Cesar Guardia Mayorga

César Guardia Mayorga (Illustration: Marcelo Guimarães Lima)


Entry from the “Dictionary of Marxism in America”

Life and political praxis

César Augusto Guardia Mayorga (1906-1983) was born in the state of Ayacucho, in southern Peru. He attended elementary school in the Lampa district and high school at the Colegio Nacional Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, in Lima, and at the Colegio Nacional Independencia, in Arequipa, where he edited the student magazine Bubbles.

In 1929, he entered the Faculty of Arts at National University of San Agustin, in Arequipa; at the same institution, five years later, he obtained his doctorate in History, Philosophy and Literature with the thesis Points of the mountain (1934) - described by one of its examiners as “an important contribution to national sociography”. The following year, Guardia Mayorga married professor Manuela Aguirre Dongo, with whom he would have six children. And in 1937, he began teaching at the same university from which he graduated, starting to teach the history of ancient philosophy and metaphysics course. That same year, he obtained registration to practice as a lawyer and published his first book Contemporary history.

In 1943, as president of the Arequipa branch of the National Association of Writers, Artists and Intellectuals (ANEA), he was invited to give lectures on philosophical topics in Chile, where he would travel, giving six conferences and establishing fruitful friendships there. Two years later he was appointed deputy director of Letters faculty da University of San Agustin and published his well-known work Reconstructing the aprism (1945)

With the aim of dedicating himself to university teaching, in 1946 he interrupted his legal activity. This year he published Child and adolescent psychology and founded the Faculty of Education at the same university where he taught, in addition to taking on the position of director of College and director of conferences at Law School. The following year his issue came to light Philosophy and Science (1947) and, in 1949, concerned with the problem of developing education and philosophy in Peru, Guardia Mayorga published the book Philosophical terminology and the article “University Reform” – in Magazine of the University of San Agustín, a periodical to which, as director, he gave new editorial guidance.

Around this time, General Manuel A. Odría (1948-1956) carried out a coup d'état against President José Luis Bustamante y Rivero (October 1948), inaugurating a military regime that began to repress his opponents. Thus, in order to legitimize himself in power, in 1950 Odría called elections, in which he presented himself as the only candidate. In response, protests took shape and, in June of this year, students from Independence School, from Arequipa, went on strike against the electoral farce organized by the military dictatorship. Entrenched in their positions, the young people rejected the entry of the police who, in turn, did not hesitate to use firearms; blood was spilled through the halls as students ran to the Plaza de Armas with no other defense than the strength of his indignation.

Once there, they decided to climb the cathedral tower to ring the bells, in a desperate attempt to gather support. The population responded: people took to the streets, formed barricades, occupied establishments and demanded the resignation of Colonel Daniel Meza Cuadra, mayor of Arequipa. The protest lasted several days. In an open meeting, the insurgents proclaimed a Provisional Junta, whose first action was to launch a manifesto pointing out the beginning of the “revolution for the freedom of the Peruvian people and the demand for citizenship rights”.

A general strike was subsequently declared, with the support of institutions such as the National University of San Marcos: Guadalupe School (Lima) and the universities of Cuzco, Puno and Trujillo. Government repression intensified, until University of San Agustin – a critical point of resistance – fell into the hands of the army. The rebellion against the dictatorship had been overthrown. About a month later, the government informed rector Alberto Fuentes Llaguno that the university would be closed if the climate of political unrest continued.

Some time later, at the beginning of 1952, César Guardia Mayorga and seven other teachers (Teodoro Núñez Ureta, Humberto Núñez Borja, Eduardo Rodríguez Olcay, Ernesto Rodríguez Olcay, Alfonso Montesinos, Javier Mayorga Goyzueta and Carlos Nicholson) were expelled from the National University of San Agustin on charges of fomenting student rebellion. However, with the repercussion of the episode, Guardia was invited by rector Arturo Urquidi, from Major University of San Simón from Cochabamba, to teach at this Bolivian institution; He then moved to the neighboring country, where he was appointed professor of introductory philosophy and history of philosophy. During the years he lived with his family in Bolivia, he organized and directed the philosophy seminar at this university, was a member of the University Reform Commission and collaborated with magazines Legal e Culture (which was run by the intellectual and journalist Eduardo Ocampo Moscoso).

