Che Guevara lives on in footie

Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City FC.

Pep Guardiola is one of the best managers in football, which he has just proved yet again when his Manchester City won the Premiership with five games to spare.

Glowing tributes have poured in, deservedly so. Yet one tribute, though meant to be glowing, sounds very much like actionable libel. An article on Yahoo describes Pep as “football’s Che Guevara”.

That sounds as if the article is claiming that Pep is a sadistic torturer, mass murderer, a man who tried to impose sadistic torture and mass murder internationally, and, incidentally, a homosexual (not that I’m comparing this little quirk with Guevara’s crimes).

Implying that the happily married serial father is a closet case no longer constitutes libel, quite the opposite. But likening a public figure to mass murderers and torturers is definitely libellous. What if I described the nice Mr Guardiola as ‘football’s Himmler’? ‘Pol Pot’? ‘Fred West’?

I can’t help feeling he’d take exception to that, and a letter from his solicitor wouldn’t be long in coming. Yet I’m equally sure that Pep took the Yahoo description in the spirit in which it had been offered, as unqualified praise.

For lost in the popular mythology is the direct and obvious parallel between Guevara and Messrs Himmler, Pol Pot and Fred West. They are generally regarded as not very nice, while Guevara is seen as a romantic hero.

After all, what else can a revolutionary be other than a romantic hero? There’s only one sane answer to that: a sadistic torturer and mass murderer. But that’s not the answer accepted by most people, even those who don’t sport Guevara’s likeness on their T-shirts or bedroom walls.

Guevara the revolutionary is exhaustively summarised in his fond recollection: “I ended the problem by giving him a shot with a .32 pistol in the right side of the brain, with exit orifice in the right temporal lobe.”

Only a coldblooded murderer would describe an execution with such enviable anatomical erudition and such blood-chilling moral detachment.

And Guevara the Marxist chieftain in Cuba is best understood through this heartfelt statement: “The executions by firing squads are not only a necessity for the people of Cuba, but also an imposition of the people.”

I’d suggest that the question “What do you think of Che Guevara?” is a useful and sufficient test of political convictions – and, I dare say, morality. No conservative would disagree with my assessment of Guevara; no leftie would agree with it.

(Another such test, but with a smaller moral dimension, could be the question “Do you think the right side won the Civil War in a) America, b) Spain. The unequivocally conservative reply would be a) no, b) yes. Any other combination is suspect.)

So let’s apply this test to some public figures, starting with my favourite pundit Peter Hitchens, who once wrote:

“[Che’s] death meant a lot to me and countless like me at the time, he was a role model, albeit an impossible one for us bourgeois romantics insofar as he went and did what revolutionaries were meant to do – fought and died for his beliefs.”

That Mr Hitchens was 16 in 1967, when Guevara finally got his just desserts, is a mitigating circumstance. But not an exculpating one: like conservatism, communism is above all a matter of temperamental predisposition, and this doesn’t change with age. Witness Mr Hitchens’s enthusiastic support of another mass murderer, Putin.

Nelson Mandela, another idol of the Left, described Guevara as “an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom”.

Well, all my friends and I love freedom, but none of us is inspired by Guevara. Mandela undoubtedly was, hence the torture and murder centres his ANC set up before it gained power. Hence also the ANC’s widespread practice of ‘necklacing’, whereby an old tyre was filled with petrol, put around a dissident’s neck and set alight. Guevara would have been proud.

To Jean-Paul Sartre, Guevara was “not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age.”

I agree with the first part: only an intellectual would be so intimately familiar with the anatomy of the brain through which he fires a .32 calibre bullet. But the most complete human being? Surely Stalin was even more complete? Actually, Jean-Paul loved Stalin too.

Graham Greene remarked that Guevara “represented the idea of gallantry, chivalry and adventure.”

Given that, what’s a bit of sadistic torture and mass murder? But then Greene probably could have said the same thing about Pol Pot.

And even Murray Rothbard, the shining light of libertarianism, described Guevara as a “heroic figure”, who “more than any man of our epoch or even of our century, was the living embodiment of the principle of revolution.”

That view would be unimpeachable had Mr Rothbard equated the principle of revolution with mass murder and sadistic torture. But his description of Guevara as heroic, rather than evil, suggests he meant something more positive than that. He obviously doesn’t share my belief that the only real purpose of mass murder is the murder of masses.

