In the last few years of organizing within different leftist circles I have noticed a common attitude of rejection towards any sort of virtue or leadership ethic, often being dismissed as bourgeois or careerist. Although in some cases these accusations may be valid, I fear the automated reaction has led to also rejecting those attempts which are not bourgeois or careerist in the slightest bit, leaving these circles with a predominant ethic of vice acceptance and virtue rejection. Now, the point I am attempting to make is not that we ought to punish those comrades who have fallen to vice, or that we shouldn’t help them out of it, rather that we must be able to both, have compassion for those who have fallen in vice and have a generalized strive for being the images of virtue wherever we are. Whether in class, sports, at work, or in any other activity, I believe as socialist we have a duty to strive to be the best in whatever we are doing, while simultaneously aiding those around us to be better as well. It is in doing this that we can provide the image by which others can see the goals we are striving for, recognize the nobility in them, and join us in the struggle.
In the 20th century, perhaps the best example of a socialist virtue ethic can be seen materialized in the figure of Che Guevara. A man who “as a revolutionary united in himself the virtues which can be defined as the fullest expressions of the virtues of a revolutionary: a man of total integrity, a man of supreme sense of honor, of absolute sincerity, a man of stoic and spartan living habits, a man whose conduct no one stain can be found. He constituted, through his virtues, what can be called a truly model revolutionary.” A man of great “quality of heart: an extraordinary human man, extraordinarily sensitive… a man of action, thought, immaculate revolutionary virtues and human sensibility joined with an iron character, a will of steel, and indomitable tenacity… with boundless faith in the conscience of man… who fell defending the interest of the exploited and oppressed people of this continent, Che fell defending the poor and disenfranchised of this earth.”
Going over some of the mottos for young communist in Cuba, set forth by the man that Sartre once called “the most complete human being of our age” I believe will serve as a refreshment to the virtue dismissive and hateful-only elements of the left we have today, and remind us, that what should move us as revolutionaries is not hate but a strong feeling of love. Thus, below you will see my translation of Che Guevara’s speech to the Jovenes Comunistas, the youth segment of the Communist Party of Cuba. Che provides us here with what can be called the Communist Virtue Ethic, overall mottos by which every socialist or communist should live by.
“I think the first thing that must characterize a young communist, is the honor he has for being a young communist. An honor that pushes him to show everyone his condition as a young communist. One that is not overran by secrecy, reduced to formulas, but expressed in each moment. One which comes from his spirit and which he has interest in demonstrating because it is his call of pride.
Besides this, a great sense of duty. A sense of duty with the society we are constructing, and with people around the world. This is something that must characterize a young communist.
Along with this is his sensibility in the face of all problems and injustices, along with his spirit of unconformity in any emergence of an evil, regardless of its source.
To plant himself in front of anything that is misunderstood and ask for clarity in the unclear. To declare the war against formalisms of all types and be always open to receiving new experiences. To strive to shape the great experience of humanity which has already been traveling down the road of socialism for many years down to the concrete conditions of our country. And to think, together and individually, how to continue to change and improve reality.
The young communist must strive to be the first in everything. To feel upset when in anything he occupies another place, and when so, strive to improve and be the first. Of course, not all can be first, but within the top spots in the vanguard group.
To be the living example and mirror through which our companions who do not belong to the young communist see themselves.
To be the example older generations may see once they have lost to some extent the enthusiasm of their youth, and a certain amount of faith in life, so that once presented with our example, their reaction is always positive. This is the goal of a young communist.
Next to this, a great spirit of sacrifice, a spirit of sacrifice in all moments, not just for heroic feats. To sacrifice ourselves helping our companions with their homework, so that they can fulfill their duties in their studies and improve in any manner. To be always attentive to the whole human mass that surrounds us.
That is to say, the demands we are making of young communist, is to be essentially human. To be so human you become closer and closer to perfecting the best attributes of being human. To purify the best attributes of man through work, studies, and the exercise of continual solidarity with our people and all people around the world.
To develop to the maximum his sensibilities, to the point of feeling anguished when a man is assassinated in another corner of the world, and enthusiastic when in some corner of the world, a new flag of freedom is raised.
The young communist cannot be limited by the frontiers of a territory. The young communist must practice proletarian internationalism and feel it as his own.
To remember, both, communist and aspiring communist here in Cuba, that we are a real and palpable example for all of our Americas, and even more for other countries in the world struggling in other continents for their freedom from colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, and against all other forms of oppression by unjust systems.
To remember always that we are a lit torch. That all of us serve as an example, not only individually for the rest of Cuba to see themselves in, but beyond that for the rest of the people of the Americas and other oppressed people in the world struggling for liberty to see themselves in. We must be, in all moments, dignified by being this example.”
 Fidel Castro, ‘In Tribute to Che’ Quoted from Che Guevara, Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War (New York and London; MR Press, 1968), 21.
 Ibid., 21,24.
 “The true revolutionary is moved by a strong feeling of love”. Ibid., 4.
 The following is a translation of Che Guevara’s 1962 speech to the Jovenes Comunistas titled Qué Debe Ser Un Joven Comunista.
1/18/2022 09:24:04 am
"Whether in class, sports, at work, or in any other activity, I believe as socialist we have a duty to strive to be the best in whatever we are doing"--my only worry is that to be the best at work is to be the best at being exploited. That's how it's effectively encouraged.
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