Soderbergh on Che Guevara's Continuing Relevance: The Butcher of La Cabana's "dream of a classless society, a society that isn't built on the profit motive."

Che director Steven Soderbergh tells Politico why his new four-hour, two-part epic about Ernesto Guevara is relevant in 2008:

"We're certainly seeing the result of what happens when you make profit the point of everything, where money that's being earned doesn't represent any particular product or labor on anybody's part. That can't sustain, because it's magical thinking. It can't go on indefinitely, because eventually it crashes. Che's dream of a classless society, a society that isn't built on the profit motive, is still relevant. The arguments still going on are about his methodology."

More here.

Aye caramba. Yes, the real lesson to be drawn from a man who oversaw summary executions and ran Cuba's economy 20,000 leagues under the sea is that profits and capitalism are evil.

I didn't hate Kelly LeBrock because she was beautiful and I don't hate Steven Soderbergh because he's rich. There's no doubt that American foreign policy toward Cuba and all of Latin America has been disastrous, in large part due to the idiotic drug war that Soderbergh actually managed to valorize in many ways in his awful Traffic (far from critiquing drug prohibition, the movie actually signs off on any number of cliches about substance abuse and the role of the state in policing it; it's an After School Special with sex scenes).

No one can accuse Soderbergh of being a coherent or consistent thinker. In the same interview he (thankfully) argues that the U.S. should lift the embargo against Cuba. Why? To "flood that place with tourists. The people of the U.S. are the best advertisement for its ideals." And tourists, of course, and the people who serve them, never have any profit motive involved, right? Let's check back in when the Castro Brothers are eventually declared dead and the first Starbucks opens in Havanna, and see whether Soderbergh applauds or pouts.

As for the dream of a classless society, I'm not sure what the profit motive has to do with that per se (classes, as Marx would tell you, predate bourgeois society) or precisely how desirable such a thing is (I write as an arriviste whose parents grew up grindingly poor, needless to say). The U.S. has classes, for sure. What is different about this place is that class is not fixed on status or connections. It is not perfect, to be sure, but it's a much more fluid and forgiving place than the hierarchical societies that produced Fidel and Che and it's also a lot less stultifying than the open-air prisons they helped create.

And you've got to ask: Who precisely is still debating Che's methodology, other than, I don't know, Lynndie England and various al Qaeda cells?

More about Soderbergh, who is quickly draining the pleasure out of The Limey and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, here.

Hat tip: Michael C. Moynihan

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  • ||

    Love the fucked up ascii characters in the headline. Love it.

  • Mike M.||

    Serious question: is the famed Che image someone's copyrighted intellectual property, or can I too just slap it on a t-shirt and make money selling it to hipster doofuses?

  • Fluffy||

    The Che threads are fun and all, but aren't you guys treating this as a slightly bigger cultural event than it actually is?

    If Reason wasn't writing about it every three hours I would probably have missed this film entirely.

  • Dear Mr. Soderbergh--||

    More movies like OUT OF SIGHT plz kthx

  • Travis||

    Fluffy,

    I think it has more to do with the number of comments a Che threads get. Last time I checked, one of Che threads from yesterday was up to 488. That's the most I've ever seen on a weekday.

  • Travis||

    *thread gets*

  • ||

    Fluffy, just use these as opportunities to critique other Soderbergh pieces of crap. To wit:

    far from critiquing drug prohibition, the movie actually signs off on any number of cliches about substance abuse and the role of the state in policing it; it's an After School Special with sex scenes

    Topher Grace can't handle drugs in the 90s, but he sure can in the 70's. Oh noes his dad is the drug czar! Wait, Kurtwood Smith is a drug czar?

    who is quickly draining the pleasure out of The Limey and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, here

    Andie McDowell did that all on her own.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Fluffy has a point.

  • ed||

    can I too just slap it on a t-shirt and make money selling it to hipster doofuses?

    Yes you can. Che would like that, if he wasn't dead.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Personally, Gillespie, an article on how Che was killed in an ambush without being able to defend himself just like his victims would be nice though.

  • ||

    Umm, Sex, Lies, and Videotape sucked prodigiously from the git-go, dude.

    The Limey was an excellent movie, and I find it difficult to believe Soderburgh was in any way connected with it.

  • ||

    Personally, Gillespie, an article on how Che was killed in an ambush without being able to defend himself just like his victims would be nice though.

    Shit, I forgot he got gunned down by some Texas and Louisiana lawmen on a country road in Bienville Parish.

  • ||

    Zod directed The Limey. Soderbergh was just on there to hide the fact that Terrence Stamp and Zod are really two people. The original Stamp was so awesome that Zod had to split off because no physical vessel could contain that much raw awesome.

