Since González Prada virtually everyone has talked about the Indian in Peru, but almost no one has done anything about the Indian. Outside of Peru, in the early conquest period, some Spaniards did something about the Indian. As Lewis Hanke and others have pointed out, they conducted social experiments to discover the best means of dealing with the Indians in order to persuade them to take to a new set of values and life styles. The present book shows that Marxists in Peru, learning something from the failure of guerrilla activities in 1965, have now gotten around to doing what the Spaniards did hundreds of years ago. Instead of confining their attention to the Indian to rhetoric conceived in Lima, they are at last considering living with the Indians, becoming as nearly as possible a part of their culture, so as to discover the best means for inducing these noncitizens to become Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries.
For all their experiments conducted through the years in missions and other settings, Spaniards largely failed to make the Indians Christians. The new experiments contemplated in Peru seem little more likely to achieve their goal, especially in view of the fact that those conducting them expect total success in a matter of a few years at the longest.
The established system with its appalling injustices makes one fervently wish that there were something promising to be discovered in Latin America’s subculture or revolutionary culture. Alas, the more this reviewer reads the works of the revolutionary culture, such as the present book, and finds them at worst hollow, pretentious and cant-ridden, at best passionately sincere and dedicated but highly derivative and totally lacking in historical perspective and balance, the more he tends to grit his teeth and to summon up patience in contemplating the established culture.