“[Religion] is the opium of the people,” writes Marx in his introduction to Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions” (54). Perhaps one of his best-known quotes from his early writings, referenced both by those in accordance as well as opposition, Marx identifies religion as a reflection of humanity itself, a theological wool pulled over the eyes of the German people and by association European by none other than they themselves, coping with ‘real suffering’ by replacing it with heavenly suffering and finding illusory happiness where it cannot be found in its earthly form. “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of men is [then] a demand for their real happiness,” writes Marx, with the “call to abandon their illusions about their condition” being synonymous with a “call to abandon a condition which requires illusions” (54).
The rejection of religion is not so that man is left alone with his real suffering but instead so that man may then in turn engage in a rejection of real suffering, not clouded by illusion nor kept away from the source of his problems through layers of veils, coming to face with himself and taking action accordingly as a result of it. The obstacle that religion posed to class consciousness and revolutionary action seemed evident to Marx in the 19th century Europe where he spent his life, where Christianity had indeed manifested itself a reactionary projection of the ‘real suffering’ present in Europe, but it is critical in the modern application of and engagement with his early works to not separate his texts from the contexts in which they were written. Whereas Marx’s later works on the political economy are applicable well beyond their historical context, it’s his earlier writings regarding philosophical and religious critiques which are not so easily carried over as absolutes due to the inherent nuance in the topics they address. What may be true of religion in 19th century Europe may not remain the same in 21st century Europe, but even more critically is how what may be true of not only religious but historical contexts in Europe as a whole will almost certainly be incompatible with non-European realities. Where the economic theory of Marxism is applicable to the wide variety of instances of Capitalism and its development due to the absolute universality of its economic reality, one which has since if anything grown more universal and more absolute, it’s the religious aspect, in a broad sense, where Marxism should be able to adapt and thrive in reaction to its applied context, being malleable between societal realities in regards to its faith but unified and resolute through the overarching pursuit of human liberation; as to interpret Marx’s dismissal of religion in 19th century Europe as an absolute dismissal of religion as a whole is to nip in the bud the otherwise blossoming flower of opportunity presented by religious manifestations outside of Marx’s immediate context.
Perhaps the best example of not only the possibility but opportunity of synthesizing Marxism with religion is then found in South America, outside of even the extensive European colonialism which decimated the continent, in the Indigenous communities which represent an existence outside of the Western context, and operate within a cultural reality an ocean apart from that in which Marx’s religious critiques were developed. Where Marxist experiments may have failed in a European context they may find success in an Indigenous one, with Indigenous communities offering strong outlets for Marxism which would be otherwise lost had they been simply dismissed for the spiritual foundations they reside on; for it’s these spiritual foundations themselves that are the source of Indigenous revolutionary potential and which demand a reconsideration of mainstream Marxist perspectives on religion. South American Indigenous myth is able to exist in synergy with Marxism through its relationship with the organization of people and spiritual connection with material reality, while also providing the groundwork for ways in which different contexts can provide opportunity and growth to Marxist theory.
In this regard, the path has already been set upon. Jose Carlos Mariátegui, a Peruvian intellectual born in 1894 and dying prematurely in 1930. In his life shortened by chronic illness, Mariátegui managed to accomplish what many have not been able to do in lifetimes twice the span of his own: he was a prolific writer, ajournalist, activist, philosopher, and most importantly socialist, incredibly active in the Peruvian political scene in the early 20th century and leaving a long lasting impact on the nation afterwards. The most influential of his work is his application of Marxism onto the unique Latin American reality separate from that of Europe, with much of his work being focused specifically on the ‘Peruvian Reality’ he so deeply analyzes in his most famous work, Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality. It is thus ultimately Mariátegui’s work that lies at the foundation of our own, and Mariátegui’s work which we seek to progress and build upon through the retrospective ability we wield writing in the ‘present.’
