Che: An Exchange

David Black July 7, 2012 at 8:11 am

‘The Syrian gene pool is losing every hour its Guevaras, Bolivars, Orwells, Jeffersons, Bob Dylans.’

Are the Guevaras (psychotic beret-wearing mass-murderers)of history fit to be counted among the Jeffersons, Dylans etc? I would hope not.

Doug Quixote July 7, 2012 at 8:19 am

Where do you get off with this narrow nit-picking shit, Mr Black? I hope Ellis takes the long handle to you; I’ve had more than enough of it.

Helvi July 7, 2012 at 9:49 am

DQ, why did it take you so long see this…did you have blinkers on, or did you not want see it.

Doug Quixote July 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Pardon, Helvi? What do you mean?

Bob Ellis July 8, 2012 at 4:34 am

Che spent a good many of his few years on earth as a doctor in a leper colony.

Psychotic mass-murderer, was he?

They let psychotic mass-murderers through med school in those days, did they?

What, Sir David, are you talking about?

David Black July 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

If Ernesto Guevara was in Syria right now, he would be organizing murder squads for the regime, as he did in Havana – while wearing that beret of course.

Canguro July 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

A supporter of murderous regimes and thuggish dictators, are you? If you’d been in Cuba at that time you’d have been on Batista’s side, yes?

It fits, given your comment about Guevara being a member of a group of “psychotic beret-wearing mass-murderers”

Mate I guess you’re one of these trolls who garner their history from comic books.

Psychotic? Mass-murderer? Hmmm, maybe the Assad PR campaign could use your talents.

Apologists for corruption aren’t the most popular types these days, but I suppose one has to acknowledge your willingness to nail your colors to the mast, and take what comes.

Re. your risible criticism of Guevara’s headwear, fuck off. Wrong blog for those comments, and berets are cool. Go to where you can troll to your heart’s content, berets, beanies, bucket hats… mate, it’s made for you.

dawsonb July 7, 2012 at 10:45 am [Edit]

Just because Batista was bad, this does not necessarily make Guevera good.

As for the beret, I wear one. Nothing wrong with that.

Bob Ellis July 8, 2012 at 4:49 am [Edit]

See Motorcycle Diaries, then Che 1 and Che 2. All are absolutely true. The idealistic young doctor saw evil and joined the fight against it. In the course of that fight he executed men he thought to be traitors and weak links, deeds he might now be tried for in The Hague. There is no one thing that is true, as Castro’s friend Hemingway said. It is all true.

He won, though, a difficult war against the Mafia-financed dictator Batista, (business associate then of Sir David Black), in a victory that bought literacy, free health care, free food, free honeymoons and free universities to all Cubans, and economic persecution by the Americans for fifty years.

Sir David Black resents him because of the millions he, Black, was then making out of the Mafia casinos in Havana, and a woman, Elena Santos Ramirez, Che stole from him in 1961. My friend Soderbergh knew this, but to my annoyance left it out of Che 1. ‘We have to skip those years,’ he said.’The David Black stuff is too contentious, even now.’

It certainly explains Sir David’s continued attacks on a good dead man, which have puzzled for so long the civilised world.

He has not, some say, been the same, poor man, since his brother Conrad was put in gaol for company fraud and wrote there an approving biog of the satanic socialist FDR and David was stripped of his knighthood after his part in the collapse of Northern Rock in 2008 and the family lost all that money, and the gambling debts he now has to James Packer, with whom he plays poker once a month.

Easy to make up stories, isn’t it? There will always be someone young enough to believe them.

Canguro July 7, 2012 at 11:43 am [Edit]

And what is a good man, I wonder?

One who stays out of trouble, and obeys the laws and does all that is asked of him by those who pretend to exercise authority? Is he simply an obedient man?

Or is he someone whose conscience burns so fiercely that he cannot but behave in the way he does when faced with injustices, suffering, cruelties and so on.

D Black’s willingness to postulate that Guevara was a psychotic mass-murderer demonstrates how fucked-up is the process of determining an objective position when in possession of a unawakened conscience, for what he appears to be implying is that Guevara’s legacy is reduced to his involvement in the revolutionary movements in Cuba & Bolivia, and in that process of judgement he has necessarily ignored Guevara’s good works; his medical work, the voluntary work with lepers, the inspirational and organizational roles in the new Cuban govt, and so on.

What is a good man? Perhaps Mr. Black can give us his view on this.

If Guevara doesn’t make the grade, then who, and for what reasons? Is Bob Ellis a good man, for his views? Or worthy of scorn for his bleeding heart identification with the sufferers of injustice?

