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message 1: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
I watched the first part of Steven Soderbergh's film 'Che' tonight. I have to say first of all that I was unmoved by the structure of the film. It was scattered and choppy and difficult to follow. I suppose there will be people out there who laud it as artistic genius, but upon first viewing I was not a fan.

Rather than try and rely on my spotty understanding of Che, or upon the way this film portrays him, I decided to spend some time reading several articles about him. I've heard him called a butcher, and a hero. I thought I would try and decide what I thought.

Not surprisingly I found myself agreeing with the POV in this article by Paul Berman:

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. Full Article:

Come to find out Paul Berman is what is known as a "liberal hawk". I had no idea there was a term for the political ground I find myself occupying these days. Personally I think I'm in good company (Thomas L. Friedman, Christopher Hitchens, Ed Koch, Ron Silver, Tony Blair). But then again, I would think that. ; )

Anyway, opening a whole can of worms here no doubt, but whatever. I think the worship of Che is another symptom of post-modern decadence. But I find it wildly amusing that a man who lived and died to fight against capitalism is the object of such wide-spread and cynical marketing and commercial exploitation. Ah life, you always win, don't you.

message 2: by Alejandro (last edited Jan 26, 2009 06:54AM) (new)

Alejandro | 11 comments I agree with you Charissa, I grew up a child of the Nicaraguan revolution and shaped myself into a an avid Liberal. I tend to lean towards a socialist democracy(Ideally) for the world. I have some contempt towards the wealthy old crows who made millions with the exploitation of workers. I had an uncle who died for the change and optimism the Sandinista promised. Failed revolution? maybe. External obstacles such as Bush senior, Oliver north and the CIA, okay. Prove socialism fails and the poor remain the indentured servitude they were bread to become. Internal contributors to a demise: The Sandinista were hell bent on totalitarianism and killed a few hundred indigenous youth for refusing to contribute towards the divine revolution which was their patriotic duty. People were not ready to rid themselves of their beloved feudal lord the Vatican. I can go on...

message 3: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
Hey Alejandro... thanks for that post. It's always great to get the perspective of someone who speaks from first hand experience. Like most things, Nicaraguan politics are complicated. Terms like 'Banana Republic' spring to mind. You can't argue against the fact that the First World has exploited the bloody hell out of the Rest of the World as much and as often as it could. I think most of the reasonable arguments against Che, and other bloody revolutionaries, comes down to problems with methodology. If you're stacking up bodies like cord wood, how is this better.

Bun... yeah, that image of Che kind of does come down to fashion ultimately, doesn't it? Sad comment on the state of revolution. People would be better off sewing their own t-shirt and embroidering it with pictures their kids drew than buying a Che t-shirt from Target. HA HA HA HA HA. Oh the irony.

message 4: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro | 11 comments The lesser of two evils. I live in Portlandia surrounded by wonderfully inspired leftist, vegan, tight jeans wearing, horn rim glasses, politically correct indies. They sound so elitist and snobbish on their high horse bashing capitalism and downing some PBR's. I attend these rituals as objectively as I can as I quietly observe and listen to communal dreams of self sustainability antics until invited to put my two cents in. They won't hear my gory stories on how much I despise war. Those who profit and the both parties who benefit.

message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 26, 2009 10:45PM) (new)

Yes, Portland is crawling with hipsters who know absolutely everything.

message 6: by Jackie "the Librarian", Cool Star Trek Nerd (new)

Jackie "the Librarian" | 1818 comments Mod
Let the Wookie win!

message 7: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I like that!

message 8: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
HEEEEE!!!!! Chewy!!! OMG That's awesome. Did you make that KD???

message 9: by Joe (new)

Joe (joediver50) | 18 comments Wook on my friends.....

message 10: by Lori (new)

Lori Alejandro, what do people in SA think of Chavez?

message 11: by Monica (new)

Monica Back to Che Guevara...

I felt Che channeling me when I was traveling through the countryside of Peru, outside Cusco last week, my first, and very exciting time in South America.

We were on a street used in Motorcycle Diaries.

Are any of you old enough to remember him?

