So, Anaximenes will just have to keep pointing out the obvious.
Let's take the remarkable capitalistic enterprise of elevating a brutal, Marxist war monger, Che Guevara, to an icon that has become its own industry, filling the shelves of retail outlets and merchandised practically everywhere. Does anyone besides me see the irony of a communist insurrectionist contributing to the net operating income and investor returns to such mainstream clothing outlets like Burlington Coat Factory? At least Target had the good sense to pull all Che Guevara logo merchandise from its stores before Christmas last year, but only after considerable protests from Cuban exiles living in this country who fled for their lives from Che's communist government. Of course, you'll remember Target also distinguished themselves before the 2005 Christmas retailing season by banning the Salvation Army from their establishments.
You've seen the Che Guevara logo, of course. It is as instantly identifiable as the McDonald's Golden Arches and Kellogg's Tony the Tiger. It was derived from a now-famous photograph taken by Alberto Korda in 1960 that, once plastered on t-shirts, backpacks and headwear, has been omnipresent at anti-American rallies around the globe ever since. Closer to home, it is now being sported by iPod-wearing teenagers and dissident college students of aging hippie parents who somehow think this is a cool, trendy icon representing a message of rebellion from the establishment. Little do these cretins know that if they ran into Che himself, he would fucking kill them as wealthy, class-oppressing, elitist Bourgeois of a capitalist, imperialist government. Che Guevara was a dedicated Marxist. He believed in communism and that the ends justified the means, including anarchy, murder and terror.
To think that his likeness has since become the object of a western money-making enterprise is nothing short of hilarious. College kids from upscale neighborhoods wear his likeness believing it is somehow cool and chic, or that revolution is a neat idea, and are too fucking stupid to realize that the cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an installment in the moral heartlessness of our time.
Che was not only a Marxist and a communist, he was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but left a wake of death and destruction. He presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination. He spoke about martyrdom and managed to write about his personal totalitarian philosophy: "Hatred is an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become...."
Thankfully, he was killed in Bolivia in 1967 at age 39, leading a guerrilla movement that had failed to enlist a single Bolivian peasant. And yet he succeeded in inspiring tens of thousands of middle class Latin-Americans to exit the universities and organize guerrilla insurgencies of their own. And these insurgencies likewise accomplished nothing, except to bring about the death of hundreds of thousands, and to set back the cause of Latin-American democracy—a tragedy on the hugest scale.
The present-day cult of Che Guevara - the t-shirts, posters, iPod carrying cases, belt buckles, lighters and watches - has succeeded in obscuring the appalling reality of this mass murderer.
Now, to be fair, the industry that makes this crap for stupid American teenagers and dissident college students, marketing all the Che Guevara junk under the tag line "For all your revolutionary needs," isn't any more interested in spreading a message of revolution and anti-capitalism than it is in correcting its own atrocious behavior of canonizing a brutal murderer for profit to begin with. After all, they're just trying to make a buck, playing on the insensitivity and stupidity of the rebellious American youth market.
But I wonder why they stopped at Che Guevara? After all, before we all started seeing him on t-shirts and backpacks, Che was really a fairly obscure and diminutive figure in a long line of brutal military fascist and communist leaders the world has come to know and hate. Why stop with Che Guevara t-shirts and iPod carrying cases?
How about some of these neat ideas to further capture market share among the stupid, insensitive American youth, while capitalizing on icon likenesses to which no royalties would ever be owed?
The metamorphosis of Che Guevara from a jungle revolutionary into a capitalist brand is both funny and sad. It is funny that it comes years after the political and ideological collapse of all that Guevara represented. But it is sad because it seems customary for followers of a cult not to know the real life story of their hero and the historical truth of his accomplishments.
But perhaps there are glimmers of intelligence and truth. Certainly not from the United States, but from young Argentines who have come up with an expression that rhymes perfectly in Spanish: “Tengo una remera del Che y no sé por qué.”
It means: “I have a Che T-shirt and I don’t know why.”
(The Rants of Anaximenes)