Project, Prophesy, Problems: José Carlos Mariátegui's Readings of Revolution and Nation in 1920s Peru
Latin American Studies Program, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
José Carlos Mariátegui, Latin America’s foremost political thinker and writer, developed a Marxist critique of sociopolitical conditions in 1920s Peru advocating radical change. But his call to develop an inventive critical imagination, a “new spirit,” through innovative forms of expression shows his recognition of revolutionary European politics and avant-garde aesthetics for forging a new political consciousness. Key writings—“El hombre y el mito,” “El problema del indio”—reveal his interconnected political and aesthetic interests, his efforts to construct a Peruvian Marxism resolving the problems of nationhood by embracing intellectuals, workers and peasants alike. This article examines the interplay of Mariátegui’s analytical and imaginative thinking, his aestheticized political discourse and non-orthodox Marxist perspective. It shows how his very language, politico-poetic, quasi-mythic, inspired by Gramsci and Sorel, fostered a revolution in sensibility as well as in society and politics, while critique reveals that his “myth” of the Indian contains unhistorical reductive aspects compromising his argument.
Mariátegui, Peruvian Marxism, The Indian problem, Indigenist, Andean myth, Revolutionary language