I remember being traumatized when he was executed.

message 12: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Yes we are.

message 13: by Monica (last edited Feb 05, 2009 07:09PM) (new)

Monica Che, he was a mythic figure. I felt his presence throughout Peru.
The people are gorgeous. They love him. I got souvenirs. Have any of you climbed Machu Picchu? I'm glad I did it now, before I can't manage it again. The heart rate pumps and air is thin. I panted unashamedly!.

message 14: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro | 11 comments Mixed feelings, in Nicaragua he's revered for calling Bush Satan and other Nicaraguan who have been assimilated by choice are embarrassed by his antics...

message 15: by Alejandro (last edited Jan 27, 2009 07:12PM) (new)

Alejandro | 11 comments I can't seem to explain it in simple terms. Some of these Che worshiping folk have never been promised change and stood in line to receive rations at the crack of dawn. Seeing your grandparents who raised you, fight with extended family members who want to take your house which you build from the ground up. Paid for with a mechanic's salary and a catering homemaker's cooking. The revolution promised them a parcel of land of their choosing. Now if you equally distribute property, wouldn't it make sense to know how to farm it? I totally know oppression, and I understand the strife of the farmers. I don't hold anyone on a pedestal and Che was a well intended revolutionary who held Stalinist principles. Change comes with education, of the mind and of the law and of your history. A bullet isn't the way to bring change.

message 16: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
I think it's easy to idolize someone from the comfort of The First World. Send these same people into Cuba to live, or into the jungles of Nicaragua, and I'm fairly certain you would get a different perspective from them. Unfortunately people cling to their POV desperately, choosing which facts to believe in order to support their comfortable world view. At least, that is my experience.

message 17: by Monica (new)

Monica There is no question Che saw the inequities of South America and did something about it. That poverty is still very real today. On the train back from Machu Picchu I met two Cuban men and asked how they liked growing up there. They both liked it. I asked them if someone wants a nice house, what do they do? One said his parents were able to build a nice house but did it on the "black market".

What about the people (ex-pats in Miami) whose land was stolen? Don't they have rights like Palestinians whose land was taken?

I don't like the concept of everyone owning everything. I've lived in two condominium complexes and luckily was able to purchase my own free-standing home. People have different standards of housekeeping.

BTW the two men who grew up in Cuba are now US citizens living in New York City, the commerce capital of the free world, and loving it. That says it all!

I have not read enough about the situation but can't deny Che did something about injustice.

Here's a link to an exhibit held at the V&A a couple summers ago.

message 18: by Monica (new)

Monica I'll reply to my own post to post this book by John Lee Anderson who it turns out was an adviser to the film.

message 19: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
Acting in the Way of Nature
...often means not acting--
Not doing anything.
Indeed an empire can often be won
By doing nothing at the right time.
Indeed a life can often be lost
By trying to do too much .


message 20: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro | 11 comments Indeed, results of the uprisings, the thousands dead and myriad of economic roller coasters and nothing was solved. It was another mark up on the international perpetual war for a supposed perpetual peace. Gore Vidal explains it best.

message 21: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
Ooo! What does Gore Vidal say about it?

message 22: by Monica (new)

Monica I'm looking forward to Che, the book. I want to have an open mind. I want to be able to travel to Cuba without going to Toronto first.

message 23: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it”
Terry Pratchett

“I try to keep an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.”
Harold T. Stone

“You can have such an open mind that it is too porous to hold a conviction.”
George Crane

“The open mind never acts: when we have done our utmost to arrive at a reasonable conclusion, we still - must close our minds for the moment with a snap, and act dogmatically on our conclusions”
George Bernard Shaw

“Tact is the ability to tell a man he has an open mind when he has a hole in his head”

message 24: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Good stuff all, C.

message 25: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro | 11 comments Well, if we are so complacent and easily influenced without the analytical churning of our gears, than all we do is agree with our cute friends, co-workers and archaic family members. Because it's convenient, immediately gratifying or provided to us by our lazy journalists, campaigners and the reeking pulpit. Not to mention those extra ordinary league of humans with super capabilities of spiritual awareness and emotions we mere mortals lack. "Post modern decadence" Hah I like that Charissa. I just regress about Vidal's essays, comments and contempt on the business of war and our United states of Amnesia.

message 26: by Monica (new)

Monica When I say I want to keep an open mind I'm saying it because I'm unwilling to pass judgment without knowing enough about the topic. I may be mistaken but it seemed he is loved by the local people I met in the small towns around Cusco. That's why I added the definitive book to my list. Here is someone else whose work is of interest

message 27: by Dave (new)

Dave Russell So you don't take the Blink view of things? Neither do I.

message 28: by Jackie "the Librarian", Cool Star Trek Nerd (new)

Jackie "the Librarian" | 1818 comments Mod
Blink The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is an okay starting point, but a bad ending point.

message 29: by Monica (last edited Feb 03, 2009 07:17AM) (new)

Monica Che was/is a romantic folk hero, his poster on walls everywhere. People wore berets and felt solidarity for rebellion against authority and a passion for social justice. Remember in The Motorcycle Diaries his girlfriend gave him money to buy something? (Not in the book, in the movie.) He kept it for a long time until he encountered people who were starving and gave it to them? That was a turning point in his life.

