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UFOs, dolphins, nuclear war and communism: the stranger than sci-fi political party

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Nov 1, 2017, 6:00 PM EDT

After the Communist Manifesto arrived in 1848, the works of Karl Marx inspired millions to seek a worldwide revolution. But if one revolutionary group had its way, it would have been an interplanetary revolution, too.

They were the followers of J. Posadas, a Trotskyite who happened to believe that dolphins should be a part of the revolution, too, and that a nuclear war could bring a lasting, worldwide, communal piece. The Italian-Argentinian Posadas was born as Homero Rómulo Cristalli Frasnelli before taking on his revolutionary name sometime in the 1950s.

Marxism is divided into a series of "internationals," groups working together over several time periods to overthrow the machines of capitalism. The first two started in the 19th century, with the second carrying over into the 20th. The third international was the Russian revolution, but it was dissolved by Joseph Stalin. The fourth international organized against Stalinism as much as capitalism. But when that, too, came to a close with infighting, several internationals in diaspora formed.

Most of them had the basics of communism/socialism down. Worker's owning the machines of production and the state. Land held in common. Wealth redistributed.

But the Posadists were not what we'd call typical communists.

David Walters, a volunteer at the Marxist International Archive and director of the Holt Labor Library, says that they were "an extreme cult."

"They were considered odd and weird were totally ignored by other tendencies and internationals," he tells SYFY WIRE.


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But that didn't mean Posadas' words never found an audience. It was just a small one. But what words they were! He and his followers started out participating in the Cuban Revolution, but then began spreading Che Guevara death hoaxes and conspiracy theories. Around this time, Posadas began arguing for nuclear war. "The atomic war is going to provoke a true inferno on Earth. But it will not impede Communism," he wrote.

"Capitalism cannot defend itself in an atomic war except by putting itself in caves and attempting to destroy all that it can," Posadas wrote. "The masses, in contrast, are going to come out, will have to come out, because it is the only way to survive, defeating the enemy… The apparatus of capitalism, police, army, will not be able to resist… It will be necessary to organize the workers' power immediately."

In an era of nuclear brinksmanship between the United States and its allies and the Soviet affiliated states, this wasn't perhaps as unusual a position as it could have been. But Posadas regarded it as an inevitability to be taken advantage of, writing, "The matter however stems from a historic necessity, not a number of years. The atomic war is inevitable. And it will be followed, immediately, during and afterwards, by the world triumph of the Socialist Revolution."

"The idea behind it is that the USSR could win it and thus force-establish a planetary workers state on the remains," Walters says. "This crazy idea assumes that a 'pre-emptive' strike by the USSR would allow the USSR to 'win' the war. This was, to be fare, well before the advent of ICBMs and the massive build up on thousand of megaton nuclear weapons."

While that's plenty weird on its own, it was perhaps the least unusual belief of the Posadaists.

According to the Fortean Times (which is the least crazy paranormal magazine, or at least has more of a sense of humor than FATE), Posadas became enamored with the work of Igor Charkovsky, a Soviet researcher who studied dolphins. At first, he was enamored with dolphin birth, hoping to apply it to birthing in space. But that transformed into a belief that we should communicate with dolphins and other animals.

Then there were the UFOs.

Posada had a more-than-keen interest in extraterrestrial life. That belief could manifest realistically, with Posada advocating for METI — Messages to Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or "active SETI" in which a SETI group doesn't just listen for messages, but actively sends out beacons of our presence.

"Life can exist on other planets, in other solar systems, in other galaxies and universes," Posadas wrote. "The passage of matter from its inorganic state to the organic can have happened there differently from Earth, allowing for energy to be used in a superior way."

It's a noble pursuit. Indeed, both the United States and the USSR had SETI programs during the Cold War that collaborated with each other to a moderate degree. But Posada believed that any alien species sufficiently strong enough to make it past the "great filter" would have to be some form of socialist.

The great filter is the idea that we haven't heard from other alien civilizations because they've wiped themselves out in disease, famine, war, or nuclear annihilation. Of course, Posadas believed that, for the latter, socialism would survive a nuclear war in a great people's revolt. Ergo… survival to being technologically advanced meant aliens were likely socialist societies.

But Posadas took it beyond the limits of science. He fully believed in the extraterrestrial theory of UFOs.

"Capitalism has no interest in UFOs and, as such, makes no research into them," he wrote in perhaps his most infamous polemic. "It has no interest in occupying itself with these matters because they cannot reap profits, nor are they useful to capitalism.

"But people see in UFOs the possibility of advancement and progress. This thus accelerates the fall of the bourgeoisie, shown in all its uselessness. All the people who say that they have seen extra-terrestrials, UFOs, coincide in the fact that these beings have not frightened them, and that they have made themselves understood, without using an audible language, showing them that they mean no harm."

So how seriously was this taken with the wider internationals? Beyond the initial burst of activity in Cuba, not very. Posadas' increasingly erratic behavior left him at odds with other movement leaders, especially as these more esoteric beliefs emerged. Some Posadists maintain that these beliefs were blown out of proportion; others whole heartedly embraced them.

A few chapters exist worldwide, including in Posadas' native Argentina. There's also one in the United Kingdom and Italy, respectively, according to Walters. (Posadas parents were both Italian emigrants to Argentina.) There are a few factions of the Democratic Socialists of America that carry the name Posadism, but none take the political philosophy of Posada too seriously. As relayed to me by one DSA member, it was a satirical response to infighting within the DSA rather than a sudden revelation from the stars.

Walters relays one last story. His friend, Peter Camejo, travelled to Brazil on a peacekeeping mission. The Fourth International was factionalizing. Camejo, who worked for the Socialist Workers Party, went to meet with Posadas in Brazil. Camejo sat down at a large, round table.

"Tea and coffee were brought in and poured," Walters says, relaying his now-deceased friend's story. "No one on the Posadas side touched the coffee or really moved."
"It was quiet and eerie. And then Posadas came in the room, sat down, and picked up his coffee cup. Then all the Posadistas in unison picked up their cups and started drinking."

Any reunification attempt would likely not happen with what Camejo described later as an "extreme cult."