4
   

Che Guavara...forty years on.

 
 
dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Oct, 2007 12:10 pm
(nimh, just a last aside - for that's a completely separate topic, interesting enough to warrant its own thread, 'cept i'm i have two weeks from hell ahead, so no play for me: yes, you are right that social dem, socialism and communism sort of morph in people's minds... i still maintain they should not though.
Quote:
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.
exactly. As of now what we call communist regimes are closer to what i have outlined. But, I will agree that socialism in the Soviet bloc was not communism either, though I make that popular 'mistake' myself all the time. Even the leaders admitted that. It was socialism, step towards communism... But whatever, I know i'm nitpicking...it's kinda my job though.
Amartya Sen wrote a book (forget which one, can't look now) where he uses Kerala as an example of economic success stories. It's his best book. Worth picking up - I believe it's the one for which he got the Nobel prize in economy.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 08:58 am
Robert Gentel wrote:
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...

Sorry for the late answer. I'm not sure, but Mr. Rummel retired at the end of the 1990s. he still writes the occasional op-ed and updates the occasional dataset, but doesn't seem to do much systematic research anymore. Somewhere on his site he is cheering the US for taking Saddam Hussein out. But I don't see a systematic before/after analysis on his website, and I doubt that there is any.

For what it's worth, Iraq under Saddam Hussein killed 189000 people from 1964 to 1987, according to Rummels middle estimate. For comparison, the website Iraq Body Count estimates the death toll for civilians from violence so far at 74000-81000 -- a higher rate than the death rate under Saddam Hussein, but a lower count because it hasn't been going on for so long yet.

So yes -- when supporters of the war boast of the US removing a murderous dictator, they should add, but usually don't, that by doing so they have triggered an even bloodier civil war.
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Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 12:15 pm
Thomas wrote:

For what it's worth, Iraq under Saddam Hussein killed 189000 people from 1964 to 1987, according to Rummels middle estimate. For comparison, the website Iraq Body Count estimates the death toll for civilians from violence so far at 74000-81000 -- a higher rate than the death rate under Saddam Hussein, but a lower count because it hasn't been going on for so long yet.


I'd like to compare the 'contained' Saddam's death rate that ultimately was replaced by the civil war for what I think is a more accurate metric of the moral cost of the war.
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fbaezer
 
  4  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 01:04 pm
Dang, how could I've missed this thread?

My mother said I met Che when I was about 3 in a party held in Mexico City by a Cuban industrialist who supported the Granma adventure. She said that Che did have the romantic glance: "his eyes loaded with future".
She told me that before Che died, but after he had departed Cuba (and some people suspected he had been through a firing squad by Fidel).

My cousin was about 16 when he first met Che. He was a volunteer working on 24 hours shifts in the Cuban camps. When Commander Guevara arrived, all the kids ran towards their hero, only to be scolded by him for stepping on the recently planted grass and not being productive enough.

When I was 25 -and my cousin, 33- we were on Havana's Plaza de la Revolución, where there is a huge sort of modern mural of Che, according to the famous Korda photograph. "There's Che!", I noticed. My cousin, then still a faithful of the regime, answered gloomly: "Thanks to him, we still have a rationing card".

----

Che Guevara understood several things. That's why he declared that "a new man" had to be created.
He understood that Capitalism works materially better than Communism; that economical Communist organization is not capable of delivering the welfare the masses crave for. So, "a new man", devoid of the petty ambitions of the "mediocre man" (the one José Ingenieros wrote about and was key to the bringing up of Che's generation) had to be forced. A "task of eternity", that had to be pushed by the Party through indoctrination, censorship, repression, and ruthless brutality, when needed (which turned out to be often).


If one is careful while reading -or watching- The Motorcycle Diaries, a crucial scene comes out. While Che is in the Andes -a place where poverty and exploitation go to extremes, and where he died- he reads a classic book by Carlos Mariátegui, a Peruvian Marxist. My reaction was "Wow!, the roots of his madness!".
Mariátegui is a very extremist theoritician, who crosses the class/race line. The most orthodox followers of Mariátegui were also Peruvians: Shining Path, the delirious terrorist/insurgent organization had Mariátegui thoughts as their true fountainhead.


So one thing I disagree with Alvaro Vargas Llosa (in the text posted by nimh) is on Che's relationship with the Soviet Union. He befriended them not because he agreed on their path to Communism, but because they were powerful and were in the midst of the Cold War with the USA.
Che's true heart was with the Chinese revolution, specially the Cultural Revolution that lead the country backwards, in a sea of blood. And many people in Cuba knew about the clash between Che and Raúl Castro, Raúl being the epithome of the Soviet style Communist bureaucrat. Che always wanted to "deepen the revolution", to cut any ties to the "old ways", to destroy any liberalization attempt.
Purity is often achieved with fire... or at least with effective menaces and the conversion to a police State.

