A Travesty of Scholarship: A Review of Samuel Farber's 'The Politics of Che Guevara'

Renzo Llorente | Social Movement Studies | Book Review | September 10th, 2018

As is well known, many works on the Cuban Revolution that promise serious scholarship deliver little more than anti-Revolutionary polemics, and often extremely ill-informed polemics at that. This is true whether the topic is some political or social aspect of the Revolution or one of the Revolution's outstanding figures. One recent example of this phenomenon is Samuel Farber's book on Che Guevara. [1] Published in 2016, The Politics of Che Guevara: Theory and Practice purports to be, in Farber's words, a work that "analyzes the substantive political ideas" of Che Guevara and "a political portrait focused on Guevara's thought." [2]

In reality, Farber's book contains many claims that are demonstrably false, coupled with a great deal of careless scholarship and numerous dubious interpretations. The cause of these problems is twofold. First, and most importantly, Farber chose to neglect a large amount of what Che actually said and wrote. Secondly, Farber's disdain for the Cuban Revolution, which prevents him from achieving a modicum of fairness, colors his book from beginning to end. Thus, instead of an accurate exposition of Che's political thought, Farber has produced a work that thoroughly distorts or misrepresents many of Che's ideas, and some of his actions (including, as we shall see, Che's role in the possible execution of innocent people).

I have already drawn attention to some of the most glaring inaccuracies in Farber's account of Che's thought in a brief book review published last year, [3] but the space limitations of that review prevented me from discussing more than a small number of the countless problems with The Politics of Che Guevara. The present essay offers a more comprehensive examination of the inaccuracies, errors, distortions and falsehoods in Samuel Farber's study of Che Guevara.

The errors in Farber's study of Che begin on practically the first page: in the "Selected Chronology" preceding the "Introduction," Farber has Che "graduating as a doctor" the month before he took his final exam, and also lists the wrong date in stating when Che was granted Cuban citizenship (he is off by a month). [4] Such inaccuracies are, in themselves, relatively insignificant, and certainly of much less importance than the errors that I discuss below.

Moreover, to this day there remains some uncertainty as regards the exact dates of some episodes in Che's life. Still, the errors that I have mentioned are significant insofar as they testify to the carelessness of Farber's scholarship, while also heralding those errors which are significant and which make The Politics of Che Guevara: Theory and Practice wholly unreliable as an account of Che's political thought.

Let me begin by restating four fundamental errors that I noted when I first wrote about Farber's book. Contrary to Farber, Che did indeed accept Marx's view that "the principle of 'from each according to his ability and to each according to his work' was the one appropriate to 'socialism'." [5] Contrary to Farber, it is not true that Che's conception of socialism "ignored the hierarchical division of labor." [6] Contrary to Farber, it is not true that Che had no interest in increasing the quantity of consumer goods available to Cubans. [7]

Contrary to Farber, it is not true that giving "economic and political power" to "the working class and its allies" was not "a defining element of Marxism." [8] With regard to each of these questions, it is easy to demonstrate that Farber ascribes positions to Che that he did not in fact hold, and in the review to which I have referred I provided numerous references that plainly give the lie to Farber's claims. [9] (I cited three different passages from Che's works for each claim that I challenged; I could easily have cited several more.) The references were all taken from the seven-volume El Che en la Revolución cubana. [10] This work constitutes the single most comprehensive collection of Che's speeches, articles, interviews, talks, etc.-and runs to more than 3,500 pages-but, as far as one can tell, Farber never bothered to consult it (he never mentions it and the collection is not listed in his bibliography).

