Friday, October 26, 2007

Progressives Can Red-Bait with the Best of Them

(((CampusProgress, Che Guevara, Socialism, Progressivism, Red-Baiting, Cultural Heroes and Icons)))

I'm not sure why we should reduce Che to his failures any more than we should reduce him to Guerrilla Warfare, but the thing that really struck me in all this was Ms. Steiger's final paragraph: apparently, she agrees that socialism (which I presume she also equates with the unflattering portait of Che she paints?) has been "discredited," but we can still work "to make life better for the working man [sic]."

It's really disappointing that her assault on what she deems a naive ideological oversimplification of Che takes fuel from and feeds into such a simplistic caricature of socialism and its history, both after the Cold War and before that. And to suggest in such a peremptory way that the dismantling of the Soviet empire somehow "proved" anything at all about socialism or communism is way more tendentious than anyone wants to admit, because the truth is that the US is still deeply anti-communist, so much so that it is necessary to discredit Che Guevara and distance progressives from him and from socialism in general, preferably all at once. Like in this article.

What's so distressing is that this political maneuver is put forth as an exercise in demythologization. Maybe it's time to demythologize "progressivism." I'd try if I knew what it was. Reading this sort of thing makes me think it's like Adam Smith or Peter Drucker's version of capitalism. Which would have been "progressive" in the 18th Century or so.

This sort of "exposé" seems to suggest that we can only admire or respect perfect people. And it always makes me wonder if we really want any heroes at all.

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