Phony Revolutionaries and “Expert” Advice

I once had an argument at a bar in a college town with a young man in a red shirt featuring the likeness of Che Guevara.  He had a patchy beard that melded into a messy length of hair and had asked me to donate some funds to his political party which, oddly enough, had no basis in Marxism.  I refused, so he urged me to listen to him explain his dogma in the hopes that it might change my mind.  Had we both been entirely sober, perhaps I could have easily escaped the conversation with some clever excuse but that was not to be the case.  He explained to me that anarchy through peaceable actions and persistence was the answer to all of society’s problems.  However, I failed to listen to the details because it occurred to me that Che Guevara was a violent revolutionary that championed communism in Latin America.  I must have asked him six times, “Then why do you wear that shirt?”

I was legitimately curious too.  However, the scruffy young man always seem to be able to dodge the question.  He would always respond to my question with a question, but I stayed focused.  I have had intellectual debates with homeless people so drunk that they couldn’t even undo their pants before going to the bathroom in front of me, so talking to this guy should have been a walk in the park.  But it wasn’t.  He loudly declared the benefits of green-living, the evils of eating meat and hinted at the benefits of polygamy before condemning our consumer economy.  He said quite a bit and, some of it, I agreed with but he was ranting and so weirdly accusatory that it was difficult to even attempt to refute or approve much of anything.

By my fifth drink, I got really tired of hearing his voice.

He had begun to contradict himself pretty badly and was coming around to explaining why I should support the green party while also abandoning government entirely to live on a commune, for the second time, when I finally stopped him.  I touched his arm and used the sort of long slow speech normally reserved for hyperactive children, “Why do you like Che Guevara?”

There was a pause.  There was a look of disgust.  There was an answer.  “Because he’s everything I believe in, man.  I’m a revolutionary.”

My mouth began a sprinter’s marathon of exasperated and confused sounds.  It is probably a pretty safe assumption that Che Guevara would be sincerely opposed to people buying mass produced shirts with his image on them, especially since he hated capitalism.  I passed that onto him but, when I prompted the self-proclaimed revolutionary with more questions, I was met with a wall of name calling and was told to wait for my paycheck.  I’m not going to reveal my own political leanings or attempt to sway yours but I would like to insist that adopting a persona isn’t the same thing as being an activist of anything.  I may even go so far as to suggest researching something before supporting it or claiming it as part of your identity.  Growing a beard and wearing a shirt doesn’t make you a revolutionary.

However people will still falsely claim to be patriots, activists and experts until after the sun burns out.  There are a lot of self-titled experts out there and most of them are well paid to give you very specific advice.  Why else would anyone ever recommend brand name products?  A real expert would say, “Just buy the brand that works the best and saves you the most money.  What are you, daft?”  That’s a fancy way for making an inquiry on your level of stupidity, which would be substantial  if we didn’t all fall for the same sort of traps.  Everyone wants the best stuff and how else can we know which things fall into that category without the experts letting us know?

I once made the expert claim that anyone could claim to be an expert.  I could write a book called The Chocolate Touch: The White Man’s Guide to Being a Successful Black Man, and it would be exactly as ignorant, awful and useless as you might imagine.  But, if I were an “expert” on the subject, it would be praised as provocative and controversially insightful.  Don’t be fooled, nobody has the market cornered on any single subject.  We are all just varying degrees of lost and found.  Hopefully, we can keep our own eyes open and recognize good advice and knowledge, wherever it might originate from.

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32 Responses to Phony Revolutionaries and “Expert” Advice

  1. sarahsfate says:

    Love this. I also love confused people…they always get me to thinking about the realities of life and how difficult it is to substantiate anything but what you feel in your soul. And even that is questionable.

  2. hey posky. this was fun as only u can brew. what i did get lumped up over though was that last bit about varying degrees of lost and found. although it is true, it implies that it would b just as fine to have a hair dresser doing heart surgery on me or v.v. I’d rather “hang” w the “found” depending especially which topic was up. keep on mr. anarchy!

