Casey’s analysis of the Che image is unique among our readings in that it does not derive from a complete critique of capitalism. Though Casey is quick to point out the contradictory and ironic ways people have used the Che image, turning it into a Che himself into a commodity, he is not illuminating these instances to show how capitalism is evil and awful and must be overcome but is impossible to overcome, as many of our other readings have. Instead, Casey, particularly in his descriptions of Cuba’s current political and economic situation, is quick to criticize anti-communist ideals. On page 284, he calls Che “hyperidealistic” and shows the ways his ideas decreased productivity. Casey goes on to cite economists who claim that “society pays a high cost for suppressing the individual’s drive for material betterment,” a mainstay of capitalist dogma.
He goes on to describe those who “agitate for social change” as “idealists” and asks “Why can’t we believe that human beings can change?” (284-285). Casey does not seem concerned with finding real, material ways to promote societal change, instead (in a rather Hegel-like move) taking the discussion back to grand questions of human beings and the human spirit.
This was confusing and rather unsatisfying to me. I have, because of the way we have discussed the evolution of cultural studies, assumed that cultural studies must be based in a critique of capitalism and the desire for material change. But is this really the case? Can a work like Casey’s instead make capitalism seem inevitable and – gasp – beneficial?