    Prove me wrong. I dare you.

  • ||

    I trust that "Che" will be a free viewing with the production company and Mr. Soderberg eating the cost of making it.

    If not, I say true Friends of the Revolution should protest this movie for it's greed driven distribution!

  • Naga Sadow||

    SugarFree,

    You are correct for it is said that his enemies would go blind from over-exposure to such pure awesomeness!

  • ||

    I like Schizopolis but that's about it...

  • Lefiti||

    Fluffy has a point.

    No he doesn't. He has Asperger's.

  • ||

    Prove me wrong. I dare you.

    Actually, Brainiac took over Soderbergh for The Limey and directed the film according to Zod's orders. Try to get the details right.

  • Lefiti||

    I have a tiny penis. Just like Che!

  • ||

    Epi, come out and play with us here in the real world for a change. Everybody know Brainic is just a fictional character. Retard.

  • ||

    Che's dream of a classless society, not built by the profit motive, is very much relevant today.

    Now where the hell is the waitress with my drink. The private jet is taking off in 20 minutes.

  • ||

    I think it was Mao who had the tiny penis. Che was a tranny, and as such he could kick all of our asses.

  • ed||

    No no, Mao had a vagina, Hitler was a tranny and Che had a dick the size of a radish. It's true 'cause I read it on the Wiki.

  • ||

    Does Che's estate marketing dept get points off this flick?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Soderbergh will get a kick outta my future realm. All will be unequal in my eyes.

  • ||

    Everybody know Brainic is just a fictional character.

    That's what he wants you to think.

    Retard.

    I'm rubber you're glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

  • ||

    Don't you mean Moa?

  • ||

    retard_flux,

    Don't you mean Moa?

    I won't argue the color of skeletons when they were horses.

  • cunnivore||

    The other day I was playing Trivial Pursuit and got a question about how many testicles Hitler had. Seriously.

    The answer? Two.

    Oh, and I got it wrong. Needless to say, I hate Trivial Pursuit.

  • ||

    "In the same interview he (thankfully) argues that the U.S. should lift the embargo against Cuba.Why? To "flood that place with tourists."

    This is as glib as it is stupid. First tourists don't overrun anything. Second, the place is already full of tourists, and nothing has changed.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • Paul from Hamburg||

    Really serious question: What is the plural of "hipster doofus"? I am not sure "hipster doofuses sounds right. "I am thinking "hipster doofi". On the other hand, given that "hipster" is a none, maybe "doofus" is the modifier and therefore the plural is "hipsters doofus". Regardless of the correct answer, I am betting that they don't have discussions of this caliber at NPR.org.

  • Paul from Hamburg||

    Sorry, I meant to say "given that hipster is a noun" in my previous post.

  • ||

    cunnivore,

    Get an updated game. Letters from the field medic who worked on Hitler when he was in World War I have surfaced wherein he reveals that one of Hitler's testicles was missing when he worked on him. Shot or torn away. And that Hitler was a "screamer." (Although probably not the killer robot kind.)

    Yes, it's The Sun, but they are the funniest about it.

  • Peter the Pragmatist||

    Marxists of the right (libertarians) have contempt for Marxists of the left. Both will cook your goose if given half a chance. God preserve us from utopian ideologues!

  • Tantor||

    Che was against profit for the ordinary people, but he was for his own profit. He grabbed the best villa in town from one of those capitalists he detested so much, for example. And there is the case of him seeking to profit from the executions he ordered, 1892 of them, to be exact.

    Che saw the waste of all that blood he was spilling under his office window at La Cabana prison, so he had the condemned men, women, and boys stop on their way to being shot to make an involuntary contribution of blood to Che's private blood bank. They took as much as five pints, requiring many to be carried to their deaths on stretchers. Che sold the blood for fifty bucks a pint. This was at the same time that Che was fulminating in public about the capitalist bloodsuckers.

    Let Steven Soderburgh put THAT in his movie if wants an example of profits extracted from the blood of the ordinary working people.

  • bgates||

    Wow, I didn't realize Che was as bad as Lynndie England. That puts it all in perspective for me. Now instead of thinking of him as a mass murderer, I'll think of him as a guy who took pictures of naked prisoners. Thanks, Reason!

  • ed||

    What is the plural of "hipster doofus"?

    New York City?

  • ||

    Steve Soderbergh said:
    "We're certainly seeing the result of what happens when you make profit the point of everything, where money that's being earned doesn't represent any particular product or labor on anybody's part."