During this period, the Peruvian Marxist lived through a troubled time in Bolivian history – the first government of President Víctor Paz Estensoro (1952-1956) –, in which the University of San Simón suffered the intervention of an “organizing committee”, which forced the University Council to dismiss Guardia Mayorga, due to his communist affiliation, in addition to expelling other Bolivian professors who were also socialists. Faced with arbitrariness, a general strike by teachers and students was organized, a movement that would eventually get the University Council to revoke the decision. Guardia Mayorga was then informed that he could return to teaching his philosophy subjects; however, he responded by saying that he would only return when all the other teachers who had been laid off were rehired. After three months of strike and student mobilizations, the sanctioned teachers returned to the classrooms.

Na University of San Simón, Guardia Mayorga gave some of his most emblematic conferences, such as: “Concepto de la Filosofía”, “Rumbos de la Filosofía y la Ciencia en los tiempos actuales” and “Existentialismo como síntoma”. Furthermore, he published his important book History of Greek philosophy (1953) and the essay “Reflexología” (1954) – in the magazine Culture notebooks, from this university. In 1954, he received his diploma from XNUMXst Argentine Congress of Psychology as an honorary member. In 1956, he was appointed honorary professor at the Faculty of Law, Social Sciences and Legal Sciences at University of San Simón.

Meanwhile, in Peru, Manuel Prado Ugarteche won the presidential elections in 1956, declaring amnesty for political exiles. That same year, César Guardia Mayorga returned to his country. However, the joy of reuniting with his homeland soon turned into sadness, as, by decree, the government banned him from teaching at universities. The reason for the ban was that he was an avowedly Marxist philosopher. With the censorship, four years of a very sacrificed life for himself and his family would follow; Living in Lima, Guardia Mayorga worked as a teacher in the private school system, in addition to providing legal services as a lawyer; in parallel, he sought to complete works that were in progress.

Upon his return, in 1956, Guardia Mayorga participated in the Inter-American Congress of Philosophy, held in Santiago de Chile, where he presented the work entitled Is the existence of a national or Latin American philosophy possible?, later published in Magazine of the University of San Agustín (Arequipa). The following year, he focused his studies on the themes of University Reform and Agrarian Reform – postulating the need to transform land ownership in the country, as a basis for putting an end to unequal relations in the Peruvian countryside, dominated by landowners.

At the end of 1957, a group of intellectuals formed the Committee of Friends of Independent Algeria, in solidarity with the Algerian people's struggle for independence – after 130 years of French colonization; the committee was formed by Ángel Castro Lavarello, Laura Caller, Ernesto More and César Guardia Mayorga, as well as intellectuals and delegates representing workers. Guardia's outstanding participation would be recognized, half a century later, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Algerian Revolution of Independence (2012), when the Peruvian Marxist was posthumously decorated by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in gratitude for his solidarity and friendship.

In 1959, Guardia Mayorga published the Kechwa-castellano/ castellano-kechwa dictionary, a work that would become a reference in the defense of Peruvian indigenous culture, whose language, Quechua, since colonization was viewed with disdain by the dominant classes. Later this year he was invited to visit the People's Republic of China to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 1949 Revolution. In 1960, after the trip, he published From Confucius to Mao Tse Tung and assumed the chair of Psychology and Philosophy at University of Huamanga of Ayacucho – in which, however, he was only able to teach for one year, being fired under accusations of politically influencing the students (who in turn would go on strike against the abusive dismissal). This was a time of intense popular discontent and social unrest in the country, in which several land occupations occurred by peasants demanding agrarian reform.