The Peruvian reality, just as that of so much of Latin America, was (and I would say is, but prefer to use the past tense as to place emphasis on Mariátegui’s work on the subject matter) defined by the Indigenous communities that preceded it and the remnants of colonial rule that so violently came to dominate it. It existed in a semi-feudal condition, one where the liberal capitalism had not been able to truly penetrate and displace the supremacy of the old landholding class, the remnants of the hierarchies of colonial rule which kept their positions in society, an old feudal class “camouflaged or disguised as a republican bourgeoisie” (Mariátegui, “The Problem of the Land”). Disentailment, the breaking apart of large property to make way for small, the liberalization of property pursued by the liberalism of a new constitution and the practical necessities of the development of a new capitalist economy, “struck at the Indian community” rather than the large landholding class aforementioned, a class whose strength has actually increased over a century of Republican rule per Mariátegui, at the expense of the Indigenous individual and his communities (“The Problem of the Land”). It was indigenous communities, held communally between their members and tended to in a similar fashion, bound to their land by spiritual and religious ties and maintained sustainably through long-held practices, which were broken apart and fed to the beast of capitalist liberalization and the pursuit of small property while the latifundistas and their great property holdings grew only fatter in a system which was neither feudalist nor capitalist but rather an amalgamation of both (“The Problem of the Land”).
This was then the ‘problem of the Indian,’ the title and focus of one of Mariátegui’s seven essays, the position which indigenous communities found themselves in, a problem which was economic, as Mariátegui argues, not a result of ethnic difference or any societal superstructure but rather the economic foundation of semi-feudal condition which was truly the source of the problem (Mariátegui, “The Problem of the Indian”). The Indian lived in a state of servitude within the latifundia, one which invents both racist excuses for the oppression of the Indian and actively fights back against pursuits to better the Indigenous condition as it’d undermine the feudal relationship which the latifundistas so enjoy (“The Problem of the Indian”). The theoretical liberalism of the Peruvian state is ineffective in the face of the feudal practices throughout the country, with legislative or administrative patchwork being meaningless when placed upon the twisted socioeconomic condition inflicted upon Indigenous peoples (“The Problem of the Indian”). “The experience of all countries that have evolved from their feudal stage shows us,” writes Mariátegui, that “liberal rights have not been able to operate without the dissolution of feudalism” (“The Problem of the Indian”).
The questioning of liberalism, of capitalist development, as the means of dissolution of that which remains of the feudal condition, is then called into question when it seems equally opposed to Indigenous existence as well as theoretically set to destroy Indigenous life and community which may otherwise be capable of serving as a foundation for socialist development itself. The ‘problem of the Indian’ is economic, being both the unwilling foundation of the feudal latifundia which resists liberalization and the greatest victim of the pursuit of small property which the development of capitalism entails. He is caught between the old feudalism imposed on him by colonial powers and the new capitalism brought to his lands by foreign interests, two stages in a process of economic development which has been followed throughout Europe but neither of which are compatible with his South American community nor way of life. To Mariátegui, “the moment for attempting the liberal, individualist method in Peru [had] already passed. Aside from reasons of doctrine, I consider-that our agrarian problem has a special character due to an indisputable and concrete factor: the survival of the Indian “community” and of elements of practical socialism in indigenous agriculture and life” (“The Problem of the Land”). The question is a matter of the viability of Indigenous communities as foundations for socialist development, to put aside the presupposed need for a stage of liberal capitalist development in the pursuit of a socialist future; specifically in a Latin American context which both exists within and was born from different conditions than those of Europe, through the ‘hijacked’ development of a capitalist economy and the unique condition of Indigenous community and spirituality which should not simply have a foreign mode of development immediately plastered over it.
This context of a semi-feudal nation, stuck in between the worlds of dated nobility and liberal capitalism, with a contrast of the hypothesized viability of communal communities in regard to socialist aspirations, was surprisingly not exclusive to Peru in the decades surrounding Mariátegui’s life. Found elsewhere in Tsarist Russia, communal peasant communities existed as a strikingly similar point of interest for Pyotr Tkachov, whose arguments for the revolutionary potential of communal communities in the face of a semi feudal nation were, in a stroke of luck, additionally thoroughly addressed by Engels himself as a result of his 1874 open letter, presenting an incredibly valuable opportunity for comparative analysis through precedence when examining the revolutionary potential of Latin American Indigenous communities ourselves.
