Hearts and Minds on the legacy of Che…

Oliver Kamm is sparing tonight with Eammon McCann on the topic of Che Guevara, (thoroughly discussed earlier on this thread). According to Oliver (not renowned for pulling punches):

McCann had the bright idea to claim simultaneously that Guevara’s taste for revolutionary violence was (a) taken out of context, and (b) comparable anyway to the activities of the ANC under apartheid. In case you want to check the second assertion, you should note that Nelson Mandela has never shot without trial teenage members of his own organisation for petty pilfering, or authorised the execution of his party comrades on grounds of their ideological deviation.

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  • me

    Nelson never shot without trial but his wife did.

  • snakebrain

    I always did wonder about the living saint that is Nelson Mandela and whether he always always played fair.

    Heresy to doubt the man, I know, but there you have it…

  • Poblachtanach

    Any word if FF organising up here will be discussed?

  • joeCanuck

    Nelson never shot without trial but his wife did.

    So? Is that intended to reflect badly on Nelson?

  • Rory

    Another difference between these two iconic figures is that it is impossible to contemplate that Guevara would ever have ended up as Mandela has, a puppet of the corporate powers that are bleeding his country dry. Which of course is the very reason we are now all invited to view the former hate figure and African “terrorist” as a cute adnd cuddly exemplar of great leadership, while the ANC leaders who actually carried on the struggle to victory like the great Communist Party leader, Joe Slovo, are airbrushed out of history.

  • me

    ”so is that supposed to reflect badly on Nelson?”

    Yes.

  • Its fairly well established that Che was personally responsible for the summary executions of government soldiers who had surrendered.

    And this was the gentleman who said:
    “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary…These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall! (El Paredón)” –Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

  • Frank Sinistra

    Mick,

    Nice of you to give us some time over the day-blog 😉

    Do you think the north’s top political blogger (so you keeping telling us) concentrating on English politics is another demonstration of the ‘normalisation’ (I’d say sidelining) since SF fully complied with the current British/Irish treaty.

  • DC

    Another certain dictator comes into mind after reading Phantom’s post.

  • Obscure Reference

    Stompie Moeketsi, poor little fellah.

    Nelson Mandela is the best reformer of a rotten state since Ataturk, and his capacity to put the past behind him is inspirational.

    However his response to the AIDS pandemic which has sorely afflicted SA was very poor and history may judge him harshly on that. He left the door open for a leader like Mbeki, who doubts the link between HIV and AIDS, and leader in waiting Jacob Zuma, who notoriously thinks HIV can be avoided by showering after sex.

  • Garibaldy

    Rory is right. Mandela has sold the people in the townships down the river. The ANC has disgraced itself. BTW, does anyone bother taking context into consideration any more when thinking about a war against a brutal dictatorship, and surrounded by a hostile superpower?

  • Mick Hall

    Oliver would do better to get up to speed on his subject, with his comments about Mandela he has dug a hole that McCann should be able to bury him in, as the man seems to be oblivious of the history of the organization Nelson led for decades and even though in jail took responsibility for.

    The trouble with the likes of Oliver and indeed you Mick, is you have no problems with the heros of empire having feet of clay, as you always view them through rose tinted spectacles. Yet when it comes to freedom fighters you demand a different criteria of behavior.

    Also you view the likes of Che from the perspective of todays world but again when it comes to some thief like Clive of India or Mountbatten etc you look at them from a perspective of the age they lived in.

    Hypocrisy and double standards me thinks as what you are really doing is justifying todays political structures.

    Read “Salud Comandante Guevara” at http://organizedrage.blogspot.com/

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Garibaldy: “Rory is right. Mandela has sold the people in the townships down the river.”

    And this is different from most the rest of African nations, once the white man is removed from power *HOW?*

    Garibaldy: “BTW, does anyone bother taking context into consideration any more when thinking about a war against a brutal dictatorship, and surrounded by a hostile superpower? ”

    I dunno, Garibaldy… what “context” can you come up with to explain away the summary executions, a disdain for legal processes, etc.? They have surrendered. They’re in prison. Rather than make the slightest effort at even the seeming of a trial, they’re marched out to the courtyard, without even the rudiments of a trial. What “context” do you have to ameliorate that unvarnished description?

    And people wonder why I laugh at those ill-informed enough to wear “Che-wear” to anti-death penalty demonstrations…

  • snakebrain

    “Garibaldy: “Rory is right. Mandela has sold the people in the townships down the river.”

    And this is different from most the rest of African nations, once the white man is removed from power *HOW?*”

    In that Mandela is popularly perceived as being the man of principle who would never abandon the people whose freedom he fought for? Or even that he’s not commonly classed with the rest of the Swiss bank account brigade?

  • snakebrain

    “And people wonder why I laugh at those ill-informed enough to wear “Che-wear” to anti-death penalty demonstrations…”

    Is that a thing you regularly encounter. I thought the usual venue for Che-wear was a 2nd year Tuesday afternoon politics lecture.

  • Garibaldy

    DC,

    I’m disappointed with the ANC largely because it was in a much better position to help its people out than most. And because houses, water and electricity was not the most outrageous or hard
    programme to follow.

    As for the summary executions etc, we’re talking about the late 1950s and early 1960s – not that long before Americans and Europeans, as well as the Japanese, were doing exactly that. Not to mention revenge against the officials of the Batista dictatorship that had done similar and worse things to the July 26th movement, and to civlians.

