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" Individuals do not 'shape' historical events; the best they can do is to respond to opportunities." With reference to one or more individuals you have studied, how far do you support this claim?

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Introduction

" Individuals do not 'shape' historical events; the best they can do is to respond to opportunities." With reference to one or more individuals you have studied, how far do you support this claim? In this essay, my individual is the infamous Che Guevara. I have chosen Che Guevara because he is someone who many of the younger generations of today can relate to. Che Guevara's actions changed the course of history for many people's life's worldwide. However Che Guevara created this opportunity himself, in a way he responded to a situation that meant more to him, than leading an ordinary life, and Che Guevara lived a far from ordinary life. With respect to Che, the Cuban Revolution brought out the characteristics that the radical world came to admire. Che demonstrated his natural ability to take on new tasks and to be an effective leader during battle. During the battle of Sierra Maestra, he organised a workshop of weaponry, tailoring, and shoemaking and the production of bread, beef jerky, cigarettes and cigars as logistical support for the guerrilla campaign. On the battlefield, he led one of the forces that invaded central Cuba, capturing Santa Clara, the decisive victory of the war against the Batista forces of Cuba. Che's keen ability to organise militarily is one characteristic that would lead many people to follow him. The way in which he supported the fighting that was being done in many countries of the world was also a part of his great following. Guerrilla fighters read his books and essays in which he wrote, "It is important to recognise that guerrilla warfare is a war of the masses, a war of the people. Guerrilla warfare is used by the side which is supported by the majority but which possesses a much smaller number of arms for use in defence against oppression." Che described the guerrilla fighter "as one who shares the longing of the people for liberation and who, once peaceful means are exhausted, initiates the fight and converts himself into the armed vanguard of the fighting people." ...read more.

Middle

By abandoning the opportunity of a career as a doctor and dedicating his life to a global fight against oppression, he became a common man with nothing to else to lose except his life. Che could have stayed in Argentina, had a promising career in medicine, had a traditional family life, and could have lived comfortably without having the need to worry about anything else. Che did choose to do this, however. The idea that consisted of a "war of the masses" was an inspiration for "ordinary" people rise up and fight. He lived and died to be a servant of the people. He did not take advantage of the great power that was bestowed upon him when he became Cuba's Minister of Industry. He called for basic human rights for people who they were being denied to, an idea that many could not argue against. Like his father once said, it was really hard not to admire his sacrifice, empathy, and determination. He was representative of the time. People were giving up their "normal" lives to raise arms to fight. Students in Czechoslovakia, West Berlin, and Mexico, whose only chance to be "successful" was in getting a form of higher education, were risking getting thrown out of their universities to protest about what they thought was wrong. Peasants who had been barely able to survive were now at the forefront of battles in the jungles of Vietnam, Bolivia, and the Congo. Che's image and ideas was something that they could stand by and follow no matter how hard the battle became. It was the search for a leader that prompted them to follow Che. His image and ideas that persisted after his death represented the person Che had been. In his last letter to his children, Che wrote: "Grow up as good revolutionaries. Study hard so that you will have command of the techniques that permit the domination of nature. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, from all the sources I have read, it appears that there are generally more people who praise Che Guevara, than there is that criticises him. I take a quote written by Andrew Sinclair titled 'Guevara' page 90; "For Che's most explosive idea was that the revolution is permanent and that the revolution creates itself. Authority has not sat safe in its seats since that heresy reached the minds of the young." I feel that this is a good way to sum up the impact that Che Guevara had upon the world back then, and even the present day. Che Guevara has inspired many left-wing revolutions, and his ideas and views are still followed today. He can be seen on t-shirts and caps, mugs and jewellery. Che Guevara lives among the younger generations now. Che Guevara believed in something so much, that he decided to live a revolutionary life instead of being a secure middle classed doctor. Che Guevara became an icon for left-wing youths in the 1960's, during this time he was able to write Guerrilla Warfare (1961), and Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War (1968). Che Guevara was killed because he was a threat, he had views that were different to many other peoples, and he followed them, and because of this small threat, a larger world power, the USA found in necessary to exterminate this threat. The question to begin with, was do individuals respond to opportunities, and make a difference. In Che Guevara's case, I would say this is most definitely so. Che Guevara believed in something, he left everything he had to fight for that cause, he took the opportunity, and created more for himself, and in some respect he may have even changed the social side, and ideological side of history. The way that some people look at history now may change; the views especially of the left-wing youths would have changed slightly. Che Guevara was a man who spoke what was on his mind, and fought for what he believed in, someone who definitely seized the opportunity to make a difference. By Ben Eustice 7 1 ...read more.

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