  3. rtcrita says:

    My dad use to refer to some people as “educated fools.” I always liked that term. I suppose “uneducated fools” are just plain old “fools” or stupid people.

    I watch out for people like you are describing here, because it’s easy to see quick enough that these are not the kind of people that are worth debating or arguing with for they will never open their minds up to try and see something in a different way, yet expect everyone else to do so.

    Oh, and, also, never argue with drunks! :)

  4. “Growing a beard and wearing a shirt doesn’t make you a revolutionary” You are so correct. A girl friend who was at Woodstock really flipped when I told her wearing funny colorful clothing, being drunk and high, or running around naked screwing everyone would not help end the Vietnam War. My jaw is still sore. I had a Che T-shirt, but I never understood people’s enchantment and making him such a icon. He was Castro’s main man and murdered a lot of people.

    • ian says:

      while i would never defend his methods of violence, che was more than simply castro’s goon.

    • Posky says:

      I don’t get it either. It makes me sad how much of what people do is an empty gesture or an excuse to do something unrelated.

      I’m sorry about your face, Carl.

  5. “We are all just varying degrees of lost and found”….I think I just found my next bumper sticker.
    Well done post as usual!

  6. Awesome post. And kudos to you for calling out hypocrisy.

    I dig “Shave Guevara.” It’s almost as great as that picture of Che wearing a Bart Simpson shirt. Have you considered opening a merch store?

  7. Dr. Cynicism says:

    You perfectly addressed one of the few (okay, maybe many) types of people that I utterly can’t stand. Those that hold such staunch opinions and spit on everything else, yet have NO FUCKING CLUE what they’re really talking about. The absolutely uninformed – they drive me crazy.

    • Posky says:

      It’s the way of the world. While taxing, I can’t say I’d want it any other way. I’d hate for things to get boring.

  8. libraryscene says:

    on a roll, sir…anyone who play Socrates in a debate makes me question a) if they really believe what they are selling or b) if they understand what they are selling… of course, if it is b, then a is a misnomer… fabulous post
    (I learned more at college from the misinformed than the informed…those type of “chats” made me want to do my research ;))

    • Posky says:

      Doing your own research is often advisable in (and out of) academia. You seem like a smart person. I hope you find plenty of lively discussions with people who actually want to have one, and not just an argument.

      If I’m ever in your area (and I will be eventually) we should try that out.

  9. I really liked this line: “We are all just varying degrees of lost and found.” And your Shave Guevara depiction.

  10. ian says:

    another fine post, sir. thank you for the laughs.

  11. the master says:

    There are a number of bloggers who could do with reading this post. Something like 99.9 percent of them, higher for political bloggers. You’ve dissected this issue very well. Almostly expertly so.

    Incidentally, the most heated exchange I’ve ever had with a drunk was over his claim that he was a direct descendant of Horatio Hornblower, who I’m fairly sure was fictional. Unfortunately this was before I had access to Google, so I was forced to concede that he might be telling the truth.

    • Posky says:

      I’m no expert. I ought to fight you for even suggesting it.

      “Incidentally, the most heated exchange I’ve ever had with a drunk was over his claim that he was a direct descendant of Horatio Hornblower, who I’m fairly sure was fictional.”

      That was the funniest sentence I’ve read in probably a month.

  12. runderdoggy says:

    Really enjoying your insight. Tough to pull off being funny yet having something important to say and you do it quite well. Cheers!

  13. runderdoggy says:

    Really enjoying your insight! Tough to pull off being funny yet having something important to say and you do it quite well.

  14. runderdoggy says:

    Really enjoying your insight! Tough to pull off being funny yet having something important to say and you do it quite well.

  15. runderdoggy says:

    hah! why don’t I leave one more comment to say I don’t really know how to use the comments quite that well yet. Good job Posky!

  16. The Hook says:

    I feel for you, my friend! Hang in there.

  17. As a black(ish) man, I hope you do write Chocolate Touch. I would buy it.

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