Saturday, 16 February 2013


Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, Argentine medical doctor turned blood-thirsty Marxist revolutionary, lead many to their deaths in his short life and many more since. Mr. Guevara, or to give his real name - Ernesto Guevara Lynch de la Serna - had the arrogance to write a book which many ill-informed Leftist university radicals read out of slavish devotion to their 'James Dean of politics', as one author put it. How has Mr. G caused so many deaths? 

First, let's have some background. Karl Marx's theory, based on his observations of 1840's early English Industrial Revolution, was that workers, or proletarians as he called them, were oppressed. Their oppressors were their bosses, what Marx called the 'bourgeoisie' or ruling class. So we have two classes, one small and one large with the small one riding on the back of the large. 

The role of the Marxist agent was agitation and propaganda, i.e. to agitate or 'wake up' the workers/proles to make them aware they are being downtrodden. Once they are aware they must be trained and equipped to thrown off that oppression. The means preferred by Marx was to kill the bosses. Bloodshed. 

After failure at his first attempt, in the Europe-wide Revolutions of 1848, Marx's theory was seen to be flawed. Further failure in 1905 Russian Revolution lead Lenin to modify Marx's original theory. 'The ruling class must be overthrown by the working class' so far so good 'but they must be LEAD by a worker's vanguard, a Party,  the Communist Party'. 

It was this novel idea, of a highly trained and motivated elite, that won the 1917 Revolution for Lenin. However, after winning the Revolution, the Civil War and eliminating millions of 'class enemies' in the 1920's and 1930's the Communist Party itself became a new oppressor, a totalitarian ruling class much worse than any in history. Their rule could not be overthrown but finally crumbled under the weight of its own errors in 1989. But the fact of their failure had become obvious to most as early as the 1960's.  Especially to New Left figures like Che. 

He suggested a further modification of Lenin's theory. A small elite of revolutionaries with guns, a 'foci', could by violence trigger the Revolution. This would by-pass the worldwide network of Marxist Communist Party branches. These CP's had long since failed to liberate anyone and were seen by many to be simply an arm of Soviet foreign policy. 

What Che did not recognise was his Cuban example was unique. It was not the 'guerrilla foci' that won the war against Batista but several other factors. However, Che's erroneous 'example, thanks to his book and Che's strong personal cult following amongst 1960's youth, meant his 'example' has been followed by urban guerrillas ever since. 

Isolated from both local Leftist activists and any organised Communist movement these lone units or 'foci' are quickly caught and killed, as was poor foolish Che himself in Bolivia in 1967.   

Brown, Ashley & Elder, Sam (editors). War In Peace: An Analysis Of Warfare Since 1945. Orbis Publishing Limited, London, 1981. pp. 146-152.
Hyams, Edward. A Dictionary of Modern Revolution. Taplinger Publishing Co., Inc. 1973, p. 102-106. 

MacDonald, Peter. Soldiers of Fortune. Admiral Books, Leicester, 1986. pp. 168-169.

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