America has long been considered a place enticing to bizarre and outré ideas. Cults, New Age philosophies, gurus, mind-positivity moves –the United States has consistently welcomed the bizarre, particularly California, that Archie Bunker referred to “the land of fruits and nuts”
As it turns out, the individual capability for the bizarre isn’t restricted to the West. Take the instance of Posadism, the subject of a new novel, I Would like To Believe: Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism by A.M. Gittlitz. Described as”apocalyptic communism,” Posadism relies on the fantasy of an undercover Trotskyist known as J. Posadas (1912-1981). Posadas, whose actual name was Homero Rómulo Cristalli Frasnelli, was one of the 20th century’s most prominent Trotskyists from the West. Posadas was a working-class militant from Buenos Aires who grew up poor, combined a group of Trotskyist intellectuals from the late 1930s, headed the Latin American bureau of the Fourth International, and came to believe that extraterrestrials and nuclear war could play a important role in a global anticapitalist revolution.
Those might seem like extremely different worlds, but all of them have something in common: the need for a budding response, whether from the state or from the skies, into the issues of inequality and human distress. A closing, totalizing answer to life’s issues has been proposed by not just Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro and Bernie Sanders, however, L. Ron Hubbard. It’s mainly forgotten in 1908 Marxist revolutionary Alexander Bogdanov composed Red Star, ” a narrative of how Martians have a young Russian student back to Mars, a world that is a communist utopia in which women have escaped”domestic slavery.” Bogdanov would become a rival to Lenin for the direction of the Russian Revolution. Bogdanov’s style of science fiction was banned following the Soviet Union was created in 1922.
Back in 1919, Homero Cristalli had been seven years old and residing in his working-class area of Boedo when he seen a revolution from his door. A workers strike at the local Vasena metalworks plant remained bloody, with six people murdered, and the funeral procession turning into a mass demonstration and riot. The nation’s 1919 workers and intellectuals were motivated by the recent revolution in Russia. The words of anarchist-communist forefather Mikhail Bakunin were in the air:”The passion for destruction is a creative enthusiasm, also!” It was intoxicating to Cristallil, the son of two lousy cobblers who’d immigrated from Italy. His parents, both Emanuel and Elvira Cristalli, were members of Argentine Regional Workers’ Federation, an anarchist group.
Following a brief period as a soccer player, Cristalli combined a socialist party childhood group. He had been an enthusiastic”newsie,” distributing newspapers while working odd jobs. In the 1930s he reached the attention of the International Communist League, called”a small circle of bohemian intellectuals that include members of the Argentine Communist Party, daring artists, and existential philosophers.” Posadas, that would eventually develop into a cult leader, required his followers reside on mild sleep and continuously produce party texts and newspapers. In Cristalli the party saw a true proletarian employee who’d grown up poor and understood the class struggle. To one comrade, Cristalli was both street smart and dumb:”He didn’t know much about politics, economics or planet celebrations, and his shortcomings in the scientific discipline made him think anything.” Since Gittlitz notes, Posadas’s present was excitement and enthusiasm, not analytical thinking:”His perceived role as figurehead and pioneer stemmed from his long experience, intuition used to arbitrate debates, working-class legitimacy and the charisma required to acquire new militants into the business.”
Posadas’s inclination to be more emotive than logical produced him gullible not just in terms of politics, but with regard to the plausibility of all occult science fiction ideas. At the winter of 1947, his colleague Dante Minazzoli arrived into a socialist coffeehouse meeting with a post about flying saucers that was spotted in America:”Minazzoli was enamored with science fiction, cosmic philosophy, and also the Bolshevik futurists who believed that people were just one race tune many in our galaxy”
While the other Trotskyites attempted to prohibit talk of UFOs from their conferences, Posadas discovered in aliens the authentic great leap ahead that could bring paradise on earth. They argued that the initial Marxists, particularly Alexander Bogdanov, author of Red Star and co-founder of their Bolsheviks, had”proven reality to become a part of intersubjective human consciousness.” Posodists believed themselves the true heirs of the First International. It had been aliens and atomic warfare the old world could be wiped out and the utopian future could be established. The name of one Posada essay at the time helps summarize this Exceptional worldview:”Flying Saucers, The Practice of Matter and Energy, Science, both the Revolutionary and Working Class Struggle and the Socialist Future of Mankind.”
Back in 1961 Posadas was refused the direction of the Fourth International, therefore in 1962 he formed his own collection. At a 1967 meeting, Posadas delivered a speech in which he spoke UFO sightings and extraterrestrial life, asserting that aliens could be capable of exploiting”all the energy present in matter” At his team’s 1962 heritage, Posadas claimed:”Atomic war is unavoidable. It’ll destroy half of humankind. It will destroy immense human wealth. It’s very possible. The atomic warfare will give a true inferno on Earth. But it will not impede communism.” By today Castro was denouncing Posadas, though, as Gittlitz notes,” mainstream Marxist dogma wasn’t any more stable than belief in UFOs:”Until then, Posadism was similar to other Trotskyist groups they had little ammunition to attack Posadas, because his cult-of-personality, misuse of militants, rabid anti-imperialism, paranoia, extreme zigzagging, and catastrophism were features more or less present in nearly every other tendency.”
From the late 1960s, Posadas had turned into a full blown cult leader. He started to demand excessive field out of his followers, including austere living conditions and proscriptions on non-reproductive sex, homosexuality, and abortion. One leader described an experience with Posadas this manner:”Meetings with Posadas frequently became psychoanalytic sessions…somewhat like a confessor, a small warrior, Militants always walked away feeling that Posadas had a extraordinary insight into their character.” Gittlitz contrasts it to a mixture of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology”audits” and cult leader Jim Jones’s”mix of empathetic salesmanship and gospel,” with a flair of Marshall Applewhite’s”soul-piercing confidence”
Marxist classes, whether in politics, journalism or academia, tend to splinter and assault each other for ideological impurity. Here is the long and tragic story of leftism, and it is what happened to Posadas as his cult became younger and more marginalized from the 1970s, even as the Posadas grew more extreme in his beliefs. It’s amazing the number of classes, sub-groups, and communities Gittlitz itemizes in I need to Believe, all fighting greater and greater strength about smaller and smaller entities –not as today’s societal justice warriors and professors. In the end, Posadism turned into a splinter of a splinter. Since Trotskyite Michael Pablo noted in a post written following Posadas’s departure in 1981, the leader became insular and freak he found permanent revolution”anyplace simultaneously, to the purpose of giving it an interplanetary dimension” When socialists can’t create heaven on the earth, the sole real place to go is the stars.