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Du Bois Lecture on June 22, 2021 / Max Paul Friedman: "Prelude to Castro: The United States vs. 'Spiritual Socialism' in Guatemala, 1944-1963"

22.06.2021 | 18:30 - 20:00

Dear All,


You are all cordially invited to our next online Du Bois lecture on Tuesday, June 22, 2021:


Max Paul Friedman (American University)

"Prelude to Castro: The United States vs. 'Spiritual Socialism' in Guatemala, 1944-1963"

6.30 – 8.00 P.M. (CET)


The United States brought the Cold War to Latin America by twice destroying Guatemalan experiments in social democracy launched by Juan José Arévalo, a professor of philosophy who described his approach to governance as “spiritual socialism.” Ridiculed by US officials and overshadowed by the CIA coup of 1954 that overthrew his successor, Jacobo Árbenz, Arévalo has been largely forgotten by history, although he offered a Latin American “third way” for national development between the poles of extractive capitalism and revolutionary communism that shaped decades of violent conflict in the most unequal region in the world. This lecture connects Arévalo’s political thought to his experience while in exile in Argentina of the krausista tradition inspired by the German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, a contemporary (and rival) of Hegel's, who envisioned peaceful societies based on justice and harmony. It analyzes his writings and policy initiatives, which can be characterized by an effort to address Guatemala’s extreme levels of poverty and inequality while preserving the dignity of the individual, largely by maintaining freedom of expression and emphasizing the role of public education. It also reveals the role of the United States in thwarting Arévalo’s likely return to power in 1963 when another, forgotten coup d'état was authorized in secret by John F. Kennedy. The doppia morte of Arévalo’s vision, twice blocked by U.S. covert action, helped snuff out the possibility of a Latin American alternative in the Cold War, radicalizing the Latin American Left, fueling the Cuban Revolution’s repressive turn, and contributing to an era marked by shocking levels of violence in the Central American civil wars.


Please register for this online-event: evangelia.kindinger@hu-berlin.de


Looking forward to seeing you there!


American Studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin