Thursday, September 10, 2009

Che

Trevor had a post on Che a while back in which he mentions both my distaste for the guy and the lack of reasons on my blog. I've wanted to write a post but have been held back partly because, like Trevor, I don't know much about him and partly because I want to place how we think about someone like Che in a broader moral framework. Addressing both smacks of effort and while posting a half-assed blog post isn't a big deal, an ignorant post on a topic that people feel passionate about is a great way to make a really bad impression. But whatever, half-assed post it is.

I don't like Che because
  • he's a symbol (the quintessential symbol) of stuff I don't like. Socialism, Marxism, communism, violent revolution, anti-capitalism etc.
  • the way he is celebrated (that bloody photo everywhere) really aggravates me. That shirt is one of the crassest, most commercial things out there. The people who wear them usually don't know much about him. Anti-capitalism is just one of the products they love which capitalism provides.
  • he had people executed without any real kind of process. Given the gripes about the Bush administration this should count as a pretty bad black mark.
  • he was instrumental in bringing nuclear missiles to Cuba.

Even assuming the wikipedia article is biased I was a little surprised by how well he came across. I don't think he's this bad guy of historic proportions.

One of my concerns is one that I did try to get at in a previous post. If you think you're justified using violence to fight what oppression, on what grounds do you oppose the use of violence by other people who perceive oppression very differently to you?

It's a similar issue to the people who will cite free speech when defending their right to say extreme things but then suggest that Salman Rushdie should be killed because of what he said.

And while I agree with Trevor about not being so ready to divide the world up into good and bad (when it comes to this kind of history, I tend to think everyone is pretty bad), I do think this can be a tool that works a little in the direction of where our instincts point us in the first place. For example, my impression is that Trevor is very willing to categorise George Bush as being one of the very bad guys.

1 comment:

Trevor Black said...

were ;-)