  • Garibaldy

    The Europeans who did the summary executions were largely wearing Nazi and Red Army uniforms. Should you wish to compare Che and his actions with these organizations, I have no objection.

  • Frank,

    Not even close to being a day job. But I am glad you noticed my absence. Man’s got to eat. Sidelined from the bigger picture, or no. 😉

  • So was the Ballyseedy Massacre ok given the context of the time in which it happened?

  • Garibaldy

    My point was that we are judging people by the standards of early C21st liberal democracy – or, to be more accurate the supposed standards of early C21st liberal democracy. Don’t mention the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, rendition, starving and homeless people at home, etc etc. If we are to judge Che’s actions – or Cromwell’s, or Zhukov’s or Mohammed’s – then we should judge them by the standards of the times, not of our own.

    Or to put that another way, what would have happened Che had the regime got his hands on him in the late 1950s as opposed to Fidel’s first attempt?

  • joeCanuck

    Whataboutery survives all else.

  • Garibaldy

    Joe,

    Not sure if that’s aimed at me or not. I’m seeking to understand why people did why they did, rather than simply condemn them. Consequence of the education I got.

  • snakebrain

    Whataboutery survives all else.
    Posted by joeCanuck on Oct 11, 2007 @ 10:24 PM

    I think it would probably survive Che lining it up against a wall and letting the firing squad loose on it.

  • joeCanuck

    The point I was trying to make is that murder is wrong.
    It’s no use saying that the other guy would murder me if he got the chance.
    There’s a unbridgeable gulf between self defence and cold blooded murder.

  • Garibaldy

    Joe,

    I think that’s true for individuals, but not necessarily for movements or wars.

  • Mick Hall

    As for the summary executions etc, we’re talking about the late 1950s and early 1960s – not that long before Americans and Europeans, as well as the Japanese, were doing exactly that. Not to mention revenge against the officials of the Batista dictatorship that had done similar and worse things to the July 26th movement, and to civilians.

    Posted by Garibaldy

    Indeed, and how about those bombs that were dropped on two cities in Japan full of civilians and obliterated them. Or the Basra road massacres when even the attacking US helicopter gunners refused to continue what they called over their radio a turkey shoot. Need I remind people about bloody sunday or the current murders of civilians by US/UK troops in Iraq.

    Shit stinks whether it comes out of Tony Blair’s arse, George Bush’s or Che Guevara’s, so spare me the hypocrisy. If Che ordered the execution of surrendered prisoners it was wrong, but compared to what the UK/US has got up to down the years, when they killed for the most base of reasons it was small beer.

    Never the less we on the left will and have leant from his mistakes, unlike some on this list who seem in denial about their own governments behavior down the years. Shall we talk about the atrocities committed in the American cilvil war and work forward from there, thought not.

  • joeCanuck

    Perhaps Garibaldy.
    I can accept that people like Che started out with noble aims in their minds. Did Mugabe, at the start of his adulthood, believe that he could make a positive difference for all his compatriots?
    Unfortunately, too many of them fell victim to a “God” complex.
    – I can do no wrong.
    – Anyone who disagrees with me is misguided (at least).
    – I can do anything I want.

  • The Dubliner

    “BTW, does anyone bother taking context into consideration any more when thinking about a war against a brutal dictatorship, and surrounded by a hostile superpower?” – Garibaldy

    “I dunno, Garibaldy… what “context” can you come up with to explain away the summary executions, a disdain for legal processes, etc.? They have surrendered. They’re in prison. Rather than make the slightest effort at even the seeming of a trial, they’re marched out to the courtyard, without even the rudiments of a trial. What “context” do you have to ameliorate that unvarnished description?

    And people wonder why I laugh at those ill-informed enough to wear “Che-wear” to anti-death penalty demonstrations…” – Dread Cthulhu

    Well, how about applying the “context” that is applied locally in NI when the British state is involved in summary executions, such as the conviction of the UK by the European Court of Human Rights in 1988 for summary executions in regard to Sean Savage, Daniel McCann and Mairead Farrell? Or in regard to the British Intelligence agent Freddie Scappaticci who murdered 40 British citizens in that same manner. The British state murdered its own citizens by taking them to barns in Armagh, torturing them, and then dumping their bodies in ditches along the border. The excusing “context” applied by the apologists for state-sponsored terrorism is that it is okay to do such things as long as you can either deny it or justify it as serving a greater good.

    This is the “context” that the British judicial system applied to summary executions when giving another British agent who was responsible for dozens of murders of the State’s own citizens under the supervision of the British Army’s FRU, Brian Nelson, a lenient sentence: “I give, of course, considerable weight to the fact that he passed on what was possibly life-saving information in respect of 217 threatened individuals,” remarked the judge. Of course the judge only believed that “context” because it was proffered to him by Gordon Kerr of the British army, who was later promoted for his enterprise in organising summary executions on behalf of the British state. He wasn’t even smacked on the wrist for perjury, never mind mass murder, as a more reliable source, Sergeant Benwell of the Stevens Inquiry, said “I could only find maybe two cases where the information given by Nelson may have been helpful to the Security Forces in preventing attacks.”

