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Latin America and the new left the topic for the eleven hundred thousand seventy first consecutive broadcast of the Georgetown University radio forum. Another in a series of educational and informative programs from Washington D.C. The Georgetown forum was founded in 1946. This is Wallace Manning speaking to you by transcription from the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of Georgetown University historic Jesuit seat of learning in the nation's capital. Today's discussion will be Latin America. Then you will laugh. Participating are Dr. Louis C. i get our associate professor of history at Georgetown University and author of Marxism in Latin America and Dr. Brady Tyson associate professor of Latin American Studies School of International Service the American University. Words often change meaning in the passage of time and from region to region. Here
in the United States the term New Left is rapidly becoming familiar. It's said that Latin America our neighbor to the south also has a new laptop but is it the same. The term New Left in Latin America includes several different groups of radicals. These range from groups of students a lecture promoting on Rast to guerrilla groups in the mountains. What do they stand for. In order to understand the principles of the new laughed we must consider the old laugh in Latin America in whose history of crisis the New Left emerged. For such examination we have invited two professors who have made an extensive study of Marxism and communism in Latin America. We're going to begin by asking Dr. i get our what we mean by crisis of the old laughed. Well these so-called crisis is a long process and it's very difficult to give a short answer to it. But if I have to reduce the point
to one I should say that what they call the crisis of the old left it was basically a crisis of leadership in Latin America in mainly in the end of the 40s and the 50s. There was a growing sensation in many groups yon intellectuals and writers and students that the communist parties in Latin America who usually form the own left had in the revolutionary leadership and they had failing in guiding the masses to a revolutionary stand they had become bureaucratic wise or anything they called them. And this is this dissolution with the members of the parties of the own left was in my opinion even if I would be it is a very complex phenomenon in my opinion was the begin in the opening of a new article that could be considered the emergence of the New Left. Dr. Tyson How would you characterize your life.
Mr. Fanning The problem with us is that the term new left already has a meaning in this country. Now there is a new left in Latin America but it's distinctly different in my opinion from the New Left in the United States. The new left in Latin America is a reaction to the particular problems of Latin America and our reaction is not ocular has said to the failure of leadership of the old left in Latin America. You might also note in passing that there is a difference between the old left in the United States and the old laugh in Latin America. But the modern new left in Latin America is one that is more radical than the old left tired of the caution tired of the theory of gathering strength of the old left tired of the bureaucrat ization of the old af tired of the dogmatism of the old left. In some senses even tired of the conspiratorial politics of the old left they distrust these democratic socialist. They want revolution now. They are
really more Marxist Maoist perhaps than they are Marxist Leninist and they see in some senses violence as a catharsis and some ways like France manone saw violence. There is a new left. It's not limited to students but I would suspect myself that the majority of people who we would call the new left in Latin America are young intellectuals. How would you characterize it. Well I agree partially with Professor Tyson but in one sense I would say the real problem is that the new left is the final lesson that in America by exclusion those who refuse to belong to the over left are members of the new left and then you have or you could find they're Trotskyites socialist New Radicals all writers like Columbia but simply refuse to be classified. They they want a change in revolution and violence but they are usually all posed to many things and they refuse precisely
to have a definite program a concrete objective a classification. And that's why the phenomenon of the new leftist saw complicated and so difficult to place really. Dr. Tyson the fragmentation of the Old Left has given rise to many groups as Dr. Aguilar has said it is difficult to distinguish which groups are still in the Marxist tradition are the author Dr. Marcus tradition. And which groups though heavily indebted to Marxism could be called New Left. In fact I think that we've gone along long enough now to be able to say that some groups that passed beyond Orthodox Marxism into what we might call new leftism are coming back into the doc's Marxism. We see some of the same phenomenon in the American left today where a group like the society the STDs first was anti dogmatic Marxism and later became just in the past year or so reverted to a type of orthodox Marxism. So when
we're dealing with the new left in Latin America I myself am a little uneasy by characterizing those whom the communist parties would characterize as ultra leftist are radical leftist or extreme leftists are in a good Marxist term adventurist as characterizing them as new leftists because to me the term you leftists has a rejection of some of the political aspects of orthodox Marxism and as more of an emphasis upon the humanistic content in Marxism. To me the group that is most similar to the American new left in Latin America is the is some elements of the Catholic left groups that emphasize the existential rather than the dogmatic nature of the struggle that emphasize the importance of achieving participation of people in society rather than relying upon the traditional belief in democratic centralism those who emphasize the necessity for dialogue and for a cultural revolution. The change is the
values of a whole society rather than just a political revolution. These groups in the Catholic left also share power however with the old left and other groups of The New Left. A sense of betrayal is not argue Lars pointed out they feel betrayed not only by the old left but by the traditional democratic institutions. I think that the sensation of betrayal in our times and perhaps is why I and I think that Dr. Tyson mentioned something very important in some of these groups become then with the passing of time more orthodox sometimes and then they are accused of betraying the left but this is because I think the accusation to the so-call there had been many times exaggerate the communist parties in Latin America that are being dismissed by the New Left as useless and all instrument of bureaucracy and that is sold out.
