Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Jos Carlos Maritegui: An Anthology

Jos Carlos Maritegui: An Anthology

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 464
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Jos Carlos Maritegui: An Anthology
    Book Description:

    Jos Carlos Maritegui is one of Latin America's most profound but overlooked thinkers. A self-taught journalist, social scientist, and activist from Peru, he was the first to emphasize that those fighting for the revolutionary transformation of society must adapt classical Marxist theory to the particular conditions of Latin American. He also stressed that indigenous peoples must take an active, if not leading, role in any revolutionary struggle.Today Latin America is the scene of great social upheaval. More progressive governments are in power than ever before, and grassroots movements of indigenous peoples, workers, and peasants are increasingly shaping the political landscape. The time is perfect for a rediscovery of Maritegui, who is considered an intellectual precursor of today's struggles in Latin America but virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. This volume collects his essential writings, including many that have never been translated and some that have never been published. The scope of this collection, masterful translation, and thoughtful commentary make it an essential book for scholars of Latin America and all of those fighting for a new world, waiting to be born.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-275-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. INTRODUCTION Amauta: An Introduction to the Life and Works of José Carlos Mariátegui
    (pp. 11-62)

    As we move into the twenty-first century, scholars and activists still debate the status and relevance of Marxism and Marxist thought. Some would argue that both are to be relegated to the back pages of history. Yet as this is said, world capitalism is suffering one of its worst setbacks in a century, and the very theoretical foundations on which neoliberal capitalism is based are being called into question as they prove inadequate to guide the modern world system. Whereas the rigid orthodox visions of Marxism that Joseph Stalin propagated when he had an inordinate influence on official Marxism have...

  5. PART I On Studying the Peruvian and Indo-American Reality

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 63-64)

      IN THIS SECTION, José Carlos Mariátegui breaks from more impressionistic quasi-historical studies of Peru to bring his well-honed Marxist analysis to bear on careful, empirically based studies of the problems plaguing the Peruvian and Latin American reality. These selections come primarily from the collection of essays published asPeruanicemos al Peru, volume 11 in theObras Completas. We also include in this section “The Land Problem,” a key chapter fromSeven Essaysin which Mariátegui builds a strong argument that persistent problems of Indigenous marginalization will not be solved through liberal reforms, but only through profound structural changes in the...

    • 1 Toward a Study of Peruvian Problems
      (pp. 65-68)

      Among the attributes of our generation, one can and should note a certain virtuous and meritorious attitude: a growing interest in things Peruvian. The Peruvians of today are showing themselves to be more attuned to their own people and their own history than the Peruvians of yesterday. But this is not a consequence of their spirit being closed or confined within our borders. It is precisely the contrary. The contemporary Peruvians have more contact with global ideas and emotions. Little by little humanity’s desire for renovation is taking charge of its new men. And an urgent, diffuse aspiration to understand...

    • 2 The Land Problem
      (pp. 69-116)

      For those of us who study and identify the problem of the Indian from a socialist point of view, we began by declaring humanitarian or philanthropic views that, as an extension of the apostolic battle of Father Bartolomé de las Casas, supported old pro-Indigenous campaigns as absolutely outdated. Our first effort is to establish its character as a fundamentally economic problem. First, we protest against the instinctive and defensive tendency of thecreoleormestizoto reduce it to a purely administrative, pedagogical, ethnic, or moral problem in order to avoid at all costs its economic aspects. Therefore, it would...

    • 3 The Economic Factor in Peruvian History
      (pp. 117-120)

      Interpretive essays on the history of the Peruvian Republic that lie on the shelves of our libraries generally coincide in their disdain or ignorance of the economic trauma that comes from politics. Our people suffer an obstinate inclination not to explain Peruvian history in other than romantic and novelistic terms. In each episode, in each act, the main character is sought. They do not strive to understand the interests or passions that the player represents. Mediocre bosses, vulgar managers ofcreolepolitics are taken as movers and shakers of a reality in which they have been minimal and opaque instruments. The...

    • 4 The Problem of Statistics
      (pp. 121-124)

      When studying any of the national problems, one is invariably faced with an obstacle that has to be categorized as a problem: the lack of statistics. In Peru we do not know, for example, how many people are in our country. That is, we do not even have basic information about our country. For those who want to know the current population of Peru, the only available information is the census of 1876 or the calculations of the Geographical Society from 1896. In addition to only being estimates, the latest figures available are now thirty years old.