    That is, unless you are a Welfare recipient . . . No, Steve?

  • ||

    I loved The Limey. Not only did it have Zod, but it also had Peter Fonda when he was hitting on all cylinders. . .in this movie and in Ulee's Gold.

  • ||

    Oh SugarFree, never believe anything in the Sun:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2205359/

    End of story? Unfortunately, no. Now comes a reporter from the London tabloid the Sun, one Alex Peake, who in a Nov. 19 issue claims a new document has surfaced, the alleged testament of a priest who took the confession of one Johan Jambor. Jambor, we are told, was a German battlefront medic serving with Hitler during the 1916 battle of the Somme. According to Mr. Peake, Jambor "died aged 94 in 1985, but had told his secret to priest Franciszek Pawlar, who kept a note of their conversation."

    Peake's story goes on:

    Johan's friend Blassius Hanczuch confirmed the priest's account of how the medic saved Hitler's life. He said: "In 1916 they had their hardest fight in the Battle of the Somme.

    "For several hours, Johan and his friends picked up injured soldiers. He remembers Hitler.

    "They called him the 'Screamer.' He was very noisy. Hitler was screaming 'help, help.'

    "His abdomen and legs were all in blood. Hitler was injured in the abdomen and lost one testicle. His first question to the doctor was: 'Will I be able to have children?' "

    Blassius said that when the Nazis swept to power Johan began to suffer nightmares and blame himself for saving Hitler.

    Astonishingly-though Peake neither produced the priest's document nor gave any further evidence of the existence of the supposed corroborating witness, Hanczuch-serious broadsheets such as the Telegraph in the United Kingdom, as well as print and electronic media on both sides of the Atlantic, picked up his story and repeated it as gospel along with sniggering headlines and references to the dirty wartime ditty (sung to the tune of "The Colonel Bogey March") that begins with the line "Hitler has only got one ball. ..."

    It is true that Hitler was wounded during the battle of the Somme. The most reliable recent biographer Ian Kershaw says he was wounded in "the left thigh," not "the abdomen" as the Sun's perhaps mythical medic Jambor has it. And it's not unlikely this injury was the source of the dirty ditty.

    But that's the only nugget, so to speak, of Peake's tale that appears to have any substantiation. I've e-mailed him twice asking where this alleged priestly document may be found and why it couldn't be photocopied. Asked him as well where this alleged corroborating friend Hanczuch might be reached and interviewed. No reply from Mr. Peake so far. The literature about Hitler is littered with hoaxes and urban legends, and so I call on Mr. Peake and the Sun to prove that this is not another one of them, that they haven't been taken in their eagerness.


  • ||

    What is the plural of "hipster doofus"?

    Hipster Doofi

    Doofi Hipsteria

  • ||

    Yes, what's up with this Che fest? I find it annoying that the left and/or the ignorant make him into some sort of vague symbol of vagueness and produce various hagiographies about him, but I don't care so much that I want to read or talk about it much.

  • ||

    so I call on Mr. Peake and the Sun to prove that this is not another one of them, that they haven't been taken in their eagerness.

    Damn you, Sun! Argh!

  • ||

    Too much Sun reading, not enough posting of choice feminist blog comments, SugarFree!

  • ed||

    what's up with this Che fest?

    Back in the olden days, when dial-up ruled and Monica Lewinski was the It Girl, all it took was an Ayn Rand reference to get the natives riled up. But times have changed. We crave something new, something hip, something...Che?

  • ||

    Apparently Ché, the naughty little scamp, preferred a .45ACP because when he was shooting counter-revolutionary elements in the back of the head it made their faces come apart in a more gruesome fashion. He also had something of a predilection for executing teenage farmhands.

  • Peter K.||

    Yes, the real lesson to be drawn from a man who oversaw summary executions and ran Cuba's economy 20,000 leagues under the sea is that profits and capitalism are evil.

    I know, right? The worst thing Che did was nationalize large sections of the economy... not that Bush and his cohorts would be driven to do anything like that....

    (I read that Cheney was telling GOP members yesterday that if they didn't nationalize the auto industry, it was "Hoover time." He'll probably be proven right. Free minds and free markets!)

    What I find funny about Cuba is that Fidel and this little pissant country managed to outlast JFK, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, etc. Hopefully Obama will end the embargo.

  • </||

    SugarFree

    "Second Variety" reference?

  • ||

    Fine, only love one facet of me, not the entire beautiful diorama.

