Latin American Marxist writers

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at
Mon May 15 18:55:22 MDT 2000

En relación a Latin American Marxist writers,
el 15 May 00, a las 14:35, Sam Pawlett dijo:

>  Chile, Brazil and especially
> Argentina and much more expensive than the other S.America countries
> due to their overvalued currencies. Most w-class gringos in those
> countries have come overland (as I did) from the countries in the
> north. I could only afford 10 days in Arg.

If I am reconstructing your trip properly, you came here via the
Northwest (that is, Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán). If so, you entered the
country via the best road. 10 days along that road may have taught
you more on Argentina than a whole year in Buenos Aires.

> > On the
> other hand I was awed by the incursions of American culture >
> (cultural imperialism?).
> Sure. There is tendency there where American=Good, Chilean=Bad. The
> products of cultural imperialism are still  products for the elite in
> these countries. An I area I think where the nationalists can do some
> good work.

But we socialists too. Unless you suppose that cultural issues are
indifferent to revolution, of course. But I do not think that this is
your position.

>  Rap music is the rage with Chilean youth, who
> > have copied even the body language of Black Brooklynites, as well as
> > clothing styles.  Most movies in the cineplexes are Made in
> > Hollywood. The payphones have signs above them that read: PEYFON.

At least they have spelt them in Spanish (this seems to be a
consistent Chilean usage: the province of Aysén in the South is named
after Fitz Roy's description of the land as Ice End). In Buenos
Aires, cultural imperialism and local ignorance mix up into awful
notices and signs written in what shop owners suppose to be English,
and sale-offs are not advertised as "liquidaciones" any more, now
they are "sales". And so on and on and on.

I would like to know if Sam believes that "nationalists" and
"socialists" should have a different agenda on this issue.

> There are a few Left publishers  there, I forget their names. Siglo XX
> in Mexico D.F. puts out some indigenous Marxism as well as
> translations of stuff from the North.

It is Siglo XXI. But all this Left material does not broach the
essential issues of Latin America, they are Academic Leftish
literature who can quote the most obscure Latvian Communist but do
not have an idea of who was, say, President Zelaya of Nicaragua. It
is as if an American Marxist could quote, say, Gramsci's teacher
Labriola but did not know who was Sam Adams.  And if now you tell me
that there are many American Leftists in that situation, then I would
retort that this is one of the main reasons why there's not an
important American Left today.

When I was  there, there was a
> lot of talk about a book written jointly by Vargas Llosa's(sp) son and
> supposed ex-Tupamoro and ex-FARC gunmen called Manifesto of Idiots or
> something like that. I read some of it : a crude anti-communist rant
> agains the LA left. El Mercurio and other big reactionary papers were
> publishing excerpts form it. Have you or anyone else read it?

I have read some comments, and a few criticisms. It is unworthy of
anyone's time unless one wants to dissect it and show its inner
vacuity. A serious Peruvian Marxist should be doing it right now. I
don't know what has been of the life of Adolfo Barrenechea, who used
to write interesting stuff in Lima in 1975, perhaps someone (Juan
Fajardo?) can give us his whereabouts. The guy is, IMHO, one of the
few who might have taken up such a nasty burden.

But the political parable of such people as Vargas Llosa (daddy) or
Fernando Henrique Cardoso is in itself a lesson for those who confuse
vocal Leftism and actual revolutionary elan in Latin America.

Then, Sam answers some of my opinions:

> Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky wrote:
> >
> > But do you know what happens after they leave? This is also a
> > display of power, an absolutely unintended display of power, an
> > expression of the objective distance that exists between those
> > excellent Swiss and the peasants. And, on the other hand, there
> > would be a lot to say against that kind of Leftish tourism that goes
> > and lives with the peasants, not with human people as such but with
> > "the peasants".
> Ok. But I think a good way to promote internationalism and
> anti-imperialism is for people to visit each other's countries.

Yes, of course, I do absolutely agree with you. But please read your
words again. The kind of visits you describe has a tremendous
problem, they cannot be returned. That is the Swiss will never have
an opportunity to become the object of the gaze of the Peruvian
peasant, so that even in this case there is an assymetrical relation.
It is a matter of objective facts, not of personal preferences.
Unless you get involved to your last bone with them, you will always
be observing the peasants from outside, and -you like it or not- from

> display of power you talk about is also, I think, a reflection of the
> class structure in the native country for the elite in said country
> are also white skinned and descendents of mostly English colonialists.

Yes, and not. It depends of the country. At any rate, that class
structure, at its own turn, would be untenable without imperialist
intervention, an intervention designed, among others, to make sure
that it is the Swiss and not the Peruvian who can travel abroad!

> The only place I've been place where the distance between foreigners
> and the campesinos is non existant is in Nicaragua. An amazing
> experience.

Something to do with a revolution, perhaps?

The distance, however, can be broken by understanding the deep
currents of mind of people. It is not easy, but it can be done. One
has to learn to think the way a "cabecita negra" thinks. After that,
everything becomes much easier, and the differences level off.

Of course, it is very difficult for an American. But we Latin
Americans can tell when we are facing friend or foe. True solidarity
can be neatly distinguished from good-hearted compassion. And believe
me, Sam, we hate to be object of compassion (even good-hearted
compassion) as much as anyone on Planet Earth.

It is for solidarity, and for an elbow in our common struggle, that
we are.

Yes, yes, I knew you know that. OK.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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