A very important story by Kimia Sanati from InterPress Service, Oct. 3:
Islamist, Socialist Revolutions Don’t Mix
An attempt to rope in the son and daughter of the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara to forge a parallel between Iran’s Islamist revolution and the socialist revolution in Latin America through a four-day conference has ended in fiasco.
After Aleida Guevara protested from the podium against perceived distortions of her father’s ideology by the first Iranian speaker, Haj Saeed Ghasemi, the four-day “Che Like Chamran” conference, that started Sep. 25, was aborted and the Latin American guests whisked away.
“Che Like Chamran,” the title of the conference, was chosen for the alliteration in the names of the two revolutionaries and because both Che and the Iranian, Mostafa Chamran, fought alongside revolutionaries in other countries. But the similarities end there, no matter what the organisers intended to promote.
Chamran, a United States-educated engineer and Islamist, helped Mousa Sadr found the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon and fought alongside Amal guerrillas in the late 1970s. Appointed the young Islamic Republic’s defence minister by Ayatollah Khomeini, Chamran organised and led paramilitary forces during the early phase of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and was killed in battle in the Khuzistan province in 1981.
“We feel responsible towards all of humanity…unity is of especial importance to us. The reason for the relations established between our student group and the children of Che Guevara and the Latin American countries is what we have in common,” Morteza Firoozabadi, secretary of the Pro-Justice Student Movement (PJSM), explained to the Islamic Students News Agency (ISNA).
“We are never afraid of death and that is what Americans are most scared of. They cannot accuse us simply by citing things like terrorism, seeking war or breaching human rights. We only aim to free the oppressed and to restore the rights of all the people of the world so we do not recognise borders and do not care what names Americans use for this,” Firoozabadi was reported by ISNA as saying.
Organised by the student militia of Tehran University, the conference was attended mostly by counterparts from various other universities as well as members of hardline student groups such as the PJSM that strongly support President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies. These groups regularly organise demonstrations and protest rallies against the US and other western countries.
But Ghasemi, who is associated with Iran’s Esteshhadiyoun (volunteers of suicide operations) must take credit for scuttling the conference. Referring to a translated version of a Che Guevara book that he held in his hand, he said Che Guevara was religious and believed in God. “The people of Cuba, Fidel (Castro) and Che Guevara were never socialists or communists. Fidel has several times admitted that he and Che and the people of Cuba hated the Soviets for all they had done.”
“Today communism has been thrown into the trash bin of history as it was predicted by Ayatollah Khomeini,” Ghasemi told the conference and added that the only way to save the world was through the “the religious, pro-justice movement.”
An indignant Aleida, however, started her own address “in the name of the people of Cuba.” “We are a socialist nation,” she asserted. She also said the people of Cuba were grateful to the Soviet Union and there had never been any discord between the two nations, as mentioned by Ghasemi. She advised him to “always refer to original sources instead of translations to find out about Che Guevara’s beliefs.”
“My father never talked about God. He never met God. My father knew there was no absolute truth,” Aleida said, responding to Ghasemi’s speech. The coverage of her address by state-sponsored news agencies like ISNA was brief and excluded most of her contradictory remarks.
At a meeting later with students of Amir Kabir University of Technology, where the leftist groups are particularly strong, Camilo Guevara told students he approved of all that his sister had said at the conference, ISNA reported.
The other main speaker, Mehdi Chamran, brother of Mostafa Chamran, avoided mention of Che Guevara or his ideology in his address. Chamran, who is chairman of the Tehran City Council is a loyal supporter of Ahmadinejad.
“President Ahmadinejad’s promotion of closer ties with certain Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia called for some kind of identification of his brand of Islamist militant ideas with those of the leftists in Latin American countries,” a leftist student activist from Amir Kabir University told IPS on the condition of anonymity.
“Ahmadinejad has visited several Latin American countries over the past two years. He has brought (Hugo) Chavez and (Daniel) Ortega here. Belief in socialism is considered a crime in the Islamic state, punishable by death. Ahmadinejad’s slogans against the West and the U.S., his pro-justice rap, and his promises of economic assistance bring them here—much to our disappointment,” she said. “Daniel Ortega and other leftist leaders too must clarify their position about their relations with Iran. We feel greatly betrayed when for their countries’ economic benefit they choose to support extreme rightists, fascists like Ahmadinejad,” she added.