    Fuck You, Burger King

    Less important but still worth noting is the creepy way the commercials link not having had American fast food to not having had sex. By calling them "Whopper Virgins" and saying it's the "Purest taste test" we're implying that these groups of people are less than fully adult. Although the more enlightened among us recognize that virginity isn't the same as youth and inexperience, that's definitely the picture in most Americans' minds. So what does it mean, to tell Americans that we're giving Whoppers to Whopper Virgins? We're deflowering them. We're conquering them. We, as a group, are more experienced than they are at something that matters, that gives us status. This reduces adult human beings to less than adult human beings, and does it in a way that supports colonialist and patriarchal norms of what adulthood means.

  • ||

    #,

    I told you I came to play! [rips off jersey and spits Gatorade at a cameraman]

  • Turtles||

    "What I find funny about Cuba is that Fidel and this little pissant country managed to outlast JFK, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, etc."

    Might have something to do with free elections, and 2-term limits (unless you're a Democrat of course).

  • alan||

    (far from critiquing drug prohibition, the movie actually signs off on any number of cliches about substance abuse and the role of the state in policing it; it's an After School Special with sex scenes).

    If there is one thing I learned from that movie is crack cocaine will make your daughters have sex with scary black guys to obtain it. Also, you should know, weed will make your daughters sleep with mellow Chicanos to get the good stuff. Thank you Drug Prohibition for what you have done for my sex life over these many years. I could not have never got such first class tail without you.

  • ||

    Never fails to hit the spot, SugarFree. Feeling contented I can return to reading 6 year old patent applications that my former colleagues are still arguing over.

  • ||

    First, it's "ay caramba", not "aye".

    Second, the 20,000 leagues in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a distance traveled, not a depth. A league is about three miles, so twenty thousand leagues is approximately 60,000 miles. There are no oceans on Earth that are 60,000 miles deep; the entire planet is only 8000 miles in diameter.

    The deepest part of the Earth's oceans is the Mariana Trench, with a depth of 6.77 miles -- a little over two leagues.

  • alan||

    What I find funny about Cuba is that Fidel and this little pissant country managed to outlast JFK, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, etc. Hopefully Obama will end the embargo.

    Well, given the guy shits himself at least twice a day now, what Obama faces in Fidel is hardly the challenge of previous presidents.

  • Mad Max||

    dbcooper,

    That's not the only error the *Sun* seems to have made.

    The linked article in the *Sun* says:

    "The lyrics [to the famous British Hitler song] are: "Hitler has only got one ball, the other is in the Albert Hall. His mother, the dirty b****r, cut it off when he was small.'"

    The *Sun* is wrong. I should know - I learned the canonical lyrics from my father, and Englishman who lived through the Blitz:

    Hitler has only got one ball
    Goering has two, but very small
    Himmler has something sim'lar
    And poor old Goebbels [pronounced "go-balls"] at all

  • Mad Max||

    has no balls at all

  • ||

    Feeling contented I can return to reading 6 year old patent applications that my former colleagues are still arguing over.

    Ew. Dr. 'Free thinks you need more. From Feministing retarded cousin, Jezebel, the hard-hitting journalism of The Final Frontier: Can A Woman Ever Wink?

  • ||

    Mad Max

    That's the version i learned too. i was going to post it but your beat me.

    "And poor old Goebbels [pronounced "go-balls"] has no balls at all"

  • ||

    Dang you even beat me to the correction.

  • alan||

    Peter the Pragmatist | December 12, 2008, 2:40pm | #
    Marxists of the right (libertarians) have contempt for Marxists of the left. Both will cook your goose if given half a chance. God preserve us from utopian ideologues!


    I have been browsing this board for a few years now, and I have to say, this statement goes into the record for being the stupidest, most uninformed remark that I have come across yet, and you bup have had plenty of competition of late with all these Ché drawing Marxist here like mayflies.

  • ||

    Hitler has only got one ball
    Goering has two, but very small
    Himmler has something sim'lar
    And poor old Goebbels [pronounced "go-balls"] has no balls at all


    That was the same version we sung as kids. My parents sung it at school and my Grandfather sung it during WWII. "Wily sons of Tojo" were the stereotype he was more concerned with though.

    Never trust the Sun!

  • alan||

    errr

    competition of late with all these Ché drawing Marxist here like mayflies.

    competition of late with all these Ché drawing Marxist posts here like mayflies.

    BTW, it makes me wonder if the editors are planning a special Myth of Ché addition of the monthly mag. If so, I'll definitely grab more than a few copies to spread around.

  • alan||

    alan | December 12, 2008, 3:32pm | #
    Peter the Pragmatist | December 12, 2008, 2:40pm | #
    Marxists of the right (libertarians) have contempt for Marxists of the left. Both will cook your goose if given half a chance. God preserve us from utopian ideologues!