Nor, it seems, did Farber make much use of Escritos y discursos, [11] the standard, nine-volume edition of Che's works (which is, however, less complete than El Che en la Revolución cubana). To be sure, Farber includes Escritos y discursos in his bibliography and he does cite some of the texts from that collection that have been translated into English, but virtually all of his (limited) references to untranslated texts from Escritos y discursos are references to passages cited in another author's book. [12]

In any case, it turns out that it is not even necessary to have read more of what Che said and wrote to realize that it is a mistake to ascribe to him some of the views that I have noted, for there are passages at odds with such views in texts that Farber didconsult-i.e., works that he includes in his bibliography, such as theApuntes críticos a la economía política ( Critical Notes on Political Economy). In this work, Che states, in the course of one of his bimonthly meetings with colleagues from the Ministry of Industries, that the purpose of socialism "is to satisfy people's needs, and their ever growing needs; if not, it is not worth being a socialist." [13]

Needless to say, this statement is hard to square with the claim that Che had no interest in increasing the quantity of consumer goods available to Cuban people. In the same meeting (which had been recorded and subsequently transcribed), Che remarks that "retribution in accordance with work starts with [viene del] socialism [and lasts] until communism, and in communism retribution in accordance with need is established." [14] This remark is hardly consistent with Farber's claim, cited above, that Che rejected the idea that "the principle of 'from each according to his ability and to each according to his work' was the one appropriate to 'socialism'."

So, had Farber only read the Apuntes-which, he tells us in the Introduction, was one of his two "most fruitful sources" [15] -more carefully, he would have had good reason to refrain from saying some of these things. Indeed, if Farber had only paid closer attention to passages from Che that he himself cites, he would surely have hesitated to make some of the claims that I have cited.

In Chapter Two, for example, Farber cites a speech in which Che states that "one of the premises of the construction of socialism-[is] creating a sufficient quantity of consumer goods for the entire population." [16] Is it really possible to reconcile this statement from Che with Farber's contention that "Guevara's ascetic attitude toward consumer goods aimed to suppress rather than satisfy the material needs of the Cuban people" [17] and that "consumer goods were at best unimportant" [18] for Che?

The extreme carelessness that leads Farber to misattribute many views to Che is, alas, characteristic of the book as a whole. For example, Farber repeats the familiar mistranslation of Fidel's famous dictum on cultural policy, despite the fact that Farber is perfectly fluent in Spanish. Fidel did notsay, "Inside the revolution, everything; outside the revolution, nothing." [19] Rather, he said, "Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing" (" dentro de la Revolución, todo; contra la Revolución, nada " [20] ).

Needless to say, the correct translation has very different implications and, incidentally, implications that Farber himself would presumably accept, insofar as he holds that a "new revolutionary government will need to suppress violent and subversive acts against the new socialist system" and "will also be forced, in specific instances, to curtail the civil liberties of those actively supporting the violent opponents of the revolution." [21] Another example: Farber identifies Spain's POUM, a prominent political force during the Spanish Civil War, as "an anarchist alliance," when, as is well known, it was a Marxist party, as Farber's own English-language rendering of the Party's title makes clear: "Unified Marxist Workers' Party." [22]

Such instances of carelessness are, to be sure, of less importance in assessing Che's life and work than the errors noted above. There is, however, a similar instance of carelessness that is important, as it involves a particularly scurrilous claim. In Chapter Three, Farber notes that Che "was the head of La Cabaña military fortress, where several hundred executions were carried out in the early months of 1959." [23] He goes on to add:

…it cannot be ruled out that there were some innocent people whose executions were carried out at least in part because of Che Guevara's political views. … The historian Lillian Guerra has presented evidence suggesting that Che Guevara repressed and executed some people not because they had killed anybody or committed atrocities but because of their anti-Communist activities, whether inside or outside Batista's government. [24]

Is it really true that there were "several hundred executions" on Che's watch, and is there really evidence that he may have "executed some people… because of their anti-Communist activities"?

According to the lawyer to whom Che entrusted the organization of the revolutionary tribunals, the tribunals' verdicts led to slightly more than 50 executions. [25] It is hard to understand how Farber could have made such a colossal mistake in this connection: his bibliography includes Helen Yaffe's authoritative Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution, which cites the lawyer in question. But his reference to "several hundred executions" means that he not only overlooked the information cited in Yaffe's book, but he even ignored the figure included in one of the two sources that he himself cites in the endnote to the paragraph containing the two passages just cited.