Is is that an exaggeration and they don't take into account the usual or the history of those parties. They forget that this part is worth fighting for. Social causes must be for these members of the new live were born under precisely some of the lessons that they had learned are still good enough for the new left to learn and for example I should mention one point in the all left and I I don't like either the terminology of all left the left. This all is a very difficult concept but they all left when the new wave of guerrilla instrument appear in Latin America when there was the idea at least in certain groups that it was enough to go to the mountains and fight to promote the revolution. Following what I I think it was in some cases the marriage of the Cuban phenomenon. They all left the communist parts kept saying this is not so. There are many circumstances that change you have to take into account social factors historical factors. Many groups
of radicals refuse to fall or to leave and listen to them. They went to the mountains and in many cases they all left for the ride the conditions were not ripe were not favorable and the result was a series of the Sasser or as in the case of certain nations. The lesson was also forgotten when the conditions are not ready for a revolution. A revolutionary attend could produce precisely the a strengthening of the right a military coupe or return over dictatorship. What I mean is that this attitude of the New Left all worthy of all left at least in Latin America which is where I know a little bit more has been in many cases exaggerated and distorted the image of these parties. You have a good point Luis. One of the characteristics of the new left in Latin America and the new left in the United States have in common is a certain contempt for history.
They're tired of reasoning and they're tired of studying. They want action and action has become almost an end in itself. You have heard as I have often the criticism leveled at the American New Left that they seek agitation for its own sake and also of course the charge leveled leveled against the new left in Latin America that it seeks revolution as an engine itself. This of course comes from a certain frustration a certain disillusionment a certain impatience certain loss of the traditional methods of studying in achieving revolution. This I historicism as it has been called leads of course to the inevitable result of those who do not know history repeating the errors of past history and of course the New Left pretending to have freed itself from history has only succeeded sometimes in imitating the errors of previous groups in the left and trying to measure the dimension of the neighbor laughed and they all laughed.
Could you. Are you able to bring We talk so far you've talk so far and in terms of Latin America are you able to bring it down into certain countries and give us an idea of relative strengths now. Dr. Tyson is very difficult because Dr. ocular has pointed out in his book all over Latin America we have a rather general situation of repression of the left. Not in every country but in most countries. And therefore for those who are not immediately on the field in one particular area and who don't have very good personal contact it's rather difficult to know what's going on. But I would think that the new left in the sense of the humanist Catholic left is strongest in perhaps Brazil and Venezuela and Chile and that the new left of disaffected and university students is strongest
perhaps in Mexico other than this I am not able to make a calculation as to the relative strengths are potentiality of the gorilla left of the romantic left those who want. Instant revolution and who believe that it can only be achieved through the purifying process of a violent revolution. These are the adventure. Remember these words would be the people whom the traditional communist parties would characterize as adventurous. We I think it passed really out of this phase I would be interested to see a doctor ocular agreed that the phase of guerrilla romanticism ended roughly with the death of Shaikh Givati before the time before the death of shape. There was the belief that a romantic determined group of guerrillas could repeat the experience of a I think said turning the Andes into the mystery of the South American continent. Do you agree Luis that the phase of brutal romanticism is about over and they were probably in an interim period a transition period looking for a new new forms of expression of the left
in Latin America. I don't know if it is over because it's difficult if circumstances change and suddenly a guerilla when some subset improve and you'll find a new way of guerrilla. But there is no doubt that there is a declining trend in America a more realistic approach in many circles to realize what I was saying before that the struggle is long. The enemy is not so weak that only 12 men in the mountains are not enough to defeat a government that even today something that not openly bought it was said by the all left all the way that the Cuban example is not quite the example of a victorious guerilla war. You have to consider the role of the middle class the role of the peasants on the labor etc. etc.. But to measure what you. Ask about Mr. Fanning to measure the force of the New Left. We have to consider this also this difficult in and we are sorry we are only having difficulty here.