    What really irritates me about this sort of thinking is its oblivious obtuseness. It is the fucking centrist, the so called pragmatist, who are at the heart of the financial crises. Greenspan was once part of Rand's inner circle; whoopdeshit, he clearly forgot everything he learned when he became Wall Street's Golden Calf.

  • ed||

    First, it's "ay caramba", not "aye"

    I thought it was "ai caramba". Did Miss Mercedes from Cuba (via Spain) steer me wrong?

  • ||

    I thought it was "ai caramba". Did Miss Mercedes from Cuba (via Spain) steer me wrong?

    I would say she did, because it IS "Ay, caramba!", not "ai, caramba!". By the way, I have heard very few Spanish-speaking individuals say "Ay, caramba!". Normally, most of us say either "Co~o!" [I cannot write the N with tilde] which means vagina, or "Joder!" (screw, in a sexual way), or my favorite from Mexico "Chingada madre!" (Screwed mother)

  • mojorisen||

    Beezard | December 12, 2008, 1:58pm | #
    I think it was Mao who had the tiny penis. Che was a tranny, and as such he could kick all of our asses.


    Not me. I would have smashed his grungy face into the floor just before giving him a hair'em scare'm with a vengeance I have never given it before. He is damn lucky the Bolivians got a hold of him before I could.

  • ||

    Yo, Pat. Marianas Trench.

  • Peter K.||

    Well, given the guy shits himself at least twice a day now, what Obama faces in Fidel is hardly the challenge of previous presidents.

    Bush could have ended the embargo and Cuba would have become just another capitalist paradise like Mexico, or that giant brothel that was once the Warsaw pact. Rockin' in the Free World!

  • Anthony||

    In "The Lost City" Che is played as both a comic and an evil character.

  • Franklin Harris||

    No one can accuse Soderbergh of being a coherent or consistent thinker.



    Or even being a coherent filmmaker.

  • TallDave||

    "We're certainly seeing the result of what happens when you make profit the point of everything, where money that's being earned doesn't represent any particular product or labor on anybody's part. That can't sustain, because it's magical thinking."

    How the hell does Soderberg think he gets paid?

    Apparently blacklisting has come full circle: now you have to be a Communist to make movies.

  • ||

    "Bush could have ended the embargo and Cuba would have become just another capitalist paradise like Mexico"



    I'm sure Cuba was a paradise prior to 1996 when the rest of the planet could trade there with impunity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba

  • Glub||

    The author is giving in to socialist arguments. America is not a classless society. It's Ironic that only Americans who have grown up with America's vast wealth and freedom could be spoiled enough to claim America is a "classed" society. Few people in America can fathom what social classes really are. In primitive classed societies, you could have your head chopped off just for not tipping your hat off to the "nobles". You could be tortured for wearing certain kinds of "royal" clothes. Tons of restrictions were in place by brutally ENFORCED LAWS that favored an ACTUAL "upper class" whose ONLY distinguishing characteristic was that they were sired by the previous generations upper class.

    ALMOST NOTHING like that exists in America. Whatever you want/need can be bought or is deliberately allowed under law to ALL people. You all remember that there is a 14th amendment right? It's only a question if you can afford it. And the only things that are hard to afford (housing, fuel, medical care) are only hard to afford because of GOVERNMENT POLICY that STRAYS from the American ideal, with said policies being put in place by the very same socialist assholes who complain about America's supposed "class" society! It's a win-win for the socialists! Cause our problems with socialist policies, then blame them on capitalism.

    And the author's other article that he links to also has an uber-stupid utterance. People's generally "positive" experience with illegal drugs? Look, drug policy may be stupid, but that doesn't mean you have to be stupid back. Drugs like marijuana, cocaine, meth, etc. are bad for you and will mess up your life if you do them to any appreciable extent. Granted marijuana is much less bad than the others, but it still makes you lazy and forgetful. And yes, booze IS different - booze is actually food. Yeah there are a lot of alcoholics, but the point of wine is to be awesome with steak and the point of beer is to be awesome with a pretzel. Not to mention booze is an ancient part of all cultures, so it does hold a different place when considering drug policy and morality (i.e. even if your policy is no prohibition of anything, booze should be considered differently when deciding what YOU'RE willing to do/what a person ought to do/not do)

  • ||

    With its advanced weaponry and technology modern warfare is ALMOST NOTHING like primitive warfare. So how you can even call it war?...right glub?

    and this may be the funniest thing i've read in awhile:
    "the point of wine is to be awesome with steak and the point of beer is to be awesome with a pretzel."

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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