Greenfield: The Tyranny of Che

unnamed-13Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty is less of a study of the life of the Communist killer than a look at how his totalitarian legacy poisons Latin America today. Totalitarianism in Latin America is the real theme of The Che Guevara Myth. The myth is less about Che the individual than the idea that violent terror can bring reform rather than further cycles of brutal oppression.

As Alvaro Vargas Llosa points out, “Che Guevara had a lot more in common with the men and systems he fought than would seem conceivable.” The same was true of Fidel Castro, the son of a plantation owner who received a wedding gift from Batista or Vladimir Lenin, the son of a nobleman.

Revolutionaries are less likely to be the oppressed than the aspiring oppressors, with just enough access to power to make them want more without offering them enough mobility to climb to the top through the system. It isn’t the poor starving peasant who runs revolutions, but the itinerant son of a wealthy family with too much education and too little need to work who puts on the beret and plays with guns…

All this is true, but note that Che Guervara Lynch has become a T-shirt poster and poster icon partly for the simple reason that he was photogenic.