    So, do you laugh too when you see people wearing Union Jack t-shirts to “to anti-death penalty demonstrations”? You should do if you want to make a claim to moral consistency.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    snakebrain: “In that Mandela is popularly perceived as being the man of principle who would never abandon the people whose freedom he fought for? Or even that he’s not commonly classed with the rest of the Swiss bank account brigade? ”

    Is that his failure or the rest of the world’s, snakebrain? That y’all put him on a pedastal is hardly his fault.

    Garibaldy: “I’m disappointed with the ANC largely because it was in a much better position to help its people out than most. And because houses, water and electricity was not the most outrageous or hard programme to follow.”

    *shrug*

    But, as I suggested, that makes them little different from the rest of the African “liberation” movements.

    Garibaldy: “As for the summary executions etc, we’re talking about the late 1950s and early 1960s – not that long before Americans and Europeans, as well as the Japanese, were doing exactly that.”

    How many were occurred at the prison-camps, Garibaldy? How many of those summary executions occurred with the target locked up in a prison camp?

    Che was a butcher, a small man, like Beria, given more power than he could handle responsibly.

  • Garibaldy

    DC,

    The thing is the ANC is seen by most as different than the other liberation movements. And of course let’s not forget that most of the other liberation movements faced outside sponsored rebellions and civil wars which hampered their abilities to deliver. Again unlike the ANC. And the massive debts they were crippled with. Again unlike the ANC.

    I think the question of whether Che was a butcher or not, or whether the Cuban revolution was and is particularly bloodthirsty, can be best judged by looking at the rest of Latin America in the period. After the end of the war, and excepting the Bay of Pigs, these types of incidents were a thing of the past. Unlike the Latin American dictatorships who in addition did nothing to improve the standards of living of their peoples.

  • snakebrain

    snakebrain: “In that Mandela is popularly perceived as being the man of principle who would never abandon the people whose freedom he fought for? Or even that he’s not commonly classed with the rest of the Swiss bank account brigade? “

    Is that his failure or the rest of the world’s, snakebrain? That y’all put him on a pedastal is hardly his fault.

    Well yes, if we’re agreed that he’s abandoned the cause of the people he fought for, I’d say that’s his fault. Wouldn’t you? Or was it society wot did it?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    The Dubliner: “So, do you laugh too when you see people wearing Union Jack t-shirts to “to anti-death penalty demonstrations”? You should do if you want to make a claim to moral consistency. ”

    Not as a rule, mainly because their not, as a rule, fashionable for the hip, yet dim-witted, lefty set, leastwise not since the “Spice Girls” were in their original run… and at that point, I laughed at them for an entirely different set of reasons.

    As for your vast smoke-screen, Che was what he was — a petty, peasent Beria to Castro’s Stalin.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Garibaldy: “The thing is the ANC is seen by most as different than the other liberation movements.”

    That the observer was incorrect is not the fault of the observed. It is not his fault you put him on a pedastal.

    Garibaldy: “And of course let’s not forget that most of the other liberation movements faced outside sponsored rebellions and civil wars which hampered their abilities to deliver. Again unlike the ANC. And the massive debts they were crippled with. Again unlike the ANC. ”

    So, arguably, Mandela was the worst of the lot, for precisely those reasons.

    Garibaldy: “I think the question of whether Che was a butcher or not, or whether the Cuban revolution was and is particularly bloodthirsty, can be best judged by looking at the rest of Latin America in the period. After the end of the war, and excepting the Bay of Pigs, these types of incidents were a thing of the past. Unlike the Latin American dictatorships who in addition did nothing to improve the standards of living of their peoples. ”

    Like I said, situational ethics. By your argument, the “heroes” of the UDA and PIRA are excusable, based on your arguments. As for things being better in Cuba after the revolution, if that is truly the case, why do so many try to make the journey from Cuba to Florida in rickety boats made from whatever they can cobble together, if everything is tickety boo? Mayhap in the immediate aftermath you had an outflow of leaders and capitalists, but that would have dried up by long ago.

    As for “other than the bay of pigs,” what about his foreign adventures, his efforts to spread the revolution to South America and Africa? Or is it simply since your politics are reasonably simpatico with his, his butchery is forgiven, whilst the misdeeds of those you disagree with are not?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    snakebrain: “Well yes, if we’re agreed that he’s abandoned the cause of the people he fought for, I’d say that’s his fault. Wouldn’t you? Or was it society wot did it? ”

    Yes, in the sense that it may have been society who assumed he was any different than any of the other leaders of other liberation movements.

  • snakebrain

    So it was forever a question of external perception, whilst at the centre of this storm of changing viewpoints, Mandela himself has stood like an immovable rock, unchanging and eternal?

    Do you really believe that?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    snakebrain: “So it was forever a question of external perception, whilst at the centre of this storm of changing viewpoints, Mandela himself has stood like an immovable rock, unchanging and eternal? ”

    Mandela was a cypher, snakebrain — an man idealized for his “sacrifice.” A man who did little and best known for his long time out of circulation. His imprisonment was involuntary, at least in the main. That others idealized him for things that were out of his control is not his fault. He was put on a pedastal and made a symbol — that y’all forgot he was a man and, therefore, flawed, is not his fault.

