Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Republican "Marxist Envy" Che! Part II

This is my second post that tries to explain the incredulous labeling of President Barack Obama as a "Marxist"  by reactionary forces in the United States.  As contrast, I provide a movie review of Che a Steven Soderbergh/Laura Bickford film now available (with extended commentary and historical interviews/film from the Criterion Collection ) at Film is Truth in Bellingham,Washington.  I highly recommend this film, but especially this Criterion Collection three DVD set  for the archival footage and film and also for the supporting historical commentary by Jon Lee Anderson. Mr. Anderson is publishing a second edition of his work Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life.

There are many reasons to reconsider the life and works of Che Guevara today in our country.  Like Batiste's Cuba, America has become a country ruled by  "strong men", its citizenry rotting financially in the compost pile of a corrupt state, ridden with bankruptcy, foreclosure, and unemployment; the official government serving only as a vehicle to hand or tax away the last of our state's riches to those who have plundered our national economy.  Would a Cuban style revolution be possible in these United States?  What would it take to effect such a revolution?

The film makes clear many of the timeless historical markers of revolution:

(1) broad public support including a "soft revolutionary" (ideological) component in urban areas
(2) an armed revolutionary group with outside financial support
(3) visionary guerilla leaders with practical technical and charismatic skillsets
(4) eventually, a unified front of citizens, military, intelligentsia
(5) ruthless strongmen to purge "reactionary' or "counter-revolutionary" forces.

In Cuba, the revolution succeeded, even to the surprise of some Soviet supporters, because the Batiste regime had terrorized its people.   But it also succeeded because bourgeois "Argentine intellectuals" like Che Guevara rallied and committed themselves to the cause of Marxist revolution; in part because their travels through Latin America made clear the devastation caused by American economic imperialism: our henchman, our support of local thugs, our devastation of local economies in the name of American economic affluence.

Jon Lee Anderson'sdisk one commentary strongly asks the question: What is it that made an intellectual, a doctor, a poet and philosopher like Guevara "cross the line"?  What would make a man of gentle intellect and medical training convince himself to murder for the cause of the greater wealth of his people?   Perhaps we should ask what would it take to see such personal conversions here:
  • A lack of nationalized health care? 
  • An unfettered/polarizing war on the third world in the name of  an endless "War on Terror"?
  • The impoverishing effects of  corporatist lobbying  forces in the name of oil, energy, pharma, insurance, banking?
  • The widening gap between the rich and the poor?
  • The impoverization of our communities and families?
From the ILWU to the Black Panthers , 20th century America has no shortage of well organized and well-armed revolutionary movements among it's working classes. They are usually paralleled with support from intellectual classes. But what events would make us "cross the line"?  What events would make us view the election of Barack Obama as our last failed hope for Democratic reform?  I will wager that these are the questions that are being asked in earnest now in large, bankrupt communities across the nation.  In reality, no one but repressed, paranoid Republican leadership and the denizens of small towns with narrow minds are worrying whether or not Barack Obama is a "Marxist". Whether our President is a "Marxist" or not (and he has does nothing to indicate that he is at this point), our country is rapidly reaching the point of economic degradation where many of us would cheer if he were to declare himself as such.

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