At the Crossroads of Liberation Theology and Liberation Philosophy: José Carlos Mariátegui’s “New Sense” of Religion

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2017


Texas A&M University


Peruvian social theorist José Carlos Mariátegui (1894-1930) is widely recognized as one of Latin America's most significant organic intellectuals of the 20th century. As is well known, Mariátegui espoused a mixture of Peruvian indigenism and non-dogmatic Marxism. What may be less familiar to readers, however, is Mariátegui's unique take on religious faith. Critical of doctrinaire forms of religion but never completely antireligious, Mariátegui wove together a religious vision that drew upon his mother's Catholic mysticism, Georges Sorel's understanding of revolutionary myth, and various articulations of Pragmatism. Significantly, Mariátegui's faith in a new, revolutionary belief system helped to lay the groundwork for the liberation theology of Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez. This paper offers a framework for understanding and appreciating Mariátegui's distinctive spiritual vision, which intimately links him to liberation theology. Special focus is given to Mariátegui's critique of religious traditionalism, his critique of rationalism and scientism, and his understanding of myth.