Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ireland Celebrates Che Guevara with National Stamp

New Irish Postage Stamp
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired *

Che Guevara Lynch, June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967

Any serious trade union activist, shop steward and other defenders of workers’ rights in the workplace knows the term “troublemaker”. That’s what the bosses’ call workers who fight back, and unfortunately some workers repeat it.

The propaganda can get nastier as anything that increases the power of the working class in society or on the job is communism, unpatriotic, anti-American, an attack on our freedom, our way of life and more. 

It is also a positive sign in the sense that our activity is having an affect; our enemies are worried and there is s sense of panic among them and they make mistakes They admit to certain things they would normally deny or suppress.

In an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal, the leading publication of the world’s most successful gangsters, the panic is clear. The editorial begins, “Education often means relearning old lessons, which means fighting for historical fact against political mythologists.” The US ruling class is upset that the Irish government has released a special postage stamp to mark the 50th anniversary of Che Guevara’s death. Che Guevara, one of the great revolutionaries of the 20th century was, assassinated by the CIA with the assistance of the Bolivian military in 1967.  Only a short while ago, the Irish had the Palestinian flag flying above the Irish Parliament in solidarity with Palestinians in the face of occupation and violence they endure at the hands of the Zionist Apartheid regime.

The Wall Street Journal is appalled, “..So it’s excruciating to see the nation of Ireland, a capitalist democracy that should know better fall for the myth of Ernesto “Che” Guevara Lynch. Yes, Che was of Irish descent. Along with his image on the stamp is a quote from Che’s father, “in my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels.”.

The US ruling class, many an Irish man or woman among them can, “…understand how untutored Dublin undergrads might wear one of those T-shirts with Che’s face for social cachet in coffee shops. But on an Irish national stamp?  How contemptuous the ruling class can be toward the liberal/left academics that go on to play a role in keeping their system afloat. There is nothing more annoying than seeing these types with Che’s image on a T-shirt. Che Guevara was a heroic figure and fighter for socialism, workers’ rights and the right of all the world’s people to be free from oppression and exploitation. He died for his principles and for standing up to the world’s most powerful and violent capitalist democracy.

The use of the terms capitalist and democracy together is quite rare for the US ruling class and almost never used by their sycophants atop organized labor but we welcome it. It is recognition that there is more than one form of democracy. Athenian Greece was a democracy but not for the slaves. It was a slaveowners democracy. We live in a capitalist or bourgeois democracy and Che and others like him, those of us around this blog included, are fighting for a workers’ democracy a democratic socialist world.

The editorial reveals the lying nature of the so-called free press. The authors are well aware of Irish history which is a truly revolutionary one. Ireland was one of the first colonies of British capitalism and its six northern counties are still under British rule. Many of the policies carried out in the occupation of this small Ireland by the English centuries ago, were carried in to other colonial possessions, in Africa and India. Read the Protestant Penal codes and you will see in them the same laws that were applied to Catholic Irish were applied to Africans in the US and other colonized peoples. Here’s an example from Wikiepdia:

The English Commissary, General Henry Ireton adopted a deliberate policy of crop burning and starvation, which was responsible for the majority of an estimated 600,000 deaths out of a total Irish population of 1,400,000."[25]
In addition to the military conflict and occupation, 50,000 women, children, and men were forcibly removed from Ireland and sent to Bermuda and Barbados as indentured servants.[26]

The Irish potato famine was due in part to Anti-Catholic laws. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish Catholics had been prohibited by the penal laws from purchasing or leasing land, from voting, from holding political office, from living in or within 5 miles (8 km) of a corporate town, from obtaining education, from entering a profession, and from doing many other things that were necessary for a person to succeed and prosper in society.
Limmerick wkrs council issues its own money

It is centuries of occupation and brutality that has produced a truly revolutionary history in this small Island. There was a Soviet in Limmerick in 1919 (same year as the Seattle General Strike) and of course an uprising in 1916. I remember in my youth, Ireland showing tremendous solidarity with the self-determination struggles and independence struggles of nations under British or European colonial rule, after all, they were the first. If the readers consider the body count above due to the forced famine, it is almost half the country’s population. It is no wonder there are people of Irish descent all over the world people like Che Guevara. They worked in the plantations in the Carribean along with Africans and both many Irish Americans have African heredity.

Imagine that the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal can claim Che Guevara of having a “…real
legacy that continues in the suffering and privation of the Cuban people.”. This from the driving force behind a blockade of this small Island nation off the coast of Florida for 60 years. Despite this, the infant mortality rate is lower in Cuba than the US and the life expectancy equal to ours.

As we have pointed out in previous posts, the Irish, who were referred to as the “Savage race”  or “white chimpanzees” by the British bourgeois benefited to a certain degree in the US as the concept of a “white” race arose. The festivities, boozing, leprechauns and green rivers that are the dominant theme on St Patrick’s Day are the Irish American nationalist substitute for the true revolutionary history of Ireland. But the Irish workers also built the great railroads along with the Chinese and often did the most dangerous work in the Apartheid south as slaves were a commodity too expensive to lose. Free labor was a better option.

Latino workers throughout Latin America and the US look to Che Guevara as the heroic figure he actually is. They may not completely agree with or understand his political views but they know he stood up to US imperialism and died for it. Most of them don’t need to wear T-shirts.

Irish workers should be proud of the role their country is playing in the world today. Aside from its solidarity with oppressed people and workers throughout the world, Ireland is the first and only country to vote for the right of any people to marry regardless of gender.  This has to a certain degree come about due to the role of women in Irish society, some of the more direct victims of the Catholic Church hierarchy whose cooperation with British and Irish capitalism had a deathly grip on Irish life for centuries.

We look forward to Irish Americans and Irish American publications marking the 50th anniversary of the death of this heroic figure and celebrating his life; one of their own.

* Here is a pdf from the Irish Famine Society that gives provides further information on this subject

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