Posadism, UFOs and doomsday communism – ARTnews.com

In the 1960s, the Argentine Trotskyist known as J. Posadas led an idiosyncratic socialist movement that adopted science fiction ideas about nuclear warfare, UFOs, and communication between species. After his death in 1981, Posadism was practically forgotten. But a few years ago, memes about this obscure defender of catastrophic communism began to proliferate in the left-wing corners of social media. In one, a white-haired Posadas dons a pair of Morpheus sunglasses, inviting us to take the “softly shiny green pill.” Another hijacks a drawing of ape-human evolution, tracing a progression from Hegel to Marx to Posadas to, finally, the fully evolved extraterrestrial. Based on the meméification of Posadas, the book by journalist AM Gittlitz I want to believe it: posadism, UFOs and apocalypse communism looks back on the history of Posadism to explore why this largely discredited movement has garnered so much interest recently. Although the memes adopt a tone of irony and ridicule, Gittlitz feels that they express something more: a desire among young radicals to understand an unconditional and permanent commitment to a revolutionary project, no matter how far down the road. to follow can get strange. Despite the image of the Posadists as “brainwashed Bolsheviks or socialist Scientologists,” they were sincere in their dedication to the class struggle and their certainty that the revolution was coming – a belief that appears today. no less eccentric than the existence of UFOs.

AM Gittlitz, I want to believe it: posadism, UFOs and apocalypse communism, London, Pluto Press, 2020; 272 pages, $ 25 paperback.
Pluto Press

Posadas was the nom de guerre of Homero Cristalli, a militant laborer who, after an impoverished childhood and a short football career, found his place among the haughty Trotskyist intellectuals of Buenos Aires in the late 1930s. proletarian experience on which they pontificated, and they brought the books and the theory. He began as revolutionaries often do, organizing unions, leading strikes and running for the study group, and worked his way up through the ranks of the Fourth International (an international socialist organization founded by Leon Trotsky and his supporters in 1938 as an alternative to the Stalinist Comintern). In 1951 Posadas and Uruguayan activist Alberto Sendic were appointed head of the Latin American Bureau (BLA), an organization which oversaw all Trotskyist activity in Latin America. Under their leadership, the BLA carried out revolutionary actions across the continent, organizing cadres involved in the revolution in Cuba, the guerrilla wars in Guatemala, and other uprisings in the Americas.

In the early 1960s, however, a strange turning point was brewing. Posadas began demanding excessive discipline from his supporters, including austere living conditions and bans on non-reproductive sex, homosexuality and abortion. He also decided to take over the leadership of the entire Fourth International, claiming that the Third World uprising now represents the beginning of history on the road to a socialist world. Someone like him, from the global South and seasoned in struggle, should lead, and the politically stagnant European and North American labor movements should follow. While that might have been a reasonable argument, it came through some erratic screeds. In 1962 Posadas and his supporters broke with the Fourth International, soon declaring their own rival movement.

Posadas has taken a number of extreme positions that seem blatantly absurd today, foremost among them his endorsement of nuclear war. He proclaimed that the Soviet Union should preemptively strike the United States, based on the belief that a socialist world order would arise from radioactive ashes. The logic behind this belief, familiar to any vulgar Marxist, was that history inevitably turned towards communism; a nuclear holocaust would only accelerate the transition. He is, however, best known for his statements about aliens. At a meeting in 1967, Posadas gave a speech in which he discussed UFO sightings and extraterrestrial life, speculating on the existence of beings capable of harnessing “all the energy existing in matter. “. Organizations like NASA, he argued, were constrained by a capitalist mindset focused on private property; any species advanced enough to develop the technology of intergalactic travel would necessarily have evolved beyond or bypassed capitalism. Someday, perhaps, they might be called upon to help resolve struggles on Earth.

Gittlitz suggests the speech was primarily intended to appease Dante Minazzoli, one of Posadas ‘closest comrades and a devoted ufologist, but Posadas’ megalomania still required him to circulate a transcript of the remarks in Posadist publications around the world. , under the title “Flying saucers, the process of matter and energy, of science, of the revolutionary and workers’ struggle and of the socialist future of humanity. Other unusual claims followed: After the birth of his daughter, Homerita, in 1975, he became preoccupied with strange teaching exercises and research into dolphin telepathy. As a result, the Posadists were presented as a space cult seeking contact with aliens, the predominant image of them that we have inherited today. While many of these theories and statements seem ludicrous, Gittlitz places Posadas’ catastrophism in its historical context, a period marked by the escalation of the nuclear arms race and the Cuban missile crisis: even Che Guevara has said that he was ready to embrace the mushroom cloud if he advanced the cause of socialist revolution. Likewise, Posadas’ speech on UFOs coincided with the attempts of respected scientists like Carl Sagan to locate and contact other intelligent life forms in our galaxy.

A meme showing Hegel's evolution to aliens

A posadist meme.
League of Intergalactic Workers — Posadist

As Gittlitz’s research shows, Posadas’ ideas may not have been so out of step with the historical moment he was living in, but his movement took on an increasingly cult quality. After several months in a Uruguayan prison in the early 1970s, Posadas moved to Italy, organizing a complex so that those around him could live in community. He eventually expelled veteran activists, including his own wife, and gathered around him young recruits with little experience in organization or politics. Another world was coming, Posada began to preach, in which the separation of the animate and inanimate worlds, the cosmos and humanity, would be abolished. It would be a world in which human lifespans would be extended, interspecies engagement would flourish, aliens would make contact, and the need for jokes would disappear.

At a time like ours, where the language of revolution has been co-opted by ethnonationalists, political reactionaries and companies like Space X and Amazon, what does Posadas offer? His eccentric ideas do not seem useful to fight against the impoverishment of our political discourse. But Gittlitz shows that their return to circulation is not without merit. The rebirth of Posadas is part of a larger recovery of “eccentric” figures who were exiled from the history of communism, including Victor Serge, Alexander Bogdanov, Nikolai Fyodorov and Hugo Blanco, based on the idea that these figures abandoned could offer a way to revitalize the communist project without repeating the debacles of the twentieth century. What we can take away from Posadism is not a belief in UFOs and heartbreaks, but the madness of optimism: the ability to imagine a policy guided by the needs of the weakest among us, a desire for more of the future and less of the past, and a willingness to leap into the unknown instead of safe shit.

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