Tkachov was a leading Russian populist in the latter half of the nineteenth century, seeking opportunities for revolutionary activity in the country. Prior to the 1890s the Russian socialist movement was largely populist, believing that Russia there could be an “early socialist revolution based on peasant rather than proletarian masses,” using Russian village commune as the “nucleus of a future Russian socialist society” (Tucker, 665), a proposition strikingly similar to Mariátegui’s aspirations for a revolution founded on Indigenous communities and values, rejecting the need for a stage of liberal bourgeois development and the full development of the proletariat. Tkachov wrote that the communal aspects of peasant life and what he argued was a weak Russian state that “hangs in the air” provided the basis for a potential socialist revolution already, more so than even Western Europe at the time. In a response Engels wrote On Social Relations in Russia, writing a scathing critique in which he denounced the potential of the concept and stated that “it is not the Russian state that hangs in the air, but rather Mr. Tkachov” (668); whereas the latter critique in regard to the Russian state and Mr. Tkachov is not quite relevant to Indigenous communities in Latin America, Engel’s criticisms on the question of the revolutionary potential of a communal organization in a society not yet fully transformed by bourgeois development represent a precedence for Indigenous socialist aspirations, with On Social Relations in Russia being the “fullest statement of his own and Marx’s appraisal of Russian society in the late nineteenth century and the prospects for revolution there” (665).
Engel’s relevant critiques of the revolutionary potential of Russian society can be focused around three main points, being (a) the misleading organization of the Russian village commune, not being truly communal and rather existing as a microcosm of bourgeois society itself, (b) the lack of unison and organization between individual peasant communities, and (c) the lack of productivity from these peasant communities and their lack of viability as a foundation for national organization.
The peasant communes were barely communal, noted Engels, with the land not being “cultivated by the peasants in common so that the product may then be divided,” but rather “divided up among the various heads of families, [with each cultivating] his allotment for himself” (672). Through this, “great differences in degree of prosperity” existed between members of the same community, and agricultural as well as general production was shattered between the interests of individuals (672). Among the peasants even exist “bloodsuckers” or ‘kulaks,’ notes Engels (and even Tkachov!), who take advantage of the poorer peasant’s need to sell grain for money in order to simply survive, see shortages and famines as economic opportunities (668), and buy up and rent out the lands of other peasants and nobles for individual profit (672); “there is no country in which . . . capitalistic parasitism is so developed, so covers and entangles the whole country, the whole mass of its population, with its nets as in Russia,” writes Engels, the result of an incoherent agricultural society infested with ‘bloodsuckers’ who make up a portion of the peasant population themselves (668).
The issues of unison and production are then byproducts of this incoherent state of peasant condition itself, representing further avenues through which the unviability of these peasant communities is acutely expressed. “In Russia the same word, mir, means . . . ‘world’ and ‘peasant community’,” describes Engels, a result of the “complete isolation of the individual communities from one another,” creating throughout the country “similar, but the very opposite of common interests” (672). Prior peasant revolts in Russia are only further indicative, the revolts having been numerous but individually isolated, and always against nobility or individual officials but “never against the tsar, except when a false tsar put himself at its head and claimed the throne” (674). There was no unified spirit amongst peasant communities, and often not even within them. This incoherence resulted in agricultural inefficiency as well, with peasant communal ownership being a “fetter, a brake on agricultural production” (671), which would later be the target of immense critical agricultural reforms by the Soviet Union in an effort to collectivize and modernize agricultural production.
Having such an outline of the failures of Russian peasant communities in serving as a revolutionary base for socialist efforts then founds a structure by which an argument for the viability of Indigenous communities (thus also their spirituality and religiosity inseparable from their relationship to their land and organization) can be made, circumventing the pitfalls that Tkachov had pointed out for him and further enabling the already sound arguments of Mariátegui through precedence. In the Indigenous communities of the Andes, however, rather than the traditional organizational structures and beliefs of the oppressed peasants being obstacles on the revolutionary path, there is a revolutionary energy latent in the philosophical and socio-political groundings of Andean communities. Indigenous groups in the Andes, once disparate, are uniting in a common material struggle against the ruling classes, engaging with their own traditions as a weapon against the violence of colonialism and capital.