At the beginning of 1962, during the electoral campaign, Guardia Mayorga participated in the National Convention of the National Liberation Front, held in Lima, with a document entitled The National Liberation Front and Agrarian Reform.In him, points out that the agrarian problem is “Peru’s fundamental problem”, without which there is no “basic transformation of the socioeconomic structure” of the country. Along these lines, he maintains that agrarian reform must “constitute the recognition of the social right to land”, a right that “the dispossessed classes and the country’s democratic forces demand”. However, in July of the same year, the Joint Command of the Armed Forces carried out a military coup, deposing President Prado, dissolving congress and preventing elections from being held.

On the night of January 5, 1963, Guardia Mayorga was arrested and taken to the Colonia Penal del Sepa, at the mouth of the Sepa River, state of Ucayali (Peruvian Amazon region), together with around 1500 teachers, political leaders, trade unionists and university students, from all over Peru – accused of the “crime” of being socialists. Two months later, for health reasons, Guardia was transferred by helicopter from the penitentiary El Sepa to the Republican Guard barracks, together with his comrade Hugo Pesce. From there, they were taken to the Police Hospital. After nine months of unjust detention, they were released. In a lecture given a few years later, entitled Intellectual trajectory of César Guardia Mayorga (1967), Hugo Pesce observed about his companion in struggle and imprisonment that one must have a very tenacious “philosophical and scientific conviction” so that one can follow a “serene and incorruptible path” like the one followed by Guardia, maintaining “ above the confusing plain of self-interested error.”

In 1964, with his health recovered, Guardia Mayorga was admitted to a competition to assume the chairs of Philosophy and Psychology at the San Luis Gonzaga University from Ica, where he taught for four years. In 1968, at the suggestion of his students, he also taught a course on historical-dialectical materialism at the Faculty of Arts of Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in Lima. Around this time, he retired from university teaching, although he remained steadfast in political struggle.

Dedicating himself to essayistic and literary writing, in 1970, he wrote the prologue to the book by José Carlos Mariátegui Peruanicemos to Peru; Therefore, he wrote books on topics of Philosophy and History, in addition to his Kechwa grammar (1973). In 1975 he published Harawi and launched In the path. Guardia Mayorga's latest book, Life and passion of Waman Poma de Ayala, was published in 1979.

In October 1983, at the age of 77, César Guardia Mayorga passed away.

Contributions to Marxism

Guardia Mayorga was an outstanding Marxist theorist, but above all an educator, who dedicated himself to offering his people and contemporaries careful interpretations of the History of Philosophy – from the ancient Greeks, scholastics and encyclopedists, to thoughts such as those of Kant, Hegel and, especially , Marx and Engels –, having taught not only his university students, but also fellow prisoners and workers in various lectures in the public square.

The main axis that guides Guardia Mayorga's philosophy is Marxism, a thought he sees as totalizing, that is, a theory that also involves practice; which was born from the development of human thought and the struggle of people, seeks to understand a certain historical context from different perspectives, and whose purpose is to discover the “economic law that moves modern society” – “capitalist society”. Along this path, in addition to Marx and Engels, he was also influenced by Lenin, Mao Zedong and JC Mariátegui.

In your thesis Philosophical conception of César Guardia Mayorga, Fortunato Jáuregui maintains that in his works Contemporary history e Media and modern history Guardia broke with the “traditional way” of approaching and analyzing historical facts, which generally did not go beyond a “descriptive, apparently neutral and objective historiography”. Using agile and exemplified language, the Marxist sought to give priority to the interpretation of facts, contextualizing dates and data.

This is the case of Foreword (1970) that Guardia wrote for JC Mariátegui's book, Peruanicemos al Perú, in which he points out that the Spanish conquest constituted “the first act of the de-Peruanization of Peru”, since, with this, Peruvian riches passed into the power of the conquerors; in this way, production stopped playing its “main role of satisfying the needs of people and human beings”, becoming “a means of exploitation”; A “new economic, social and political organization” was then established, whose form of value production was subject to the “interests and aspirations of the conquerors”.

