Che communicated by actions; and his words were weapons in the struggle. In the Renaissance, there were ‘universal men’, who were great in art, science and literature. In the 20th century, politics—understood as man’s mastering of his own destiny in history—is the true form of universality. Che was in this sense universal. He is mourned all over the world more than any other revolutionary in this post-classical age.
Che gave his life for the liberation of Latin America, Asia and Africa from the empire of the United States, in an unparalleled example of internationalism. His solidarity was an irrevocable commitment, which survives his death and by its example unceasingly continues to threaten imperialism. He knew that making the revolution is a cruel and costly ordeal, for himself and for others; he chose it unswervingly in the knowledge that the price of submission to imperialism is incomparably greater, and is permanent. Vietnam, to which Che dedicated his last message, stands witness to this truth.
In Cuba, Che represented a profound renewal within the construction of socialism itself. No-one expressed so well revolutionary freedom as the authentic meaning of daily economic construction. Planning was not a mere technical instrument for him. Linked indissolubly to the activity of the masses, it was the necessary form of man’s domination over his environment. It precluded any mechanical calculus of interests. Che was never more dialectically materialist than in his insistence on the primacy of moral incentives in the building of socialism. It was logical that he stood intransigently for the liberation of art and culture from any bureaucratism.
To Marxists in the imperialist countries, Che always spoke with fraternity and urgency. His essay ‘Socialism and Man in Cuba’ provided a contemporary analysis of exploitation and alienation in the capitalist societies of today. He knew how central a front was the class struggle against capitalism in its homelands. Our duty, in the metropoles of imperialism itself, is to undermine from within the atrocious and oppressive system which he fought to destroy from without. Struggle is the only homage appropriate to him.