My work has developed as Nietzsche would have wished,
for he did not love authors who strained after the intentional,
deliberate production of a book, but rather those whose
thoughts formed a book spontaneously and without
premeditation. Many projects for books occur to me as I
lie awake, but I know beforehand that I shall carry out only
those to which I am summoned by an imperious force.
José Carlos Mariátegui
I bring together in this book seven Interpretations concern-
ing some essential aspects of punk and revolution within what José Carlos
Mariátegui once called Peruvian reality. Anyone dumb enough to think he
meant it to refer to the nation- state as a “unit of analysis,” or to attach the
adjective “national” to his peculiar brand of Marxist thought, has completely
missed his point. I say this irrespective of—although admittedly in slight
annoyance with—all the global speak and transnational turns that have so
many US- based academics eager to fashion themselves beyond the nation.
A universalist thinker deeply concerned with the particularities of context,
Mariátegui meant it as a gesture of conviction. His main commitment was
to ground any theoretical account within specific social structures and his-
torical conditions. Inevitably, this requires leaps of interpretation since such
realities shift according to moment and circumstance.
Peru of the 1980s and early 1990s is the historical context for these seven
Interpretations. The focus is largely on how Lima punks lived and died amid
“the people’s war” that the Communist Party of Peru, popularly known as
the Shining Path, declared in 1980 in Ayacucho and that soon engulfed the
entire country. The atmosphere of hard- line Marxist militancy, daily politi-
cal violence, and state terror that resulted, and proved to be the bloodiest
period since independence from Spain, was inevitably enmeshed in broader
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