Following Aleida’s outspoken address to the conference, the organisers took flak from their own comrades. “It is appreciable to commemorate Che Guevara as a revolutionary figure. Otherwise, our former perspectives on his ideas, methods and attitude are still the same. We are Muslims and he is non-Muslim. The difference will always remain,” Mohammad Sedaghat, the leader of Student Militia of Shahed University was quoted by ISNA as saying.
“Chamran was a revolutionary Shiite Muslim whereas Che Guevara was totally atheistic. The only thing they had in common was their spirit of fighting injustice. For choosing friends we must meet other criteria, such as being God-loving—besides being anti-American,” Sedaghat was reported as saying.
Mohammad Jaffar Irani, a reformist student activist, was quoted by ISNA as pointing out that the same group that organised the conference had always considered Che Guevara an atheist. “If anyone other than the (hardline) group that organised this event had done so they would have gotten into a great deal of trouble,” he was quoted saying.
“The organisers of the event were hardline supporters of Ahmadinejad who have nothing in common with leftists, even the Islamic leftists of the early days of the (Iranian) revolution. President Ahmadinejad has in fact much in common with President Bush, although he may sound very ‘leftist,'” an observer in Tehran told IPS on condition of anonymity.
“Leftist countries must realise that if the issues that make the Iranian hardliners confront the West such as its demand to be accepted to the nuclear club are resolved, today’s leftist allies may instantly turn into their common enemies,” he said.
“Unfortunately some wrong approaches (remarks) diverted the course of the conference from (discussing) commonalities to the differences (between the two revolutionaries). This caused the conference to be deviated from its main course,” Sajjdad Saffar Harandi, leader of the Student Militia (Basij) in Tehran University, told the pro-Ahmadinjead website Raja News, explaining the fiasco.
See our last posts on Iran, Iran’s Latin America strategy, the Che Guevara legacy, and the struggle within Islam.
Che and Khomeini, or bourgeoise trash and bourgeoise filth
How sad the socialist pig, has his legacy co-opted by Islamist fascism.
Next thing you know, Bush will steal Stalin’s good name.
bourgeois or socialist?
We are having a hard time reading you. Accusing Che (and by extension the Cuban revolution) of being “bourgeois” smacks of ultra-leftism. But calling him a “socialist pig” smacks of right-wing yahooism or mere boring free-market Consensus Reality. Where are you coming from, dude?
BTW, for future reference, “bourgeoise” (with an e at the end) is the feminine form. I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply Che was a woman.
Marxist Apologism 101
>>Excuse us? Equating Che with Hitler, Pol Pot and Pinochet? This is vile historical revisionism of the lowest order and should be recognized as such.<< No, this self-deluding notion that Che was somehow innocent of any sort of tyranny, murder or oppression is deplorable historical revisionism. Pretending that Cuba is some sort of utopia and not the socialist police state it is, THIS is historical revisionism. But to compare a man who executed innocents and sowed oppression to others of this self-same century who enagegd in similar deplorabnle acts is spot-on, no matter HOW desperately you wish to irrationally dismiss any facts and evidence that clash with your mythological perception.
Zero-Sum Thinking 101
Excuse us again. We did not say Che was “innocent of any sort of tyranny, murder or oppression,” we said that equating him with Hitler, Pol Pot and Pinochet is vile revisionism—and it is. Nor did we call Cuba a “utopia,” and we’ve loaned a voice to independent Cuban dissidents. So try again.
>>Excuse us again. We did
>>Excuse us again. We did not say Che was “innocent of any sort of tyranny, murder or oppression,” we said that equating him with Hitler, Pol Pot and Pinochet is vile revisionism—and it is. Nor did we call Cuba a “utopia,” and we’ve loaned a voice to independent Cuban dissidents. So try again.
<< Unfortuanetly, there's no excusing stupidity, so I can't help "you" there. Equating him with those people is spot-on. They are all brutal dictators who participated in mass murder, torture and imprisonment of anybody they felt was dissident to their regime, either through thought, action or even the way they were born. Two of the three even took advantage of economic downturn to rally the disenfranchised and easily manipulated into supporting brutal socialist dictatorships that overthrew the government and immediately went on to horrible violence, exactly in the manner Che and the Castro brothers did. Your pathetic attempts at conflation do not shake this fact. Fail harder, Bill.
Right Wing Idiocy 101
You are the one who is “conflating,” not me. Look up the word in the dictionary.