Despite many groups having lived together under the Incan Empire, the Indigenous people of the Andean region are remarkably diverse. Within the borders of the Plurinational State of Bolivia alone, there exist 36 official Indo-American languages (“República del Bolivia - Constitución de 2009, title. 1, article. 5, section. 1”). Thus, to speak of the Indigenous Andean as an abstract category is not particularly useful in a strict ethnographic sense. However, the common world-historical processes of dispossession and primitive accumulation have induced a noticeable economic homogenization of the abstract notion of Indigenous Andean when viewed from a wide sociological lens.
Quoting the Peruvian Marxist Philosopher José Carlos Mariátegui—who recognized this economic homogenization of the Andean native—Webber succinctly describes the unmaking of many Indigenous communities in Peru:
The existing communal property of Indigenous communities in the highlands is not replaced instantly through Spanish colonialism by the succession of individual property rights and onset of capitalism, but rather these communities are ‘stripped of their land’ in the post-independence period ‘for the benefit of the feudal or semi-feudal landholdings that are constitutionally incapable of technical progress’. Meanwhile, on the Pacific coast, large landholdings break the “feudal routine” and commence before anywhere else in the country ‘a capitalist technique’ under the influence of foreign capital . . . (588).
These economic forces—mechanically driven by the valorization cycle of capital—undergird the social disintegration of Indigenous social structures across the Andes. Some communities have survived this, but on the whole, these processes of either peasantization or proletarianization have subsumed many communities under these classes.
This phenomenon, as noted by Mariátegui, makes clear the inextricability of class and race in the Andean region: “Any treatment of the problem of the Indian—written or verbal—that fails or refuses to recognize it as a socio-economic problem is but a sterile, theoretical exercise destined to be completely discredited” (“The Problem of the Indian”). These devastating processes, while undermining traditional ways of life, have also engendered new forms of solidarity in the resistance to them. A significant example of rising unity between disparate Indigenous communities in the face of a universalized struggle is symbolized by the common use of the “wip[h]ala, a rainbow-colored flag commonly associated with the Incas” (Becker 3). The most conspicuous use of the symbol is its adoption as a national flag for the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Furthermore, despite the fact that “[t]he Incas were relative latecomers to Ecuador, and activists often saw them as an imperial rather than liberating force,” the flag has also come to represent the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (Becker 3). Of course, this is only a symbolic representation of growing interconnectedness through ideas and material struggle between Andean Indigenous groups and the building of a sense of nationhood among Indigenous peoples. CONAIE, which is “organized on the basis of these fourteen Indigenous nationalities from the [Ecuadorian] coast, highlands, and Amazon,” sought to create one large pan-Indigenous movement dedicated to defending Indigenous concerns and agitating for social, political, and educational reforms” (Becker 4,9). Thus, growing resistance to capitalist despoliation of Indigenous life and lands takes on a clear and identifiable pattern: to protect their well-being, their ways of life, and their uniqueness, Indigenous groups build bridges between each other, which may alter particularities (recall the symbol of wiphala in Ecuador), but forge a universal resistance under a broader banner of indigeneity that ultimately fights to preserve their singularities. This correlates with the concept of Tawantinsuyu, which has gained prominence in many Andean social movements. Tawantinsuyu was the name of the “old Inca Empire,” but the movements employing the concept rarely advocate for this specific end (Becker 3). Instead, the term serves “as a rhetorical device to call for pan-Indigenous unity in a movement toward social justice,” which “rather than providing a specific course of action, [is] a broad political ideology that [gives] legitimacy, coherence, strength, unity, and continuity to disparate Indigenous movements” (Becker 3). The rallying around Tawantinsuyu is a testament to the common struggle between Indigenous Andeans who may come from radically different cultures.
