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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 20. September 3, 1968

gager on fyson

gager on fyson

Sir—It is always good to discover what genuine Marxism is. therefore I was very glad to read Hugh Fyson's article on Che Guevara, which gave me this essential information. I now know that once you attack Che you "cease to have any resemblance to a Marxist"—certainly something. I would never have worked out by reading any of the currently available literature on Marxism.

Some people thoughtlessly cry down any comparison between Guevara and Marx, pointing out that Marx had some interest in Political action by the working class while Guevara, as well as fighting for Tshombe, "tends to ignore the character of the workers uprising" and "fails to mention that Socialism entails participant planning, not bureaucratic planning and authoritarian, almost capitalistic labour relations." (Mr Fyson's words, both times.) But it is good to see Mr Fyson is not deceived by these superficial dissimilarities, and points them out, quite oblivious to the thoughtless jibes and sneers which such words may attract from Spartacists and similar proto-Stalinists. Rarely do we find such intellectual courage in a writer for Salient. When this courge is coupled with Mr Fyson's originality—he links Lenin, Engels and, yes, Bolivar for the first time ever in the history of socialist thought—we can see what a shining light has been hid under a bushel for too long at this University.

The way Mr Fyson handled criticisms of the "elitist" character of guerilla warfare can only be admired as a model of polemical skill. The separation of the guerilla leadership from the people, he tells us, is only "initial"—you just have to stop peasants leading their movement to recover their own land in the early stages of guerilla activity, so turning things into an "armed peasant uprising". But even at the end of guerilla war it is not the peasants but 'Mr Fysons words again) the "guerilla leaders" who "become the new government".

Some of these turgid sectarians might argue that this meant the separation of the petit-bourgeois leadership from the peasantry was more than just "initial' but, as Mr Fyson has pointed out, these people are not Marxists, anyway.

From Marx, the advocate of workilng-class revolution we move in an unbroken line of tradition to Guevara, who does't really worry about working-class revolution at all, which all confirms that the more things change the more they remain the same. It is unfortunate that Mr Fyson's view of the Marxist tradition is shared only with a small groupuscle in France claiming to be Trotskyist and part of the Cuban governing part) and every other declared Marxist grouping rejects it. But, then, this probably shows the power of Stalinism, or something like that. If it is a choice between Hugh Fyson and the entire inter national Marxist movement, give me Hugh Fyson any day. He has made a few factual errors—like misstating the reasons for the Sparticist League's expulsion from the American Socialist Workers Party—but only a pedant would demand mere accuracy about the record of a small Trotskyist grouping.

It is particularly good to have on record so brilliant a eulogy for Che, immediately after the spectacular failure of his guerilla tactics in Bolivia, which Mr Fyson quite properly does not discuss—it might needlessly em barrass his position. After all he has said "at no stage do the peasants push aside these (guerilla) leaders", and it would be mere empiricism to point out that the reason Che is dead is because the Bolivian peasants did precisely this. Like all good revolutionaries, Mr Fyson is never a slave of mere historical facts.

Yours etc.

Owen Gager