Given our common occupancy of the Towers of Babel, it’s unlikely we’ll reach a consensus on this subject, and even though I suspect English is our first language, I’m pretty sure I speak a different version to Mr Black.

And yes, I do wear a beret, but not as a dumb identification device, just that these damn winter Sydney nights are not so warm and I live in a house without heating.

hudsongodfrey July 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Well Bob I suppose it appeals to the lesser of two evils to make a bargain with a man like Assad. Of course the problem with the proposal would seem to be having him believe we intend to stick to it once his bargaining chip is surrendered.

allthumbs July 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm

We could hold Karl Lagerfeld hostage and have Assad’s wife do the negotiation, a small black dress is all it would cost, she’d have her husband eating out of her hand, out of her hand Itellya.

Helvi July 7, 2012 at 12:29 pm

LBD from Lagerfeld for her and LBB from some up and coming young designer for him,(his head is not very big so a little beret will do).

Chris July 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Ejecting Assad?
The ‘Arafat’ method appeals.
It’s permanent.

Leave a comment ?


  1. What makes a great man (or woman for that matter)?

    Is there some sort of objective test which we can use - surely not.

    It is subjective and a matter for the man or woman’s adherents and supporters to determine. Thus someone which nearly everyone nowadays detests can be seen as a great man : Hitler and Stalin are prime examples.

    Also, those who were responsible for millions of deaths - such as Napoleon - can be seen as great and still be admired by almost everyone today.

    Thus it is that Che Guevara even without the good works as mentioned elsewhere in this thread, is still a great man. His own people, his adherents, saw him as great. That is the test.

    Not some revisionist ideological revulsion imposed by a petty mind, or even by millions of “right-thinking” minds.

  2. Christ was a good man and His life, which was in part a tackling of social justice had no smack of violence whatsoever. And yet He set the world on fire.

    Che, for whatever else he did, was a violent man who decided that the ends he sought justified murder and murder and murder.

    But the end never justifies the means. Violence always breeds violence and spirals out of control, overshadowing and swallowing up whatever good that was initially sought.

    The fact that you old fat commies still make apologies for such evil- failed evil at that - is both disturbing and (tragically) funny. For all your railing against ‘injustice’ you don’t give a fuck about life

    • So .. you think he should have stayed away from Cuba, do you, and let a Mafia-funded dictator starve, oppress, enslave and prostitute his people?h

      Or what should he have done other than make war on a noted, infamous evil?

      What else should he have done?


      Please answer this.

      • Pray? Certainly. Evil cannot be used so that good may come of it. The only way to overcome evil is with good. Look at Ghandi, Mandella (to a lesser extent), look at JP2 and the fall of your beloved evil empire.

        The murderous deeds of the hammer and sickle did nothing to remedy other injustices, but only multiplied them until the echo reached back and destroyed these rotten regimes.

        You know, it wouldn’t hurt to meditate more deeply on the good every now and then, meditate on God’s will and ‘pray’ as you so derisively put it. Might prevent some of these rash outbursts of jealous violence towards your fellow man.

        Indeed what good is the brotherhood of man without the fatherhood of God?

        • Jesus and other holy men are not of the past, they are not even of the present, they are of the future, it will probably make sense when the rest of us get there. The diabolical lie perpetrated by the various churches and religions, is their belief we are ready now, it’s just takes some tinkering at the edges, as if adherence to a particular diet, or prayer regime, or the wearing of weird garb will get us there. We may never get there, we are maybe not wired or genetically prone to reach that stage, we may be a lower form of life destined to stay exactly where we are. We may decide we do not want to go there at all, that seems to me the choice we have opted for.

          • What are you on about?

            Will you be bitterly cursing the Olympics as you watch all the athletes perform physical feats that your own body couldn’t endure?

            Wretched Olympics! No man can be so fit! It’s unjust, I say! We demand a royal commission!

        • Mandela was gaoled as a terrorist and Howard and Thatcher urged that he be hanged. Ghandhi slept with naked thirteen-year-old girls to ‘test his chastity’. JP 2 had a wife and Benedict covered up pederasts.

          The ‘rotten regime’ you refer to, Gorbachev’s, was the best Russia ever had. The one it has now resembles Pinochet’s, with more killings.

    • Let’s not forget that the life of this historical figure Christ, as outlined in a recent post on these pages, has been shown to share a remarkable consonance with other historical religious figures and gods such that a reasonable man may well ask himself just where the truth lies.

      No matter. Christian delusionists are a dime a dozen, even the fiercely polemical, albeit the more they are forced to defend their delusions, the more deranged and fierce the arguments become, and the more the protagonists are cast by aspersion into the rivers of Styx for their heathenicity.