There is what I call the pass in support for the New Left which could give a wrong impression of its force. The New Left a still or what we call new level. These had been gathered from what we are saying have no program no programme no cohesion really is more an attitude than a party. Now suppose I do take the case of Mexico in a minor group provoke a rebellion in the university and because of many of the things they are saying are just they haven't mediately vast support of many students and then they could give the impression for a let's say a superficial observer the New Left is powerful in Mexico. But then the governor to make certain reforms. And then suddenly the group remains isolated because the mass of the students were just willing to support them. As far as those reforms went. And that's what makes so difficult. There are I have seen the same thing in the University of San Marcos in total cry again the government a cry again in favor of the president a
mass meeting. But when it comes a time of action then you will suddenly realize that the New Left is still a very small group and that is not united by a common program or I even there it is a very common objective. Aside from the splashing support and right to the matter of the common objective. Is there any evidence of an international structure a skeletal structure that that is at work whether it might be communism or or whatever. Well I think that this something that is close to it is what Cuba tried to organize with the all of us but one of the problem at least for for what I have read even in the Cuban press is that precisely there are many radical groups that refuse to join an organization and to follow directive because then they consider that they are abandoning the traditional or let's say the span of the
new left I don't know if Dr. Tyson is going to agree with me what I say but I think that in certain aspects certain characteristic of the left could be are simulated or at least it reminds me of the movement the Arcus movement of the beginning of the 20th century was this type of reaction let's fight let's obtain this objective let's let's make violence for violence but when they were asking labor movement or a political group let's organize something and had a common a common party an instrument to fight they refused to do that. Dr. TYSON I think that there is probably not a serious are effective international organization at work but there certainly is a transmission a rapid transmission of new ideas and insights and in some ways there is a similarity between the problems against which the New Left and France Great Britain and Germany protest and the problems against which the
new left in this country protest and the problems with which the new left in Latin America deal. And so there is certainly a good deal of common reading of men like Marcous and of the German French student leaders also and of the Americans to the New Left leaders. But I would be hesitant to characterize it as a as a really conscious movement. I would agree with Dr. argue lar that there we have here an attitude. And what interests me is the legitimacy of the attitude and the legitimacy of the protest. But I get I mentioned the various roles in making a revolution. I think that he would agree with me that the characteristic and the basic integrity to the degree that there is any are there. What there is of it in the New Left is that it is a protest movement based in the humanist reaction against the things in society that tend to be thought tend to be through acting are impeding the realization of the humanist goals of Western
civilization. And that the new left in Latin America is terribly frustrated group of people longing for answers and who when they are able to achieve. Dr. ocular has mentioned some momentary popularity. It is because they have seized upon an issue that has become real to thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people at a particular time and they have succeeded in articulating this need and in giving it some leadership. Are they for the most part young. Yes they are but of course we have to guard with y'all in the spirit also. People that are members of the New Left and you find writers that are old and I Mark Hughes himself as the leader are deluded theorists in the New Left and his not your own man. Place in chronological as picking but I would like to add a point that we usually forget when we speak of the New Left. This is not the only crisis of all the leadership of the parties and
new a structure in society but it is also related at least I think so. With the weakening of the doctrinal centers of the Western world that is you will find a parallel in the weakening of Moscow and Rome. In Rome and the Catholic Church Moscow and the communist parties and this week and in the last 20 years ago as we all know if you will stand for Marxism in Latin America or anywhere and you were against what Russia said in a matter of 24 hours you were out you were an outcast you have no right you were not a Marxist you were the scum of the earth. Even anyone inside of the Catholic Church with all due respect for the parallel had problems also Rome had a stern authority to control every movement. One of the characteristic of the last 10 years is the weakening of what I call this doctrine and centers Moscow is no longer capable of saying all the fine in Who's Who in the Marxist world. And so you'll find that the weakening of the center had promoted then the multiplication of individual who refused to be outcast
who even goes as far as to condemn Moscow as the reactionaries and maintain that they are the true of Marxism. And this is what I had provoked in certain levels. Sondra processional between a rebel priest who is the final thought to be on his own zone and in mind says the new man is who is also the find the authority of the party or the authority of communism Rome that was Moscow. Well I think that we could care even father Dr Aguilar and point out that in our own society there's been certain a certain disintegration of the massive consensus of the center also. And those who feel themselves legitimate heirs of the dream of the United States often find themselves in the new left protesting in the name of the values they have inherited against the substitution of the dream by bureaucracy by a large impersonal system dominated by managers more interested in
