Skip to comments.Trotskyites in Space!
Posted on 04/12/2004 3:57:24 PM PDT by vannrox
|Juan R Posadas was no ordinary Trotskyite; socialists from outer space, the benefits of nuclear war and communication with dolphins were all part of his revolutionary programme. Matt Salusbury tells the story of one of the World?s strangest political thinkers
We think of UFO cults, typically, as being naïve, fancy-dress Californian affairs, scary religious Doomsday sects, or even neo-Nazi groups convinced that flying saucers operate from a secret Antarctic base. But there was one UFO cult at the opposite end of the political spectrum: a Trotskyite UFO cult.
They called themselves the Posadists after their founder Juan R Posadas and, like many UFO cults, they bore a fierce loyalty to their ?dear master?.1 They believed that close encounters were evidence of superior socialist civilisations from Earth?s future. Their bizarre belief in flying saucers was not channelled to them by some tackily-named space entity but ?theoretically informed? by Marx and Trotsky, and was for them a logical extension of Marxist dialectical materialism. Posadas wrote: ?We will travel to planets millions of light years away under a Socialist society.?
Their founder was a leading light of Latin American Trotskyism, one of a select group running the Fourth International (see ?Posadism for Beginners? side bar) after Leon Trotsky?s death. Alongside their esoteric texts on ?flying saucers, the process of matter and energy, science, the revolutionary class struggle and the Socialist future of humanity,? 2 they also preached more orthodox Marxism and strove tirelessly to bring about world revolution. Posadist Fourth International affiliates worked to organise trade unions, often operating clandestinely under dictatorships. Some ?comrades? even lost their lives in the struggle.
To be fair, the Posadist Fourth International did not start out as a UFO cult. Trotsky went into exile in Mexico in 1938 and worked closely with Latin American Marxists to set up the International. These contacts included Argentina?s Partido de la Revolución Socialista, which was affiliated to the Fourth International from 1941. Among its activists was Comrade Juan R Posadas.
Details of Posadas? life outside the Party are now hard to come by. If he had a family, he kept quiet about it. Being a top Trotskyite was a life-threatening occupation at the time, so it was wise to be a bit coy about personal details. Pseudonyms were common in Posadas? circles, and the Posadist Fourth International gave the venue of their congresses as ?Europe?. The Posadists were understandably camera-shy too. We know that Juan Posadas was born Homero Cristalli in Argentina in 1912, and that he was of Italian origin. A labourer, a shoemaker and a professional footballer for La Plata Estudientes at various points of his life, he organised a shoemakers? and leather workers? union in Cordoba, Argentina, in the 1930s. 3
At some time in the 1930s, he stood as a Partido Socialista Obrero candidate in the elections for Buenos Aires Province, capitalising on his fame as a footballer 4 and quickly gained a reputation for long-winded discourse. The Argentinian Trotskyite Librorio Justo recalled attending a 1940s meeting in which Posadas tried to win over Justo?s faction with a sustained attack on him, lasting ?for several hours?. 5
Posadas gathered Latin American affiliates to the Fourth International under the Montevideo-based Latin American Bureau. These Latin American Trotskyite parties had some clout among trade unions, especially Cuban railway workers, Bolivian tin miners and agricultural workers in Brazil. Latin American Posadist parties were accepted as part of the mainstream Trotskyite Fourth International until its Third World Congress ? its final congress as a united body ? in 1951. With splits already forming, Posadas was part of a commission attempting, without success, to reunite the International?s quarrelling factions.
A combined ?War?Revolution? to ?settle the hash of Stalinism and capitalism? 6 was orthodox doctrine among the Pabloist Trotskyites. But in the hands of Posadas it became a full-blown Doomsday obsession, complete with its own Last Judgement ? sinisterly referred to as ?the final settlement of accounts of Socialism against the capitalist system.?
In any event, Posadas? disciples defended his most esoteric dolphin and water birthing ideas after his death, stating that: ?Posadas highlighted the full significance of experiments the Soviets are making in communicating with animals (eg. dolphins) and in space exploration... this is the plane on which Comrade Posadas lived.? They also firmly believed that Posadas? ?radiant and living thought? laid down principles to see further into the future.?
While the disciples felt that the death of Comrade Posadas ?left an enormous vacuum in history?, an obituary by his former mentor Michel Pablo called him ?delirious? and described him as ?a preacher of the ?permanent revolution? simultaneously and everywhere, to the point of giving itself an interplanetary dimension.? 22 Posadas may still have surprises in store for us ? transcripts of his tape recordings, his ?internal memoranda? and his drawings are sealed in the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam and cannot be opened until 2010.
While Posadist ?interventions? in Europe amounted to little more than leafleting demonstrations, in Latin America their work was more dangerous. In Brazil, Comrade Roberto Pinto was assassinated leading a rebellion of 5,000 peasants in August 1963. He was just one of a dozen or so Latin American Posadists executed or murdered up to 1977. 23
In Guatemala, Mexican Posadists collaborated with the ?MR13th November? guerrillas under Lieutenant Marco Antonio Yon Sosa ? until the guerrillas realised that the money raised from a ?tax? on the bourgeoisie was going not to the armed struggle but towards producing European Marxist Review in many languages, including supplements in Greek and Arabic. Posadists were the first Trotskyite group to operate in Algeria after independence. At their peak in the late 1960s, they numbered perhaps a thousand worldwide.
Most Posadist parties collapsed shortly after the dear leader?s death in 1981. But in Germany, retired metalworker Paul Schulz keeps the Posadist flame alive. A communist fugitive from the Third Reich who settled in Argentina, he worked with Posadas and tried ? unsuccessfully ? to set up a German Posadist party on his return in 1991. He now runs an Internet-based one-man-band called Gesellschaftsreform jetzt (Social Reform Now!) which publishes post-Posadist analysis of UFO phenomena ? including a book which he blessed with the inspirational title Official contact by an extraterrestrial civilisation with us earthlings is nigh. Let?s show ourselves worthy of this exceptionally joyful event of epochal significance. 25
The word ?bizarre? does no justice to the Posadist belief system. While writing this article, I joked to a friend that the Posadists had everything except a Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory. Then I came across the January 1964 edition of Red Flag with four pages of closely printed, incomprehensible rant on Why The Pentagon Killed Kennedy, by J Posadas.
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