This source says that there were 55 documented executions from January to May 1959 while Che was present, a far cry from "several hundred"; and it lists the total number of executions carried out while Che oversaw La Cabaña at 62. [26] In turns out, then, that an article published in contemporary Cuba (which I cite in endnote 25), an anti-Revolutionary US publication cited by Farber, and Yaffee's book (which, again, Farber lists in his bibliography) all offer very similar figures for the number of executions at La Cabaña, which are a fraction of the number given by Farber.

What about the evidence that Che may have "executed some people… because of their anti-Communist activities"? In support of this claim, Farber cites pages 78-79 of Lillian Guerra's Visions of Power in Cuba: Revolution, Redemption, and Resistance, 1959-1971 . [27] If we consult this source, we find one sentence relevant to Farber's claim: "Within days of first entering the capital after Batista's departure, Che or­dered the execution of BRAC'S [Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities'] FBI-trained director, Lieutenant José Castaño Quevedo, over a chorus of objections from multiple quarters including Andrew St. George." [28]

Guerra's source for this statement is Warren Hinckle and William Turner's The Fish Is Red. If we consult the one page of this work cited by Guerra, we find that what Hinckle and Turner actually say is that Che simply denied the CIA's request to grant Castaño Quevedo-who, the authors tell us on the previous page, "had been promptly sentenced to death by a revolutionary night court" [29] -clemency. (Andrew St. George, Hinckle and Turner add, was a journalist who had approached Che at the behest of the CIA, and had "suggested to Che that it would be 'diplomatic' to grant the CIA its wish about this man Quevedo." [30] )

In short, "some people" turns out to be one man, and "executed" turns out to mean Che refused to overturn a tribunal's sentence. What we find in Farber's account, then, is a misrepresentation of a misrepresentation: he misrepresents a source, which is itself a misrepresentation of another source. Indeed, Guerra not only mispresents what actually happened in saying that Che "ordered the execution," but also provides a highly misleading narrative: Since Che arrived in Havana in the first week of January 1959 and Castaño Quevedo was executed in March, as Guerra herself notes, [31] it is more than a little misleading to state that "within days of first entering the capital…Che or­dered the execution." *

As should be obvious, the errors, inaccuracies and distortions that I have already enumerated-and my list is hardly exhaustive [32] -thoroughly undermine the reliability of The Politics of Che Guevara. But what about Farber's overall interpretation of Che's thought? As it turns out, many aspects of Farber's interpretation of Che's thought prove untenable, for they are based on an extremely selective reading of Che's works (which is, as we have seen, also the reason that Farber wrongly attributes numerous views to Che).

Consider, first of all, Farber's assertion that Che's thought is uncongenial to "individual identity, interest, and self-determination," [33] which is basically a corollary of Farber's thesis-repeated in one form or another on several occasions-that Che espouses a "monolithic conception of socialism." [34] There are two problems with this claim. First of all, one finds many passages in Che's works that suggest just the opposite. [35] The second problem is that Farber's arguments for this claim prove quite unpersuasive. Take, for example, the passages that Farber cites on page 18, passages in which Che refers, among other things, to a situation in which an individual "becomes happy to feel himself a cog in the wheel, a cog that has its own characteristics…a conscious cog." [36] For Farber, this passage-which he cites not from Che's works but from J. L. Anderson's biography-shows that "Guevara's egalitarianism left little room for individual differences or individual rights." [37]

What Farber fails to tell readers is that Che makes the "cog" remark in the course of explaining that "what enslaves man is not work but rather his failure to possess the means of production," and after referring to "the happiness of fulfilling a duty [in working], of feeling [one]self important within the social mechanism." [38] Farber's interpretation, which echoes Anderson's own analysis of the passage cited, ignores Che's central points: it is a certain social arrangement that makes work alienating (Che explicitly refers to "capitalist alienation" in the passage cited by Anderson [39] ), but work can constitute a source of satisfaction if the worker has a sense of fulfilling his or her duty.