This goes a long way towards vindicating my view of libertarianism being more leftist than conservative. But I won’t expand on this now, fearing that some of my friends and readers may suffer dental problems brought on by the gnashing of teeth.

I wonder how successful Guevara would have been had he applied his talents to football management. Not very, would be my guess.

Revolutionaries are good at destruction, but creating even something as trivial as a winning football team is usually beyond them. Anyway, I doubt footballers would play for a manager whose training techniques include sadistic torture and mass murder.

11 thoughts on “Che Guevara lives on in footie”

  1. “Do you think the right side won the Civil War in a) America, b) Spain. The unequivocally conservative reply would be a) no, b) yes. Any other combination is suspect.)

    The South were slavers

  2. True. But the Civil War wasn’t about slavery – it was about the primacy of centralism over localism. Lincoln himself confirmed that: “If that would preserve the Union, I’d agree not to liberate a single state.” Interestingly, many Northern commanders, such as Grant and McClellan, were themselves slave owners, while many Southern generals, including Robert E. Lee himself, were not.

    1. The original documents of the Confederacy show quite clearly that the war was based on slavery.
      For example, in its declaration of secession, Mississippi explained, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world … a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

      Grant and McClellan didn’t own slaves and Robert Lee’s family owned slaves..

      1. That the South wanted to preserve slavery isn’t in doubt. My point is that this isn’t why the North started the war. The issue was the primacy of the central government over state rights. And Lee had sold his slaves a few months before the war started (see my previous comment below).

  3. Mr. Boot,I just read your remarks on Grant and McClellan and I did a little research. Your remarks were in error. Neither Grant or McClellan owned slaves. In fact,much of the North was against slavery. In much of the North,slavery had already been banned. The South continued to own slaves. You mentioned General Lee also in your remarks. Well,I did some research on him as well and he was born on a Virginia plantation in 1807. It’s no big stretch of the imagination what type of labor was used there at THAT period in American history. I’m sorry,sir,but what you said was wrong.
    While I agree with your assessment of Che Guevara,a thing many,MANY Cubans and Cuban-Americans wouldn’t disagree with,your remarks on the American Civil War was highly erroneous and I disagree with them. I hope I didn’t offend you but I thought I needed to say this sort of thing.

    1. No offence taken. But your facts are wrong, I’m afraid. Grant and McClellan did own slaves (as did most Founding Fathers, by the way). Gen. Lee grew up in a slave-owning family, you’re right about that. But he had sold his slaves a few months before the hostilities started.

      1. And Robert E Lee, as America’s most talented General, was offered command of the Union Army by Lincoln.

        He opted to fight for his home state of Virginia as he considered this the patriotic option – leaning, as he did, towards individual state autonomy over federal authority – nothing to do with slavery. Indeed he is on written record of detesting it, calling it an ‘abomination’.

        You might have clarified this in your piece – given that most people regard the civil war as just a question on slavery – which was a uniquely Democrat party institution, by the way.

        1. I have searched a part of Lee’s letters online late in life. He was always for peace and was greatly disturbed by Prussian aggression in France during the Franco-Prussian War and thought that arbitration was the best route to avoid conflict.

          1. Like all great Generals, he wanted to achieve his objectives with minimal loss of life and and damage to the infrastructure of the ground he sought to take.

            His campaigns are still required reading in West Point and Sandhurst.

            Robert.E. Lee was a great American General. The recent campaigns, by the ‘alt-left’, to besmirch his name and eradicate his memory, sickens me.

  4. “Only a coldblooded murderer would describe an execution with such enviable anatomical erudition and such blood-chilling moral detachment.”

    Ernie was a doctor.

  5. “Grant and McClellan did own slaves (as did most Founding Fathers, by the way). Gen. Lee grew up in a slave-owning family, you’re right about that. But he had sold his slaves a few months before the hostilities started.”

    Only owned slaves indirectly through inheritance of the wife. Father in law passed away and the wife inherited the slaves. According to laws of inheritance at the time, whatever the wife owned so did the husband.

    Lee sold the slaves to pay off the significant debts of his father in law. NOT that he had qualms about owning anyone.

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