The Argentinian radical J. Posadas (1912–1981) was a charismatic and eccentric figure in the Latin American Bureau of the Trotskyist Fourth International. In addition to being an influential theorist and driving force within postwar Latin American Trotskyism, Posadas believed that extraterrestrial societies held the key to human liberation on earth. In the 1960s, the Bureau of Latin American (BLA) split from the Fourth International, and over the next decade Posadas’s influence waned as he became more paranoid and isolated. The impact and legacy of the movement he led is assessed in an fascinating archival piece from 1977 entitled “A critical assessment of the former Latin American Bureau tendency within the Fourth International,” written by three former comrades of Posadas. The piece, which was translated by Nicolas Allen and annotated by A.M. Gittlitz, reflects on the rise and fall of the BLA, acknowledging Posadas’s eccentricity as a factor. Here’s an excerpt:
The entire degenerative process of the Posadist organization does not for us annul the value of Posadas’s original initiative. Ultimately, Posadas is a tragic figure, and only the most superficial people will explain his figure by focusing on his most grotesque and humorous aspects, which are not in short supply, but are also not determinant. These people are afraid that by looking deeply to the bottom of the well that is Posadism, they will see themselves looking back, and they thus seek to preserve their conservative life until it all comes crashing down. Since the regression of a small proletarian Trotskyist tendency is part of a larger problem involving the world revolution (similar to Stalinist aberrations, the idolization of Mao or Kim II Sung, or, more subtly, Togliatti), we are objectively concerned about a case that is not a question of simple individual madness …
The fundamental problem is the following: Trotskyism, the Fourth International, has not in any of its tendencies provided an answer to the challenge that Posadas and the BLA attempted to confront, although they lacked the power and capacity to do so: to insert Trotskyism into the working class, organizing a class-based proletarian Trotskyist tendency, and develop proletarian Trotskyism. Having attempted to redress this issue, mistakenly, without the proper means, but still doing so out of necessity, this tendency suffered the defeat that provides it with its tragic element. The defeat does not mean that the attempt was wrong, or that it was unnecessary.
Image of J. Posadas via YouTube.