      The willingness to descend to the level of ad hominem criticisms via the trigger of a scattergun isn’t exactly going to win the argument, is it?

      re. the closer, “For all your railing against ‘injustice’ you don’t give a fuck about life“, Wow! You really are god-like in your prescience… or just another piece of typical holier-than-thou Christian snobbery?

      So much for compassion and adherence to Christian ethics. Ghandi’s words are moot: ““I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    • A Bronte Reader

      Hello Peter, I’m going to throw my lot in with you, tentatively, at this stage, because I feel you ask some very important questions that are not being addressed.
      Equally surprising are the responses from allthumbs and Canguro who should, if their past contributions are an accurate gauge of their intellect and understanding, know better.
      To allthumbs first; hello allthumbs. First let me say that I enjoy your posts a great deal and it is with that respect in mind that I ask these questions of you. Do you really believe that one’s “spirituality” is sourced
      exclusively from an institution like the Catholic Church, for example? Couldn’t the issues raised by Peter come from his own heart and mind, whereby questions of “means and ends” are key moral concerns that reside outside the domain of doctrine and dogma? I suppose I’m asking you whether you believe that one can have a deep humane faith where morality equals a unitary or reconciled “means and ends” and not be part of that “diabolical lie” you mentioned?

      I think that they can. Your thoughts?

      To Canguro, hello again Canguro. A question to you as well if I may?
      You ask where the truth may lie? I suggest it resides in the heart of man who seeks to do good in this world. Surely you don’t deny the value of that even if that man’s “good” has an “evil” patron?

      I certainly don’t. Your thoughts?


      • Hi ABR, I’m never sure of what I am saying, I am thinking out loud,and I have a skinful of wine at the moment but… The gist of what I am getting at, is, if we are set on a spititual journey whether through the means of humanism or some other quasi religious means
        (and humanism is a religion), we are not as highly evolved as we think we are and we may have a ways to go, the journey is not necessarily linear, a crabwalk may be a more accurate desription. The Catholic church and all established religions are dead ends. This may be, we may be as good as it gets, we may have reached our peak, Peter thinks otherwise.

        R1 thinks a part of the answer may lay with Buber and his infamous black hole. Today I feel we are an absolute waste of time, Syria is evidence of that. We have a choice between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, go figure, go fucking figure.

      • hudsongodfrey

        If it’s THE truth any of you are seeking then the reason we spend so much time arguing about it is plainly clear. There’s not just one there are many. Similarities abound but at the end of the day absolutes are bound to elude us.

        • A Bronte Reader

          If you had asked then you would have received the answer that I am an agnostic in all matters spiritual. Actually I am an agnostic in all matters concerning Man - social, intellectual, political, religious, philosophical, artistic.

          I believe it to be the only honest approach that one can take.

          However, you didn’t ask, you assumed, thereby stepping, once again, through the portal and into a world of error and contradiction.

          I find it quite comical Mr Godfrey, that a self proclaimed, and dare I say it - absolute, atheist such as yourself, should decry the absolutism of others and by correlation champion the fragment, the multiple, the indeterminate, the heterogeneous!

          You and Peter are faces of the same (absolute) coin.

          His is just the more honest.

          • hudsongodfrey

            You’re right I didn’t ask. And I don’t want to know.

            I was trying to communicate with allthumbs and it came up in the wrong spot. My mistake.

            As for the term atheist I don’t use it much, except where convenient as shorthand for simply not believing. The business of believing in negatives I’ll leave for fools and absolutists. If you’ve misread me thus then by all means count yourself as one or the other or both. Otherwise why take such a negative and abrasive tone with me over matters about which we appear to agree.

            • A Bronte Reader

              My tone is neither “negative nor abrasive” - it is interrogative of the issue you yourself raised as a critique of Peter’s position.

              You decry absolutism.

              I put to you that your atheism is an absolute position.
              The question is entirely legitimate.

              Sly digs at me being a “fool or an absolutist” for asking the obvious only highlight your intellectual retreat.

              • hudsongodfrey

                You don’t want to interrogate my position. Anyone who could assume that simply not believing in god is an absolute position is fabricating a completely baseless assertion. To recoil from an intellectual vacuum such as that is merely to avoid legitimising a fallacy.

                Rejecting absolutes on the other hand seems to involve an absolutely contrary position in itself, so I’m glad I didn’t do that. It would seem internally contradictory.

                What I offered instead was the possibility that the nature of truth has a subjective quality to it while absolutes such that we might conceive them to exist are elusive in reality.