  • Garibaldy

    DC,

    Do we know if he commited massacres during his stays in the Congo and Bolivia? I think his going to Congo is totally defensible, Bolivia less so.
    People try to leave Cuba beacuse they think they can have a better life abroad than in Cuba. That does not mean they think they had a better life under Batista than they do now, or that their lives didn’t get better after the Revolution. The facts in life expectancy, education rates, health etc prove that they did. And how many seek to leave each year as a propertion of the population? How many choose to go to work abroad as volunteer doctors in other countries so that they can bring the benefits of the revolution to those abandoned by the capitalist governments in their own countries?

    As for misdeeds being forgiven or not. As I say, people should be judged according to the circumstances. So do I blame the early modern lords for cutting down the forests partly to remove the threat from Gaelic by starvation? No I don’t. Do I blame the US in Vietnam for using defoliant? Yes I do. I’m sure someone like yourself would not denounce a medieval siege on principle but might denounce the siege of Sarajevo.

    And PIRA and the UDA operated in a situation where they were clearly minority groups, and not involved in a popular revolution, which was the case in Cuba.

  • snakebrain

    Sorry Dread, I forgot you’re always right

  • Harry Flashman

    *people should be judged according to the circumstances.*

    OK well let’s examine the “circumstances” of another Latin American dictatorship then.

    An election is held in a country and the result is as follows; candidate A gets 36.2% of vote, candidate B gets 34.9% of the vote and candidate C gets 27.8%, so nowhere near a popular mandate for any of the candidates. The constitution says that in such circumstances the Congress has the deciding vote, the Congress refuses to mandate candidate A until he signs a guarantee that he will not attempt to undermine the constitution.

    He does so and is ratified but then goes on to deliberately overthrow the constitution, ruling by decree, sidelining the judiciary, collapsing the economy, stealing private property, suppressing free speech and fomenting violence and anarchy.

    The nation’s Supreme Court and the guarantor of the Constitution, the Comptroller General, both decree that the President is acting illegally and in defiance of the constitution. The presidents of both Houses of Congress then issue a statement that the President is disrespecting the laws and institutions of the state and in a formal resolution of the Chamber of Deputies the President is accused of systematic human rights abuses and is declared to be illegitimate. The deputies call on all civil servants including the armed forces to “re-establish the rule of law”, this resolution is signed by the president of the Senate.

    Despite all this the President still attempts to undermine the state by arming private militias, bringing in foreign mercenaries and encouraging mutinies in the armed forces, law and order is about to breakdown and a full scale revolutionary takeover of all power by the President is imminent. Impoverished people demand that the army step in to restore order before civil war breaks out.

    Eventually the army which had previously kept out of politics intervenes and the by now illegitimate president is deposed and order restored. As in the case of Cuba the new rulers had to impose imediate order and in the process many hundreds of the old president’s supporters are summarily executed. However unlike Cuba soon law and order is established and the country goes on to see a remarkable economic boom and a peaceful transition to democracy.

    So Garibaldy would you agree that in that occasion just like in Cuba a small amount of initial violence was justified to establish the peaceful prosperous outcome?

    The country I refer to is Chile, and the illegitimate president was Salvador Allende and the national saviour was General Pinochet, hmmm, revolutionary violence ain’t so pretty when Ernesto’s boys are on the receiving end, is it?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Garibaldy: “People try to leave Cuba beacuse they think they can have a better life abroad than in Cuba. That does not mean they think they had a better life under Batista than they do now, or that their lives didn’t get better after the Revolution. The facts in life expectancy, education rates, health etc prove that they did.”

    Oddly enough, that was the same argument I put forth that Zimbabweans were better off when the place was called Rhodesia…

    GAribaldy: “As for misdeeds being forgiven or not. As I say, people should be judged according to the circumstances. So do I blame the early modern lords for cutting down the forests partly to remove the threat from Gaelic by starvation? No I don’t. Do I blame the US in Vietnam for using defoliant? Yes I do. I’m sure someone like yourself would not denounce a medieval siege on principle but might denounce the siege of Sarajevo. ”

    My, what a sad effort at sophistry. The best counter-argument you can come up with is a medieval siege?

    Garibaldy: “And PIRA and the UDA operated in a situation where they were clearly minority groups, and not involved in a popular revolution, which was the case in Cuba. ”

    Come meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
    Castro is just another tin-pot dictator, little different that Batista — only there are fewer tourists and longer speeches.

  • Garibaldy

    People need government permission to LEAVE Cuba, so I don’t know how much stock one might place on raw numbers of emigrants.

    Permission is typically denied to athletes (baseball players, typically), the educated, and is often denied to relatives of others who have fled ( to “punish” those who left )

    But desperate people will often find a way, no matter incredibly difficult it is.

  • Garibaldy

    Harry,

    Chile under Pincohet remained a brutal regime in ways that are not, and never have been, true of Cuba, right to the end.

    DC,

    You think that was sophistry? I thought it was a comment on changing morality in warfare, and the need to apply contemporary standards. In fact, if you’d like a more modern example, then we can look at the US military. Which in say WWII or even parts of Vietnam was prepared to take casulties in order to avoid civilian deaths. Now, its doctrine is to let fly at all and sundry, from the air and the ground lest one of its own be killed or hurt, without regard for the distinction between soldier or civilian. The book Black Hawk Down provides eloquent testimony to this mentality, but not as eloquent as the daily slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yesterday’s contribution I see was 15 civilians, including 9 children. Yet when any other country behaves similarly the US speaks of war crimes.

