Many people today are adverse to living by the concept of natural liberty, preferring instead to place their faith in the Nanny State, a constitution, or even free market proselytizing. The responsibility incurred by abiding by the Non-Aggression Principle runs counter to the victim mentality that stresses that you should never take self-defense seriously, and thus you should place your safety (and happiness) in the hands of the “professionals,” whether public or private. This robs you of your sense of individual autonomy and personal power to affect this reality the way you see fit so you can effectively protect your life, liberty, and property from the forceful coercion of tyrants.
Che Guevara comes out the gate swinging against the loud-mouth do-nothings by elucidating the following about the fundamental lessons concerning revolutionary activities:
- Popular forces can win a war against the army.
- It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them.
- In underdeveloped America the countryside is the basic area for armed fighting.
“Of these three propositions the first two contradict the defeatist attitude of revolutionaries or pseudo-revolutionaries who remain inactive and take refuge in the pretext that against a professional army nothing can be done, who sit down to wait until in some mechanical way all necessary objective and subjective conditions are given without working to accelerate them.”
This analysis is nothing short of mind-blowing, for it literally states that the right of revolution does not rely exclusively on external circumstances, but in fact when implemented, can literally create such conditions at the discretion of the resistance. It also means that the Establishment is not all powerful, despite what some naysaying political dissidents may say to the contrary.
Much of what Che says about guerrilla warfare in general can be piggybacked off of Mao Tse-Tung and John Ellis. Political training is just as important as military training, secure base areas need to be established, and incorporating some kind of regular forces alongside the asymmetrical guerrilla bands are all par for the course. What I would like to focus on is what Che details that Mao and Ellis neglected to mention.
A guerrilla has to be a social reformer just as much as he is a combatant. The peasants need to be valued not only as support personnel but also as one of the key reasons the revolution is occurring in the first place, so it would behoove the guerrilla to care for their welfare that much more significantly than the enemy would. Che succinctly summed up the predicament of guerrillas when he said:
“The guerrilla combatant ought to risk his life whenever necessary and be ready to die without the least sign of doubt; but, at the same time, he ought to be cautious and never expose himself unnecessarily.”
Put another way, the guerrilla needs to have the courage to risk his life sans the stupidity of actually losing it in vain.
I was particularly intrigued by the shotgun cocktail, which is really nothing more than an improvised mortar. Essentially, how you construct it is you attach a Molotov cocktail to a modified shotgun that is then outfitted with a bipod (the stock serves as the third leg of this de facto tripod). Che claims that improvised gadget worked in terms of increasing the range of normally hand-thrown Molotov cocktails.
Woman are to be considered as helpful assets, not hindrances, to the cause. While they could serve as combatants in the field, their specialization in various tasks is where they really shined, such as operating as couriers. Indoctrinating the recruits was another key task that women were particularly gifted in, besides the stereotypical functions of cooking and medicine. In other descriptors, Che ascribes some level of predetermined gender roles in terms of the women forming the civilian support section (later, the civil government) whereas the men usually comprised the military.
With regards to indoctrination, Che’s views seemed just as eccentric as they are pragmatic. He ascribed the same level of importance to reading as he did to marksmanship. Asceticism was virtuous given not only was it a form of character building in terms of disciplining the soldier, but that it also intended to prevent bribery and other typical forms of internal corruption from occurring, especially during active operations in the field. In fact, he considered it vital enough so as to additionally prevent infiltration by the secret police of underground cells during the very beginning of revolutionary activity, since he thought that cells could be compromised by the classic honeypot trap.
Che Guevera’s Guerrilla Warfare is both a treatise as well as a technical manual of sorts on how to conduct a grassroots military campaign on a budget. While I may respectfully disagree with the “great” Che regarding the utility of women in guerrilla warfare, I do appreciate his attempt at providing remedy for the problems of infiltration, discipline, and bribery in one fell swoop. If you can sweep aside those portions of this small book where he is railing against the imperialist (really, corporatist) inclinations of the United States by expounding Communism, then I think some level of objective understanding can be gained regarding the harsh realities of conducting a people’s war.