The passage thus offers little warrant for the claim that "Guevara's egalitarianism left little room for individual differences or individual rights," and nor does the other passage that Farber cites (another quotation borrowed from Anderson's biography) in the paragraph in which he makes this statement. Incidentally, had Farber bothered to consult Che's original speech instead of citing from Anderson's biography, he would have had to explain why, in a sentence that Anderson omits, Che states that "we are…zealous defenders of our individuality." [40]

As a matter of fact, Che's views on individuality, which I cannot discuss at length here, are similar to those of Marx and Engels. It is important to underscore this affinity with Marx and Engels's ideas because one of the central theses of The Politics of Che Guevara is that Che "was very selective of the aspects of Marxism he adopted as his own." [41]

Farber's interest in Che's relationship to Marxism appears to derive in part from the fact that Farber himself embraces "classical Marxism" ("my political roots are in the classical Marxist tradition that preceded Stalinism in the Soviet Union" [42] ). Farber's self-characterization will surely baffle any Marxists who read his book, for his judgments and overall approach to Che reflect the kind of perspective that one normally associates with Cold War liberalism, or perhaps right-wing social democracy. But Farber's own politics aside, how much truth is there to his thesis that Che's thought represents a significant departure from the ideas of the "classical Marxist" tradition?

One way to assess the plausibility of Farber's effort to pit "classical Marxism" against Che is to consider the positions that Farber correctly attributes to Che. For example, Farber notes Che's defense of "centralized economic planning and the rejection of competition and the law of value," [43] and also observes that Che was opposed to the market and favored "the nationalization of private property." [44] When we combine such positions with positions noted at the outset (Che's concern with the division of labor, his commitment to the empowerment of the working class, etc.),

Farber's attempt to drive a wedge between Che's thought and classical Marxism appears quite misguided. Other positions that Che holds, such as his defense of voluntary labor [45] or his adherence to democratic centralism, [46] were positions which, while not held by Marx and Engels, were of course advocated by Lenin, another "classical Marxist." Since Farber effectively ignores these similarities, it would seem to be the case that it is he, and not Che, who is "very selective of the aspects of Marxism [that] he adopted as his own."

Farber complements his efforts to counterpose Che's political orientation and "classical Marxism" with a strategy that seeks to convince us that Che was in fact a dyed-in-the-wool Stalinist. So, for example, Farber not only points out, correctly, that the young Che admired Stalin, but also suggests that "Guevara's 'new man' is remarkably similar to the 'new Soviet person'…that Stalin tried to create in the Soviet Union." [47]

In reality, the qualities that Farber identifies as constitutive of Che's notion of the "new man"-this person is "a selfless and idealistic man, infused with the values and practices of heroism, dedicated to the good of society" [48] -sound a lot like the qualities found in the ideals of human transformation championed by both Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. [49] One could likewise find parallels in classical Marxism to Che's commitment to "unity," which, contrary to Farber's assumptions, hardly qualifies as a "Stalinist" idea. [50] In short, either Che is not the unreconstructed Stalinist that Farber makes him out to be, or Farber must believe that such figures as Lenin and Luxemburg were themselves Stalinists avant la lettre.

Given Farber's interest in encouraging the association of Che with Stalinism (and, we may note in passing, with many of the things that Farber dislikes about the Cuban Revolution, [51] which amount to more or less everything), it will hardly come as a surprise that he also holds that Che's overall political outlook was hopelessly undemocratic. [52] Farber's treatment of the topic of democracy is noteworthy for several reasons. First of all, he fails-yet again-to discuss many texts in which Che does express, either implicitly or explicitly, a commitment to democracy.