    The Phantom,

    I take your point to an extent. But I do think the impression some people would like to give of an entire population ready to flee is grossly exaggerated. That certainly was not my impression when I was there.

  • darth rumsfeld

    harry

    thanks for reminding us of the sterling work done by that much underrated hero Augusto Pinochet- can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and all that

    I tried for years @ uni to get a t shirt with the general on it to annoy the che-wearers, and- you’d never guess- apparently no one did them. Had to make do with a “Victory to the Contras” one

    Anyone still swooning over Che should remember this dark and damning fact about posterboy- he liked rugby.

  • I Wonder

    “sterling work”…

    At the time of his death in December 2006, around 300 criminal charges were still pending against Pinochet in Chile for human rights abuses (torture, forced disappearance, assassination, etc.), tax evasion and embezzlement under his rule and afterwards — in 2006, Pinochet’s total wealth was estimated at $28 million or more.

    …admirable stuff, indeed. A murdering tyrant lauded by way of criticising a small scale revolutionary.

    The irony – goes to demonstrate the Right’s preference for “wholesale” rather than “retail” terror.

  • Mick Hall

    ANC camp 32 – or Quatro, as I said everyones shit stinks, the point is to learn lessons from history. To suggest that Che committed more crimes against humanity than say GW Bush is gibberish and to turn history on its head.

    Revisionist history is at work here which looks at the work of revolutionaries through the prison of todays world whilst placing reactionary people like Thatcher and Reagan in there historical context. Very clever but as Garibaldy and others are doing it must be challenged at every pass.

  • DK

    Garibaldy: “How many choose to go to work abroad as volunteer doctors in other countries so that they can bring the benefits of the revolution to those abandoned by the capitalist governments in their own countries?”

    A friend went to Cuba recently: Female doctors there have to go on the game (prostitution) to make enough to keep going. I’d go abroad too in that situation.

    Harry – fascinating stuff about Chile. But could same be said for Germany and Hitler….

  • Garibaldy

    DK,

    Not while I was there they didn’t.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “The irony – goes to demonstrate the Right’s preference for “wholesale” rather than “retail” terror.”

    ah yes, irony. Ironic that I was being a tad ironic and it wasn’t picked up.
    Yet it’s not ironic that apparently only the evil right can be..well, evil.

    Francis Drake was by our standards a thief and a murderer yet he’s a great British hero cos he took on the Spanish Armada while playing bowls

    Robert Mugabe is remarkably still a hero to many on the left, and a revered statesman in Africa despite his colourful administration’s enthusiastic policies.

    All we can agree on is that very few people at the top of the greasy pole have clean hands.

  • Mick Hall

    “A friend went to Cuba recently: Female doctors there have to go on the game (prostitution) to make enough to keep going. I’d go abroad too in that situation.”

    How gullible are you mate, sure it was not a friend of a friend please. Show some respect towards Cuban women, Or does a sexist bastard like you believe the only things women can think of to make ends meet it to sell their bodies.

    I cannot believe you see nothing wrong with insulting the entire female membership of the cuban medical profession and there sister in other professions like this and all on the bases of a tall tale, what world do you live in, shut the computer down and get out more, bloody hell has slugger come to this.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Garibaldy: “I thought it was a comment on changing morality in warfare, and the need to apply contemporary standards.”

    And your best response to a “here and now” question was to invoke battles that would involve rams and trebuchet. Talk about your cherry-picking.

    The rest of your post in what-aboutery to avoid dealing with the issues at hand. Your embrace of situational ethics, where the situation seems to be more attached to the politics of the actor than the situation the actor is in, is telling.

    Mickhall: “To suggest that Che committed more crimes against humanity than say GW Bush is gibberish and to turn history on its head.”

    *Yawn* A pity no one suggested such, or even acknowledged your effort to try and make that point, Mick. Your whataboutery has been weaker and further off-topic than usual. That tired chestnut about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, f’r’instance.

  • The Dubliner

    “As for your vast smoke-screen, Che was what he was—a petty, peasent Beria to Castro’s Stalin.” – Dread Cthulhu

    What smokescreen? I asked the same question of you in regard to the UK that you asked of Garibaldy in regard to Che: “What ‘context’ do you have to ameliorate that unvarnished description?”

    You avoided the question. Probably because consistency in your disdain would cause you to feel the same contempt for the UK in regard to the exact criteria that you specified as the basis of your contempt for Che (“summary executions, a disdain for legal processes, etc”) and expediency prevents you from doing so. So, what value has morality if it is only to be applied selectively and at the discretion of the indignant party?

    In regard to Che, I offer no defence of him.

  • Garibaldy

    DC,

    Ethics are situational. They have not been unchanging over time. Therefore how else are we to judge people, if not by their own standards? That’s why I juxtaposed two examples, from two widely different eras. It seems however that this has angered you for some reason.

    Che is not here and now. We are talking about 50 years ago in the case of the Cuban revolution, and 40 years in terms of his death. I then talked about a here and now issue, where I judged people living in the here and now according to our standards, and apparently it’s whataboutery.

