Category Archives: Guevara, Ernest ‘Che’

Kitsch radicalism

‘The photo that adorns a thousand tea-towels, watch faces, boxes of fudge, covers of exercise books, and other products of radical kitsch. Che started as a murderer and ended as Mickey Mouse.’

Fraudulence and adolescent vacuity

Malodorous mass murderer

Effrontery, writes Dalrymple,

has made strides as a key to success in life. Ordinary people employ it routinely. There are consultants in effrontery training who not only commit it but teach others how to commit it, and charge large sums.

There was a time when

self-praise was regarded as no praise, rather the reverse; now it is a prerequisite for advancement.

The consultants in effrontery, Dalrymple notes, speak in pure cliché, practically contentless, but with a force of conviction that, if you discounted what they say, you might think they were people

of profound insight with a vocation for imparting it to others.

When he catches glimpses of US television evangelists, Dalrymple is full of wonder as to how

anyone could look at or listen to them without immediately perceiving their fraudulence.

The fraudulence is so obvious that it is like

a physical characteristic, such as height or weight or colour of hair, or an emanation,

like body malodour, such as that of Che Guevara. How, asks Dalrymple,

could people fail to perceive it?

Call this a mass execution? Don’t make me laugh

The London newspaper the Guardian, which Dalrymple points out is

the left-liberal mouthpiece of the pensée unique,

recently ran the headline ‘The Arkansas mass executions on Easter Monday must be stopped.’ Dalrymple comments:

The emotive words ‘mass execution’ conjure up in my mind considerably more than the eight executions the state planned to perform over the course of 11 days, two of which, as far as I am aware, had been carried out at the time the headline appeared. Che Guevara would have laughed at the idea that a mere eight people put to death, let alone two, constituted a mass execution. He would have taken the use of the word as further proof of the decadence of late capitalist society and its ripeness for overthrow.

Fidel’s fantasy of making the world anew — violently

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Fidel Castro, writes Dalrymple,

was the José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia de nos jours. Yet Francia had one great merit by comparison with Castro and his admirers: he made no pretence that the régime represented democracy of a higher or better kind than the parliamentary variety. Francia did not pretend that it was a democracy of any kind, and came right out with it: his self-chosen title was Dictator.

Castro was the darling of the intellectuals

partly because, like them, he was so slovenly in appearance, partly because he represented their wish fulfilment (inside every rebel there’s a dictator trying to get out). To rant for hours in front of a captive audience unable to answer or object: what greater bliss for an intellectual?

Admiration for Castro in the West was, of course, from afar. Dalrymple points out that Castro’s admirers

would not have found the régime they affected to admire supportable for a single day.

The admiration in the West

for Castro and his appalling sidekick and potential rival, Ernesto Guevara, was essentially frivolous, more a question of style than of substance. It was the promise of eternal adolescence that the two revolutionary egotists held out that rendered them so attractive at a time when adolescence was regarded as the finest of the seven ages of man.

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Dalrymple notes that

if the photographer Alberto Korda had not snapped Guevara in an uncharacteristically romantic pose (usually he looked dishevelled and unwashed), the cult would not have existed. This was the face that launched a thousand T-shirts, not to say berets, badges, posters, coffee mugs, car stickers, and other items of kitsch.

Dictador Dalrymple would force

anyone guilty of wearing a Guevara T-shirt to read 20 pages of his writings, which make those of Leonid Brezhnev seem like P.G. Wodehouse.

When Dalrymple contemplates

the printed acreage of praise of Castro by Western intellectuals, I recall the words of Thomas Carlyle with regard to what he calls the gauchos of Paraguay:

These men are fit to be drilled into something! Their lives stand there like empty capacious bottles, calling to the heavens and the earth. ‘Is there nothing to put into us, then?’

Dalrymple:

Yes, there is: fantasies of omnipotence, fantasies of making the world anew, with us in charge.

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Revolutionary egotists