Sunday, January 30, 2005


wsf 4: forum vogue

I've always had a good dose of scorn for those who wear Che Guevara t-shirts. Fidel Castro is rather a more important figure in Latin American communism, but do you seeing anyone wearing his gnarly face on their baseball cap, boxer shorts, or baby-tee? (Well, I did see a Fidel t-shirt on sale for the first time here, but no one was buying.) No, you don't. People don't like Che for any real ideological reason. They like him because he's hot. They like him because he wrote The Motorcycle Diaries. He's Karl Marx and Jack Kerouac and James Dean all in one. Needless to say, there's a lot of Che here: his mug stares out off of keychains, paintings, mugs themselves, and the t-shirt of every third dredlocked 17-year-old. I even saw a guy with a Che tattoo on his chest. This is communist vogue, nothing more.

I have a feeling a good number of the Forum's young people come for style more than politics. It's hip to be communist, or anarchist. It's hip to hate the US.

Blogzilla, I love your writing, and I am even getting over my queasiness at your proud new neoconfidence because I suspect we share similarly moderated sentiments on Iraq (and maybe capitalism, God forbid), but this post is not doing it for me. Complaints about Che fashion are just about as abundant as Che fashion itself. Yeah, so having a portrait of the former Cuban Minister of Industry between your tits is as rhetorically opportunistic as Nike's cryptoactivist advertising or that weird "Alternative Music" category that Columbia House and BMG used to have in the early-1990s; so what? So many people are semiotic retards, not just lefties: think of how many "Support the troops" magnets you see proudly displayed on the back of 13-mpg Ford Excursions.

The reason I am picking on you so much for this posting is because it is representative of the derisive tone you take in describing your conversion from uninformed antiwar activist to wiser-than-thou left-center center-war war-right neoneoconcon. You exaggerate your differences with some fictitious monolithic "left," which creates a heroic oppositional narrative that casts you as the sole figure of righteousness holding forth against a sea of radical idiocy, but doesn't really describe the cautious pro-democracy realism/anti-torture/pro-transperancy left that I see. You pick on details (Che, consensus) but perhaps you misapprehend the position of the people who protest against expensive and undermanned wars.

I'm the left. And I agree with you more than you think. So either narrow your definition of "left" to describe only those few "Bring the troops home right now! Fuck their civil war!" people you may know, or quit being so damn smug about what you presume the people who gave you a good time and a girlfriend believe.

Sorry for the spanking. Spank back.
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