Justo, Juan Bautista

   Justo was one of the early thinkers and activists who tried to create a Latin American Marxism. His brand of Marxism was most notable for its strong evolutionary character. An Argentinean physician and professor, Justo studied in Europe, returning to Argentina where he founded the socialist journal La Vanguardia in 1894, and where he helped found the Socialist Party of Argentina in 1895. In the same year he completed the first Spanish translation of Karl Marx’s Capital. In 1912 he was elected as a socialist deputy to the Argentine Congress.
   In his thought Justo was most strongly influenced by the French socialist thinker Jean Jaurès, the German “revisionist” socialist Eduard Bernstein, and above all by the evolutionary liberal thinker Herbert Spencer. Like Spencer he linked the notion of human biological struggle to political theory, and stressed evolutionary progress in society. While embracing Marx’s general vision of history as expressing evolutionary ideas, he rejected Marxist ideas of imperialism and even advocated the encouragement of foreign investment in Argentina in order to speed up economic and social development and, hence, accelerate the evolutionary process toward full socialization of the means of production. He also revised the Marxist view of class with its emphasis on the proletariat to take account of the class composition in Argentina where there was a very small, underdeveloped working class. Justo sought to mobilize middle class and rural wage earners in addition to the traditionally defined proletariat. In adapting Marxism to Latin American conditions Justo contributed to the overcoming of Marxism’s Eurocentrism.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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