Despite differences between many Indigenous groups in the Andes, there is a similarity in cosmologies and customs among pueblos that is instrumental to the formation of a movement of national liberation. These similarities are fundamental to the revolution Indigenous militant philosopher Felipe Quispe envisions. Webber, referring to Quispe, writes, “[h]e calls for an insurrection ‘supported by our own resources from the communities and the unions,’ a rebellion of a ‘communal and Indigenous’ character, which employs ‘our own philosophical thought’” (Webber 594). Quispe asserts that there are certain aspects of cosmology and custom that can and ought to be employed for anti-colonial rebellion. When Quipse remarks that “when we speak about the Indigenous, Aymara or Quechua, revindicating our ancestral culture, at the same time we are automatically embracing our brothers who work in the cities as workers,” (Webber 593) this must be understood as a statement that a true anti-colonial movement is anti-capitalist; capitalism in the Andes never arose intra-culturally as in Europe: it has always been and always is a colonial imposition. Quispe’s statement here encompasses our principal critique: if in Protestantism Max Weber finds the spirit of capitalism, then in the Andean pueblos we find the spirit of communism. Mariátegui concurs: “in Indigenous villages where families are grouped and bonds of heritage and communal work have been extinguished, strong and tenacious habits of cooperation and solidarity that are the empirical expressions of a communist spirit still exist” (Webber 590).
One such manifestation of the communist spirit is the “ayllu,” a traditional social unit of the Incan Empire, that is best described as “a multiple-level community that ties kin groups to territory through communal ownership of land and a common cosmology” (Pape 105). The structure of an ayllu is not uniform throughout the Andes, but many have common aspects that reveal a socialist character. The first we will examine is the monthly assembly. Pape writes,
The monthly assembly . . . is the backbone of local organization, where discussion of problems and decisions concerning the community take place; nothing is done without discussion and a decision, preferably in consensus. In order for a meeting to be valid, a majority of comunarios must be present (115).
This structure, per Pape, seems to be of pre-Columbian origin and is thus very entrenched in Indigenous practice in the region. The value that is placed in consensus decisions is to the point that a decision not arrived at by consensus is seen as less valid, and for this reason simple majority voting is rarely employed. If applied consistently, this method of decision-making leads to rigorous debate among community members and more unity after a decision is made.
What is the function of the assembly? According to Pape, the assembly serves five fundamental internal purposes: “settling disputes, ensuring that social rules are observed, organizing communal work, planning development projects, and overseeing collective aspects of production” (115). With its collective production and communal projects, we see that there is no room in the ayllu for private property or extraction of surplus value. Additionally, those who labor have a direct political influence on the body that organizes production, and thus have a level of control over their labor that we do not see in capitalist society. In the ayllu, the worker expends his labor power towards a communal end that benefits him directly. Another socialist aspect of the ayllu is the notion of rotational governance: “[a]ll married males must serve as communal authority at some point in their lives” (116). This rotational governance prevents the leaders of each ayllu from becoming detached from those who they represent, and serves as an excellent model for governance that is centralized enough to be efficient but balanced enough to distribute power in a just way.
However, it is clear from the previous example that the ayllu have some discriminatory elements. Women and newcomers to the community (known as either kantu runas or agregados) have limited political rights: women cannot participate in monthly assemblies, kantu runas are not afforded any social mobility and are often disregarded in ayllu meetings, and agregados are de facto barred from holding the highest communal positions (Pape 116). However, as Pape makes clear, the more restrictive aspects of tradition are overcome when customs are incorporated into unions and revolutionary organizations. “The main differences [between the union and the ayllu],” Pape writes, “are first that the formalized internal stratification in ayllus had direct consequences for access to political participation . . . in the union, there are no formal barriers to women’s participation” (111). So, as capitalism and semi-feudal conditions inexorably impose themselves on Indigenous life, bringing with them the inescapable truth of class antagonism, the Andean is brought into the fold of the modern dialectical class struggle—and in this struggle her traditions are transformed and reborn, in a second life that retains the first’s radical fundamentals and supersedes its restrictive elements. The Andean in the union is brought into direct conflict with her oppressors: the latifundista and the capitalist. In their traditional structures, they were regarded as part of a surplus population by the capitalist class; now the Indigenous Andeans have access to the ultimate leverage: the withholding of labor power.
