evolutionaries (was Bolivar, San Martin, Mitre y Billiken)

Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar
Mon Sep 10 22:12:08 MDT 2001

En relación a evolutionaries  (was Bolivar, San Martin, Mitre y, 
el 10 Sep 01, a las 23:09, magellan dijo:

> I will enlarge what Xxxx is
> asking:  should all the  _libertadores de América_   [*]  and their
> predecessors in the 18th and 17th centuries be deemed revolutionaries?    
> I will enlarge Xxxx Xxxxxx's question once again:  should all the great
> popular (but non-Communist)  and by chance anti-imperialist leaders of the
> XXth century peripheral world as Kemal Pasha Atatürk, Gamal Abdel Nasser,
> Ahmed al Arabi  (XIXth century), Jawaharlal Nehru, Ahmed Ben Bella (alive),
> Muhammar al Kadaffi (alive), Juan Domingo Perón, Getúlio Vargas, Lázaro Cárdenas
> (the father) and a lot of others, should all them be deemed revolutionaries?    

I would say that Roberto has posed a second, different (though somehow related) 

In my own modest opinion, there is a crucial difference between the leaders of 
the 18th/19th Century wars of Independence in Latin America (Tiradentes and 
Toussaint being probably the first ones, together with Tupac Amaru in more 
senses than one, and the three of them were men of the 18th Century), and the 
national-bourgeois-democratic (in a structural, not necessarily a political, 
sense) leaders of the 20th Century. While I would agree with most of what he 
exposes on the latter, I still keep considering full blooded revolutionaries 
the first ones.

The answer may be posed (yes, I know, in a very Jewish manner) as a question: 
were Cromwell, Robespierre, revolutionaries? Or, since they did not represent 
the most ardent and proletarian tendencies of their respective movements we 
should put some inverted commas around the adjective? 

No. They were revolutionaries to the end. Even though Cromwell meant death and 
starvation for the Irish. Even though Robespierre would not even dream of 
giving freedom to the slaves in Saint Domingue. Yes, you had the "levellers" 
and "diggers" in England, as well as the followers of Babeuf in France. One 
feels more friendly with these latter, it is almost a matter of skin feeling. 

But the fact is that Cromwell or Robespierre were the "men of the moment" 
because they interpreted the concrete forces at play and made the most advanced 
political moves _acceptable by the level of development of the productive 
forces_. It was necessary to push "a little bit" ahead from what were the 
_actual_ necessities of the bourgeoisie in order to establish the bourgeois 
regime. But establishing the bourgeois regime, during the late 1700s or early 
1800s, was _the most revolutionary move that could be made_. Politics is always 

The same runs for the -on the other hand, fully Robespierrian in their best 
moments- leaders of our Independence wars. They were not representatives of 
bourgeois rule against an imperialist power in the age of socialism (yes, we 
_are_ already living through the age of socialism: the fact that capitalism can 
only give further death is the demonstration of this assertion). The host of 
national-non-socialist leaders in the Third World that Roberto mentions are not 
of the same wood. They never embraced the most advanced ideas at hand. They 
were always trying to carry on a "less than optimal" project.

This cannot be said of Bolívar, a lily white aristocrat who unleashes the Negro 
populations of the Llanos del Orinoco against his own class, nor of San Martín, 
a professional military who imposed a forcible levy on the rich of Mendoza, and 
subjected the economy of Cuyo to planning in order to prepare the Hannibalian 
crossing of the Andes while he ordered to fight "en pelotas, como nuestros 
paisanos los indios" (bare naked, like our fellow countrymen the Indians), nor 
of a lawyer like Castelli who climbed up the Tiahuanaco ruins and decreed from 
that sacred place of the Andean culture freedom from servitude for the peasants 
and mine slaves in the High Perú. What can be said of Artigas, that agrarian 
revolutionary, warrior for union and independence, and modern administrator of 
an industrialist project who had up to then been a high official of the Spanish 
administration and a head of the rural police in the frontiersland of current 
Uruguay? Or Belgrano, a timid lawyer of bookish look and perfect Spanish 
upbringing (he was the only one among the River Plate revolutionaries who 
attended to the University in Spain) who had made a brilliant carreer as an 
official in the progressive and oh-so-European Borbonic administration, but who 
decided to include in the flag of the revolutionary army the Sun, not _any_ Sun 
but the Inca Sun, and waved that flag in front of the roaring crowd of Creole 
and Indian soldiers? Were the Bolivian Indians wrong when they took parts of 
the skeleton of General Alvarez de Arenales with them as a relic to worship? 
Were they wrong in believing that this man had fought for the most advanced 
ideas on the Indian question in their time?

No. These were not "semi-revolutionaries" as Perón, Vargas, Cárdenas, Sukarno 
or Nasser. They were full revolutionaries, and they were defeated. The 
distinction is very important, because their inheritors are us, not the 
national-democratic leaders without socialist outlook that -however- knew at a 
particular time how to ride the waves of the stormy seas in the sense of 
revolution (seen as a process) and not of counter-revolution. And obtained the 
well deserved love of their poor countrypeople. 

But, save for some exceptions, it is us who can be moved by the imagery I have 
summoned in the paragraph above. Not the national-bourgeois or national-
democratic leaders. We must take all that baggage on our backs, and ride with 

Because we also want to make a revolution, the revolution that drinks its 
meaning from the most advanced and revulsive ideological sources available at 
our moment. During the age of the Libertadores, the sources were in the French 
Revolution. Ours are in socialism. 


Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar
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