Secondly, Farber also fails to take seriously the enormous obstacles to the institutionalization of democracy during the early years of the Cuban Revolution; these obstacles included the United States government's efforts to strangle the Revolution economically-his book barely mentions the absolutely devastating economic embargo-and promote political destabilization, and its support for both counterrevolutionary terrorism and an insurgency in the Escambray Mountains that lasted until the mid-1960s. (Incredibly, Farber claims that "there was no major external or internal threat to the stability of the revolutionary government…in mid-1960." [53]

This would certainly come as news to Cubans, for it was at this was very moment that the US imposed the economic embargo, the Escambray insurgency was beginning to crystallize, and the preparations for the following year's invasion at the Bay of Pigs were starting to get underway.) Thirdly, although he takes Che to task for having "revolutionary perspectives [that] were irremediably undemocratic," [54] Farber offers few details as regards his own conception of "democratic socialism," and the little he does say in this connection is quite unenlightening.

Consider Farber's remarks on repression in defense of the "workplace- and class-centered socialist democracy" [55] that he advocates. ("Class-centered socialist democracy" is, incidentally, an odd formulation, since Marxist socialists-and recall that Farber considers himself a Marxist-view socialism as a phase of social development tending to the abolition of classes; and if by "class-centered" Farber merely means that the working class has power, the phrase is superfluous, at least from a Marxist perspective). Farber appears to believe that certain coercive and repressive measures are consistent with socialist democracy when hedefends them, but not consistent with socialist democracy when they constitute a part of Che's political practice.

For example, Farber grants that a "new revolutionary government will need to suppress violent and subversive acts against the new socialist system in order to defend itself"; in other words, "revolutionary violence is unfortunate, but necessary and inevitable in light of what oppressive ruling groups will do in order to preserve their power." [56] Indeed, he even acknowledges that "the revolutionary government cannot wait until…violent acts take place, but must try to prevent their occurrence whenever possible" [57] and, as we have seen, that "the government will also be forced, in specific instances, to curtail the civil liberties of those actively supporting the violent opponents of the revolution." But why, we may ask, would the restrictions on civil liberties that Farber defends here be more "democratic" than restrictions on the same grounds enacted in Cuba with Che's support?

To be sure, Farber insists that "the repression that the revolutionary government will be forced to carry out, particularly right after the overthrow of the old ruling classes, can be justified and controlled by democratic aims and purposes," [58] but a statement as vague as this hardly helps us to understand why the repression that he endorses is more consistent with socialist democracy than the repression accepted by Che. Moreover, the vagueness found in the passage just cited is characteristic of most of Farber's statements regarding his own vision of social transformation.

For example, Farber's alternative to "Che's revolutionary voluntarism" and "Latin American Communist parties' electoralism" is, as he tells us in his Introduction, "a perspective that posits revolutionary politics as requiring strategic and tactical thinking and action in order to advance the revolutionary process." [59] In light of statements such as these, one wonders why it is that Farber expects us to believe that his own commitments are more likely than Che's to meet "the need for a political process that brings together the politics of revolution, socialism, and democracy," [60] which is, of course, a very real need.

It should be clear at this point that The Politics of Che Guevara: Theory and Practice has little to recommend it to anyone interested in a dispassionate assessment of Che, let alone someone who seeks such an assessment from a Marxist perspective. As noted at the outset, Farber has neglected to read much of what Che said and wrote, and this lack of interest in reading Che vitiates one argument after another. Farber's analysis of the essay "Socialism and Man in Cuba" is a case in point. It is fine to undertake a "detailed critique" [61] of Che's famous essay, as Farber does in Chapter Three, but to devote such attention to this one short text, as significant as it is, while at the same time ignoring hundreds and hundreds of important pages of Che's output, makes little sense in a book that promises "a political portrait focused on Guevara's thought."

Perhaps not surprisingly, Farber's narrowly selective reading of Che leads him to criticize Che for neglecting certain topics in "Socialism and Man in Cuba" ("increasing consumer goods," "raising the standard of living of the Cuban population" and "working people controlling their fate by making democratic decisions about social, economic, and political matters" [62] ) even though Che addresses these very topics at length elsewhere. [63] This is not the only way in which Farber's limited interest in Che's writings weakens his "detailed critique" of Che's celebrated essay.

