Bourgeois democracy and the semi-colonial
The rule of the
bourgeoisie has taken on different forms throughout history, each one depending on the
development of the class struggle. As Trotsky points out: "The bourgeoisie has
created and destroyed all kinds of regimes. She developed in times of the most pure
absolutism, of the constitutional monarchy, of the parliamentary monarchy, of the
democratic republic, of the Bonapartist dictatorship, of the state bound to the Catholic
Church, of the state that prosecuted the Church". Against the reformist
idealization of "democracy", that regards it as a "pure" regime above
all the classes, Marxism has always held that, "the democratic republic is the
best wrap-up for capitalism; and thus capital, by covering itself in this wrap, the best
one indeed, lays the foundations for its power much safely and strongly, since it remains
unshaken whatever the change of personnel, or institutions, or parties within the
bourgeois democratic republic."
The works of democratic institutions hide
the class antagonisms tearing apart society under the cover-up that a "nation"
and the "people" all the "free citizens"- freely exert their
will "choosing" their leaders. This fiction legitimates the rule of the
bourgeoisie exerted through the capitalist state, ensuring thus its political hegemony.
For the proletariat, the freedom and
rights "guaranteed" by the most liberal of the constitutions are just on paper,
while the sacred private property of the exploitators is always defended by the weapons of
the State against the so-called "dangerous classes". But the bourgeoisie needs
to retain not only the monopoly of violence through its state institutions, but also widen
its social base using different mediation mechanisms that ensure the highest possible
control over the oppressed classes.
"Bourgeois democracy is able to
carry out its task better, when it gains support from a wider layer of the petty
bourgeoisie (...) the petty bourgeoisie in the cities and the countryside are still very
important numerically. But the main thrust of development itself reduces their role in
production, the value of the wealth created by the petty bourgeoisie in all nations has
decreased much faster than its numerical importance (...) The more the petty bourgeoisie
lost ground, less chances did it have of acting as an arbiter between capital and labor.
Very large numerically, the petty bourgeoisie of the cities and the countryside, however,
expressed itself in the electoral statistics of parliamentarianism."
Parallel to this, the massive growth of
the proletariat forces the bourgeoisie to go for the co-optation of the working class
organizations, corrupting their leaders. As Lenin said: "On the economical basis
mentioned above (the super-profits coming from the imperialist exploitation of the
colonies and semi-colonies), the political institutions of modern capitalism the
press, the Parliament, the unions, the meetings- hand out perks and political privileges
corresponding to economic ones, for the employees and workers that are respectful, meek,
reformist and patriotic. The imperialist bourgeoisie attracts and rewards the
representatives and supporters of the "bourgeois workers parties" with lucrative
and quiet governmental positions, in the Ministries of Industry, in the Parliament, and in
all sort of commissions, in the editorial boards of legal and "serious"
journals, or else with a position in the leadership of workers unions that are just as
"serious" and obedient to the bourgeoisie".
All in all, this constitutes the "the
mechanism through which the bureaucracy relies directly on the workers, with the state
doing it indirectly, via the union bureaucracy" , as Trotsky wrote referring to
The same advantages of the bourgeois
democratic rule turn into a weakness during critical periods, of sudden break-ups of
capitalist equilibrium and of intensified class struggle, when the mechanisms tying down
the workers and the poor alike to the regime loose their effectiveness, and democracy
Because of this, the democratic republic
tends to slip into Bonapartism in the imperialist era, one of decadence of bourgeois
society, of exacerbation of class contradictions, which in turn reflects the huge
concentration of capital in monopolies, and the tightly-knit interests of these and the
state. Moreover, a stable democracy tends to become a luxury that only the rich
imperialist countries can afford in a long lasting fashion.