    As for the relationship between the politics of historical actors and my attitudes towards them. I try not to judge people from the past by my standards, but by their own.
    Of course I have my favorites but I don’t engage in pointless moralising about people who would not have recognised the terms of the debate. I’m honest enough to admit that in the place of some of the people from the other side, I’d have done the same thing they did.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Garibaldy: “Ethics are situational. They have not been unchanging over time. Therefore how else are we to judge people, if not by their own standards?”

    Ah, but when you have to set the way-back machine to the Dark Ages to find a situation to fill your argument, you’re gilding the lily at best. Che was not some medieval lord. Now, admittedly, he was a socialist / communist, so perhaps you have a point — socialists have not been all that big on the sanctity of human life — Stalin (purges, starvation of the Ukraine), Mao (agricultural “reform), Pol Pot (killing fields), the suppression of those nations behind the Iron Curtain, etc.

    Garibaldy: “Che is not here and now. We are talking about 50 years ago in the case of the Cuban revolution, and 40 years in terms of his death.”

    And your defense of him requires you and Sherman to introduce Norman knights into the discussion?

    As for the rest, I would remind you that your own argument for Castro, logically, is an argument in favor of making Zimbabwe Rhodesia again.

  • Garibaldy

    DC,

    You’re really hung up on this use of the past. I chose two widely different periods for illustrative effect. And because, in the case of the early modern lords, there is a very specific Irish context: people use this behaviour to suggest the British used famine regularly as a weapon against the Irish. I had already mentioned other historical examples and was trying to vary them. I could equally have chosen, say, mustard gas.

    As for the siege thing. It was the first example that came into my head of another siege that wasn’t from the C20th. I might have chosen say Derry or some other examples from early modern Europe.

    I also used much more modern examples, from the 20th and 21st centuries, which you dismissed as whataboutery. But continue to ignore those and fixate on the medieval part if you wish.

    The situation in Zimbabwe may well call for a change of policy or of government. The logic of my argument does not call for a return of Rhodesia. I was responding to the suggestion that Cubans thought things were better under Batista than they were now because they wish to leave now.
    I’ve met many Cubans, both pro- and anti-government, and none of them has ever suggested things were better under Batista. I don’t think even the nutters in Miami now make that argument.

  • Darth

    One of these t shirts would clearly get a reaction from the hard cores and the trendies.

  • I Wonder

    ..only a laugh, Phan.. :o)

  • In honor of this discussion, I plan on buying a couple of anti Che t shirts. I’ll be in London in a month, and they could make a nice fashion statement there, n’est-ce pas?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Garibaldy: “The situation in Zimbabwe may well call for a change of policy or of government. The logic of my argument does not call for a return of Rhodesia. I was responding to the suggestion that Cubans thought things were better under Batista than they were now because they wish to leave now. ”

    And by the measures you chose, the same can be said for white-ruled Rhodesia when compared to black-ruled Zimbabwe. Longer life expentancy, standard of living — hell, the actual presence of food in the stores, a lack of hyper-inflation, etc.

    Garibaldy: “I also used much more modern examples, from the 20th and 21st centuries, which you dismissed as whataboutery. But continue to ignore those and fixate on the medieval part if you wish. ”

    Mayhap because it’s such a silly argument, esp. from you, Garibaldy. It amounts to “gee, morals were different 800 years ago, so Che wasn’t a butcher.”

    Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship. Che and the Castro brothers built it on a mountain of bodies. Castro had options, better options than Mandela, actually — I find it interesting that folks are willing to describe disappointment in Mandela, but forgive Castro’s pissing away of his opportunities, as if Castro going Stalinist was a good thing and Mandela’s unwillingness to nationalize everything in South Africa was somehow a failure, despite the fact that it was Castro’s nationalization that led to his difficulties with the United States.

    Unlike Mandela, who had an armed and undefeated white population to contend with and the eyes of the world upon him, Castro had the opportunity to go in whatever direction he cared, creating whatever government he wanted. He initially destroyed the standard of living, taking one of the Caribbean’s best industrialized economies (admittedly, a one-eyed man in the kingfom of the blind) and reducing it to an agricultural economy, partly through putting feckless Che in charge of industry.

    Hell, if Fidel had a better fast-ball, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  • Dread

    Most here will not get the reference. There have long been rumors that Castro, a serious baseball fan ( he’s Cuban after all ) wanted to play professional baseball and had a tryout with a US major league team. The story is apparently untrue , but you never know….

  • Garibaldy

    “Hell, if Fidel had a better fast-ball, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

    Most amused.

    As for my argument, it’s that morals vary at different times. As it happens, I don’t think Che was a butcher for the simple reasons that the executions he was responsible for took place within the context of fighting a civil war, or in the very initial stages of securing the new regime. Moreover, he was not indiscriminate. Had he gone on to indiscriminately murder lots of people then I might be inclined to accept the argument. It’s certainly one I’m happy to accept for Pol Pot, who had people killed for who they were, not what they had done.

    In saying that, I think I’m applying the standards of his time, when people were more accepting of a level of violence than they are now, and not our standards.

    As for Mandela, I think nationalising everything would have been the wrong thing to do as it would have produced a needless civil war. However, that does not excuse the abject failure to provide the basic amenities to the townships that were the backbone of the struggle against apartheid, and suffered most under it.