expediency and inefficiency than they are in Father pursuit of the dream. Here I think we have another interesting parallel between the new left in this country and the new left in Latin America and the new left in Europe also. I would like to add that just as a final comment I think oh well that one of the trial is at least from my own point of view want to have travel in Latin America and I have talked to many of these young radicals many times comes to my mind afraid of Ortega said which is I think close to the trial you see of this lack of objective of the New Left Ortega said the Spanish philosopher once looking at the riot in the University of Missouri said or wrote you is usually right in what it opposes and usually wrong in what it proposes. Which is partially I think the
contradiction and the problem of the new left we all agree that in many cases if you travel not in America what do you oppose. They are rightly opposed to certain certain factors and circumstances that are evidently unjust but the problem is that the opposition sometimes is so violent so out of limb and so out of our or us Professor Tyson said so out of historical context that it could in danger not only the structure that they are opposing But all the value that had been acquired and accomplished in that society after a long period of a struggle and not be in danger by this opposition. You're pointing to the tragic consequences of what's commonly called the generational gap. Actually the generations need each other. The younger generation needs the older generation to point out errors that have been committed and to come up with possible answers. And the older generation needs the younger generation perhaps especially in Latin America today because such a great proportion of
the population is young and such a great proportion of the population is disinherited and outside any significant participation in the economy in the social political life of the nations. Likewise I think we can also draw another parallel in the tragedy of the left. The rupture between the old left in the New Left they too need each other. If the old left was characterized by an interest in political affairs the new left at least in this country and in Europe is characterized by an interest in developing a new style of life. Actually the new style of life and new politics are go together and they need each other. An interesting thing to me is along this line that in Latin America the New Left has tended to seek a leader a charismatic leader a friend of mine had just returned from an extensive visit in Latin America and he has a new leftist himself a pacifist an anti-war man and so forth. He comments that everywhere that he went there were four heroes. Father Camille taught us said
you bottom if you del Castro and Martin Luther King. Comparing these form in their grading consistencies and as Dr Oculus pointed out this is another characteristic of the New Left. There is no consistency. There is no single program there is an ambiguous approach. But there is a desire and a hope and a yearning. And if there is a real contribution and I certainly believe there is the new left house for Latin America it is in this yearning this desire to keep searching for an answer for the problems of Latin America. I should add that in many cases I have I think reached the conclusion that in those societies where the government or the political structure given as open Shon also hope that it is the masses of the nation see that there is the intention to change some of the structure to accept the necessity of transforming Social Injustice is
the force of the new left is reduced to less isolated groups that keep on the pressure but are not and that society is not receptive to them. But in those societies where the forces of change had been interrupted and there is no hope or there is a thing there is no hope of saying you know. Then they sort of radicalism this this are the truth of let's let's go and change and make a revolution no matter what happens then gains restraint and becomes a real problem for that society. I to say that there are parties in Latin America and we don't have time to analyze them but there are groups and part of that are in the middle that could attract many of the radicals. And I did same time are defending the necessity of change without utter destruction of this society. On the other hand Luis seems to me that the new left in the old left too has been one of the chief purveyors of this very hope that you're talking about because it's not just open government it's hope for people and if there is any one
characteristic I think that by and the new and old left together it is a basic long range dream that there is a dignity in mankind that should not be repressed nor reduced. My hope is not in the moderate party so much as it is Protestant that I am in the Catholic left and especially the extreme Catholic left if you will in Latin America. Gentleman thank you very much for your discussion of Latin America and the new laughed. I thanks to Dr. Luis Aguilar associate professor of history at Georgetown University and author of Marxism in Latin America. And to Dr. Brady Tyson associate professor of Latin American Studies at the School of International Service at the American University in Washington. You have attended the weekly discussion program at Georgetown University radio forum. The broadcast of which was transcribed in the Raymond Rice studio on the campus of
Georgetown forum
Latin America: New left
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Georgetown University
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features Dr. Luis E. Aguilar, Georgetown University, author of "Marxism in Latin America"; and Dr. Brady Tyson, American University.
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Moderated by Wallace Fanning, this series presents a panel of guests discussing a variety of topics. The radio series launched in 1946. It also later aired on WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. These programs aired 1968-69.
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Global Affairs
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Guest: Aguilar, Luis E.
Guest: Tyson, Brady
Moderator: Fanning, Wallace
Producing Organization: Georgetown University
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-51-658 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:17
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