Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Was Che Guevara a Communist?

No, he was not. So how did the Malaysian authorities come by with the notion that wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt is akin to supporting or propagating Communism? What is even worse, wearing a T-shirt with the iconic figure of Che on it also means 'waging war against the King'? Now let us look at this man from the right perspective.

Che believed in guerrillaism, a small group of armed men bringing socialism, no role for the working class. This perspective is fundamentally flawed and the reason real Marxists consider Cuba petty bourgeoisie nationalism.

This is not merely a political epithet thrown by Marxists at their opponents. It is a scientific definition of the class interests and methods which characterize these movements. Marx, basing himself on the experience of the 1848 revolution, and Trotsky, in his theory of Permanent Revolution, demonstrated that the petty-bourgeoisie is incapable of independent and consistent political action. Its inconsistency is a reflection of its intermediate social position. Caught between the two main classes of society and continuously being differentiated into exploiter and exploited, it is compelled to follow one or other of these classes -- either the proletariat or the bourgeoisie.

What is it about Che that makes him so susceptible to being turned into a harmless, though profitable, icon? The qualities which his admirers cite are well-known. Physical bravery, self-sacrifice, asceticism, giving his life for a cause. These can all be admirable traits. No doubt they present a stark contrast to the prevailing social ethic in which a man's worth is determined by the size of his stock portfolio. But these qualities, in and of themselves, are by no means indicators of the political and class character of those who possess them. Religious sects and even fascist movements can claim to have produced martyrs with similar qualities in their own struggles for wholly reactionary ends.

A careful review of Guevara's career demonstrates that his political conceptions had nothing to do with Marxism and that the panaceas of armed struggle and guerrilla warfare with which he was identified were fundamentally hostile to the revolutionary socialist struggle of the working class.

Like virtually all the nationalist regimes and tendencies that emerged in the postwar period, Castro-ism has rested on a set of myths concerning its own origins and development. Such mythologizing is inevitable, given the class character of these movements, resting as they do upon the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie, while claiming to represent the interests of the oppressed masses.

The myth developed by Castro and Guevara was to be exported with catastrophic results. The so-called Cuban road was promoted throughout Latin America as the only viable form of revolutionary struggle. Thousands of Latin American youth were led to the slaughter by the promise that all that was required to overthrow governments and end social oppression was courage and a few guns.

In any case, Communism is dead and buried except for countries like North Korea who still think that such an ideology is the answer to their nation's woes. China, a Communist nation, is today's world power house and be it good or bad, everyone is making a bee-line to that country to trade, including Malaysia. So if the PSM members are to be arrested because of some Communist connection, then the leaders of BN are equally guilty, no less.

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