86 years ago, Ernesto Che Guevara was born. Here are some books and documentaries to remember his revolutionary life…

che guevara

Ernesto “Che” Guevara (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967)

“Che was not only a heroic fighter, but a revolutionary thinker, with a political and moral project and a system of ideas and values for which he fought and gave his life. The philosophy which gave his political and ideological choices their coherence, colour, and taste was a deep revolutionary humanism. For Che, the true Communist, the true revolutionary was one who felt that the great problems of all humanity were his or her personal problems, one who was capable of ‘feeling anguish whenever someone was assassinated, no matter where it was in the world, and of feeling exultation whenever a new banner of liberty was raised somewhere else’. Che’s internationalism – a way of life, a secular faith, a categorical imperative, and a spiritual “nationality” – was the living and concrete expression of this revolutionary Marxist humanism.” — Michael Löwy, author of “The Marxism of Che Guevara: Philosophy, Economics, Revolutionary Warfare”

* * * * *

SOME OF THE BEST BIOGRAPHIES WRITTEN ABOUT CHE:

che-guevara-a-revolutionary-life-by-jon-lee-andersonChe Guevara: A Revolutionary Life Jon Lee Anderson (2010, Grove Press, 672 pgs) Download e-book (7 mb, epub)

“Acclaimed around the world and a national best-seller, this is the definitive work on Che Guevara, the dashing rebel whose epic dream was to end poverty and injustice in Latin America and the developing world through armed revolution. Jon Lee Anderson’s biography traces Che’s extraordinary life, from his comfortable Argentine upbringing to the battlefields of the Cuban revolution, from the halls of power in Castro’s government to his failed campaign in the Congo and assassination in the Bolivian jungle.Anderson has had unprecedented access to the personal archives maintained by Guevara’s widow and carefully guarded Cuban government documents. He has conducted extensive interviews with Che’s comrades—some of whom speak here for the first time—and with the CIA men and Bolivian officers who hunted him down. Anderson broke the story of where Guevara’s body was buried, which led to the exhumation and state burial of the bones. Many of the details of Che’s life have long been cloaked in secrecy and intrigue. Meticulously researched and full of exclusive information, Che Guevara illuminates as never before this mythic figure who embodied the high-water mark of revolutionary communism as a force in history.”

* * * * *

che (1)

Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Jorge G. Castaneda (1998, Vintage, 496 pgs) Download e-book (5 mb, epub)

“By the time he was killed in the jungles of Bolivia, where his body was displayed like a deposed Christ, Ernesto “Che” Guevara had become a synonym for revolution everywhere from Cuba to the barricades of Paris. This extraordinary biography peels aside the veil of the Guevara legend to reveal the charismatic, restless man behind it. Drawing on archival materials from three continents and on interviews with Guevara’s family and associates, Castaneda follows Che from his childhood in the Argentine middle class through the years of pilgrimage that turned him into a committed revolutionary. He examines Guevara’s complex relationship with Fidel Castro, and analyzes the flaws of character that compelled him to leave Cuba and expend his energies, and ultimately his life, in quixotic adventures in the Congo and Bolivia. A masterpiece of scholarship, Compañero is the definitive portrait of a figure who continues to fascinate and inspire the world over.”

* * * * *

CRITICAL STUDIES:

61f48a5d678564c086cd5541dc548ae3-g

Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution Peter McLaren (2000, Rowman & Littlefield, 264 pgs) Download e-book (31 mb, pdf)

“Che Guevara is usually perceived as a Romantic model whom we should admire, while pursuing our daily business as usual—the most perverse defense against what Che stood for. What McLaren’s fascinating book demonstrates is that, on the contrary, Che is a model for our times, a figure we should imitate in our struggle against neoliberal global capitalism.” (Slavoj Zizek)

“McLaren’s writing is a brilliant blend of passion, commitment, and critical analysis and insight. It is poetry and prose in an intimate dance that touches, at once, readers’ hearts and minds. This new book, which appeared at the very dawn of the new millennium, is no exception. Indeed, it is probably McLaren’s most important and exciting text to date. It is also one of the most important books on critical education, and thus also education and social justice, to have been written in the twentieth century. Only a ‘Comrade of the heart’ could have written with such ardour, precision, and depth.” (Paula Allman, Education and Social Justice)

“Peter McLaren’s Che Guevara, Paulo Freire is a vigorous intervention in the complexity of the contemporary political situation—from rearticulating the project of radical pedagogy to his argument to reorient the left itself. Through his groundbreaking regrasping of Che’s revolutionary practices,McLaren critiques the left—especially progressive left pedagogy—for its marginalization of class and complacent reformism. In an effective intervention, he puts the international class struggle at the forefront of a revolutionary pedagogy. As part of his argument for the reorganization of social institutions in Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, McLaren offers a sustained radical critique of transnational neoliberalism and its corporatization of education—in doing so, he places revolutionary pedagogy in solidarity with the oppressed of global capitalism.” (Teresa L. Ebert, Author of Ludic Feminism and After)

* * * * *

DOCUMENTARIES:

