartir et d'orienter autrement cet argent, de maîtriser son type de développement. [..] Cet argent est celui de la société. Il faut se réapproprier son utilisation, le rendre utile pour un autre type de croissance, en faveur du développement humain."

  • "il faut reconquérir la maîtrise publique des services publics et des entreprises nationales que la droite s'acharne à livrer au marché. Revenir sur ce que les gouvernements successifs ont privatisé mais aller plus loin, vers des services publics étendus et démocratisés."

  • "Toute entreprise qui a ou acquiert les caractéristiques d'un monopole doit entrer dans le champ de l'appropriation sociale."

  • "- engager la réappropriation publique de l'eau, du traitement des déchets, des télécommunications ;
    - renationaliser EDF-GDF ;
    - empêcher la mise en pièces de la SNCF et en faire un acteur d'une politique coordonnée de transport ; [..]
    stopper la privatisation engagée des ports et de la SNCM ;
    - faire revenir les autoroutes dans le giron public ;
    - reconquérir la maîtrise publique du transport aérien et renationaliser Air France ;
    - créer un pôle public du financement et du crédit."

  • "Le développement de formes alternatives d'entreprises (coopératives de production, de distribution, de consommation...) sera soutenu, notamment par l'accès à des financements émancipés du marché financiers"
Nationalise, nationalise, nationalise. Not much changed there. (And the Italian Refondazione Communista will surely be no less loyal to the cause of public ownership of key industries.) And yet I doubt that today's French communists would throw everyone who disagreed with them into jail (or worse), in the wholly hypothetical scenario that they would gain power.

Now that may be a question of the beast having been tamed, thanks purely to enough pressure having been exerted to marginalise their original aspirations, but that's another discussion again..

OK, but this really has little at all to do with the subject at hand anymore.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 12:00 pm
Thomas wrote:

I wasn't sure about this, so I consulted R.J. Rummel. Rummel is a statistician at the university of Hawaii. He specializes in governments killing their own citizens, an act for which he coined the name democide. Rummel is my standard source for statistics of this kind, and (more importantly) political scientists also appear to consider him as one of their most respected sources.


Here's an off-topic aside that I'd PM but don't have the ability to:

Would you happen to know if he's done such an analysis on Iraq with Saddam and post-Saddam Iraq? I've long maintained that Saddam's "democide" didn't come close to the death tolls that came about as a result of the invasion and subsequent civil war but have always been too lazy to compile the statistics. I'm hoping he might have some Saddam democide statistics and I can dig up the post-invasion tolls easily.

I bet it's much much much much more than 75 times the amount as well...
0 Replies
 
 

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