                • A Bronte Reader

                  Mr Godfrey, having seen your posts here and elsewhere on many, many, occasions I shall leave your first paragraph untouched. We could spend all day picking through the logical inconsistency at its core.

                  Let me instead focus on these two quotes from you:
                  “absolutes are bound to elude us”

                  “possibility that the nature of truth has a subjective quality”.

                  In light of these views two questions immediately come to mind: the first to the question of absolutes, and the second to the nature of truth.

                  1. Do you see your own atheism; your oft avowed, self proclaimed, status as a “free thinking” atheist, as an absolute position?
                  “Absolute” in the sense : authoritative, mastered, control, understood, autonomous, realised, unconditional, given, decided, certain, infallible, assured, reliable, resolute, indubitable.

                  2. Why do you deny Peter, or others with faith, the right to their “nature of truth”?
                  I am more than happy to hear any responses borne of an epistemological or metaphysical nature - (your well documented disdain for metaphysical questions aside, of course).

                  • hudsongodfrey

                    So you didn’t understand the first paragraph and that entitles you how(?) to go ahead and try to twist a couple of other things I offered.

                    Mine is a position that is amenable to reason and open to modification by new and better ideas. Got any?

                    As for Peter’s belief, or your own by proxy I suspect, you’re welcome them as long as you do recognise that others shouldn’t be expected to accept or comply with them.

                    It was only in order to explain reasons for my non-compliance that I offered an insight into the possibility that there may be (and I think are) many more ways to be right than just the one absolute version of truth that you seem so set upon arguing about.

                    • A Bronte Reader

                      Your natural habit of evasion is tiresome Mr Godfrey.
                      I understood perfectly well your 1st paragraph. I say that it is erroneous to call it, as you do, “a completely baseless assertion”.
                      You doing so however tells me two things; either you refuse to label your staunchly atheist position “absolute”, or you are fearful, rightfully, of the terrible contradiction that such an admission would highlight.
                      Either way you have avoided the issue.

                      Re: my two questions. Why did you not answer the former?

                      I can guess why, i would like to hear it from you though.

                      As I mentioned on my first post: you and Peter are sides of the same absolute, determined, infallible, mastered, unconditional coin.
                      He is just more honest about it than you.

                      Oh, you mention in the final part of your final sentence that I “seem set about arguing for one absolute truth”.
                      In light of me declaring to you my agnostic worldview that seems like a bizarre statement to make.
                      Don’t you think?
                      Oh well, just another misdirection I guess - you are quite good at them too!

                      But then you always were!

            • Sorry Hudson, I didn’t realize this was addressed to me. I am not a believer in the mystic, I am not a believer in religions, I am a late and struggling convert to “individualism” via Transcendentalism, and it goes hard against my political upbringing. If we ever meet you will recognize me, as I am always accompanied by a two to three meter long paling fence with me that provides a comfortable place to sit, almost anywhere almost anytime, it is a lovely shade of grey.

              If I say that Jesus demanded a new human being, or a new way of being human, Doug may call me a Holy Roller or God-botherer, if I say Nietzsche demanded the same thing I may earn credit for my knowledge and extra points for spelling Freddy’s name correctly. Both of these guys were signposts to a further possibility. Peter’s questions or statements if asked without the reference to “Christianity’, strike me as profound, as they cut across a lot of common ground.

              This may not be the best forum to raise these types of questions, as Jack Robertson rightly pointed out in the Pederasty topic, but at the bottom of all of these topics you cannot get away from the fundamental metaphysical questions. I usually don’t rise to the bait, but Peter was being more than just a touch irascible. I find Bob Ellis a practical thinker, he has a profundity that underpins all of his views that lies beneath the what do we do about it, but he has that metaphysical rhetorical flourish at the end of his pieces with and so it goes, and so it went, or do you disagree? When I found him in 1983 he helped me focus my thinking and helped turned my black and white world to this ever indiscriminate grey. For that I am grateful.

              • hudsongodfrey


                I’m on record for being rather irascibly opposed to the idea of metaphysics on the whole. I think we assume that reality exists, that we can know something about it and that theories that offer predictable outcomes have greater utility. In the sense that we’d argue facts are accepted on the basis that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent on Stephen Jay Gould’s definition then I think metaphysics offers neither facts nor great predictive utility. So I regard people’s appeals to metaphysics with a certain cynicism since a good many are apologists for the kind of faith I find myself indisposed towards.

                It isn’t to say that something can’t be taken from religious ideas that is of use. Rather that I would say religions and their franchisees have used us ill for too long for my liking.