      Because this figure...

    • 5 Theory
      (pp. 125-126)

      As a result of the benevolent insistence of some of my friends, I decided to put together in a book some of my articles from the past two years about figures and aspects of the worldwide life.

      Coordinated and grouped in one volume under the title ofThe Contemporary Scene, these are not intended to be quick and fragmented impressions, something comprising an explanation of our times. Rather, they contain the primary elements of a sketch or an interpretative essay on this era and its stormy problems that I dared to try to make into a more organic book.


    • 6 Anniversary and Balance Sheet
      (pp. 127-132)

      With this issue,Amautareaches its second birthday. Before its first birthday it was on the verge of going under with the ninth issue. Unamuno’s warning—“a magazine that gets old degenerates” —would have been the epitaph for a vibrant but ephemeral work. ButAmautawas not born to last for only one episode, but to be and to make history. If history is the creation of men and ideas, we can face the future with hope. Our strength comes from men and ideas.

      The primary objective of all work that the likes ofAmautahave imposed is this: to...

    • 7 Colonial Economy
      (pp. 133-136)

      The economic year of 1925 has reminded us anew that all of the coastal economy and thus of all Peru born of the conquest rests on two bases that physically could not appear more solid to anyone: cotton and sugar. For practical men this confirmation lacks value. But the vision of practical men is always too dominated by superficial things to be really profound. And in some things, theory penetrates more deeply than experience.

      Besides, theory intervenes much more than is thought in concepts that are apparently empirical and objective. The world, for example, believes in the solidity of the...

  6. PART II Peru and Indigenismo

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 137-138)

      THIS SECTION DEVELOPS Mariátegui’s understanding of Peru and its Indigenous peoples, and also strongly draws on the essays inPeruanicemos al Peru. The economic context in which he treats Indigenous issues is clear. Mariátegui was among a group of intellectuals who were carefully studying the original peoples in this Andean country. Referred to asindigenistas, they realized the importance of Peru’s Indigenous people and their culture and were hard at work studying it and recasting it in a positive postcolonial light. They valued, rather than disparaged, the Inca empire and the descendants of the original population. In “Peru’s Principal Problem”...

    • 1 Peru’s Principal Problem
      (pp. 139-144)

      Before one turns off the echoes of the celebration of the figure and the work of Clorinda Matto Turner,¹ before the delegates of the fourth congress of the Indigenous race disperse, we turn our eyes to the fundamental problem, to Peru’s principal problem. We say something that Clorinda Matto Turner would certainly say if she were still alive.

      This is the best tribute that the new men, the young men from Peru, can pay to the memory of this singular woman who, at a time more complicated and cooler than our own, nobly rose up against the injustices and crimes...

    • 2 On the Indigenous Problem: Brief Historical Review
      (pp. 145-150)

      The population of the Inca empire, according to conservative estimates, was at least ten million. Some people place it at twelve or even fifteen million. The conquest was, more than anything, a terrible carnage. The Spanish conquerors, with their small numbers, could not impose their domination, but only managed to terrorize the Indigenous population. The invaders’ guns and horses, which were regarded as supernatural beings, created a superstitious impression. The political and economic organization of the colony, which came after the conquest, continued the extermination of the Indigenous race. The viceroyalty established a system of brutal exploitation. Spanish greed for...

    • 3 Aspects of the Indigenous Problem
      (pp. 151-154)

      Recently Dora Mayer de Zulen, whose intelligence and character are not yet sufficiently appreciated and admired, has made, with the honesty and restraint that distinguishes her, the evaluation of the interesting and worthwhile experiment that culminated in the Pro-Indigenous Association.¹ The usefulness of this experiment is fully demonstrated by anyone who was, in a partnership and skillful solidarity with the generous spirit and precursor of Pedro S. Zulen, its heroic and stubborn leader. The Pro-Indigenous Association was useful in making a series of key statements on the process ofgamonalismo, identifying and specifying their tremendous and unpunished responsibilities. It served...

