The title might be misleading at first, but there is a good reason for that. To understand the needs and opportunities for the contemporary Right, we first need to understand what got the Left into power at first.
Enter Che Guevara, or more exactly, enter Ernesto Guevara de la Serna.
For anyone in either the free-market or the classical conservative sphere, the travel log of his motorcycle trip around Latin America should be a required reading. Not because it is an historical account of the radicalization of one man, who from well-educated Argentinian bourgeois doctor went to terrorist, revolutionary and guerrilla leader, but because it shows the seeds of how a simple man with ideas (albeit in his case, the worst ones) can become an archetype, a religious icon for a set of beliefs.
Even for someone like Murray Rothbard himself, Che Guevara was someone worth of interest, to the point of writing a highly critical but yet prophetic obituary for him, and Rothbard, of course, was right, because Che Guevara has probably become the most well-known political figure in recent Latin American history, and outside of the developed West, that is, the US-led Anglosphere and Western Europe, his face and his name have become synonymous with armed struggle, with guerrilla warfare, with an utopian socialist ideal that knows no limits nor boundaries.
His death at the hands of the Bolivian Army, helped by the CIA, in a failed attempt to spark an agrarian Marxist revolution in the Andean Altiplano, only contributed more to his already legendary status among those who oppose the ideas of freedom and civilization.
In practice, his death made him a martyr of the Left, a religious symbol of a revolution that never came but is always presented as the gospel of egalitarianism. Say what you want about Che Guevara, say he was a killer and a terrorist, and you will be right. But that doesn’t take away the fact that Che was ready to die for his ideas, and in fact did so.
The Right, neither conservative nor libertarian, doesn’t have a single person who has gone to such extents. We don’t have martyrs, and our beliefs are not religious. We may think of the self-immolating acts committed by the likes of Alex Jones or Kanye West as martyrdom for our causes, like free speech, but they are nothing but counterproductive folk activism.
In fact, our beliefs, are quite the opposite to a religious fanatism, for they are rooted in the reasonable analysis of history, nature and society, and as such, the results of our ideas, even if adequate on a long term, are not easy to sell to high-time preference masses, who have become used to receive subsidies from governments and have internalized the propaganda created by the corporate-managerial class that works in tandem with policy-makers.
Our society is deadlocked between an individual struggle for freedom and an organized struggle for power, and our times are stranger than ever, for they represent what Francis Fukuyama still insists is the End of History, but look closer to the civilization end stage described by Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West magnum opus.
The problem is that if we take either Fukuyama’s or Spengler’s words for granted, we’re still left without some key elements to understand the mechanics of our age: liberal democracy is indeed the dominant system all around the world, but it is not liberal (for it is not generous, as defined by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, and because it creates false, unstable prosperity out of heavy taxation, inorganic monetary emission and general government intervention of the economy), nor it is democratic (for it allows everyone to vote, no matter who or what “the People” is or is intended to be, and reserves power only for an unelected managerial class.)
If this account of facts is remindful of James Burnham’s ideas, it is because he, like Spengler, identified elements of our current collapse, and tried to predict its future by equating the imminent managerialism of the West with Soviet Stalinism and Italian fascism, and in many senses, Burnham was right, and Western managerialism has indeed become something akin to fascism, although without the nationalism, as Lew Rockwell has repeatedly warned us.
But where does that leave us and how is Che Guevara connected to all of this?
Simple: for Burnham, as well as for Spengler, as theorists of Western collapse, the system that would be in place in the endgame of civilization would depend on strongmen like Cecil Rhodes to work smoothly, for they, as the Great Men in History described by Thomas Carlyle, would be the only ones able to take the reins of power to direct society.
This mention of Cecil Rhodes is not random, because he could probably be considered the best example of how a Great Man idea must be compensated with a sound understanding of historical processes, and because Rhodes, like Che Guevara, was strongman, a tactician and a born leader. In Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s words, he was a natural elite.
From an English boy with poor health, the son of an Anglican priest, he became a mining magnate and then an important politician in South Africa. His talent for business allowed to thrive and prosper, and his short stay in Oxford University shaped his worldview into one of British dominance and influence.
In the same fashion as other strongmen before him, Rhodes was elevated into the highest prestige in his last years and after his death, with the British colonies he helped to acquire getting named after him (not unlike Bolivia being named after Simón Bolívar), with his South African estate becoming the campus for the University of Cape Town, and with his large fortune left to fund the Oxford scholarship named in his honor, which has helped educated thousands of politicians and enterprise heads from all around the Anglosphere, with the original intent of shaping them to think in the same way Rhodes himself thought about a British-dominated world.
But his legacy hasn’t prospered as much as the almost religious veneration Che Guevara has acquired, for the idea of Rhodes, the imperial businessman and politician, once respected as an ideal of the British Empire, has now become anathema even in the very institution he attended and donated his fortune to, for the gospel of egalitarianism cannot allow the veneration of natural elites, in their own times and contexts.
Che Guevara, on the other side, by living fast and dying young, by focusing and sacrificing himself to his ideas, created a myth around and about himself, a myth that men like Cecil Rhodes could have never even achieved.
And now, in our Populist age, where political and business leaders emerge out of the polarization of ideas and beliefs, where strongmen and magnates like Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk can lead thousands of supporters and yet still have troubles to hold or exercise power in their own spheres of influence, the question remains: what are we missing that the Left does have?
We may not realize it, but the Left is currently lacking this key element: they don’t have natural elites, they don’t have caudillos, they don’t have true leaders.
In their inflation of their egos, they have elevated the likes of Klaus Schwab and Samuel Bankman-Fried into their demigods, and when the societal collapse they have caused themselves may finally come, they won’t be able to prevent it or to mitigate it.
But here is where and when our duty becomes clear: if the Left is a fanatic religious movement focused on enforcing egalitarianism, and if the Left has had its martyrs like Che Guevara, then our fight, just as Rothbard said, must also be a religious crusade, one for the defense of freedom and civilization.
But to fight such a fight you don’t only need fighters, you need leaders, tacticians, strategists. Not everyone can be one, because our natural differences make us spontaneously inclined to different activities and positions in life, but extreme circumstances do create extreme leaders.
Ernesto Guevara did not become El Che from day to night, he was transformed by his trip around Latin American, radicalized by the poor living conditions of his fellow men, and engaged by the common identity of a single continent from the Rio Grande to Patagonia. It just happens he took to wrong path and he fought for the wrong ideas, and instead of prosperity to the masses, the only things he brought were death and misery, in Cuba, in Angola, and in Bolivia.
His face, now a symbol, still represents carnage and poverty wrapped around an utopian ideal, but ultimately proves the point of this essay: Che was, and still is, a symbol.
We, in the Right, cannot take him for our side, because it would be incoherent and counterproductive, but we must understand what made him as such. Che emerged under the most unlikely conditions and circumstances. Our Che will probably emerge from the most unlikely of the places as well.
Because if one thing is true, that our conflict with the left is indeed a religious fight against a fanatic progressive dogma, then we will also need leaders and martyrs, just like Che was for the Left in the past. We need a Che Guevara of our own.