Think about Cheney and the stone cold, government-hating, incompetent reactionaries who are primarily responsible for our nation’s current circumstances.

There is no question people in South America, and elsewhere, regard him as a hero.

message 30: by Not Bill (last edited Feb 03, 2009 10:54PM) (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments Hey..hate to piss on everyone's parade, but let's not forget that Che was a communist mass murderer, who also played a major role in bringing about the Cuban missile crisis. He also thought Mao's cultural revolution (and the mass murder that ensued) was the bees knees.

Open mind folks? Wrap your brains around those tasty tidbits, then tell me how absolutely dreamy cool Che was. :::spit:::

message 31: by Monica (new)

Monica Communist mass murderer? Please explain!

message 32: by Monica (new)

Monica People are still oppressed and poor and that's boring.

message 33: by Dave (last edited Feb 04, 2009 09:28AM) (new)

Dave Russell I like how NB thinks he was setting us all straight, as if we were just about to change the group avatar to a picture of Che.

message 34: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) He pissed on my parade! Make him say he's sorry!

message 35: by Not Bill (last edited Feb 05, 2009 05:01PM) (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments Bwahahaha!

Thanks all. Seriously, same ol' Axis that I've missed dearly. Apologies for having been away. Simple things like, oh, putting food on the table and payin' rent have their way. Hey, it's hard in the city for a pimp. :]

BunnWat...yer always on the spot with the necessary.

...and now :::ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiip!::::

message 36: by Monica (last edited Feb 05, 2009 07:03PM) (new)

Monica But wait, you haven't explained your remark in post 38.

message 37: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
Monica: Che was responsible for executing thousands of prisoners after the take over of Cuba. Here is a quote from one article:

Under Che, Havana's La Cabana fortress was converted into Cuba's Lubianka. He was a true Chekist: "Always interrogate your prisoners at night," Che commanded his prosecutorial goons, "a man is easier to cow at night, his mental resistance is always lower." [1:]

A Cuban prosecutor of the time who quickly defected in horror and disgust named Jose Vilasuso estimates that Che signed 400 death warrants the first few months of his command in La Cabana. A Basque priest named Iaki de Aspiazu, who was often on hand to perform confessions and last rites, says Che personally ordered 700 executions by firing squad during the period. Cuban journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che as early as 1954, writes in his book Yo Soy El Che! that Guevara sent 1,897 men to the firing squad.

In his book Che Guevara: A Biography, Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering "several thousand" executions during the first year of the Castro regime. Felix Rodriguez, the Cuban-American CIA operative who helped track him down in Bolivia and was the last person to question him, says that Che during his final talk, admitted to "a couple thousand" executions. But he shrugged them off as all being of "imperialist spies and CIA agents."

message 38: by Lori (new)

Lori But but but he sure looked stunning in that poster! Damn! I'm gonna wear a beret too and be totally cool! I'm a wannabee!

Che is the hero of the radical leftists. But then you read more about him, and realize he made huge mistakes, and was just as misguided in his actions and blinded by his own dogma as many hard left and Communist people in the US and Europe about the Soviet Union during Stalin era until the truths started seeping out.

In South America there is such poverty and class division that it's very easy to fall into sympathy with a leader who seems to represent all your hopes, anger and downtrodden pride. So of course there are many people who still think of him as a hero. We here have the luxury of seeking the truth and seeing both sides of the man, not the myth.

Actually, I think I'll have to read more about Che myself.

message 39: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
nice post, Lori. it says it all really.

message 40: by Not Bill (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments Char... Lori, could not have said it better myself. The fact that it needs to be said at all is a disgrace.

message 41: by Lori (new)

Lori FRAK!

NB agrees with me!

message 42: by Not Bill (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments tee hee

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