China: Che Guevara
Istvan Simon writes: I am not an admirer in any way of Che. He was, as far as I am concerned, a low-life adventurer, who met his well deserved fate in the jungles of Bolivia. At one point in his ignominious fight to spread Communism in Latin America through armed conflict, he was counting donkeys in the casualties he had inflicted on the Bolivian military. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that Che exerts some fascination worldwide in some circles, and that his famous portrait is often reproduced on T shirts and the like which are proudly worn by his supporters. Why on Earth they would want to support such a low-life character is a question that I have, but that's besides the point.
A few months ago I found the same portrait displayed in a Nanning restaurant in China. Not being an admirer of Che I found this display offensive, and if it were up to me, this alone would have been enough for me to choose another restaurant. But I was with Chinese friends who liked the food there, and they chose the restaurant on that basis, so I went along. Indeed, the food was OK. I asked my Chinese friends about it, and they pretty much shrugged about it. They could not care less about Che, and did not even notice.
RH:Obviously many people in the world do not dismiss Che as a low-life character. He was indeed concerned about the health of the poor. For the left, he is a revolutionary, while now, as an earlier posting pointed out, his icon is simply meaningless chic. My guess is that Istvan's friends avoided answering his question because they sensed his dislike of Che. However, the fact that his picture is displayed in places like Nanning tells us something about his globalization. Nanning is not far from North Vietnam. I wonder if Che is on display there?
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Ronald Hilton 2004
December 5, 2004