These transformations bring the Indigenous community into a new arena of struggle, but this does not undermine the indigeneity of unions such as the Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia: “[i]t would therefore be erroneous to assume that one locality or its legitimate representative organization is more ‘authentic’ or Indigenous than another” (Pape 119). In fact, they present an opportunity for the full liberation and preservation of Indigenous life, by engaging in struggle against the mode of production that engendered their oppression in the first place, as well as by bringing Indigenous influence into an already existing class struggle. Mariátegui emphasizes that the possibility of the universality of socialism only comes as a result of the totalizing process of capital flow throughout the world in the current mode of production—capitalism—cementing internationalism as a historical reality (Webber 586). This is of course true between the countries of the world, but it must also be extended to the Andean plurinational reality. Any possibility for anti-colonial success rests on its expression as internationalism in a working-class movement with Indigenous workers at the helm. Of course, the experience of the white or mestizo urban worker is radically different and less devastating than what the Indigenous Andean has faced; this is not being questioned. What is important here is to understand that a movement of national liberation in the Andes must confront capitalism and thus subsume the non-Indigenous workers into its struggle.
Besides the revolutionary customs of Andean peoples, there are philosophical components of Andean culture that can inform a revolutionary movement and allow Indigenous workers to live the revolution. Andean philosophy, like many others, starts with the question of being. We must first understand the fundamentals to draw out the radical conclusions. In the Quechua language, Cay and tiay are two necessary components to posit ontological presence: they constitute the how and where of being—both active and situated being (Salomon 8). Cay is being as action: an individual is made up of his or her deeds, for example. Tiay's approximate translation is “to sit down . . . to dwell, to inhabit,” “it emphasizes individuality as substance,” and “expresses the idea of existence in the form of hard materials or as in permanent corporations like villages” (Salomon 9). These ontological definitions of cay and tiay roughly correspond with the existentialist leitmotif “existence precedes essence”. These modes of being, or what Salomon calls ontological accents exist on a continuum, in which cay may be accumulated and hardened into tiay. This phenomenon is seen in the case of deities known as huacas: “[t]he more energetic and fateful their actions, the farther they move from soft biotic states, full of potential, to the hard states, full of permanence, seen in deified mountains and other land features” (Salomon 9). Salomon adds that “[t]he passage to durable being was accordingly distributed unequally through society in favor of persons through whom the interests of kinship corporations were effectively transmitted” (15). It is here where we begin to see the revolutionary consciousness latent in Indigenous philosophy. The Indigenous ontology does not afford permanence to oppressive systems or the socially reified category of value that dominates our lives. Only the mountains, the sky, the cycles of rain, the trees—only life itself—is sacred and inextricable from existence. The prevailing Western ontology is depressing: it is human nature to be greedy, to consume, to do anything to “succeed”. In the Andean philosophy, human nature is fickle, subordinate to the conditions of life and nature. Any person who adheres to the Andean continuum of being will never declare capital a natural law.
Another revolutionary Andean belief is Pachakuti. Swinehart provides an indispensable deconstruction of the term:
Pacha translates as ‘time’ but also as ‘space’. Quechua and Aymara share… the semiotic unity of time and space, making pacha perhaps best glossed as ‘space-time’. The second part of the word, kuti, means ‘return’ but also ‘to turn over’ . . . Pachakuti, then, is the turning over space-time, the overturning of the world . . . Pachakuti has a distinctly messianic temporality (Swinehart 98).
