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Totalitarian Chic

Following this post and subsequent comments, here are some brief extracts from Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s article on the improbable “social justice” icon, Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

“It is customary for followers of a cult not to know the real life story of their hero, the historical truth. It is not surprising that Guevara’s contemporary followers, his new post-communist admirers, also delude themselves by clinging to a myth - except the young Argentines who have come up with an expression that rhymes perfectly in Spanish: ‘Tengo una remera del Che y no sé por qué,’ or ‘I have a Che T-shirt and I don’t know why.’”

On killing and boredom:

“Guevara might have been enamoured of his own death, but he was much more enamoured of other people’s deaths. In April 1967, speaking from experience, he summed up his homicidal idea of justice in his Message to the Tricontinental: ‘Hatred as 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’... In a letter to his mother in 1954, written in Guatemala, where he witnessed the overthrow of the revolutionary government of Jacobo Arbenz, he wrote: ‘It was all a lot of fun, what with the bombs, speeches, and other distractions to break the monotony I was living in’...”

On vanity economics:

“His stint as head of the National Bank, during which he printed bills signed ‘Che’, has been summarized by his deputy, Ernesto Betancourt: ‘[He] was ignorant of the most elementary economic principles.’ Guevara’s powers of perception regarding the world economy were famously expressed in 1961, at a hemispheric conference in Uruguay, where he predicted a 10 percent rate of growth for Cuba ‘without the slightest fear,’ and, by 1980, a per capita income greater than that of ‘the U.S. today.’ In fact, by 1997, the thirtieth anniversary of his death, Cubans were dieting on a ration of five pounds of rice and one pound of beans per month; four ounces of meat twice a year; four ounces of soybean paste per week; and four eggs per month.”

Carlos Santana, please take note.

Read the whole shebang. Alvaro Vargas Llosa is the author of The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty.   

More. Related. Some true believers. (H/T, Daimnation!)