Latin American Marxists (and Burt Cochran)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon May 15 12:05:14 MDT 2000

(Forwarded from Nestor)

Dear comrades,

This posting has to do with our debate on Latin American Marxism, and the
reasons why it is (a) little known abroad, and (b) ineffective among us.

I would like to add to the debate some excerpts of Burt Cochran´s speech
introducing the _American Socialist_ magazine in 1955, which were transcribed
by Louis Proyect for Sol Dollinger´s website.

These excerpts are strongly coincident with our own points of view in the
Izquierda Nacional on the necessity for a Latin American Marxism to
generate a
political ideology that can be understood by the large majority of Latin
Americans as a logical, normal and almost unescapable conclusion of our own
historical and social traditions. This is the only way for us Marxists in
Latin America to generate an interpretation of our reality with the potential
to become, as Gramsci stressed, a new hegemonic principle, a constitutive
of the common sense of the masses which (as Marx said) will act as a natural

I will add a few comments to the words by Cochran. And I will perform a
that is of adding some <few words> in his speech, which will almost make it a
Latin American Marxist Manifest.

*********Excerpts begin here**************

[T]here is a real need for genuine <Latin> American radicalism. By that I
a movement that understands th<ese> countr<ies>, that is sensitive to the
feelings and aspirations of <our> people, that knows how to establish
communication with them and how to make itself heard, that has the ability to
come up with drastic structural solutions which recommend themselves to
significant bodies of people as meaningful and realistic. [...] I know that a
new important radicalism will arise in th<ese> countr<ies> in response to the
needs that exist and are due to become more pressing as time goes on. Whether
the existing radical circles will play any role in this coming development is
another question.


I would state as the first proposition that the day of organizing a radical
movement in th<ese> countr<ies> as a branch office of the Russian concern --
is over; and thank God! And that is true whether it is a branch office that
gets its instructions from Stalin or Khrushchev or Lenin or Trotsky. <Latin
America> is too big, too diversified, too self-sufficient and self-confident,
it has too many people, it has too powerful a tradition of its own to
a radicalism whose source of inspiration or whose hidden allegiances reside
abroad. We can be friends of socialist achievements wherever they take place,
and we can practice international labor solidarity on behalf of a common
without surrendering the dignity of our independence and without losing our
bearings that socialism in <Latin America>, as in all major countries, will
only be won as a manifestation of <our> own national will.


The new movement has to be new in fact as well as in name. It has to breathe
the spirit of an all-national <Latin American> enterprise <such as the
Independence wars were>, and eschew the spirit of a faction or sect.

The [...] new movement will have to effect a wedding between radicalism and
democra<tic nationalism> all over again. It was a fatal error that an
estrangement was permitted between the two, and reconciliation will have to
consummated, not as a matter of mutual convenience, but of true love.
Socialism can have appeal and attractive power in Latin America [...] only if
it rests on the <national> democratic achievements that have been wrested
far and seeks to extend them, only if works to realize the <Latin> American
dream one of whose main components is <independence>, freedom and democracy.
And the promise will not carry conviction unless it is accompanied by the
practice, by resistance to <colonialism as well as> to injustice, by an
against brutality, by hostility to dictatorship, wherever it appears, be it
Russia or <Latin> America. Moreover, a revived <Latin American> Left will
demonstrate its democracy by the free play for variegated concepts of work it
permits in its own councils. The experiments with semi-military,
over-centralized and over-bureaucratized forms of organization have proven a


**********EXCERPTS END HERE*********

Well, how do you like this, Julio P, Mario, and Carlos R? (I do not ask Julio
FB because if I know him well he must be exultant by now!)

Louis Proyect

(The Marxism mailing list:

More information about the Marxism mailing list