  • I Wonder

    I think Gari above has hit on something – many of the attitudes of the ’60s were “more accepting of violence” in the sense that violence was seen as a manifestation that something was wrong with the state, rather than an intrinsic feature of a anti-state group or ideology.

    This manifests in less violent forms as well – take for example, sit-down protest.

    The sit-down protests here in ’68 and ’69, batonned off the streets. What was the problem? Peaceful protestors or a reactionary state?

    The world thought the latter was at fault.

    Shift ahead 15-20 years and we have sit-down protests at Greenham Common – the wider public saw these as lesbian/communist agitators and extremists – it was the protestors who were the problem.

    Shows how time changes perceptions of the same street tactics. Thus the perceptions of violent men like Che change. Little is known by many of anything beyond the image.

  • Garibaldy

    Very interesting point I wonder. Spot on.

  • Garibaldy

    Castro took part in an armed attack on a military barracks in Santiago. He was not summarily executed. He was given a trial. And released not long afterward.

    Compare that with the treatment Che gave to soldiers who had surrendered.

    You can say that not all the attackers were given trials, and that some were tortured and killed-and you’d be correct to say that. But I think that Che and Castro upped the ante of violence a notch–while permanently taking away from the population their rights to speak and associate freely.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    I wonder posits a theory.

    Garibaldy: “Very interesting point I wonder. Spot on. ”

    *nods*

    Hell, even I’ll buy that… and it didn’t even require a suit of mail or trebuchet.

    Although, I’d be curious where you draw the lines, Garibaly.

  • Mick Hall

    Dread
    The matter I mentioned is not an old chestnut, it is just you do not wish to go there. Instead here you are raging against Che whose real crime in your eyes is that however haphazardly he went out and fought for a better world, refusing to accept the status quo that leaves 2/3 of the worlds population in poverty and ignorance.

    When todays mass killers like Bush etc are getting away with murder. Which seems to be something that troubles you not a jot, here you are arguing over matters that you have no control over.

    I’m out of here.

    All the best

  • Garibaldy

    DC,

    I assume you mean the lines between legitimate and illegitimate use of violence. Depends on each individual situation I guess.

  • I Wonder

    It’s a point I have made before, in another arena.

    *smiles coyly*

    It can be extended to look at recent world changing phenomena – such as 9/11. “What caused this?” is one reaction. “What were the causes and the circumstances that led to this?”

    These questions typify one reaction to those catastrophic events.

    The other reaction, with which we are familiar, says: “To Hell with those questions – lets HIT those bastards.”

    The latter reaction is the more “modern” reaction to violence – and it has consequences, with which we still live. However else this reaction may be described, it cannot be said to be ameliorative.

  • dr

    Mick Hall: “The matter I mentioned is not an old chestnut, it is just you do not wish to go there.”

    Sure I will — hell, you should know me better than that. hell, we’ve already danced this dance once.

    The death-count for the two atomic bombs paled in comparison to the deaths that would have arisen from the invasion. Operation Olympic would have had a million Allied casualties and 10 million Japanese and that was only for the main island. Tactics involved included nerve-gassing the areas selected for beach-heads by the Allies and human wave assaults by Japanese militia armed with little more than bamboo spears and household implements.

    None of this accounts for the millions of Japanese soldiers still under arms in Manchuria or on the other islands that make up the nation of Japan. The main alternates — naval blockade, conventional bombing, etc., all would have inflicted more death and misery than the bombs. Throw in the two locations status — Nagasaki as a military port and Hiroshima as a production center in the decentralized Japanese production network, made them legitimate targets of war. As such, the bombings were moral, insofar as they were perceived as a necessary evil.

    No moral supremecy can be claimed by the Japanese, insofar as their use of biological warfare in China and elsewhere, including plans for a plague bombing of the West Coast. and their own pursuit of atomic weapons.

    In other words, your outrage is almost entirely manufactured and is based upon faulty logic and misplaced emotionalism.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Garibaldy: “I assume you mean the lines between legitimate and illegitimate use of violence. Depends on each individual situation I guess. ”

    *snort*

    No

    Che, with 300+ extrajudicial killings, “for the good of the state,” you deem acceptable.

    Pol Pot, with 3 million extrajudicial killings “for the good of the state,” you generously concede, is too many.

    Where do you place the breaking point?

  • DK

    Me: “”A friend went to Cuba recently: Female doctors there have to go on the game (prostitution) to make enough to keep going. I’d go abroad too in that situation.”

    Mick Hall: “How gullible are you mate, sure it was not a friend of a friend please. Show some respect towards Cuban women, Or does a sexist bastard like you believe the only things women can think of to make ends meet it to sell their bodies. ”

    I have no reason not to believe my friend, who at least had been there. Feel free to retreat to personal insults if it makes avoiding the truth easier for you. My friend also mentioned the 3 currencies – the local one, the tourist one, and the almighty dollar. It sounds like a fscinating place to visit, but it must be awful to have to live there (unless a member of Fidel’s monarchy, of course)

  • DK

    Oh Mick – you can do a quick online search if it helps. Funny how fast I could back up my friends story:

    “In 1998, Cuba’s GDP was a mere $1,560. Because of Cuba’s low GDP, Cuban prostitution “is characterized by women in professional and vocational careers who are unable to meet basic living costs from their local current salary,” according to the United Nations.” Source: http://www.american.edu/TED/cubatour.htm

  • Garibaldy

    DC,

    That looks a lot like legitimate and illegitimate use of violence to me. But even if you don’t want to call it that, my answer remains the same. It depends on the circumstances. And if I recall correctly I saw documentary footage of BBC 4 of revolutionary courts. So not sure if that’s what you mean by extrajudicial or not.