And conflating Hitler and Pol Pot with Castro is beneath contempt. (It is hardly an exoneration of Castro to protest this!)
It’s funny that Che’s family
It’s funny that Che’s family is outraged even though the capitalist have exploited his image, the liberals have exploited his image, and even his own daughter exploited his image by appearing nude for some PETA campaign using his father’s iconic status for her own political agenda.
If Che Guevara was alive today he would be fighting for the Islamic world. Like Chairman Mao stated, you support what the enemy opposes and oppose what the enemy supports. In this case, capitalism is the enemy and Islam is the enemy of capitalism.
Also, Marxism-Leninism supports the Islamic world. Castro supported the PLO.
Please give us the Mao citation
If he really said that, he would have supported instead of resisted the Japanese in World War II.
And the PLO were secular. Does Castro support Hamas? Does he support Iran, for that matter? Seems to us he is taking a more principled position than his pal Hugo Chavez in this matter.
And if you were really paying attention, you would note that in the very comment below this one, Che’s daughter does take issue with capitalist exploitation of his image…
…and CAPITALIST exploitation
The New York Times Oct. 9 has a story entitled “A Revolutionary Icon, and Now, a Bikini,” which cites Aleida Guevara March saying she can tolerate the Che souvenir industry, but can’t stomach a designer putting his image on a bikini. It also cites some criticisms from the other end of the spectrum:
Excuse us? Equating Che with Hitler, Pol Pot and Pinochet? This is vile historical revisionism of the lowest order and should be recognized as such. Which is worse: Islamist/capitalist exploitation of Che, or right-wing demonization? Sound off readers…
Che would probabky approve
I suspect Che–like most of the authoritarian left–would laud Islamist fascists as “anti-imperialist” freedom fighters.
Che was no Hitler but he certainly was a thug and responsible for the murder of unionists and leftists who disagreed with him, Fidel and Co.
Sam Dolgoff writes a bit about this in his book on the Cuban revolution.
Evidence to the contrary
The fact that Che’s family is now dissenting is pretty good evidence against your assertion.
And while we like Dolgoff’s book, we doubt he would approve (crusty old anarchist that he was) of being favorably invoked by “The New Centrist.”
Apologies for the typo
Sorry for the typo. It’s been a long day.
No, the fact that his family is dissenting is evidence *they* (his family) dislike the association. But Che would have embraced these people, just as most of the authoritarian left is doing today.
As far as Dolgoff liking me or not, that really is beside the point. The point is Dolgoff claims Che personally killed unionists and leftists during the revolution.
Forgive us if we consider Aleida Guevara a better authority in this matter than you. Given that she still lives in Fidel’s Cuba, and that Fidel’s buds Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales are cozy with Ahmadinejad, what reason would she have to “dislike the association”—other than the honest one that you deny?
It’s been a long time since I read Dolgoff’s book, but I just blew the dust off it and checked the index references for Che Guevara. He says plenty of unflattering things about him, but not that he personally executed unionists. The closest I could find was the reference on page 75 to the guerillas shooting deserters in the Sierra Maestra. Please provide a page reference.
I think she is articulating
I think she is articulating her personal ideological dedication to Marxism-Leninism, which goes over quite well with Castro.
If he were alive today I suspect Che’s position would be that of most of the authoritarian left i.e. Islamic totalitarianism is a form of anti-capitalist resistance and should be supported.
I haven’t read the Dolgoff book for ages and don’t have a page number for you at the tip of my fingers. But with a really quick electronic search I was able to find this:
“With the Castroite victory in 1959, Che…purged the army, carried out re-education classes within it, and was supreme prosecutor in the executions of Batista supporters, 550 being shot in the first few months… He helped set up a secret police, the C-2 and had a key role in creating the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, which were locally and regionally based bodies for spying on and controlling the mass of the population. “
There is much more info. on all of this–if not in the Dolgoff book–many other authors coming from a left-libertarian perspective have written similar accounts of Che’s activities.
In some ways, Bill’s point
In some ways, Bill’s point that Fidel likes Ahmenijad sort of supports the New Centrist’s claim: Leninism today may be fiercely atheist, but has embraced Islamism as a kindred “anti-imperialism”, with disasterous consequences.
Personally, I have a lot of respect for Che, but the Cuban revolution should not be our model of socialism: it was authoritarian and repressive.
