A Lower Order of Being
By David Glenn Cox
I was perusing the Internet the other day when I came across this, “10 Che Guevara quotes the left would rather not talk about.”
“Next time your kid comes home in a Che Guevara T-shirt, ask him if he knows what the Cuban murderer actually stood for. Sit him down, strip the gauze of ignorance from his eyes and have him read these Guevara quotes. Then burn the damn T-shirt.”
The quotes listed are inflammatory and incendiary; they speak of blood, murder and revolution. “Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!”
Pretty powerful stuff, but then Che lived in a time of tape recorders and television. George Washington advocated genocide against Native American tribes simply because he wanted their lands, so what motivated Che Guevara? He was born into a wealthy family in Argentina and attended college and then medical school. You see, he was Dr. Guevara. As a young man he traveled through South America on a motorcycle and he saw widespread poverty. He saw a wealthy few and an impoverished multitude.
George Washington was born the son of a farmer and began a career as a surveyor. He fought for the British in the French and Indian wars and led an unsuccessful charge in pursuit of retreating Native Americans into a forest. George learned that day that you never follow Native Americans retreating into a forest. Washington lost many men and sustained his first military defeat. What about the innocent blood on George’s hands?
George married one of the wealthiest widows in Virginia and began to petition his king for land grants west of the Appalachians. George was a man with a dream and a vision, George wanted to be rich, really, really rich, so when his king turned him down George decided that what this country needed was a revolution. His British King was suppressing his dreams and oppressing his freedom to occupy lands which did not belong to him.
The British on the other hand had just settled a war and thought that since British blood and treasure had been expended for the benefit of the colonists that perhaps the colonists should be taxed to pay for British protection. American Colonial leaders saw things a bit differently, the war had been won, their adversaries had been defeated so what did they need with these Brits hanging around for, oppressing and suppressing them?
This is the view of the American Revolution from the British perspective, a side rarely seen through the gauze of two centuries of propaganda. So George Washington was a revolutionary for vaporous freedom, financial opportunity and the freedom to commit genocide of native peoples and take their lands while Che Guevara was seeking revolution to aid the poor and disenfranchised.
Many, many, too many in this country romanticize war. War is the failure of politics; it is the failure of the human mind and the human tongue to seek reason. It is caused by the arrogance and intransigence to understand our common humanity. This so-called peaceful nation of ours has buried her sons in graveyards all over the world seeking…peace.
When Che came to Cuba he found a country where anything goes. America’s playground was just ninety miles from Miami. Gambling, prostitution anything was available in Havana. In the Cuban countryside there was grinding poverty with little or no education or health care. Cuba was the number one Caribbean export market for Cadillac. American companies made millions in Cuba while paying ridiculously low wages and almost no taxes. Cuba was a plutocracy where 75 percent of the assets were owned by foreign nationals, a money machine lubricated by the blood and sweat of its people.
It is hard to look back over the past ten years and not to see the change that has come over the United States. So imagine looking back thirty plus years. My friend who was a few years ahead of me in school graduated from high school and got a union job working for GM. He didn’t like it much, working on the third shift, so he was trying to get a job with AT&T working in a factory making telephones. Today those cars are built in Mexico and those telephones in China, countries where GM and AT&T can pay ridiculously low wages and almost no taxes. In countries where anything goes, where a blue jeans manufacturer can dump acids and dyes right into the Mexican drinking water supply, they brought 300 hundred jobs but poisoned the water supply for 2,400.
You see, I am not trying to justify Che’s violence as much as to explain it and to understand it. Ten million homes foreclosed equal more than forty million men, women and children ejected from their homes. They live their lives under threats and under pressure, searching for a decent job when there are none. This is no accident, this is violence done in the name of profit. This is revolution by the pen and the freedom to be manipulated and ordered out for the benefit of others. Forty million people is the largest peace time human disenfranchisement in human history. The bankers who profited from this crime have not been punished but have been rewarded and are receiving their annual bonuses again.
