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I Want to Believe

I Want to Believe

Posadism, UFOs and Apocalypse Communism

by A.M. Gittlitz

Aliens, nuclear war and talking dolphins; this book is a study of the weird and wonderful world of the Posadists

Advocating nuclear war, attempting communication with dolphins and taking an interest in the paranormal and UFOs, there is perhaps no greater (or stranger) cautionary tale for the Left than that of Posadism.

Named after the Argentine Trotskyist J. Posadas, the movement's journey through the fractious and sectarian world of mid-20th century revolutionary socialism was unique. Although at times significant, Posadas' movement was ultimately a failure. As it disintegrated, it increasingly grew to resemble a bizarre cult, detached from the working class it sought to liberate. The renewed interest in Posadism today - especially for its more outlandish fixations - speaks to both a cynicism towards the past and nostalgia for the earnest belief that a better world is possible.

Drawing on considerable archival research, and numerous interviews with ex- and current Posadists, I Want to Believe tells the fascinating story of this most unusual socialist movement and considers why it continues to capture the imaginations of leftists today.

A.M. Gittlitz is a journalist and social critic based in Brooklyn, New York. He has contributed to The New Inquiry, The New York Times, The Outline, Baffler, Real Life, Salon, and Vice.

'Under the grim pressures of 20th century history, and now climate change, Gittlitz shows how explosions of black political humour also contain utopian hopes very necessary to keep alive. As an advocate of Partially Automated Adequate Socialism I can only agree, and applaud this fine addition to leftist history' 

- Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning author of the Mars Trilogy

'While Posadism is often treated as a political curiosity, quickly set aside, Gittlitz skillfully paints J. Posadas and his followers in all their depth and complexity: paranoid, idealistic, cultish, fractious, bizarre, proud, far-reaching dreamers. In their bizarre, sometimes revolutionary own ways, they fought for a more just world, one that could finally join the ranks of a far more advanced fraternity awaiting them in the galaxy'

- Anna Merlan, author of 'Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power'

'An absolute treat. As well as a brilliantly researched biography of Posadas, and a very witty one, it does far more than lampoon him. Rather, it uses his story (and its legendarisation in meme culture) to provide really valuable reflection on revolutionary hope, cults, and the role of irony and despair in the millennial-left milieu'

- David Broder, author of 'First They Took Rome: How the Populist Right Conquered Italy'

'This book has it all: Trotskyist drama, South American revolutions and aliens from inner and outer space. What's not to like?'

- McKenzie Wark, author of 'Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse?'

'A provocative and clear-eyed account of communist lunacy, its costs, and why we might need it anyway'

- Malcolm Harris, author of 'Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials'

'I Want to Believe is most compelling in its consideration of how Posadist ideals live on today, beyond the meme-centric irony and vaporwave aesthetics of the extremely online left'

- Baffler

'Gittlitz has recovered an unlikely left-wing hero for these febrile times... and is an able navigator through the ensuing alphabet soup of Trotskyist organisations he travels through'

- Morning Star

'Gittlitz does so well in weaving the life of Posadas with the enclosed parallel universe of Trotskyism he created'

- Socialist Resistance

'If you find yourself afflicted by capitalist realism, a dip into I Want to Believe and the world of Posadism might be just the thing for you'

- Social Review

'There is no reason the left shouldn’t engage in the occasional indulgence of UFOwatching alongside the hard work of organising'

- Dawn Foster

‘A cautionary political tale of a radical post-war tendency marked by zealous fanaticism, an enigmatic insurgent horizon caught between utopia and annihilation and the cruellest of gaps separating sincere revolutionary desire and delusional irrelevance’

- ‘ROAR’

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1. Commentaries on the Infancy of Comrade Posadas
2. Revolutionary Youth or Patriotic Youth?
3. The Death Throes of Capitalism
4. The Origins of Posadism
5. Where are we Going?
6. The Flying International
7. The Role of Anti-Imperialist and Revolutionary Militants, the Role of Trotskyists, the Program, and Tasks During and After the Atomic War
8. The Macabre Farce of the Supposed Death of Guevara
9. Flying Saucers, the Process of Matter and Energy, Science, the Revolutionary and Working-Class Struggle, and the Socialist Future of Mankind
10. The Accident
11. Hombrecitos
12. Volver
13. What Exists Cannot Be True
14. Arrival of Comrade Homerita to the House
15. Historical Sincerity
16. Why Don’t Extraterrestrials Make Public Contact?
17. UFOs to the People
18. On the Function of the Joke and Irony in History

Published by Pluto Press in Apr 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780745340777
eBook ISBN: 9781786806208

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