    • 4 National Progress and Human Capital
      (pp. 155-160)

      Those who, arbitrarily and simplistically, reduce Peruvian progress to a problem of golden capital, reason and run as if there did not exist an issue of human capital that is entitled to priority in the debate. They ignore or forget that historically man is above money. This conceptualization of progress aims to be North American and positivist in nature. But, precisely, there is no better example of total ignorance than the case of the Yankees.

      The enormous material development of the United States does not prove the power of gold, but rather the power of man. The wealth of the...

    • 5 Class Action in Peru
      (pp. 161-170)

      The first manifestations of revolutionary ideological propaganda in Peru are those raised at the beginning of this century by the radical thinking of González Prada.¹ Shortly after González Prada definitively separated himself from the politics of the day and the Radical Party experiment failed, the first libertarian groups appears. Some workers who are interested in these ideas come into contact with González Prada, whose disillusionment with political struggles led him to an anarchist position. They create small libertarian groups that are limited to spreading propaganda with his ideas without proposing any other action at this time. González Prada collaborated under...

  7. PART III Marxism and Socialism

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 171-172)

      MARIÁTEGUI’S MARXIST THOUGHT was of the most original of its day. As the Peruvian thinker said after he returned from his stay in Italy, “I married a woman and some ideas.” His affiliation was socialist and for him (Marxist): “socialism is a method and a doctrine, a system of ideas and a praxis.” He flirted with more utopian versions of socialist thought before he went to Europe, but by the time he returned in 1923, he was a “convinced socialist of conviction.” His Marxist socialism ranged broadly and incorporated not only Marx and Lenin, but a myriad of diverse thought...

    • 1 Reply to Luis Alberto Sánchez
      (pp. 173-178)

      Luis Alberto Sánchez¹ declares that he is delighted to see me enter into a polemical debate, because, among other things, “my monologue was becoming a little insipid.” But if my monologue were what I have been writing for the last two years in this journal [Amauta] and others, we would have to call it a polemical monologue. One could say, then, that upholding new ideas brings with it the necessity of confronting and opposing the old ones, that is to say, disputing them to proclaim their shortcomings and fallacies. When I study or write a study of a question or...

    • 2 The Process of Contemporary French Literature
      (pp. 179-180)

      Having fulfilled the Dada and Surrealist experiment, a group of great artists, whose absolute aesthetic modernity no one would dispute, has realized that on the social and political plane, Marxism incontestably represents Revolution. André Breton finds it useless to rail against the laws of historical materialism and declares false “any enterprise of social explanation different to that of Marx.”

      Dogma is here understood as a doctrine of historical change. And as such, while change happens, it is so only while dogma is not filed away in an archive or becomes an ideological law of the past; there is nothing like...

    • 3 Message to the Workers’ Congress
      (pp. 181-186)

      The First Workers Congress of Lima, with its available resources, achieved its essential objective, which was to give life to the Local Labor Federation that provides the cell, nucleus, and cement for the working class of Peru. Its natural program, modest in appearance, was reduced to this step. The development, the work of the Local Labor Federation these five years, shows that in this assembly the vanguard workers in Lima, through uncertain attempts, knew how to finally find their road.

      The time of the Second Congress has come. It has taken a little time, but it would not be fair...

    • 4 Defense of Marxism
      (pp. 187-236)

      The Defense of Marxismwas one of the three books that José Carlos Mariátegui prepared for publication during his lifetime (The Contemporary SceneandSeven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Realityare the other two). Unlike the first two and a third manuscript on ideological and political themes that was sent to Spain but lost,Defense of Marxismwas published posthumously in a Chilean edition in 1934 and finally published in its original form as part of theObras Completasby Editorial Amauta in 1967. It has the bulk, though not all, of Mariátegui’s writings on Marxism and makes very clear...

    • 5 Programmatic Principles of the Socialist Party
      (pp. 237-242)

      The program should be a doctrinal declaration that affirms:

      1. The international character of the contemporary economy, which does not allow any country to escape the transformations flowing from the current conditions of production.

      2. The international character of the revolutionary proletarian movement. The Socialist Party adapts its practice to the country’s specific circumstances, but it follows a broad class vision and its national context is subordinated to the rhythm of world history. The independence revolution more than a century ago was a movement in solidarity with all peoples subjugated by Spain. The socialist revolution is a movement of all...