Infinately preferable to theocratic Iran – which is why Comrade Aleida’s intervention is welcome – but not a good model.
Che was an interesting person. On the one hand he was a physician who knew how to value human life, on the other he was a soldier who followed the laws of war (and in every army from ancient times it is generally death penalty- treason, desert, leaving watch and war crimes). He was a man of sin like all of us but also closer to virtue than most of us. Whatever you can say Ernesto Guevarra dedicated his life to the poor and exploited people in Latin America, Africa and Asia, something which is not and was never the priority of the “preachers” and the “protectors of democracy”. Che was faithfull to his beliefs and the cause of fighting social injustice and imperialism everywhere. And today he would definately stay against the fascist regime of Iran which opresses the common people and try to return the Dark Ages.
You are so full of shit
>>He was a man of sin like all of us but also closer to virtue than most of us.<< Speak for yourself. I've never executed nor imprisoned any innocent people, nor have I established any totalitarian dictatorships in the last few decades. that automatically makes me and anybody similar a LOT closer to "virtue" than Che Guevarra. Next you'll be telling us about how Saint Mao parted the seas. >>Whatever you can say Ernesto Guevarra dedicated his life to the poor and exploited people in Latin America<< He sure did. he dedicated his life to exploiting them and keeping them in poverty. He also dedicated himself to executing and imprisoning in concentration camps like Guanahacabibes anybody who "dissented" from his tyrannical revolution, either by thought or by the simple act of being homosexual or Catholic. >>Che was faithfull to his beliefs and the cause of fighting social injustice and imperialism everywhere.<< Your definitions of "social justice" and "imperialism" are more than a little skewed.
Smelly little orthodoxies
That’s what Orwell called them. One can have a critique of the authoritarian tendencies of the Cuban revolution and still recognize the real idealism that animated it, and continues to inspire millions across Latin America. Whatever the excesses of Che and his comrades, they were trying (and in Cuba succeeded) to topple the structures of poverty and oppression. What have you done lately for the oppressed, Mr Virtuous Anonymous?
>>One can have a critique of
>>One can have a critique of the authoritarian tendencies of the Cuban revolution and still recognize the real idealism that animated it, and continues to inspire millions across Latin America. << Yeah, that's called "postmodern bullshit", or, more commonly, "jerking yourself off". >>Whatever the excesses of Che and his comrades, they were trying (and in Cuba succeeded) to topple the structures of poverty and oppression. << Really? Because objective reality kind of contradicts your self-delusions. Poverty and oppression in the Cuban police state are even worse off than under Batista. Unless you're stupid enough to actually believe that imprisoning people for criticizing government somehow does not qualify as "oppression", which frankly wouldn't surprise me. >>What have you done lately for the oppressed, Mr Virtuous Anonymous?<< To reiterate myself: I have not formed any regimes lately that went about "freeing" people from poverty and oppression by killing and imprisoning those who who wouldn't abide in my inherently oppressive and failure-destined socio-political philosophy, and which continues to "inspire millions" to support said failed philosophy which has hitherto resulted in more genocide than Hitler's National Socialism. Oh, and I also don't go around expounding said totalitarianistic philosophy through moral relativist bullshit in a blatant attempt at historical revisionism whitewash, which is more than you can say, Whineberg.
Free health care equals genocide?
Yes, how terribly oppressive to have free health care, education, access to land.
And of course the embargo has nothing to do with Cuban suffering in your twisted worldview.
Look, this item is almost three years old. You have already violated our posting policy by engaging in hate speech. (“Whineberg”? How clever.) But if you must pick a fight with me, do so in a more recent item.
You are, of course, also more than invited to get lost.
big lie, small mind
> Poverty and oppression in the Cuban police state are even worse off than under Batista.
Wrong. You’re either misinformed, lying, lazy or in denial. Or some boring combination.
And the rest of your dismissal of historical gray areas as “post modern” is typical of the big words / no argument pose adopted by wanna be pseudo intellectual thugs all across the political spectrum. Perhaps you have some issues with your own past political leanings?
Like it or hate it,but the Cuban revolution did change the lives of many millions of oppresssed people worldwide,so Both Che and Fidel are in my mind freedom fighters and heroes,that freed people from the clutches of western capitilism,if they did not do what they did,even if it was not in the way they did,poverty and oppression would still have been the major issues in many parts of the so called free world