                In the end the ideas I would take willingly from religion I can also also get elsewhere. Whereas the ideas they would most have me subject to are those I’ve least use for. And I think the best ideas are malleable because they allow us to progress, anchoring a good idea to an immutable text seems like a good way to waste it.

                As for Nietzsche my spell checker is good for his surname, whereas Vonnegut is still missing. It is he to whom I suspect Bob pays a passing homage “So it goes”, being the refrain from Slaughterhouse Five. If ever we get around to the top 25 books of all time I expect its inclusion.

  3. I accept that in his last hours Guevara did, literally, refer to his actions as furthering his ideals and that can be taken as sincere. However, like many of the old Bolsheviks when moments away from the bullet in the back of the neck, their idealism has to be taken as a sum of the results. If he had lived a long life would he, as Solon supposedly suggested be done, be judged as wanting? When 30 years gaol can (and has been) the sentence for mere dissent in Cuba today, how would he have thought about the realisation of his ‘ideals’ then?

    • There are a lot of brain surgeons doing good in the world because Che won the battles he won. And a lot of Professors of Literature who under Batista would not have been taught to read. And, oh, a million babies not dead at birth or in their first year.

      What outweighs this, in your view?

      • The population of Cuba is? When people are not free and have not got liberty they are in a prison.

        The Batistas if this world got their just desserts and the people who supported Fidel (without industrial support from the cities/unions it would have failed) needed those initial changes. Loike all of the old regime communist dictatorships they hold on by force and fear. Whole countries are prisons.

        Cuba has how many people in that prison?.

        • hudsongodfrey

          On at least one interpretation it might be said that the prison warden does not reside in Cuba!

          Whatever emphasis you personally choose the matter is one of an ideological divide on BOTH sides.

          • Not as much in prison as those Americans rendered bankrupt by an illness. About thirty million over time I would guess.

            • Some Americans got twenty-five years for stealing three pizzas.

              Amd Bradley Manning is getting sixty years for dissent.

              In what way is America’s system of punishment superior ?

              Please answer this or I will ban you.

              • hudsongodfrey

                Bob technically you just threatened to ban yourself, but I think you meant me which unnerving since I doubt that I’ve said anything of the kind.

                I agree with you about Manning and America’s inequitable domestic prison system.

                M. Ryutin was characterising Castro’s regime as a prison state. My inference was that the US blockade is a form of imprisonment that imposes fewer opportunities for development upon that country. Hence the reference to two opposing ideological positions.

                I hope that clear that up:)

  4. The hysterical Christian is an interesting phenomenon. The usual ploy is to pretend to logic and polemic as long as possible; the presence of a “bible bashing bastard” here on this blog is a fun thing indeed.

    After we’ve all had a good laugh at Peter’s expense, it is all very sad that some people still think this way. And can actually type into a computer.

    When will he say “It is so because God told me so, so there!” or has he done so already, just not in so many words?

  5. No prizes for guessing who A Bronte Reader is, boys and girls.

    We only have to mention “religion” or “Christianity” and it reappears.

    Deja Vu.

  6. DQ, I love reading Classic Ellis, and I am interested in his take on movies ,but I should not even read the comments, let alone to reply as I feel foolish talking to people who have a need of multitude of pseudonyms,and who don’t feel silly talking to themselves.

  7. hudsongodfrey

    From what we know or can deduce about Ernesto Che Guevara we need to place in the context of his life and struggle. It isn’t that we don’t see his ideology as being slightly flawed, but that should recognise that it was clearly less corrupted than the prevailing circumstances in which he found himself motivated to act. It wasn’t that he was not brutal but that at least it can be said that these were not random acts of barbarity occurred in the context of armed struggle against forces that could legitimately be called enemies.

    At heart I’m no fan of armed struggle, so I don’t readily mistake revolutionaries for icons. Guevara is nevertheless remembered for acting on his honestly held convictions sometimes foolishly and against considerable odds. Whether we now think of him as fool tilting and windmills or the man who came to symbolise idealism and defiance in the later part of the 20th century, the fact remains that he made an impact beyond his own expectations.

    Wondering whether had he lived he’d have wound up being similarly isolated and compromised to Castro is in my view beside the point. Although some of our Christian friends may bristle at the though the similarity with Jesus is that he may have lost the battle but in no small measure the egalitarian ideal is still honoured in his memory.

  8. Che is a God. god, even.

    Let mere mortals aspire to be him.

  9. Che is a brand. This thread is a testament to that. he occupies much the same place in our culture as the coke logo. As a brand, he is of longer standing than Apple Macintosh, and once upon a time he was almost as popular. But that was forty years ago.

    What a wonderfully humorous thread this has been.

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