    • 6 On the Character of Peruvian Society
      (pp. 243-254)

      My answer to some of these questions is inSeven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality.And I treat the purely political questions in a book on which I am now working that Historia Nueva will publish in a few months in Madrid. I believe that these types of questionnaires are not really useful unless concrete, precise, data, and fact-based research is being proposed. The general themes cannot be covered effectively in a few pages, no matter how great a study’s power of synthesis. I am going to limit myself to a few schematic propositions that the “Seminar of Peruvian Culture”...

  8. PART IV Imperialism

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 255-258)

      MARIÁTEGUI READ LENIN AS WELL AS MARX and published parts of Lenin’sImperialism,The Highest Stage of Capitalismin his journalAmauta. He was well aware of the imperial presence in Peru and Latin America and notes in his piece on anti-imperialism (IV.2): “As long as imperialist policies are able to manage the sentiments and formalities of the national sovereignty of these states, and are not forced to resort to armed intervention and military occupation, they can absolutely count on the collaboration of the bourgeoisie. Although they are dominated by the imperialist economy, these countries, or rather their bourgeoisies, will...

    • 1 Nationalism and Internationalism
      (pp. 259-264)

      The boundaries between nationalism and internationalism are not yet well clarified, despite the fact that both ideas have existed for a long time. Nationalists categorically condemn internationalist trends. But in practice they make some concessions, sometimes hidden, sometimes explicit. Fascism, for example, collaborates with the League of Nations. At least it has not defected from this league built on pacifism and Wilsonian liberalism.

      It so happens, in truth, that neither nationalism nor internationalism continues in an orthodox or intransigent line. Furthermore, one cannot exactly indicate where nationalism ends and where internationalism begins. Elements of one parallel, and sometimes intertwine, with...

    • 2 Anti-Imperialist Point of View
      (pp. 265-274)

      To what extent can the situation of the Latin American republics be likened to that of other semicolonial countries? The economic status of these republics undoubtedly is semicolonial. As their capitalism and, consequently, the imperialist penetration, grows, this characteristic of their economy is accentuated. But the national bourgeoisie who see cooperation with imperialism as the best source of profits feel in secure enough control of political power not to worry seriously about national sovereignty. These South American bourgeoisies, who except for Panama have not yet experienced U.S. military occupation, have no predisposition to accept the need to fight for the...

    • 3 Yankee Imperialism in Nicaragua
      (pp. 275-278)

      Even those who ignore the events and spirit of U.S. policy in Central America can certainly take into consideration the reasons that Mr. Kellogg¹ seeks to justify the U.S. troop invasion of Nicaraguan territory. But those who remember the development of this policy over the last twenty or twenty-five years are no doubt aware of the absolute consistency of this armed intervention in the domestic events of Nicaragua and its expansionist purpose.

      For many years the United States has had its eyes on Nicaragua. It has had several opportunities under similar pretexts to take control of its formal autonomy.


    • 4 Martial Law in Haiti
      (pp. 279-280)

      The methods of the United States in colonized Latin America have not changed. They cannot change. Violence is not used in countries under Yankee administration just by accident. Three events during the past five years underscore the increasing martial tendency of U.S. policy in these countries: the intervention in Panama against a strike, the occupation of Nicaragua, and the recent declaration of martial law in Haiti. The rhetoric of goodwill is meaningless in the face of these events.

      As in other countries, the military occupation of Haiti includes a group of Haitians who claim legal representation of the majority as...

    • 5 Ibero-Americanism and Pan-Americanism
      (pp. 281-286)

      Ibero-Americanism sporadically reappears in debates over Spain and Spanish America. It is an ideal or a theme that from time to time engages dialogue among intellectuals of the language (I do not think we can call them, in fact, intellectuals of the race).

      But now the discussion is broader and with more intensity. Ibero-American topics have gained a conspicuous interest in the Madrid press. The approach or coordination of the Ibero-American intellectual forces, managed and advocated by some groups of writers in our America, today gives those topics a new and concrete value.

      This time the discussion repudiates Ibero-American protocol...