    And my point is 300+ extrajudicial deaths was judged as acceptable at the time, and not just by Cuban or other revolutionaries. Certainly nowhere close to achieving the status as a butcher.

  • Mick Hall

    DK

    Apologies if you felt I insulted you, but think about what you wrote. what you did was make a dreadful generalization about women who work in the cuban medical profession. Whether Cuba is a paradise or hell on earth is another argument, all I am saying is it is wrong to make sweeping generalizations about people.

    Now In all probability there has been a woman from every profession who has gone on to become a sex worker, but that does not mean that this is the trade that all of the female members of that profession would turn to if money got short.

    Perhaps we would do better to look at the sex tourist industry than blanket condemn a section of cuban society who have in general got a good reputation.[medical workers not sex workers as I have no knowledge of them ;}

    For the fact is almost all third world nations who have sea and sun are becoming caught up on this wretched sex tourism. It matters not a jot whether they have left or right wing government. It is as if all the perverts and lechers fill there pockets full of coin and go to these countries.

    Still that is capitalism I suppose every thing is for sale, even the bodies of children and young people.

  • –Still that is capitalism I suppose every thing is for sale, even the bodies of children and young people.–

    Oh, no good sir. What is spoken of here is a side effect of a socialist system that fails do create any wealth. Do not blame this on capitalism.

    Capitalism makes wealth creation possible, and if some slob from Toronto or Munchen uses it to buy a prostitute on the Malecon, don’t bust Adam Smith’s chops about that. Blame human nature, blame the John, blame your boy Marx.

    I doubt you’d see American or German or Japanese “professionals” work as prostitutes (sorry, I don’t use the euphemism “sex worker”) because those are countries that create wealth and which can pay teachers and nurses etc some kind of a salary.

    But in a state-controlled economy like Cuba if a nurse who is a single mother cannot live on a salary paid in bullshit Cuban pesos, jiniterismo may be quite literally the only means of gaining additional income. She won’t be allowed to open a private store or restaurant even if she had the seed money to start one–they’re effectively banned — and she can’t get a second job with a private employer — as there are very few private jobs, and what few there are are reserved for the politically reliable.

    Assuming the medical worker’s salary was inadequate–what legal option would exist to supplement that income?

    And I don’t doubt that this phenomenon does indeed exist there.

  • Harry Flashman

    Garibaldy

    *Chile under Pincohet remained a brutal regime in ways that are not, and never have been, true of Cuba, right to the end.*

    That is terminological inexactitude of the highest order, or to put it plainer; bollocks on stilts.

    After the initial overthrow and killing was over Chile was no worse or no better than other dictatorships, not a pleasant place to oppose the government but largely peaceful and prosperous. Pinochet siezed power in 1973, he oversaw a remarkable economic recovery and after twenty years handed over power peacefully leaving a free, prosperous, democratic society with a free press and the rule of law.

    Contrast this with Castro’s siezure of power in the 1950’s he too initiated a purge of the former rulers – but never stopped. Today a half a century later Cuba is an economic basket case of a police state without democracy, a free press, independent judiciary or freedom of expression or private property, he has never even considered handing over power to a freely elected government instead installing his brother – his brother for fuck’s sake, a socialist who forbids the inheritance of private property simply hands his brother the presidency! Millions of innocent civilians have been forced to flee his hellhole in the most horrific circumstances (funny how the only asylum seekers the Left feels comfortable vilifying are Cuban ones) and yet you still maintain Castro is a more benign ruler than Pinochet was.

    Frankly speaking you’re off your trolley, and unlike Darth I am not being ironic!

  • The Dubliner

    Capitalism and democracy are the best systems because they give the most freedom to the individual. I’m not so sure that capitalism is the cure for poorer countries, however. If the entire world was capitalist, then capitalism would fail, since it relies on unequal distribution of wealth to succeed, making it an elitist doctrine– effectively it is colonialism (the extraction of wealth and recourses form other countries) without the foreign territories. The limited nature of nature itself also acts as a limitation to the adoption of full-blown capitalism by the world’s poorer countries. It probably has about a few decades left before some modifications are needed on a global scale. If nothing else, poorer countries using antiquated technology to billow out carbon dioxide into the ozone layer will force the richer countries to stop preaching it to the poorer ones in their usual sanctimonious manner, causing modifications of the system to occur.

  • And it may be noted that Chile is a prosperous country today. Old Pinochet didn’t do everything wrong.

  • Cadiz

    Organizations arrange individual atrocity. A gang rape is still a rape despite the corporate consensus.

    “I think that’s true for individuals, but not necessarily for movements or wars.
    Posted by Garibaldy on Oct 11, 2007 @ 11:11 PM”

    Murder is murder, for example, the UDA are a coalition of drug dealing, pimps and moral rejects etc.

    Their ideology was derived via Cruithin race identity myth-building, pornography & muscle-building magazines moderated with right wing drivel using easy to spell words.

    it is not possible to finance them into a civilized or valid construct.