For a long time, the concept of Pachakuti was defined as a passive cosmic event, but scholarship and political thought inspired by uprisings such as the Indigenous uprisings spearheaded by CONAIE in Ecuador in the 1990s have begun seeing it in a more social and active light: “It [is] ‘a profound turning or transformation of the world’ intended to ‘rid the world of injustice and oppression and restore order and equality’. Pachakuti . . . in a nutshell is the Quechua word for the Andean concept of ‘revolution.’” (Becker 2). Social leaders such as Luis Macas of CONAIE channel Pachakuti as the creation of a future of self-determination and liberation by interpreting and remembering a past of oppression and resistance. Pachakuti demonstrates an advanced understanding of what a revolution must be. It recognizes that the problems of the Indigenous Andean cannot be solved by “progress” or “reform,” and it dares to imagine a completely different world to the unjust one of today. In the question of reform or revolution, Pachakuti understands that the only way is a complete overturning of the present state of things.
Looking back to the failed aspirations of Pyotr Tkachov, Indigenous communities are able to overcome the issues encountered by his fellow Russian populists and are able to perhaps serve as the ‘nucleus’ of a future Latin American socialist society themselves. Indigenous communities do not exhibit the micro-capitalist activities that Russian society did, the plague of wealth accumulation at the expense of community members being antithetical to held notions on relationships between people and the natural world itself. The lack of unison noted by Engels, one where communities held “similar, but the very opposite of common, interests” (Tauger 672), is reversed amongst Indigenous groups as a result of oppressive systems which ultimately consider them one and all the same, evident in the wiphala and concept of Tawantinsuyu. The “brake on agricultural production” (671) itself resultant from incoherent production within the Russian peasantry takes on a different form in Indigenous communities, both not being a result of incompetence but rather sustainability and being the potential source of critical lessons in regards to living without dominating concepts of perpetual growth in a finite world, implementing the aforementioned sustainability which we as a society in the face of natural disaster are in pursuit of.
Indigenous religion and tradition in the Andes, far from being the opium of the people, then represent a revolutionary force. Communal structures mark the character of burgeoning union movements, instilling an ultra-democratic character; religious beliefs provide a spiritual buttress to conclusions already established as historical realities by Marxism. Additionally, the class struggle becomes—due to the fact that Indigenous customs, language, life, and being are under assault—an existential struggle, which fills the space of the mythical aspects of Marxism that Mariátegui discusses. Yountae, writing about Mariátegui, asserts, “[d]isavowing the liberal-secular division between the spiritual and the political carries important connotations for breaking from the colonial regime of power” (Yountae 14). The centering of Indigenous belief in a revolutionary socialist struggle accepts the interrelation of myth and politics, it makes the religious political, and prints onto revolutionary movements a fulfilling spiritual certainty of the coming of a new world in which Indigenous being is preserved.
A major concept in this regard is that of degrowth, to scale back and reimagine our economies through a sustainable model, more information being found in Indigenous perspectives, buen vivir, sumaq kawsay and degrowth at https://doi.org/10.1057/dev.2011.85.
Becker, Marc. Pachakutik : indigenous movements and electoral politics in Ecuador. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2011, pp. 1–5.
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“República Del Bolivia - Constitución De 2009.” Political Database of the Americas, 5 July 2011, https://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Bolivia/bolivia09.html. Accessed 6 May 2022.
Salomon, Frank. “How the Huacas Were: The Language of Substance and Transformation in the Huarochirí Quechua Manuscript.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 33, 1998, pp. 7–17, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20166998. Accessed 5 May 2022.
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Tucker, Robert C., et al. “The Marx-Engels Reader.” Norton, 1978.
Webber, Jeffery R. “The Indigenous Community as ‘Living Organism’: José Carlos Mariátegui, Romantic Marxism, and Extractive Capitalism in the Andes.” Theory and Society, vol. 44, no. 6, 2015, pp. 575–98, http://www.jstor.org/stable/43694926. Accessed 28 Apr. 2022.
Yountae, An. “Secularism Meets Coloniality: Mariátegui's Andean Political Theology.” Political Theology, vol. 18, no. 8, 2017, pp. 677–692., https://doi.org/10.1080/1462317x.2017.1325991.
By Alejandro Álava & Samuel Araura