Mariategui, José Carlos


Mariategui, José Carlos
(1894–1930)
   Mariategui was a Peruvian socialist thinker and leader, who was dubbed “Latin America’s Gramsci.” Born into a poor family in the small Peruvian town of Moquegua, he became a journalist and political activist. His political activities and involvement in the working class movement attracted the attention of the authorities forcing him to flee to Europe in 1919, where he stayed until 1923. Here he was particularly influenced by Bendeto Croce, Georges Sorel and Antonio Gramsci. Returning to Peru he engaged in revolutionary political activity to the detriment of his health. He spoke at numerous meetings of workers and peasants, wrote numerous articles, edited the influential journal Amauta, was involved in the formation of the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (established 1929), and was the first secretary general of the Peruvian Marxist–Leninist Party. Among his most important works are Internationalism and Nationalism and Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality (1928).
   Mariategui’s thinking is characterized by its open, fluid and undogmatic character. While embracing Marxism he rejected deterministic Marxism and came into conflict with the orthodox Marxists in the Communist International. The 1929 Conference of Latin American Communist Parties censured him for describing his party as “socialist” instead of “communist,” and for being “populist.” His significance and originality stem from his view that Marxism is not some universal truth to be applied to Peru, but, rather, that Marxism must become a true expression of Peruvian social reality. Marxism, for Mariategui, had to be flexible enough to adapt to Peruvian circumstances. In particular, he believed in an “indigenous renaissance” that would create an Indo–American society in Peru based on the communal values of the Incas. He was also one of the earliest Third World Marxists to appreciate the importance of the peasantry and its revolutionary potential given the absence of a large proletariat. As well as his “national Marxism” Mariategui was a keen internationalist and promoted solidarity with the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutionary movements as well as with the new communist government of Russia.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.