RevolutionaryLeft.Com is an online forum, modestly described as being “one of the world’s largest leftist forum communities where over 4,000 leftists from around the world come to discuss politics, history, political theory, philosophy, music, literature, films and much more in over 500,000 posted discussions!” Actually, as of August 12, 2006, the forum has over 8,000 registered members.
But what the fuck is it? Established in July 2001 by some German bloke called ‘Malte’, the site’s logo contains three images: the first, a hammer and sickle; the second, an antifa flag; and the third, a circle A. The forum itself is sponsored by another site: Che-Lives.Com, an online shrine to the long-dead authoritarian Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara; while Che-Lives is in turn sponsored by another site: theCHEstore.com…
theCHEstore.com sells “the largest selection of Che Guevara short sleeve and long sleeve shirts, tank tops, club shirts, and hoodies for men, women, and children”; Che Guevara headwear — “baseball caps, trucker hats, beanies and toques, bucket hats, bandanas, and the famous Cuban-style berets with embroidered or metal star, just like the one [eeek!] Che Guevara used to wear”; Che Guevara lighters, key chains, pins, wall clocks, Cuban stamps, shooter glasses, postcards, wallets, textile posters, courier/messenger bags and much, more more. (Or less… depending on your political perspective.)
Why would a business dedicated to making money from a dead icon’s face sponsor a site dedicated to perpetuating his myth? A site that then, in turn, sponsors a forum which deliberately confuses anarchism with authoritarian rule and the perpetuation of personality cults?
…with Castro’s rise to power in 1959[, a] great many anarchists, especially in Europe, were so desperate to see positive social change that they saw it where there was none — in Cuba, thanks in part to a skilled disinformation campaign by Castro’s propaganda apparatus. Despite suppression of civil liberties, the prohibition of independent political activity, the government take-over of the unions, the militarization of the economy, the gradual impoverishment of the country (despite massive Soviet economic aid), the reemergence of a class system, the institution of a network of political spies in every neighborhood (the so-called Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), and the government-fostered personality cults which grew up around Fidel Castro and Ernesto (“Che”) Guevara, large and important sections of the world’s anarchist movement supported Castro until well into the 1970s.
That situation began to change in 1976 with publication of the respected American anarchist Sam Dolgoff’s The Cuban Revolution: A Critical Perspective. But even today some anarchists continue to be hoodwinked by the Castro regime’s “revolutionary” rhetoric and the veneer of social welfare measures with which it covers its ruthless determination to cling to power at any price.
Che is long dead.
I don’t care too much about the Marxists and the Mao avatars and the Google Ads related to Che Guevera – what shits me is seeing anarchists there.
‘Yay, we’ve developed a subculture that actually directly fuels the one we’re fighting against! But at least my bobby pins and patches look cool!’
It astonishes me that supposed anti-capitalists would engage in keeping this marketing venture alive.
But then, I’ve been reading too much of ‘Rebel Sell’.
You mean The Rebel Sell (The Rebel Sell: How the Counterculture Became Consumer Culture by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, Capstone, 2005)?
Sounds v interestink — eerily similar to what Thomas Frank and the mob from The Baffler have been doink in the 80s/90s (Commodifying Dissent, 1997, collects a number of essay from the journal) … which in turn is picking up on various radical critiques of ‘revolutionary’ consumer culture that have been circulating since the 1950s (if not before); a la, the misbehaving students @ the Frankfurt School, the Situs, the pro-Situs, et al.
As an aside, Dave A has written an interestink article on muzak and rebellion :
‘Dissonance and Mutations’
Colloquy, Issue 8
Dave Eden, Australian National University
“Could there be a more telling example than that of The (International) Noise Conspiracy, a self-proclaimed revolutionary rock band steeped in Situationist rhetoric, dancing on music programs in über-stylish clothes singing “Everything is up for sale”? Is it the ultimate subversion: the repositioning of dominant structures of the culture industry, turning them into opposition voices? Or, is it the ultimate recuperation, the transformation of the expression of alienation and revolt into niche commodities for expanding youth markets: the conversion of dissent into a spectacle of harmless dissent? Counter-culture (especially that based around “youth”) is now a fundamental part of the life of global cyber-industrial civilisation. Often critiqued as a pastime for middle-class children in Western nations, anecdotal evidence suggests people all over the world participate in counter-culture on deep personal levels. Despite the conception that counter-culture is a diversion for bored suburban youth of the Global North, places like Malaysia have as large “metal” scenes as Australia.”
I hate Ms. Tori Spelling Misteaks and Errors Grammatically.
I dare you.