Raza Ali Sayeed
We’ve all seen that famous picture at one time or another. Either on television, T-shirts, posters, or anything else you can think of. The face of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara staring into the distance with great fire raging in his eyes is one of the most famous images of 20th century pop culture and has probably done more to keep the cult of Che alive then any biography or documentary could possibly do. But what is it that fascinates people about the iconic Argentine rebel? When you remove all the hype and myth surrounding him, his life story is not as simple as many would want us to believe.
The real Che Guevara was more a complex character than the famous poster permits us to believe. He was not the greatest communist guerrilla leader to have shaken the world in the previous 100 years. Mao Tse Tung and Ho Chi Minh were far more successful insurgents than the dashing Guevara. A great writer he was indeed, but he did not leave any landmark contribution to Marxism in the same manner that Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Mao Tse Tung did. In essence Che Guevara’s legend largely resonates from the romanticsm that in one way or other appeals to all of us. The story of a young lad from Argentina, who was outraged by social injustice, took matters into his own hands and changed the world before dying at a young age. The Byronic story of the tragic hero, part Christ, part James Dean, who belongs to no country yet is a man of the world, is very appealing.