22nd Jun, 2019

Special Issue for Radical Americas Journal

Revolution and Counterrevolution in Latin America: an Aleatory Dialectic

Guest Editors: Nicolas Allen and Óscar Ariel Cabezas.

Nicolas Allen is a doctoral candidate in Literature at the University of Buenos Aires and a research associate at the Research Center for Left Cultures (CeDInCI). He is a frequent contributor to Jacobin Magazine and is currently collaborating with the José Carlos Mariátegui Archive (Perú) on the translation of Mariátegui’s complete works.

Óscar Ariel Cabezas (Ph.D. Duke University) is full professor in the department of Philosophy of Culture at the Metropolitan University (Santiago de Chile). He is the author of Postsoberanía Literatura, política y trabajo, and is the editor of collected volumes on militant cinema and the reception of Antonio Gramsci in Latin America.


2020 will mark the 90th anniversary of the death of Latin America’s most celebrated Marxist intellectual, José Carlos Mariátegui. In anticipation of the occasion, and with special consideration for Mariátegui’s relevance in the current political conjuncture, we propose an issue dedicated to one of the Peruvian’s central concerns: the complex dialectic between revolution and counterrevolution.

As Mariátegui liked to point out, the revolution itself “alternates between periods of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary predominance”. By thus posing the revolution-counterrevolution antagonism as internal to the revolutionary process itself, Mariátegui anticipated an unstable historical dialectic whose aleatory results could only be steered to safe port by a second-order revolution: only “the idea of Revolution”, Mariátegui continues in the same passage, can “salvage the proletariat from its debasement”.

The “crisis of revolutionary politics” is a defining feature of our current regime of historicity, where the idea of acting politically in order “to make history” has been transposed into the specular realm of melancholy affect (Mariátegui’s primordial drama between “salvation” and “debasement”). Our guiding hypothesis is framed by this larger theoretical framework and by the current scenario in the Latin American subcontinent, where a counterrevolution looks to impose a new historical regime apparently untethered by any clearly symmetrical revolutionary politics (synthesized in the “anti-communism-without-communism” and anti-Venezuela hysteria common among the region’s rightwing forces).

Such a “preventive counterrevolution”, where the specter of revolution enjoys an ironic afterlife, is also paradoxically an invitation retrace the genealogy of the idea of revolution: how it was constructed and how it can be deconstructed for different uses in the present.


We propose three broad, interconnected thematic areas for the special issue:

1) Politics: molecular politics vs. microfascisms; revolutions within revolutions and counter-revolutions within revolutions (ultra-leftism/reformism); classes vs. masses (politics of consciousness vs. politics of the unconscious)

2) History: counter-revolution as historical amnesia (destruction of historicity); melancholy as resistance; historical experiences of “creole fascism” and autochthonous communism.

3) Revolution’s Other: indigeneity and cosmopolitics; revolution and the capitalocene (revolution at the “end of the world”); revolution and the bourgeois cosmos (revolution as a bourgeois category).

Note for contributors: To submit and for further information about the journal, please follow the submission guidelines as outline on the Radical Americas homepage at www.uclpress.co.uk/pages/radical-americas

Submission deadline: 2nd December 2019