    • 6 The Destiny of North America
      (pp. 287-292)

      The Dawes Plan unquestionably documents the vanity of all of the arguments between French neo-Thomists and German racists as to whether the defense of Western civilization falls to the Latin and Roman spirit or to the German and Protestant one. The payment of German reparations and the Allied debt has put the fate of Europe’s economy and therefore its politics in the hands of the United States. The financial recovery of the European states is not possible without Yankee credit. The spirit of Locarno,¹ security pacts, etc., are simply the names that designate the guarantees required by U.S. capital for...

  9. PART V Politics, Organization, Peasants, Workers, and Race

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 293-294)

      JOSÉ CARLOS MARIÁTEGUI was not only a thinker and writer, he was a Marxist militant and political organizer. He very much believed in the concept of praxis and, as such, was active in the workers’ movement in Peru. Indeed, one of the reasons the dictator Leguía exiled him to Europe was because of his strong support for the workers’ movement in Lima. He used his Marxist-inspired understanding of the concrete conditions in Peru to enhance his writings but also to guide his political and intellectual activities. Thus he studied the economic condition of the peasants and Indigenous peoples, the intricacies...

    • 1 The World Crisis and the Peruvian Proletariat
      (pp. 295-304)

      In this conference—we will call it a conversation more than a conference—I will limit myself to explaining the subject matter of the course, while at the same time provide some considerations about the necessity of spreading knowledge of the world crisis to the proletariat. Peru, sadly, is lacking an educational press that follows the development of this great crisis with intelligence and an ideological affiliation. Similarly lacking are university professors like José Ingenieros¹ who are capable of becoming passionate about renovating ideas that are actually transforming the world and liberating it from the influences and prejudices of bourgeois...

    • 2 The Problem of Race in Latin America
      (pp. 305-326)

      In bourgeois intellectual speculation, the problem of race in Latin America serves, among other things, to hide or ignore the true problems of the continent. Marxist criticism has a vital duty to establish this problem in real terms, ridding it of any sophistic or pedantic misrepresentation. Economically, socially, and politically, the problem of race, as with that of land, is fundamentally one of the liquidation of feudalism.

      Because of the servitude imposed on them since the Spanish conquest, the Indigenous races in Latin America are in a resounding state of backwardness and ignorance. The interests of the exploiting class, first...

    • 3 Preface to The Amauta Atusparia
      (pp. 327-332)

      The most significant new feature of contemporary Peruvian historiography is certainly the interest in social history events that previously had been ignored or neglected. Peru’s republican history has been almost invariably written as a political history in the narrowest and mostcreolemeaning of this term. Its conception and presentation has suffered the limitations of a sense of “court,” a spirit of bureaucratic capital that converts political history into a chronicle of changes of government, public administration, and crises and events that most directly and visibly influence one or another of these issues. As always happens, it is due to...

    • 4 Huacho Peasants Defend Their Irrigation System: An Institution Deserving Respect
      (pp. 333-336)

      The small owners and tenants of the countryside around Huacho have, since the time of their aboriginal ancestors, retained not only the common ownership of land, but also many habits of mutuality and communal practices that demonstrate just how, even on the coast, the socialist sentiments of the native farmer still remain. The transformation of property and customs has not destroyed reciprocal assistance in the tasks of planting and harvesting. The farmers in each village are noted for their spirit of solidarity. And their survival is not explained, as some might imagine, merely as a conservative impulse. On the contrary,...

    • 5 The Herradura Beach Meeting
      (pp. 337-340)

      To avoid confusion we remember a meeting on the Herradura beach. The comrades for this meeting were chosen with a determined scrupulousness for their solvency, responsibility, and capability of giving a solid direction for the party that they were trying to found.

      This meeting took place halfway along the road to the Herradura beach on Sunday, September 16, 1928. There were seven people present: four workers, Julio Portocarrero, Avelino Navarro, Hinojosa, and Borja; an insurance employee, Ricardo Martínez de la Torre; a street vendor, Bernardo Regman. José Carlos Mariátegui was unable to attend, but Martínez de la Torre presented his...

    • 6 May Day and the United Front
      (pp. 341-344)

      The First of May is a day of revolutionary proletarian unity all over the world, a date that binds all organized workers in an immense international united front. On this day the unanimously obeyed and respected words of Karl Marx resound: “Workers of the world, unite.” On this day all the barriers that differentiate and separate the political vanguard into different groups and different schools come down.

