CHE GUEVARA T-SHIRTS and OTHER IDIOCIES (And I really hate Mao T-Shirts)

“[Che Guevara is] not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age.”
—Jean Paul Sartre

And Jean Paul Sartre is not only an existentialist, but clearly prone to misguided exaggeration leading to an attraction for nihilism.

Reading a quote from George Orwell, both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara came to mind. And what comes into my mind is the same feeling I get when I see a T-Shirt with Guevara on it, or the Fidel Castro Reader in a co-op bookstore promoting freedom.

It is a given that the US has been brutal to Cuba since the revolution in 1959—different forms of terrorism, particularly in the early 1960s, from crop poisoning to countless attempted assassinations. Add to that the bitter and endless embargo—in all its hypocrisy when one considers other dicatorships the American regimes so proudly deal with and even help put in power—and Cuba’s survival is all the more remarkable.

By all accounts health care standards and literacy are relatively high, on a remarkably limited budget. And their military support for independence-seeking Angolans against American-supported Apartheid South Africa is little known (but deeply punished).

Nonetheless, I have never understood the infatuation with either Fidel Castro and his ongoing dictatorship (let’s face it, 49 years!), or his former side-kick Che Guevara. All these calendars for Che or T-Shirts for Che are about as ignorant, to me, as believing in Bolshevism or its leader, Lenin. One of Lenin’s first liberating moves was to create a secret police, a prototype for the KGB.

Thank you, Vladimir. Not.

Lenin crushed the independent Soviets, workers unions and anything else related to human beings being free to decide their own journey, as far as possible, in their own way. He believed not in the proletariat—whatever the heck that is—but in the vanguard of the proletariat. In short, a few to rule over the masses, rhetoric notwithstanding.

And wouldn’t you know it, he’s in the Vanguard.

Clearly, in some ways Che was courageous. But courage has nothing to do, necessarily, with something being good or bad. By all accounts Hitler was a brave soldier. And to fight every night as a hockey player takes more ‘courage’ than I have. I’d rather think about things and then write things that probably don’t mean a whole lot to a whole lot.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, I guess there is something Marlboro-man-reckless in a doctor with asthma who smokes big cigars—if you like that sort of thing. But there is with said behaviour a lot of idiocy, too. It’s as stupid as going to a country to create a revolution that isn’t desired. Or claiming to be full of deep love and shooting or ordering the shooting of countless unarmed people.

Then again, what do I know from my desk at 2:32 am, looking for the perfect sentence that will in fact save the world from those Imperial forces, killing so many innocent people all over the world, and whom Che rightly despised (but couldn’t see the utter similarities in Moscow, let alone Mao’s China, staring him right in the face, cruelly—or, of course, his own Cuban dictatorship)?

SMOKIN’

I kind of think people are infatuated with Guevara’s machismo essence, which seems somehow vigilante and sexy probably due to his scruffy good looks. Guevara stands for revolution for the poor, but is it the revolution they—whomever they might be—want? Did Che care about the individual nature of a given oppressed people, or did he just want to bring his Maoist ideations to whomever he chose?

And what if someone like me, say, disagreed with Che and the revolutionary aims, which include getting rid of those who disagree?

Anyway, I was reminded by a George Orwell quote as to why neither Guevara nor Castro appeal to me at all:

One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution in order to establish a dictatorship.

And for the record, why is it that Guantanamo Bay is in Cuba? Is that a side deal?

That’s all, really. Any expansions on my limited knowledge are always welcome. Love to you and yours, and solidarity with maximum creativy, expression, joy and love,

Pete

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5 Responses to “CHE GUEVARA T-SHIRTS and OTHER IDIOCIES (And I really hate Mao T-Shirts)”

  1. Henry Gomez says:

    Great post. One small correction though. Guevara wasn’t courageous. His reputation as a guerrilla warrior is largely a myth that is evidenced by his failures in every other conflict he participated in (Belgian Congo, Bolivia) except for Cuba. And the reason he succeeded in Cuba was because they collected “War taxes” from the landowners and used the money to bribe Cuban officers to allow safe passage on many occasions. The “battle of Santa Clara”, Che’s big accomplishment was barely a skirmish. One other thing. There’s no evidence that Guievara graduated from medical school. Those who knew him in Cuba say he had a cursory medical knowledge like that of a first or second year med student, no more. And certainly no practical experience that is obtained from a and internship and residency program.

  2. JasonG says:

    Pete,

    Great thoughts here.

    Did you know that Steven Soderbergh has completed a two movies about Che?

    Guerrilla: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374569/
    The Argentine: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0892255/

    I’m curious to see his take on him.

  3. [...] I feel the same head shake (but in the opposite direction), as I have written lately, with the legacies of Tiger Beat teen T-shirt pin-up Che Guevara and others amongst certain counter-culture folk. [...]

  4. [...] The term Vanguard was also well-used by Vladimir Lenin, for the record. Lenin believed utterly in the Vanguard of the proletariat—a few people who control the many, who are ‘free’ but need to be controlled due to their stupidity. Is there not a similarity here with the Facebook fellas’ viewpoint? Indeed, laissez-faire actually means laissez-faire for the respective vanguards. [...]

  5. [...] heard—still having so much ’solidarity’ with the Castros in Cuba. I understand that Cuba, and in this way Che Guevara and his t-Shirt, are symbols of anti-imperialist stances (and anti-imperialist stances are vital and just), but [...]

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