Everybody has his two cents on Che


I had honestly forgotten all about it being the fortieth anniversary of the death of famed cigar smoker, golfer and occasional revolutionary politician Che Guevara. It probably says something that I would remember the anniversaries of Sabhat, Ó hAnluain and the Edentubber Martyrs but not Che. And, what with the Cuban Revolution having been slightly more successful than Operation Harvest, it probably doesn’t say anything good.

I notice, by the way, that the least Guevarist organisation on the Irish left, the Socialist Party, is holding a meeting tonight in celebration of Che, with CWI bigwig Tony Saunois as the guest speaker. I suspect Tony will hail Che as an inspirational figure, while skipping over the question of armed struggle and the CWI’s characterisation of Cuba as a Stalinist dictatorship. And, although he probably won’t say this, a mischievous sectarian part of me hopes that Tony calls for a socialist federation of Cuba and Florida. If you’re curious, toddle along to the SP office on Lombard Street for a fun-packed evening.

I also notice Johann blotting his copybook with this extraordinary rant at Che. The adjectives are so ludicrously overtorqued that I can’t help suspecting that Johann was one over the eight when writing this. He also hasn’t rid himself of that giveaway tic of referring to people who disagree with him on foreign policy as “depraved”. By the way, is there any chance of the Independent supplying Johann with a fact-checker? And what’s with this dancing on the grave of a dead communist anyway? That is a Kammism if ever there was one – is Johann trying to rebuild his bridges with the Decents?

For some sensible reading, and if you can track it down, I thoroughly recommend Joe Hansen’s piece on the errors of Che Guevara, which you can find in the Dynamics of the Cuban Revolution collection. It’s as good a short treatment as I’ve seen from the far left.


  1. Mark P said,

    October 10, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Actually both Tony’s book on the subject and the occasional meetings Socialist Youth hold about Guevara are quite firmly critical of his politics, within a generally positive framework. Similarly, they don’t gloss over the nature of the Cuban dictatorship. This often comes as something of a surprise to people who attend expecting an uncritical celebration.

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 10, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    I imagine it would. I haven’t yet read Tony’s book, but I’ll look it out at some point.

  3. MO'B said,

    October 11, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Over 200 packed out the meeting. At a glance the vast bulk were non politicos and half of them were young people from the continent (of Europe). Tony’s speech was evenly divided between Che’s life and politices, how it’s commerated and why he is seen as a reference point by the masses in Latin America today.

    A lively enough discussion followed albeit hampered slightly with the absence of a PA system which meant we couldn’t properly hear a soft spoken member of the Spartacist’s give out about the Socialist Party ‘managing capitalism in Liverpool on behalf of Margaret Thather’.

    There is a six page article on the CWI website http://www.socialistworld.net by written by Tony which sums up the main points of the talk he gave.

  4. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 11, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Well, it wouldn’t be a meeting without the Sparts would it?

    Thanks for the report, and I’ll read Tony’s article with interest.

  5. Andy said,

    October 11, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    What was wrong in Hari’s piece? arguing for Maoism and nuclear war seems to be a pretty big blot on Che’s book rather than Hari’s…

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 12, 2007 at 7:46 am

    That’s on the assumption that Johann is being accurate – he has his moments, but he also has his Nick Cohen moments, and he seems to have been suffering a case of Che In Your Head Syndrome. You can say that Che took a hard line in the missile crisis, but it’s quite a jump from that to saying that he advocated nuking New York. And I don’t recall him ever hailing Kim Il Sung, never mind in the terms Johann implies. To be honest, I’d like to see Johann’s sources for his article.

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