Thursday, October 11, 2007

Che: A Marketing Success Story

Leftists the world over are celebrating the death of Marxist revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara, who died in Bolivia forty-years ago doing what he did best-- overthrowing governments and committing acts of senseless violence. He was a hardline communist, through and through, who dedicated himself to spreading revolution throughout the world; and who fanatically believed that the only way to deal with opposition, in whatever its forms, was to liquidate them. This is why liberals like Paul Berman are dismayed by all the hero worship Che receives. He writes:

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims.
Yet Che still cuts a romantic figure: handsome and brimming with charisma. These days he's treated more like a celebrity, or a rock star, than a political figure. It helps that he's also a marketing darling, his iconic image used to peddle everything from t-shirts to key chains. Communism has been discredited, for the most part, but the cult of Che still thrives.