José Carlos Mariátegui (1894-1930) is widely recognized across Latin America as one of the most important and innovative Marxist thinkers of the twentieth century. Yet his life and work are largely unknown to the English-speaking world. In this gripping political biography—the first written in English—Mike Gonzalez introduces readers to the inspiring life and thought of the Peruvian socialist. As one of the first modern thinkers to discuss what Marxism has to offer, and to learn from, the struggles of Indigenous peoples, his ideas have an immediate relevance in the context of Standing Rock and other native-led fights challenging pipelines across North America.
“Mariátegui’s Marxism involved a deep, almost archaeological, appreciation for the deposition and accumulation of Peruvian history's sedimentary layers. In his brief life he probed the complex particularities of that social formation across economics, history, politics, literature, and ideology. He intervened tirelessly in local affairs. At the same time, he knew these immediate, local concerns did not exist in pristine isolation from wider relations. With unparalleled determination, he insisted Peruvian reality could only be grappled with insofar as its innumerable entanglements with the rest of Latin America, and indeed the world—through the history of colonialism and capitalism—were fathomed and assimilated into revolutionary strategy. Latin America's socialist revolutions would never be a mere copy of European traditions, but they were nevertheless bound up in a shared universal project of emancipation. Mariátegui’s heretical Marxism involved a utopian-revolutionary dialectic, in which select elements of indigenous communal traditions of the pre-capitalist past were combined with a forward-looking post-capitalist future, where the difference of the particular wasn't cancelled by the project of the universal. This impressive book by Mike Gonzalez turns Mariátegui’s dialectic back on its author, parsing Mariátegui’s life and work with all the necessary attentiveness to time and place, while simultaneously borrowing selectively from its riches to help reinvent a living Marxism and revolutionary politics adequate to our present."
—Jeffery R. Webber, author of The Last Day of Oppression, and the First Day of the Same: The Politics and Economics of the New Latin American Left
"Mike Gonzalez has long championed José Carlos Mariátegui. His 2007 article in International Socialism is still one of the best introductions to Mariátegui, and if this book can bring this fascinating Latin American revolutionary to a wider English-speaking audience, so much the better."
—Steve Cushion, author of A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution in The Chartist
Praise for Hugo Chavez: Socialist for the Twenty-first Century:
“Mike Gonzalez possesses a extraordinarily rich knowledge of the Latin American left, has engaged critically with the politics of modern military institutions, and has an abiding interest in independently-minded public figures. He has brought these singular attributes together in this lucid portrait of Hugo Chavez. “
—Professor James Dunkerley, Queen Mary University
“For activists and scholars alike, this is an excellent biography, which mirrors in its nuances and subtleties the complexity of the Bolivarian process and the figure of Chavez himself.”
—Jeffery R. Webber, Queen Mary University of London, author of The Last Day of Oppression and the First Day of The Same
“A seminal work on the ideological and political formation of the former Venezuelan President and leading figure of twenty-first century socialism.”
—Francesco Di Bernardo, LSE Review of Books