The influence of Che in Cuba has been permanent. Every now and then -and today- big national discussions -led by the Party- are held about the path to follow, and the hard-liners always refer to Che. "Be like Che" as a pretext to curtail freedoms (like flowers they tend to sprout, even in the desert) and enforce pyramidal control.

All this said, I do have a Che t-shirt (and I believe Robert has seen it). This is the image:


http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1541_che/gallery/approved/thumbs/image162.jpg
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fbaezer
 
  4  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 01:10 pm
Some posters have written about the poverty and unequality in Latin America. Terrible realities. And it sure makes you wonder how they helped breed such a complex, fascinating monster as Che.

Two evils don't make a good thing (although it's always helpful to remind every one that poverty and unequality are the cause, and the monsters are one possible result).
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Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 02:01 pm
Robert Gentel wrote:
I'd like to compare the 'contained' Saddam's death rate that ultimately was replaced by the civil war for what I think is a more accurate metric of the moral cost of the war.

A reasonable choice of dataset. But Rummel's data seems to end in 1987, four years before Saddam was contained. I'm not sure it would make a major difference, because the contained Saddam massacred a large number of Shi'ites in the South of Iraq immediately after the war. But if the casualty rate today compares unfavorably with the democide rate under an unrestrained Saddam, the comparison with the contained Saddam can only be more damning.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 04:07 pm
Good to see you here, Fbaezer!!!!! I'll read you properly when I get home from work.



You know, in the little flurry of reading I did since opening this thread, that "new man" (and I note that Che's version of women's position in the revolution appears to be close to that allegedly espoused by the radical vanguard in the black revolution in the 60s in the US) thing was the most chilling thing I saw.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 04:14 pm
Thomas wrote:
Robert Gentel wrote:
I'd like to compare the 'contained' Saddam's death rate that ultimately was replaced by the civil war for what I think is a more accurate metric of the moral cost of the war.

A reasonable choice of dataset. But Rummel's data seems to end in 1987, four years before Saddam was contained. I'm not sure it would make a major difference, because the contained Saddam massacred a large number of Shi'ites in the South of Iraq immediately after the war. But if the casualty rate today compares unfavorably with the democide rate under an unrestrained Saddam, the comparison with the contained Saddam can only be more damning.


Oy!

I recall a big flurry here a while back when a progressive columnist made the point that more were being killed in Iraq since the invasion than under Saddam, and what a sad joke that made of the hastily rejigged war argument that we are there to rescue the Iraqis...and then publicly recanting, saying the saddam death toll was at least a million...possibly more. I wnder where those figures came from?????
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 04:17 pm
Fbaezer said: "Che Guevara understood several things. That's why he declared that "a new man" had to be created.
He understood that Capitalism works materially better than Communism; that economical Communist organization is not capable of delivering the welfare the masses crave for. So, "a new man", devoid of the petty ambitions of the "mediocre man" (the one José Ingenieros wrote about and was key to the bringing up of Che's generation) had to be forced. A "task of eternity", that had to be pushed by the Party through indoctrination, censorship, repression, and ruthless brutality, when needed (which turned out to be often)."



Do you have anything in Che's writings/speeches available as a cite for that (I am not doubting you, I am just interested in exploring)?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 04:56 pm
dlowan wrote:
I recall a big flurry here a while back when a progressive columnist made the point that more were being killed in Iraq since the invasion than under Saddam, and what a sad joke that made of the hastily rejigged war argument that we are there to rescue the Iraqis...and then publicly recanting, saying the saddam death toll was at least a million...possibly more. I wnder where those figures came from?????

I don't know where the million came from, and suspect it includes casualties in the wars against Iran and against Kuwait, the US, and their alliance. But even if you don't count these, the progressive journalist was wrong unless I misunderstand the word "toll" in "death toll". It indicates a count, doesn't it? And the civil war body count has not yet run up to the total Saddam body count. It's the rate of sectarian killings -- killings per year -- that is higher.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 05:04 pm
Thomas wrote:
dlowan wrote:
I recall a big flurry here a while back when a progressive columnist made the point that more were being killed in Iraq since the invasion than under Saddam, and what a sad joke that made of the hastily rejigged war argument that we are there to rescue the Iraqis...and then publicly recanting, saying the saddam death toll was at least a million...possibly more. I wnder where those figures came from?????

I don't know where the million came from, and suspect it includes casualties in the wars against Iran and against Kuwait, the US, and their alliance. But even if you don't count these, the progressive journalist was wrong unless I misunderstand the word "toll" in "death toll". It indicates a count, doesn't it? And the civil war body count has not yet run up to the total Saddam body count. It's the rate of sectarian killings -- killings per year -- that is higher.



I'll try and find the thread when I have time.


It seemed to have very confident (unless I am embroidering my memory as I write, which is by no means impossible) estimates of a massive death toll under saddam.