      May Day does not belong to one International: it is the date for all Internationals. Today, socialists, communists, anarchists of all stripes merge and mix in one army that marches toward the final...

    • 7 Manifesto of the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers to the Peruvian Working Class
      (pp. 345-356)

      The creation of the Central Federation of the Peruvian Proletariat ends a series of working-class attempts to give life to a United Federation of the workers’ organizations. In 1913 the Maritime and Terrestrial Federation appeared, headquartered in Callao, with a subcommittee in Lima that after waging different struggles disappeared in 1915. In 1918, on the occasion of the struggle for the eight-hour workday, the “Pro Eight Hours” Committee was created and led the movement to culmination. The next year the Committee “Pro Price Reduction of Basics” was created, coming out of the committee “Regional Peruvian Federation,” which convened the First...

  10. PART VI Women

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 357-360)

      JOSÉ CARLOS MARIÁTEGUI was very much a feminist. Progressive thinkers and activists of his time, including Rosa Luxemburg, whose work he published inAmauta, and Russian feminists such as Alexandra Kollantai influenced his views. Indeed, the Marxist egalitarianism of the Russian Revolution helped shape many of his feminist attitudes:

      The woman in Russia votes and stands for office. Under the constitution, all workers, regardless of gender, nationality or religion, enjoy equal rights. The Communist state does not distinguish or differentiate by gender or nationalities, it divides the society into two classes: bourgeoisie and proletariat. And within its class dictatorship, proletarian...

    • 1 Women and Politics
      (pp. 361-366)

      One of the substantial accomplishments of the twentieth century is the acquisition of men’s political rights by women. Gradually, we arrived at legal and political equality of both sexes. Women have entered politics, in parliament and in government. Their participation in public affairs has ceased to be exceptional or extraordinary. In the ministry of Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government a portfolio has been assigned to a woman, Miss Margaret Bondfield, who comes to government after a diligent political career representing England in the International Labor Conference in Washington and Geneva. And Russia has given its diplomatic representation in Norway to Alexandra...

    • 2 Feminist Demands
      (pp. 367-372)

      The first feminist concerns are gestating in Peru. There are some cells, some nuclei of feminism. The proponents of nationalism, of extremism, probably think: here is another exotic idea, another foreign idea that is injected into the Peruvian mind.

      We reassure these apprehensive people a little. We must not see feminism as an exotic idea, a foreign idea. We must see it simply as a human idea. It is an idea that is characteristic of a civilization and peculiar to an era. And thus it is an idea with citizenship rights in Peru, as in any other segment of the...

    • 3 Magda Portal
      (pp. 373-378)

      Magda Portal is another notable asset in the process of our literature. With her appearance Peru has its first poetess. Until now we had only women of letters, of which one or another had an artistic or more specifically literary temperament, but we have not exactly had a poetess.

      One should understand the termpoetess. The poetess is, to some extent in the history of Western civilization, a phenomenon of our time. The previous eras produced only masculine poetry. Women’s poetry was the same, content with being a variation of the same lyrical songs or philosophical reasonings. The poetry that...

  11. PART VII Myth and the Optimism of the Ideal

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 379-382)

      JOSÉ CARLOS MARIÁTEGUI WAS A BELIEVER. He strongly believed in socialism and saw it as the animating force of his day. The Russian Revolution and other socialist movements like Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartakusbund inspired him. He had read the French philosopher Henri Bergson and was much taken with his concept of élan vital, the vital life force. He read and cited Georges Sorel’sReflections on Violenceand thought Sorel’s concept of the revolutionary myth was relevant for revolutionary unionism and the socialist movement, and helped to distinguish revolutionary socialism from evolutionary socialism. Mariátegui’s affirmative approach to thought, politics, and Marxism was...

    • 1 Man and Myth
      (pp. 383-388)

      All modern intellectual investigations on the global crisis lead to a unanimous conclusion: bourgeois civilization suffers from a lack of myth, of faith, of hope. Missing is the expression of its material bankruptcy. The rationalist experience has had the paradoxical effect of leading humanity to the disconsolate conviction that reason cannot offer a way forward. Rationalism has only served to discredit reason. Mussolini has said that demagogues killed the idea of freedom. More accurate, undoubtedly, is that rationalists killed the idea of reason. Reason has eradicated the residue of old myths from the soul of bourgeois civilization. Western man for...