According to Farber, "it is impossible to tell what Che Guevara had in mind" when he referred, in "Socialism and Man in Cuba," to the "first period in the transition to communism or in the construction of socialism." [64] In fact, everyone who has taken the time to study Che's works in some detail knows that Che had in mind a transitional stage from capitalism to socialism in an underdeveloped country, a topic he often explores in other texts and one that he at least mentions in a book that was, Farber tells us in his Introduction, one of his two "most fruitful sources" in writing about Che, namely theApuntes críticos a la economía política. [65]

Despite the fact that The Politics of Che Guevara proves utterly unreliable as an exposition of Che's "substantive political ideas," the book is adorned with several blurbs from prominent left-of-center academics and intellectuals. According to one blurb, Farber is "a scrupulous historian," while another assures us that Farber's polemic "scrupulously reconstructs" Che's thought. Like the blurb that describes Farber's work as "a complex and serious analysis of Guevara," these comments will seem preposterous to any reader already acquainted with Che's writings, but they do serve, unintentionally, a very useful purpose: they remind us that there remains a great deal of work to be done in explaining what Che Guevara truly believed.

This review was originally posted at Marxism-Leninism Today .


[1] Samuel Farber, The Politics of Che Guevara: Theory and Practice (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016).

[2] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, xvii; xxv.

[3] Review of Sam Farber,The Politics of Che Guevara: Theory and Practice, International Journal of Cuban Studies, Vol. 9, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 155-57.

[4] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, viii; x.

[5] Farber, 78.

[6] Farber, 67-8.

[7] Farber, 77-8.

[8] Farber, 107. Significantly, when Farber writes, "Even when he occasionally referred to the working class as playing a role in the seizure of power, he did so in deference to the putative working-class ideology of the Communist Party, treating the working class only as an ideological abstraction" (117), he provides no references.

[9] For the references mentioned, see Review of Sam Farber, 156.

[10] Ernesto Che Guevara, El Che en la Revolución cubana. 7 volumes. (Havana: Editorial Ministerio del Azúcar, 1966).

[11] Ernesto Che Guevara, Escritos y discursos. 9 volumes. (Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1977).

[12] See, for example, Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, 144, notes 38, 39 and 40.

[13] Ernesto Che Guevara, Apuntes críticos a la Economía Política, ed. María del Carmen Ariet García (Melbourne: Ocean Sur, 2006), 363; my translation. In the original Spanish: "el socialismo es para satisfacer las necesidades y necesidades siempre crecientes de la gente, si no, no vale la pena ser socialista."

[14] Guevara, Apuntes, 339; my translation.

[15] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, xxvi.

[16] Farber, 18.

[17] Farber, 77.

[18] Farber, 78.

[19] Farber, 57.

[20] Fidel Castro,"Discurso pronunciado como conclusión de las reuniones con los intelectuales cubanos, Biblioteca Nacional 'José Martí'," in Habla Fidel: 25 discursos en la Revolución, ed. Pedro Álvarez Tabío (Havana: Oficina de Publicaciones del Consejo de Estado, 2008), 205. One could translate the first word as "inside," as Farber chooses to do, but the word that Farber renders as "outside" is invariably translated as "against" in English.

[21] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, 74; 75.

[22] Farber, 87.

[23] Farber, 72-73.

[24] Farber, 73.

[25] Helen Yaffe, Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution(Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 292-93, note 5 and Felipa de las Mercedes Suárez Ramos , "Tribunales revolucionarios: Monumento a la justicia," Trabajadores, January 19, 2014: http://www.trabajadores.cu/20140119/tribunales-revolucionarios-monumento-la-justicia/ . While both sources cite the lawyer to whom I refer, Miguel Ángel Duque de Estrada Ramos, they provide slightly different figures for the total number of executions.