This government, your government continues to insist that free trade will help our economy and create jobs. South Korea exports 700,000 cars to the United States but imports less than 7,000 from the United States. South Korea jails labor activists and pays their full time autoworkers a mere $5.00 per hour. They keep on staff contract workers who earn $3.00 per hour but who stand ready to step in the event of any labor stoppage.
This government, your government wants to establish a free trade pact with Colombia where the Colombian Army stands accused in over 200 murders of labor organizers. Colombia is considered the most dangerous place on earth to be a labor organizer so one can only imagine what it must be like to be a worker in Colombia. The Colombian government promises very sweetly to investigate these murders but once the trade pact is ratified, what’s done is done. Did you know the United States runs an annual trade deficit of around a billion dollars a year with Colombia?
Che Guevara and George Washington were in the same line of work, they were both revolutionaries. They were both willing to pit their lives and fortunes to bring about change. They both killed people and destroyed property and they both knew the horrors of combat.
Che said, “A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” We must create the pedagogy of the Wall!”, meaning they would execute traitors and deserters.
George said, “It is always best to keep the militia in front of you” a reference to shooting conscripts who turn in the face of the enemy.
Lest you think that I am condemning George Washington, I will add that Washington had the presence of mind and the strength of character to stay in the fight. He understood well that he was the lynch pin of the struggle. If he had run or abandoned his post, the American Revolution would have been over. He also understood that had he run away, the British would have hunted him down and hung him as a traitor.
Che Guevara was a doctor. He could have lived a quiet sedate life growing wealthy and raising a family. Instead, he lived in jungle camps eating bad food risking his life fighting for an idea not unlike our own George Washington, but George was a man of the seventeenth century. George believed that people with brown skin or black skin or red skin were inferior to him. He believed that these people were chattel to be used by him like farm animals or beasts of burden to be bought and sold for profit. He believed that if these people had something that he wanted, it was acceptable for him to take it from them, because he saw them as a lower order of being.
Che burned with an idea that people should not be exploited, that we all share a common dignity and common humanity. He also understood that the entrenched powers would do anything to preserve their inhuman system of exploitation. Che understood that these powers were so steeped in their own barbarity that they could not be reasoned with or made to understand the evil nature of their own crimes.
“In fact, if Christ himself stood in my way, I, like Nietzsche, would not hesitate to squish him like a worm.” Che Guevara
When Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba, he left with over one hundred million dollars that did not belong to him. He robbed the people, he didn’t care if or how they would suffer. He didn’t care if the children were denied an education or if the elderly were denied health care. He was motivated only by greed; he worked only for those who paid him. Law was for sale, exploitation was for sale and the lives of the Cuban people mattered to him only for the coins they would put in his pocket.
So how was Batista any different from say, Paul Ryan or Eric Cantor? How is he any different from Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf or Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein? How are their policies and beliefs any different from the beliefs of George Washington or even from Barack Obama? They carry on the legacy of a lower order of being with the policies of exploiter and exploited, anything for a buck. Tax cuts for the rich while cutting Medicare and Social Security for the elderly.
I guess that is why Che said, “If any person has a good word for the previous government that is good enough for me to have him shot.”
I don’t agree with everything that Che said. I do. however, understand the motivations that made him say them. I don’t own nor would I wear a Che Guevara tee shirt because to do so would dishonor his memory. I don’t like the idea of Capitalist sweatshops making a buck off of his likeness, selling his image while forgetting his ideals.
Che was murdered while fighting in Bolivia; he gave his life for a cause. He traded upper class comforts to become a revolutionary, and that is not something to be remembered on a tee shirt but in your heart. I have seen with my own eyes the suffering and I have heard the tears of women crying, I’ve seen them put out of their homes and I understand well that the definition of murderer or revolutionary depends only upon which way the rifles are pointing. Che died for the idea that people should not be exploited for profit or by their governments.
I will never disavow that idea.
“Many will call me an adventurer – and that I am, only one of a different sort: one of those who risks his skin to prove his platitudes.”
“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”