In his well-known study entitled The Peruvian intellectuality of the twentieth century before the human condition, the philosopher Andrés Ávila highlights in Guardia Mayorga a broad culture, which is reflected in his interest in understanding the “various dimensions of human activity” – such as philosophy, science, politics, legislation and history –, in addition to demonstrate in many of his texts a Marxist political and philosophical approach strongly linked to his commitment to oppressed social groups. In effect, with such a commitment, Guardia Mayorga would suffer political persecution and financial problems – without, however, having renounced his role as teacher and critic of the problems of contemporary society. His political objective was to promote the effective construction of his nation, developed in both economic, social and cultural terms – which implied paying special attention to the problem of land and knowledge of the Quechua language.

This broad perspective is seen in Agrarian Reform in Peru (1957), in which the Marxist, demonstrating his critical commitment, establishes a thirty-point program for the transformation of the peasant's living conditions. Relating the socio-historical condition of the field worker to the legacy of the Western colonizer, he offers interpretative possibilities for the historical situation of Peruvian peasants. His argument is based on the premise that “it is not possible to achieve the liberation of the Indian while the feudal or semi-feudal system pre-exists”, and it is necessary to “put an end to an entire system of property and agricultural exploitation, which is not only harmful to the indigenous, but to the entire country.”

The critical approach developed by Guardia Mayorga is not only through new historical and political interpretations of the reality of his country, but also in the cultural and linguistic field – in an attempt to build Peruvian national identity. This is the case for your Kechwa-Castellano/ Castellano-Kechwa dictionary, in which he defends “the right of people to express themselves and develop their culture in their own language”. As writer Sebastián Salazar Bondy observed, this work stood out above all as a “practical instrument”. In fact, it is not a dictionary intended only for specialists, philologists or linguists, but for the population in general, for people whose conception of the nation means that they do not forget the need for the space of a native language to be established – and not only as a landmark of national culture, but as a language of official use, just like the language of the colonizer, thus allowing real communication to be consolidated between Spanish-speaking citizens and those who express themselves in the indigenous language.

In effect, Guardia Mayorga committed himself directly to the revaluation of the Andean language and culture, arguing that only a new cognitive and evaluative awareness of a national perspective, with a desire for renewal, would make the “Peruanization” of Peru possible. This concept is also present in other of his works and courses, such as the book Kechwa grammar (1973) – a pioneering example of a proposal for an intercultural and bilingual education, which aimed to build a national identity –, and also of his discipline “Dialectical Materialism”, given during 1968, at University of San Marcos.

Already in the article The University Reform (1949), Guardia Mayorga argues that it is of great importance “to create the scientific spirit in our universities”. But this preparation would be incomplete, he says, if a “humanistic education” were not provided: “science and technology, instruments of man’s domination over nature, must aim at the well-being and humanization of society and the man himself.”

From the beginning of his intellectual and academic activity, he tenaciously defended his vision of Peru, expressing his adherence to socialism in a period when this certainly meant political persecution, exile or prison. Even in prison, where – in the words of the poet Gustavo Valcárcel – “the most hidden virtues flourish and hidden defects are revealed”, Guardia was a paradigmatic prisoner: “for his stoicism”, for the virtues that stood out from his harsh captivity, making this experience a lesson.

Regarding this humanist attitude that characterizes the thought and work of César Guardia Mayorga, the communist politician Jorge del Prado, his contemporary, highlighted two “vigorous and indelible” characteristics of his personality. The first is his philosophical conception of man, his understanding of cultural development and the human liberation struggle. This conception, which extends to all of humanity, emerges from the author's own experience, his analysis of the environment in which he grew up, his interpretation of the customs and feelings of Peruvian men and women and their ancestral roots.

One sees expressions of this vital concern in his works on Quechua philosophy, literature and poetry; collections of poems and dictionaries that qualify him as one of the most authoritative scholars and researchers. The second trait would be his deep sense of solidarity, his fraternal and generous attitude that also manifests itself in his relationship with his fellow prisoners during the long months of confinement in 1963.