    • 2 The Final Struggle
      (pp. 389-394)

      Madeleine Marx, one of the most restless women of letters and most modern in contemporary France, has gathered her impressions of Russia in a book bearing this title:G’est la lutte finale. . . .¹ The sentence of singer Eugene Pottier 2 acquires a historical highlight. “It is the final struggle!”

      The proletarian revolution in Russia welcomes this cry—the ecumenical cry of the worldwide proletariat. The massive battle cry and hope that Madeleine Marx heard in the streets of Moscow, I have also heard in the streets of Rome, Milan, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and Lima. It embodies all...

    • 3 Pessimism of the Reality, Optimism of the Ideal
      (pp. 395-398)

      It seems to me that José Vasconcelos¹ has found a formula on pessimism and optimism that not only defines the feeling of the new Ibero-American generation in the face of the contemporary crisis, but also corresponds to the absolute mentality and sensibility of an era in which, despite the thesis of José Ortega y Gasset on the “disenchanted soul” and “the twilight of revolutions,” millions of people are working with mystical courage and a religious passion to create a new world. “Pessimism of reality, optimism of the ideal,” is Vasconcelos’s formula.

      “Do not ever conform, always be above and beyond...

    • 4 Imagination and Progress
      (pp. 399-404)

      Luis Araquistáin writes that “the conservative spirit, in its most disinterested form, if it is not born of a low selfishness but from fear of the unknown and uncertainty, ultimately shows a lack of imagination.”¹ To be a revolutionary or reformer is, from this point of view, a consequence of being more or less imaginative. The conservative rejects any idea of change because of a mental incapacity to conceive and accept it. This applies, of course, to a pure conservative, because the attitude of a practical conservative who accommodates ideas for their usefulness and comfort undoubtedly has a different genesis....

  12. PART VIII Aesthetics

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 405-408)

      JOSÉ CARLOS MARIÁTEGUI WAS NOT NARROW, rigid, or dogmatic, nor were his interests limited to one area of human endeavor. He had transcended the small town where he was born, another town at the foothills of the Andes where he was raised, and had also transcended the traditionalism and conservatism of Lima, the city where he came of age. He read widely from a young age, and perused a wide variety of works and articles in Spanish, Italian, and French throughout his life. He experienced the fullness of the world through literature, cinema, theater, travel, living with the masses and...

    • 1 Maxim Gorky and Russia
      (pp. 409-414)

      Maxim Gorky is the novelist of the vagabonds, the pariahs, those who are miserable. He is the novelist of the lower depths, of lives gone wrong, of hunger. Gorky’s work is a special, spontaneous representative of this century of the masses, the Fourth Estate, and the social revolution. Many contemporary artists draw themes and characters from the plebeian strata, the lower classes. The bourgeois soul and passions are somewhat out of date. They are overexplored. In the proletarian soul and passions, on the other hand, new shades of meaning and unusual threads of inquiry can be found.

      The plebeian of...

    • 2 A Balance Sheet on Surrealism
      (pp. 415-422)

      None of the vanguard literary and artistic movements of Western Europe had, contrary to what appearances suggest, the significance or historical content of Surrealism. Other movements were limited to the affirmation of some aesthetic postulates, to experimentation with some artistic principles.

      The Futurist Italian was, without doubt, certainly an exception to the rule. Marinetti¹ and his henchmen intended to represent not only artistically, but also politically and sentimentally, a new Italy. But the Futurist, when viewed from a distance, makes us smile this side of his histrionic megalomania; perhaps more than any other he has entered the “order” and the...

    • 3 Art, Revolution, and Decadence
      (pp. 423-426)

      It is convenient to hasten the elimination of a mistake that disorients some young artists. To correct certain hasty definitions, it should be established that not all new art is revolutionary, nor is it really new. Two spirits coexist in the modern world, that of revolution and that of decadence. Only the presence of the first gives a poem or painting value as new art.

      We cannot accept as new any art that merely brings us a new technique. This would mean amusing ourselves with one of the most fallacious modern illusions. No aesthetic can reduce artistic work to a...