[26] María Werlau, "Las víctimas olvidadas del Che Guevara: ¿Cuántos fusilamientos están documentados? CaféFuerteDecember 2, 2014: http://cafefuerte.com/msociedad/19698-las-victimas-olvidadas-del-che-guevara-cuantos-fusilamientos-estan-documentados/ (Farber's endnote lists December 1 as the publication date.)

[27] 145, note 50.

[28] Lillian Guerra, Visions of Power in Cuba: Revolution, Redemption, and Resistance, 1959-1971 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 79.

[29] Warren Hinckle and William W. Turner, The Fish is Red: The Story of the Secret War against Castro (New York: Harper and Row, 1981), 59. The names of the members of the tribunal that judged Quevedo are included in the article "Capitán José J. Castaño Quevedo, Martír": http://www.autentico.org/oa09253.php .

[30] Hinckle and Turner, The Fish is Red, 60.

[31] Guerra, Visions of Power, 79.

[32] One might also mention in this connection Farber's peculiar-and questionable-treatment of Ernest Mandel's, very lengthy definition of "the law of value," which Farber cites almost verbatim but without quotation marks (107). The definition, taken from the glossary to Mandel's Late Capitalism, contains more than 80 words. Farber's changes are limited to the insertion of two commas, an Americanization of the spelling of one word ("labor"), the removal of a hyphen and a dash, and the conversion of "i.e." into "that is." Nonetheless, he presents his formulation as, in effect, a paraphrase.

[33] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, xix.

[34] Farber, 67; see also xix, 19, 93, and 117.

[35] See, for example, El Che en la Revolución cubana, Vol. I, 164; Vol. III, 433; and Vol. IV, 373.

[36] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, 18

[37] Farber, 18.

[38] Jon Lee Anderson, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life(London: Bantam Books, 1997), 605.

[39] Anderson, Che Guevara, 604.

[40] El Che en la Revolución cubana , Vol. II, 200; my translation. In the original Spanish: "nosotros somos…celosos defensores de nuestra individualidad."

[41] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, xix

[42] Farber, xvii.

[43] Farber, 90.

[44] Farber, 77; 152, n. 66.

[45] Farber, 78-79.

[46] Farber, 85.

[47] Farber, 146, n. 63.

[48] Farber, 76.

[49] According to Luxemburg, "One cannot realize socialism with lazy, frivolous, egoistic, thoughtless and indifferent human beings. A socialist society needs human beings who, whatever their place, are full of passion and enthusiasm for the general well-being, full of self-sacrifice and sympathy for their fellow human beings, full of courage and tenacity in order to dare to attempt the most difficult" ("The Socialization of Society," in The Rosa Luxemburg Reader, ed. by Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson [New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004], 348). As for Lenin, see, for example, "A Great Beginning: Heroism of the Workers in the Rear; 'Communist Subbotniks'," in Collected Works, Vol. 29 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965), 423 and 427, and "From the Destruction of the Old Social System to the Creation of the New," in Collected Works, Vol. 30 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965), 517.

[50] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, 84.

[51] For example, Farber assures us that "Che Guevara helped to establish in the mid-1960s" a "mass media system" that "was totally monolithic" (71), but never bothers to tell us what, exactly, Che's role was in this connection.

[52] See Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, 117 and the passage cited below.

[53] Farber, 71.

[54] Farber, xviii.

[55] Farber, xxiii.

[56] Farber, 74; xx.

[57] Farber, 74.

[58] Farber, 75.

[59] Farber, xxiv.

[60] Farber, xxvi. Farber restates this conviction on page 120.

[61] Farber, xxvi.

[62] Farber, 78; 81.

[63] Again, I provide references in the review cited above.

[64] Farber, Politics of Che Guevara, 78.


For some passages in which Che refers to this stage, see my

The Political Theory of Che Guevara

(London: Rowman and Littlefield International, 2018), 154, note 13.