Another significant contribution by César Guardia was his collection of poems in Quechua entitled Rune Simi Harawi (1975). Regarding this work, the Peruvian poet and professor Mario Florián, author of the prologue, states that Guardia Mayorga was a “brilliant polygrapher”, as he brought together “social concern and erudition”, standing out – in addition to being a “university professor, essayist, philosopher and promoter of Marxist socialist currents in several universities” – also as a “Quechua scholar and poet”. In fact, Guardia dedicated himself seriously to poetry and, on this journey – in the sensitive words of the intellectual Ferdinand Cuadros – he learned “the philosophy of life by singing the edges of pain, overcoming them, subduing them, becoming a man about his loneliness and silence, and perhaps also about the silence and loneliness of many.”

Finally, it is worth reiterating that, in addition to distinguishing himself as a socialist intellectual, Guardia distinguished himself as a militant professor who dedicated his life to forging a youth that was not only academically consistent, but imbued with ethical values ​​and social justice. Due to his work and his political and educational activities, the Marxist would receive many honors, becoming a member of the XNUMXst Argentine Congress of Psychology, honorary professor at San Simon University of Cochabamba, professor emeritus of San Luis Gonzaga University from Icae da San Agustin University of Arequipa, among other public recognitions.

Comment on the work

César Guardia Mayorga's prolific work includes around thirty books in areas such as History, Philosophy and Psychology, as well as several articles, conferences and poetic writings.

His first book was the one mentioned Contemporary history (Arequipa: Impr. Armando Quiroz, 1937), in which the author offered a new approach to the discipline of History, still little explored in Peru at the time – refusing the supposed neutrality and objectivity of traditional historiography.

Among his main works, it is worth highlighting Reconstructing the aprism (Arequipa: Tipography Acosta, 1945), a fundamental book that deals with the historical turn of American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) in a context in which the leader of this party, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre, had recently presented his theory of space-time-history – which would soon become much discussed among Peruvian socialist intellectuals. In view of this, Guardia Mayorga contests Haya de la Torre's theory, refuting his political and philosophical doctrine, which he presents as a “vulgar materialist” perspective. Defending the use of reason against manifestations of fanaticism, the Marxist claims the need for democratic renewal in Peru.

Now your book Agrarian Reform in Peru (Lima: Editorial Minka, 1957) has as its main focus the need to change land ownership, with the aim of putting an end to latifundiary relations in the countryside and transforming the condition of the peasantry.

O Kechwa-castellano/ castellano-kechwa dictionary (Lima: Imprenta Minerva, 1959) is one of his primordial works – containing more than 3500 Quechua words –, developed with the aim of promoting the necessary integration of the Peruvian people, and in defense of the people's right to express themselves and develop their culture in your own language.

From Confucius to Mao Tse Tung: from the fiefdom to the popular commune (Lima: Imprenta Minerva, 1960) is a chronicle in which Guardia narrates his trip to China in 1959, seeking to present similarities between Chinese and Peruvian societies. In the book's introduction (the way forward), the Marxist recalls the interesting poet Chu Yuan who, 350 years before Our Era, upon being dismissed from a high position, asks himself whether he should “steadfastly follow the path of truth and loyalty, or the trail of a corrupt generation? ”; or even, whether it is better to “court danger by speaking clearly, or to flatter the rich and powerful with false praise?”

At work Knowledge problems (Lima: Tipgrafía Peruana, 1964), the author seeks to demonstrate that one cannot separate Philosophy – more specifically the Theory of Knowledge – from Science, since in this way Philosophy would become an empty scheme and science into a disordered theory . It understands that the senses, reason and practice are the main means of knowledge – unlike idealism, isolated from nature, devoid of scientific evidence and taking refuge in subjectivism, a theory that, in this way, lives only on the support of the bourgeoisie, given which is the very spirit of its ideological manifestations. The book is divided into nine chapters, which deal with topics such as “gnoseological problems”, the question of “objectivity”, “forms of knowledge”, “validity of knowledge” and “criteria of truth”.

