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New Left Review I/70, November-December 1971


José Carlos Mariátegui

The Anti-imperialist Perspective

To what extent can the situation of the Latin American republics be likened to that of other semi-colonial nations? [1] This article was first published in Amauta on May 21st, 1929, and read to the First Latin American Congress of Trade Unions, held in Montevideo in June 1929, by Julio Portocarrero. Their economic position is undoubtedly semi-colonial; and as native capitalism expands and imperialist penetration grows as a consequence, the semi-colonial characteristics of their economies will be clearly emphasized. The national bourgeoisie, however, believe co-operation with the imperialist powers to be their best guarantee of a rising rate of profit; and they are sufficiently convinced of their control over political power in their own countries to feel no serious fears for national sovereignty. Thus the Latin American bourgeoisie—which with the exception of Panama, has not yet experienced military occupation—is totally unwilling to consider the idea that a second struggle for Independence is necessary, although the apra [2] apra (Popular Revolutionary Alliance of America) founded in 1924 by R. Haya de la Torre as a Latin American alternative to Marxism. had ingenously assumed otherwise. The State, or rather the ruling class, has no yearning for a greater or more realistic degree of national autonomy. The struggle for Independence is, relatively speaking, too recent, its myths and symbols still too vivid in the consciousness of the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie. The illusion of national sovereignty remains intact and effective. It would be a serious error, therefore, to assume that there exists anywhere in that social class a revolutionary nationalist sentiment in any way similar to the response that has been a factor, in other circumstances, of anti-imperialist struggle in those Asian countries which have been brought under the imperialist heel in the last few decades.

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