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CHE GUEVARA AND THE CUBAN REVOLUTION Paperback – 28 Jun 2004
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About the Author
Donny Gluckstein is the author of The Paris Commune: A Revolution in Democracy (Bookmarks, 2006); The Tragedy of Bukharin (Pluto, 1994), and The Western Soviets: Workers' Councils Versus Parliament 1915-1920 (Bookmarks, 1988). He is the co-author, with Tony Cliff, of The Labour Party: A Marxist History (Bookmarks, 1986) and Marxism and Trade Union Struggle: The General Strike of 1926 (Bookmarks, 1986). Donny is a lecturer in history in Edinburgh and is a member of the Socialist Workers' Party (UK).
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Gluckstein begins with a potted history of the emergence of capitalism and national unity in Germany and emphasises the fact that, in Germany, the state and capital were always intimately intertwined, yet the rise of capitalism in Germany also left a large middle class of artisans, peasants and small business people - a petit bourgeoisie.
Gluckstein shows that the origins of Nazism are rooted in the counter-revolutionary current which developed in Germany after the First World War as a reaction to the revolutionary surge of 1918-1923. During this period Hitler established himself as a force to be reckoned with and sealed links with industrialists prepared to consider radical means to block the Left. Hitler was able to offer those German ruling class conservatives the popular legitimacy and the muscle of a paramilitary movement in order to establish a dictatorship and crush the parties of the Left and the unions which they were unable to do themselves.
Gluckstein shows convincingly that Nazism was a movement of the petit bourgeoisie, it's ideology was one of radicalised mainstream 'ruling class' ideas such as imperialism, racism, elitism, social-Darwinism, that the working class was always the most resistant part of the German population to Nazi ideas, the Nazi government favoured capitalism - especially big business.
Gluckstein is especially strong when analysing the idiotic attitudes and policies of the German Left, the KPD and SPD, that did much to unwittingly aid the coming to power of the Nazis. There is also an excellent discussion on anti-semitism and the Holocaust that situates both in an analysis of capitalism in Germany.
Overall, this is a clear sighted, well written potted review of the history of Nazism that takes a look at contemporary theories about Nazism and sees how they have stood up remarkably well over the decades, more so than many later theories. Much recommended.
My interest in Che Guevara was sparked by watching 'The Motorcycle Diaries' at the cinema, but it left me thinking.. so then how did he get to be a global symbol of revolution? Then I saw 'Thirteen Days' on the Cuban Missile crisis and read somewhere that Guevara was in favour of a nuclear showdown with the US. I wanted to know more - so bought this book.
At first I suspected that the book was going to give a glowing account of Guevara's achievements and the success of the revolution in Cuba. Instead the book is very well balanced, and I learned a lot about Guevara and Castro and realised my assumption that they were all committed communists from day one was completely wrong.
The book is also well written - it isn't too academic, and it isn't too long! Well done Mike Gonzalez.