Layout 1

* * * * *

Che

Ernesto “Che” Guevara (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967)

Advertisements

“The U.S. vs John Lennon”, article about the astonishing documentary…

OneSheet (Page 1)
JOHN LENNON AS PUBLIC ENEMY

How the Beatle became a menace to the U.S. Establishment
as revealed by Leaf’s and Scheinfield’s pulsating documentary

After the Beatles broke-up, John Lennon certainly wasn’t willing to simply let things be. Even tough he remained faithful to the pacifist creed once stated in “Revolution” (“If you talk about destruction / don’t you know that you can count me out?”), he was ready to enlist as a warrior in the growing armies of hippies and beatniks protesting against the genocidal war in Vietnam. Adding his voice to this choir of discontent, John Lennon was bound to clash with the American authorities.

After the Fab Four had disbanded, George Harrisson sought his peace of mind and spiritual serenity in Hare Krishna and Eastern religion, while McCartney went on a solo-career that would consolidate his stardom. But Lennon had other plans in mind than singing mantras or writing silly love songs. The “rebel Beatle” was about to throw himself head-on in the social and political struggles of his times and would soon become one of the most outspoken cultural icons campaigning for love, peace, freedom – in synthesis, for the “brotherhood of man” utopia “Imagine” told us about.

Details of this exciting and turbulent saga can be found in The U.S. Against John Lennon, a documentary by David Leaf and John Scheinfield which chronicles how Lennon and Yoko got so deeply involved in the most urgent political turmoils at the dawn of the 70s. Some of the songs composed during that period were hymns for the pacifist movement, such as “Give Peace a Chance”, while protest-songs like “Power to the People” reached wide-spread acceptance amongst the American citizens who were flooding the streets for mass demonstrations that helped re-shape the Cold-War era.

Lennon, in the Sixties, was no stranger to rebellion and had been seduced more than once by the counter-cultural magnet, speaking up against the stablishment. He had, for example, embarked on LSD trips, becoming one of the enthusiasts of Albert Hoffman’s potion, siding with other gurus such as Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey. Much of the historical importance of the band lays in their amazing capacity to innovate and evolve: they went from being a naive yeah-yeah-yeah pop-band and transformed into an astonishing psychedelic cosmic trip, kick-started with albums like Revolver and Sgt. Peppers. The world knew well from those days the capacity that Lennon and his peers had of being pioneers.

In 1968, in the White Album era, the Beatles had already deviated a lot from the mainstream currents of pop music and were now experimenting with extravagant instruments and journeying in India in order to gather wisdom first-hand from the Maharishi. Some years before, Lennon had raised a lot of controversy when he stated that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. This statement was far from a sociological lie, given the dimensions of mass hysteria raised by the Beatlemania. But Lennon’s phrase wasn’t swallowed smoothly by some Christians who, offended by this claim, went on to burn the records and posters of the herectical Liverpool quartet. In the mid sixties, Lennon was already some sort of a troublemaker, with a tongue behaving like a viper. However, nothing prepared the world for what he would stand-up for in the 70s.

In his solo-career, Lennon showed no signs of slowing down on his path to religious and political criticism, as we can hear in songs such as “God”, “Working Class Hero”, “Gimme Some Truth” or the era-defining “Imagine”, arguably one of the most unforgetable pieces 20th century popular music. Politically, he became more and more out-spoken against the ills he perceived in the world, and perhaps considered himself as someone who could inspire the masses muh in the way leaders such as Gandhi or Che Guevara did.

When he chose to live in America, Lennon was due to become, in the eyes of authorities, a dangerous rebel to be closely watched and whose wings should be quickly clipped. His involvement with people who were deemed by the FBI and the CIA as “radicals” – such as John Sinclair or Black Panthers activists – ended up turning Lennon into some kind of public menace to the mainstream political establishment. Soon the U.S. would be anxiously spying on Lennon and just looking for an excuse to kick him out of the country. A couple of joints found in his possession would be enough. His powerful voice of dissent had become a great nuisance for the warmongers who whished he kept his mouth shut about foreign policy matters. But Lennon wasn’t willing to shut up. He stood up in the face of danger, thus inspiring a whole generation to shake-off its letargy and “take the power back”, as decades later the hard-rockers Rage Against the Machine would enshrine in an earth-shaking protest song.

The documentary The U.S. Against John Lennon is truly an impressive dive into this historical context of the early 70s, a film bursting with great images from the archives and scenes from a country in turmoil. Inspired both by Gandhi’s pacifism and by the Hippie-era Flower Power ideas, Lennon provided fuel to the fire of love and peace. History would never forget the mottos: “make love, not war!” and “war is over (if you want it”). For these and many other reasons, The U.S. Against John Lennon is a deeply inspiring film, a testament to the courage and far-sighted-vision of one of the greatest cultural icons of the 20th century. When the film ends, we can’t avoid the feelings of gratitude and admiration towards this artist and warrior who enlightned us so much in our path to empowerment.

John e Yoko

Article by Eduardo Carli de Moraes
Toronto, Ontario
416 271 2852
educmoraes@hotmail.com