The other day, as I went out for groceries, I wore a shirt with a portrait on it. I was stopped by a few people and asked, “Is that the leader of that country?” I replied that it was not Fidel Castro, knowing that’s who they meant, but Ernesto “Che” Guevara someone who helped Castro gain power. Short and to the point, but it didn’t really explain why I wore it.
I realized people might see me as a Communist supporter and condemn my left wing thinking, bringing up the great tragedies that have come with Communism. Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and the Cold War come to mind. I, however, am not Communist and do not believe that a true Communist state can actually ever be.
No Communist state that has existed or does exist is actually what Marx described. Though Marx wrote about Dialectic Materialism, how societies evolve and that Communism was the final stage of this evolution, it was really just an intellectual exercise. On paper to many people across history and the globe it does, however, seem logical. In my opinion though, it cannot be practiced as outlined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in “The Communist Manifesto.”
If everyone is equal no matter what, the world would be in chaos. People wouldn’t be given incentives to do a good job. As you work hard for your allotment your neighbour might not be, but you will both always receive the exact same. So, why work hard? Why do hard labour or put in long hours if you receive the exact same reward as someone who does not? People like incentives and to be rewarded, in fact many living creatures do. It’s just one of those things that make people work or try harder.
Communism as first laid out is much different than what it developed into. Historically the Soviet Union continually told its people they were moving towards Communism, that it hadn’t actually been achieved in 1917. People were working towards the Utopia of what true Communism would be, but it was never achieved in its 69 years of existence.
One of the people that addressed my shirt mentioned that they were fairly conservative, but that they understood we have a biased opinion on matters if not fully informed. Thus, I would like to explain my reasoning.
Che believed whole heartedly that he was going to help better the lives of people in South America. People across the continent were poor and living in terrible squalor, many are still considered Third World countries. He saw Capitalism as the problem with the world. South America would manufacture items or harvest fruit, but it was large corporations from places such as the United States, not the everyday person in South America, that benefitted.
On top of this many dictators in South America were backed by the United States; thus, the interests of outsiders were usually looked at first. After Che’s death came even more ways for the governments in South America to make money, such as privatizing and selling water rights to big businesses such as Coca Cola. This affected people immensely, especially those in the countryside who had depended on this natural resource that they could no longer use. This would have infuriated him had he been alive.
During his time, Che, toured South America and wanted to help those in need. This included almost everyone. There was great disparity regarding wealth, with a few elite groups overseeing everyone’s needs.
Through his experiences, Che eventually came to believe that Communism and Bolivarianism were the keys to bettering life for people in South America. Communism would make everyone equal, while Bolivarianism would join South America as one. This would be something similar to the European Union, as I understand it.
Therefore, the reason I have and wear this shirt is not because I am a Communist, as you can see I’m rather cynical concerning that ideology. To me, Che symbolizes something other than a Communist Revolutionary. That was part of who he was; but, at his core, he was a humanitarian who fought for his beliefs. I might not agree with certain methods used or certain political views, but I can respect what he was ultimately trying to accomplish: To better the lives of fellow human beings.