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Theory and Society

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 575–598 | Cite as

The indigenous community as “living organism”: José Carlos Mariátegui, Romantic Marxism, and extractive capitalism in the Andes

  • Jeffery R. Webber
Article

Abstract

This article explores the complex relationship between Marxism and Romanticism in the work of early-twentieth century Peruvian Marxist José Carlos Mariátegui. Following Michael Löwy, it argues that there is a utopian-revolutionary dialectic of the pre-capitalist past and socialist future running through Mariátegui’s core works. The romantic thread of Mariátegui’s thought was in many ways a response to the prevalent evolutionist and economistic Marxist orthodoxies of his time. An argument is made that the fruitful heresy embedded in the Mariáteguist framework might suggest the outlines for a theoretical research agenda to counter a novel orthodoxy emerging out of the state ideologies of the Andean New Left in an era of intensifying extractive capitalism. Deploying a certain Marxist idiom, figures such as Bolivian Vice President Álvaro García Linera defend as progressive the extension of large-scale mining, natural gas and oil extraction, and agro-industrial mono-cropping in alliance with multinational capital. Left and indigenous critics of this latest iteration of extractive capitalism in Latin America are condemned in this worldview as naive romantics, or worse, the useful idiots of imperialism. A creative return to Mariátegui allows us to read the opposition of Left and indigenous critique and activism in a different light. What is more, we can see in the biographies of activists such as Felipe Quispe in Bolivia a concrete realization of the Romantic Marxist critique of evolutionism and economism being discussed theoretically in our exploration of Mariátegui.

Keywords

Mariátegui García Linera Bolivia Marxism Extractivism 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Rob Knox, Forrest Hylton, Madeleine Davis, and Lucas Martín Poy Piñeiro for comments on an early draft of this article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and International RelationsQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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