Human culture (Lima: Editorial Los Andes, 1966/1971, 2 volumes) is an analysis of the historical and cultural process from Ancient Greece to the French Revolution of 1789, covering historical, cultural, social, economic and philosophical aspects.

Em Philosophy, Science and Religion (Lima: Ediciones Los Andes, 1970), Guardia addresses the problem of matter, the ideological struggle and religious consciousness.

In the field of poetry, Guardia published, a few years before his death, Rune Simi Harawi (Lima: s/e, 1975), a collection of poems written in Quechua and signed with the pseudonym Kusi Paukar – work that was an important contribution to literature in this indigenous language, and which is divided into three parts: “Sonqup jarawinin: the song of the heart”; “Umapa Jamutaynin: the thought of the pueblo”; “Runap Kutipakuynin: the protest of the pueblo”. It is interesting to note that, also in his poetics, the author manages to express his dialectical vision of the world, as can be seen, for example, in the following stanza of the poem “Kay sis kay” [“To be or not to be”]: “Everything that exists/ like a river/ goes and goes/ never to return./ In each moment/ without being and without being”.

Furthermore, among his extensive published work, there are also the following books: Labor legislation manual (Arequipa: Edit. Bravo Mejía, 1938); Philosophical lexicon (Arequipa: s/e, 1941); Media and modern history. (Arequipa: s/e, 1943); Child and adolescent psychology (Arequipa: s/e, 1946); Philosophy and Science (Arequipa: Tipography Portugal, 1947); Philosophical terminology (Arequipa: Impr. Edilberto Portugal, 1949); Psychology Issues (Arequipa: Edit. Universitaria, 1951); History of Greek philosophy (Cochabamba: Univ. San Simón, 1953); Job the believer and promise the rebel (Lima: Edit. San Pedro, 1966); Concept of Philosophy (Lima: Typography Peruana, 1966); Psychology of the concrete man (Lima: ANEA, 1967); Carlos Marx and Federico Engels (Lima: Edit. San Pedro, 1968); Kechwa grammar (Lima: Edic. Los Andes, 1973); In the path (Lima: Impr. Humboldt, 1978); Life and passion of Waman Poma de Ayala (Lima: Edic. Populares Los Andes, 1979).

Finally, among the numerous articles and conferences given by César Guardia mayorga, it is worth highlighting: “Roosevelt’s Democratic Vision” (Hora del Hombre Magazine, Arequipa, no. 22, 1945); “La Reforma Universitaria” (Magazine of the National University of San Agustín, Arequipa, 1949); “Fascicles of Psychology” (Magazine of the National University of San Agustín. Arequipa, 1950, n. 31); “Philosophical esotericism” (Magazine of the National University of San Agustín. Arequipa, 1950, n. 32); “University of San Marcos” (Magazine of the National University of San Agustín, Arequipa, 1951, n. 33); “Epistemology of Philosophy and Science” (Philosophy Congress, Lima, Peru, 1951); “Concept of Philosophy” (Universidad San Simón, Cochabamba, 1953); “Rumbos de la Filosofía y la Ciencia en los tiempos actuales” (Universidad San Simón, Cochabamba, 1953); “Existentialism as a symptom” (Universidad San Simón, Cochabamba, 1954); “Reflexology” (Culture notebooks, Universidad San Simón, Cochabamba, 1954); “El problema de la Reforma Universitaria” (Lima, s/e, 1957); “Is it possible for the existence of a national or Latin American philosophy?” (Magazine of the Faculty of Letters, n. 3, Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, Arequipa, 1965-1966/disp.: www.catedramariategui.com); “Prologue”, presentation of the book Peruanicemos to Peru, by JC Mariátegui (Lima: Biblioteca Amauta, 1970/ available at www.marxists.org).

*Sara Beatriz Guardia is a journalist, writer and professor at the University of San Martín de Porres (Peru). Author, among other books, of Peruvian women: the other side of history (CEMHAL).

Translation: Yuri Martins-Fontes & Pedro Rocha Curado.

Originally published on the Praxis Nucleus-USP.


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