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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The socio-political thought of José Martí : his plans for the liberated Patria Kirk, John M.


José Martí (1853-1895) is commonly accepted by Cubans and foreigners alike as the creator of the Republic of Cuba. No such agreement exists as to the meaning of his social and political thought: Martí has been represented as advocating the most diverse of political, social and economic theories. The two most common interpretations are of Martí as an idealistic liberal or as a radical revolutionary. The prolixity and variety of Martí's writings permit the selection of direct quotations to support virtually any pre-determined ideological interpretation, and in Cuban politics over the last forty years Martí's writings have been used to legitimise totally opposing political regimes. An escape from such a treatment of Martí's writings is clearly essential if his thoughtvis to be properly understood, since only a fresh, objective examination of the totality of Martí 's writings and, in particular, an investigation of Martí's plans for the independent Cuba he so long and nobly struggled to liberate, will give an understanding of Martí's thought and its development. Based upon a close examination of the twenty-five volumes of the most recent edition of Martí's writings and upon a careful analysis of all significant critical studies of Martí's works, this dissertation has concentrated upon analysing Martí's socio-political thought and particularly his plans for the liberated patria. The dissertation also seeks .to explain the sources of Martí's thought and to investigate the development, if any, that occurred in his thought over a period of some twenty-five years. The extraordinary importance of Martí's childhood and adolescence is considered in Chapter I which demonstrates how decisive in the formation of his thought were his experiences both within his family and during his savage mistreatment by the Spanish authorities. Chapter II investigates the importance of his personal experience during his adult life in Latin America and in the United States and shows how these experiences led to a further development and, in his final years, to a radicalisation of his thought. The following four chapters contain an analysis of Martí's plans for the liberated Cuban Republic. Each chapter concentrate's upon a' specific aspect of these plans—the "moral imperatives" guiding the new Republic, its political structure, its social organisation, and its economic development. These chapters reveal that, if Martí did not present specific blueprints, he did adopt a coherent approach to the formation of the new Republic-and the problems it would face. His plans were based upon moral priorities rather than upon any abstract theory of government and society. The Conclusion restates the main findings of the dissertation,' underlining the uniqueness of Martí, a man capable of inspiring, more than sixty years after his death, a new vision of Cuban society. The dissertation closes with two appendices, one summarising biographical details of Martí's life, and the other analysing the historical portrayal of Martí who has visibly passed from the position of "Apostle" to that of "Revolutionary."

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