However, we may be comparing oranges and apples, since I note timelines on your estimates which may differ greatly from those on the estimates I speak foggily of.
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fbaezer
 
  3  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 06:01 pm
GUEVARA, Ernesto. El socialismo y el hombre nuevo. México, Siglo XXI Editores. 1977, 429p.

According to Guevara, Revolution is not only the transformation of social structures, or institutions: it's mostly a radical transformation of men, their conscience, their habits and values.

A Revolution is authentic only when it can build a "new man", a total revolutionary who works all the hours of his life, and feels the revolution so much, those hours are not a sacrifice. This is a fundamental quality in a revolutionary.

How can a "new man" be built (Guevara used that verb: Construir: to build)?
Through education.
Two factors are crucial for this "building":
One is youth. Youth is a kind of malleable clay with which a New Man can be built without the problems and flaws of previous generations (who have lived under Capitalism). Education is important to prevent "contamination".

If this reminds any one of Cambodia and the Pol Pot genocide, it reminds me too, even if Guevara is thinking more on the path of the Young Red Guard in Maoist China.

The other factor are the Party organizations, in which party cadres are "what we could call a dinamic screw in the motor of change; screw as a functional piece that guarantees its proper functioning; dinamic in the sense that it's not a simple transmissor but a creator that will help in the development of the masses and the information of the leaders".

The cadres will directly educate the masses, free them from perverse thoughts from the Capitalist era, and "deeply change their mental structure".


Solidarity with the poor and the wretched, but no respect towards them: passive masses to be enlightened and mentally cleansed by young cadres.
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georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 07:05 pm
Most of the Platonist reformers of mankind end up coming to grips with what to do with those who, because of age class, or merely stubborn resistence, refuse to adopt the "virtues" of the "new man" or "revolutionary man" or "Socialist man". Lenin who used the latter nomenclature also coined a phrase for the desired disposal process. His term for it was "The Elimination of the Irreconcilables". Figures vary, but in the Soviet Union that involved about 12 million, in China, upwards of 20 million, and in Cuba a hundred thousand or so. This of course ignores the subsequent suffering attendant to the inevitable failure of the Revolution to live up to the naive imaginings of its leaders.

If there were Philosopher Kings and passive populations willing to follow their edicts without question, all of this stuff might work. The problem is there are neither.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 07:26 pm
Not Philosopher Kings, but Latin America has had more than its share of Enlightened Caudillos, of which Fidel Castro is quintessential... and Che Guevara, a mere wannabe.
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georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 07:56 pm
Well, I wiorked hard to weave in the reference to Pato, and you merely dismiss it as 'un Latin'. :wink:

I really don't see much difference among Lenin, Mao and Fidel. I agree that Guevara was a wanabe, as you said.

Do you really put Castro in the same category as Stroessner, Vargas, Peron and the other Latin American Caudillos?
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fbaezer
 
  4  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 08:18 pm
georgeob1 wrote:

Do you really put Castro in the same category as Stroessner, Vargas, Peron and the other Latin American Caudillos?


In a political sense, yes.
Fidel is the Cuban Communist Party just as Perón was the Justicialista Party and Stroessner the Colorados.

In a cultural sense, also.
The Enlightened charismatic mass leader, with lots of following and his ideas on anything (from literature to orange tree growing) converted into dogma. As a Cuban economist told me once: "the objective rules of the construction of Socialism are the subjective ideas of Commander Castro".

As for civil liberties and human rights there are differences, and Castro ranks lower than Vargas and Perón (who were low already), and probably lower than Stroessner (but I don't know enough about Paraguay).

Fidel is a well read, cultured man (a fellow Jesuit alumni, BTW). He has a followable speech (in the sense of a Weltanschauung that can be shareable). This doesn't make him less of a tyrant... but a better deceiver.
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georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 08:31 pm
Well, OK, but wouldn't Lenin, Stalin and Mao also fit that definition? I agree that the subsequent leaders of the USSR and China didn't fit that mold, but we now know that they only presided over the years of stagnation in both revolutions.

How will Cuba fare without Fidel?
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Oct, 2007 09:52 pm
What's a Caudillo?
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fbaezer
 
  2  
Reply Thu 11 Oct, 2007 01:00 pm
georgeob1 wrote:
Well, OK, but wouldn't Lenin, Stalin and Mao also fit that definition? I agree that the subsequent leaders of the USSR and China didn't fit that mold, but we now know that they only presided over the years of stagnation in both revolutions.


Well, yeah, but they're not tropical. Very Happy
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Oct, 2007 01:04 pm
fbaezer wrote:
georgeob1 wrote:
Well, OK, but wouldn't Lenin, Stalin and Mao also fit that definition? I agree that the subsequent leaders of the USSR and China didn't fit that mold, but we now know that they only presided over the years of stagnation in both revolutions.


Well, yeah, but they're not tropical. Very Happy


Phukking Latins !! Smile
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