    • 4 Cement and Proletarian Realism
      (pp. 427-432)

      I have repeatedly heard that reading Fedor Gladkov’s novelCementis not edifying or encouraging for those outside the revolutionary ranks looking for the image of the proletarian revolution. According to this view, the spiritual adventures and moral conflicts Gladkov describes are not apt to feed the illusions of the hesitant and wondrous souls who dream of a rosewater revolution. The residue of an ecclesiastical family education based on the ineffable beatitudes and myths of the kingdom of heaven and the promised land reverberates a lot more in their subconscious than these comrades can imagine.

      First, it should be noted...

    • 5 On Explaining Chaplin
      (pp. 433-440)

      The theme of Chaplin seems to me, in any explanation of our era, no less significant than that of the themes of Lloyd George or that of [Ramsay] MacDonald (if one looks for equivalents in Great Britain only).¹ Many agree with the assertion by Henri Poulaille thatThe Gold Rushis the best contemporary novel. But always placing Chaplin in his country—I think that in any case the human resonance ofThe Gold Rush² largely surpasses Mr. H. G. Wells’sThe Outline of Historyand Bernard Shaw’s theater. This is a fact that Wells and Shaw would surely be...

  13. PART IX Latin America

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 441-444)

      Like so many of Latin America’s thinkers and intellectuals, Mariátegui thought in hemispheric terms. As he observes in the first essay in this section on the unity of Latin America, “These peoples are really not only brothers rhetorically, but historically. They come from a single womb. The Spanish conquest destroyed the Indigenous cultures and groups, and homogenized the ethnic, political, and moral physiognomy of Hispanic America. The Spaniards’ methods of colonization unified the fate of its colonies.” Mariátegui was quite clear on how the nations of the region developed differently over time.

      Mariátegui avidly followed events in Mexico and in...

    • 1 The Unity of Indo-Hispanic America
      (pp. 445-450)

      The people of Spanish-speaking America all have the same orientation. The solidarity of their historical destinies is not an illusion of Latin American literature. These people are really not only brothers rhetorically, but historically. They come from a single womb. The Spanish conquest destroyed the Indigenous cultures and groups and homogenized the ethnic, political, and moral physiognomy of Hispanic America. The Spaniards’ methods of colonization unified the fate of its colonies. The conquistadors imposed their religion and feudalism on the Indigenous populations. Spanish blood mixed with Indian blood. The Spanish thereby created the nuclei ofcreolepopulations, the germ for...

    • 2 Mexico and the Revolution
      (pp. 451-454)

      The dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz produced a situation of superficial economic well-being but also deep social malaise in Mexico. While in power, Porfirio Díaz was an instrument, proxy, and prisoner of the Mexican plutocracy. During the reformist revolution and the revolution against Maximilian, the Mexican people attacked the feudal privileges of the plutocracy. With Maximilian brought down, the large landowners took control of one of the generals of this liberal and nationalist revolution, Porfirio Díaz. They made him the leader of a bureaucratic military dictatorship designated to suffocate and repress these revolutionary demands. Díaz’s policies were essentially plutocratic ones. Cunning...

    • 3 Portes Gil against the CROM
      (pp. 455-458)

      There is no longer any possible doubt about the reactionary tendency of the provisional president of Mexico’s policies. The offensive against the Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana [CROM: Mexican Regional Workers Confederation], though its real motives are concealed with demagogic language, proposes nothing less than beating down or diminishing the political power of the working masses. This is an unequivocally counterrevolutionary objective that no rhetoric can hide or disguise.

      Portes Gil does not have the responsibility and initiative for these policies; in his management he obeys factors greater than his personal judgment. Here is another fact that is no less certain....

    • 4 The New Course of Mexican Politics as Seen from the Margins
      (pp. 459-464)

      The careful observation of Mexican events is destined to clarify, for the theoreticians and practitioners of Latin American socialism, the questions that frequently muddle and disfigure the dilettantish interpretations of tropical super-Americanists. Both in times of revolutionary flow and reactionary ebb, and perhaps more precisely and neatly in the latter, the historical experiment begun in Mexico with Madero’s insurrection and the overthrow of Porfirio Díaz provides the observer with an accurate and unique collection of proofs of the inevitable attraction toward capitalism and the bourgeoisie of all the political movements led by the petite bourgeoisie, with all its particular ideological...

  14. Glossary
    (pp. 465-468)
  15. Index
    (pp. 469-480)