The Fate of Dictators and Revolutionaries


Is this the fate that befalls all dead dictators and revolutionaries ? – to become a fashion statement – to have their image emblazoned on T shirts and worn the world over by teenagers who probably have little or idea of whose face they are wearing.

Ernest Che Guevara – aka – El Che, he was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, a physician, an author, a guerrilla leader and  major figure of the Cuban Revolution. To quote one well known website ; « his stylized visage has become an ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture. » I guess that means his face is on a lot of T shirts and posters.

A « ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion » – long time back, only leftward-leaning, politically aware students would have worn a Che T shirt, then a few years ago, teenagers everywhere were wearing them – It left me wondering who was picking up the royalties ? Wich enterprising soul had bought the rights ? Or quite simply had Mr Guevara’s iconic béret-coiffed and rugged bearded countenance fallen into the public domain ?

There was also a craze for Mao T shirts, a while before Mr Guevara’s face became a popular T shirt design, kids were wearing he who inspired the Cultural Revolution as – well I suppose it was a fashion statement.

Of course no one in their right mind would walk about wearing an Adolf Hitler T shirt. Why wear Mao Zedong ? – Numerically he might not have wiped out so many people as Hitler and his Nazi régime, but there were still an estimated 2.95 million people who died during the Cultural Revolution.

If I follow my logic to its conclusion, walking round with Ché across your chest is okay because he is on record as only having executed 300 people.

So here I am, trawling the Internet, looking for fashion statements of defunct dictators who have been responsible for the deaths of millions.

One website offers up some « cool » Stalin tees for as little as 23€. I continue my browse and, hey ! Pol Pot T shirts and fridge magnets. They’re going to make good Christmas presents.


Now that Castro is no more, is this how he will finally be remembered ? A cigar smoking face on a tee ? – I’ve just come across one website offering up to 50 different Castro tees.

So it’s « cool » to have a revolutionary emblazoned across your chest – The Che, Lenin, Trotsky or Marx, you can even have a dictator like Mao, Pol Pot or Castro – why then aren’t youngsters walking down the street wearing Hitler or Pinochet or Mussolini ? Guess these guys just aren’t as fashionable.


Personally, I’ve never worn a T shirt to make a political statement, and you get to that age (my age) where you should never wear tees with logos – the plainer the better – which of course will never stop me, depsite advancing years and an advancing waistline, wearing my old Rock and Roll T shirts arund the house, much to the amusement of my family who just say I look ridiculous – well ridicule never killed anyone