Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Che...

died 40 years ago last week. Anybody who has a pair of functioning eyeballs will know that many people think Che is awesome, some may even know something about his life and ideas.

I don't know much about him, but I gather that he wasn't squeamish. He was a hardcore Marxist who wanted to confiscate all private business down to the smallest shop and he was in charge of executing counter revolutionaries. If a war is just, ruthlessness might be a virtue and he his opposition to private property was principled; he was fighting for the poor, the workers and for justice. So, even if we personally disagree with things he did to achieve his goals, we can still think that he was a good guy. We often judge people by their motives and Che was trying to do the right thing.

Naomi Klein has written an enormous book about the evils of the "Friedmanite" revolution which has swept the world on the back of war, torture and various other disasters (natural or otherwise). Apparently Friedman was keen on using violence and torture to get his free-market reforms implemented. But, if we go the "Che was a good guy route", what exactly is wrong with this? Guevara used violence to achieve justice so why can't Friedman?

One answer (the one I'd go for) come down to motives, Friedman wasn't really interested in justice or any of that stuff but Che was? We know this because Friedman supports free-market stuff which he knows will ravage the poor in various unjust ways (we know this because...?). In other words, people who disagree with us, for whatever reasons, are bad (at least when it comes to economics and politics).

(By the way, I don't know if Klein likes Che, maybe she hates him.)

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