Virtuous cycle

Bartlomiej Owczarek weblog

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Lessons learned from Che

I’m sorry to admit, but as a side product of the Cuban trip I continue to find myself fascinated with Che’s life and undertakings.

As mentioned before, I found Cuban revolution interesting due to the notion in which a group determined individuals could turn the tables on a (seemingly) much stronger opponent (lesson of persistence).

Particularly inspiring are the following events from struggle in Cuba: almost a total initial defeat just after the expedition’s landing, continuous desertions of guerrilla fighters losing faith in the struggle or giving up to the hardships of life in the jungle, gradual build-up of critical mass due to a sequence of small victories – sometimes achieved in a very accidental manner – which nevertheless resonated within the society.

Having said this, success of the revolution and the fighting concept that it employed (focus on rural areas, no support from a strong political party, etc.) was determined by number of factors specific to Cuba, which revolution leaders could be ignorant of.

In the end Che paid with his life for this ignorance in Bolivia. He overestimated influence of his leadership and failed to appreciate Bolivian specifics in applying the template of Cuban revolution.

Conclusion: no success is possible without alignment with external factors, and since many of them are unknown ex ante – it all boils down to luck and intuition. On the other hand, no amount of luck in setting the initial course will substitute persistence in following it.

All this is more entertaining because through the diaries one can emphasize with Che’s evolution as an individual, from the motorcycle journey, through Cuba, to the Bolivian failure (even though unfortunately I don’t have the copy of Bolivian diaries yet).