Semi-colonial countries have a much
narrower material base, and therefore the class antagonism are sharpened by the
backwardness and the dependency on imperialism, making the bourgeois democratic regime
much more unstable and weak. The weight of foreign capital boosts the Bonapartist features
of the regimes there, a development Trotsky had already described very well in the 30s: "The
weakness of the national bourgeoisie, the absence of a tradition of local communal
government, the pressure of foreign capitalism and the relatively fast growth of
proletariat is at odds with the possibility of achieving a stable democratic regime. The
government of backward countries, colonial or semi-colonial ones, generally takes on a
Bonoapartist or semi-Bonapartist character."
Hence, "The government wavers
between foreign and national capital, between the relatively weak national bourgeoisie and
the relatively strong proletariat. This gives the government a sui-generis Bonapartist
character, of a particular nature. Thus it raises, as it were, above the classes."
The native ruling class tends to "govern either becoming a tool of foreign capital
and oppressing the proletariat with police-based dictatorships, or else maneuvering
against the proletariat, even giving concessions to it, conquering a certain freedom for
itself vis-a-vis foreign capitalists."
The mutual relationships between such
fundamental social forces governs the dynamics of the "ruling regime", namely,
the combination of political, social and military institutions the bourgeois state resorts
to throughout a period of time in history; a reflection of the general balance of forces
between imperialism, the native bourgeoisie and the oligarchy on one hand, and the working
class and the exploited masses on the other. In shorter sub-periods, the ruling regime
takes on different concrete forms: bourgeois democracy, a semi-Bonapartist or a
Bonapartist dictatorship, etc., according to the ebbs and tide of the class struggle.
The "Argentine case"
The whole series of governments and
regimes in Argentina since the postwar period is a dramatic example of the violent
oscillations and the great political instability resulting from an intense class struggle,
that between the rightwing coups of 1955 and 1976, grew into successive episodes of civil
war, without the proletariat or else counterrevolution being able to turn the tables in
their favor decisively.
Peron´s government from 1945 to 1955 was
a typical case of sui-generis Bonapartism, relying for support on the working class
movement to resist the pressure of American imperialism. After the right wing
"libertarian revolution" of 1955, a "libertarian" regime based on the
proscription of Peronism, the main party of the working class, settled in. It launched a
violent clamp-down on the working class movement, to force the take over by American
capital. This ruling regime remained under different governments: the military Junta of
the generals Lonardi and Aramburu, the elected government of Frondizi, Guidos
interregnum, and later on the government of Illia, from the Radical Party. These
governments had to deal with remarkable workers struggles as the so-called
"Peronist resistance" of 1956-59. The coup in 1966 ushered in the new open
military dictatorship of Ongania, that although lethally wounded by the Cordobazo (a
workers uprising in Córdoba), will drag out through the administrations of Generals
Levingston and Lanusse up to the elections in 1973.
The Cordobazo ushered in the greatest
proletarian upsurge, also accompanied by of the urban masses, of all Argentine history, in
a true revolutionary rehearsal that was part of the worldwide upheaval of 1968-76, opened
up by the French events of May 1968. Along Argentina, revolution swept through the
Southern Cone as well, fueling the revolutionary processes of Bolivia (1970-71), Chile
(1969-73) and Uruguay (1968-73).
The ruling class tried to hold down the
working class now involved in an upheaval and accumulating experience, both of which
were challenging the bourgeois-imperialist rule- by resorting to a "Gran Acuerdo
Nacional" (Grand National Agreement), going for the return of Perón and the
"comeback of democracy". The new democratic Peronist government only lasted
three years. Amid big political crisis, it veered to Bonapartism, with the action of
fascist gangs such as the AAA (Argentine Anti-communist Association), and resorting to the
armed forces for internal repression. However, they were unable to defuse the increasing
clashes with the labor masses, as the massive general strike of 1975 was to prove it (the
The impotence of the Peronist government
to defeat the working class would lead to the bloody coup détat of 1976, organized
by the alliance between the most concentrated local capitals and imperialism to inflict a
defeat of historical proportions to the working class movement, bringing about a quantum
leap in the semi-colonization of the country. A semi-fascist regime was established, with
selective civil war methods against the proletariat and the masses, that murdered (made
"disappear") 30.000 people, and imprisoned, tortured, or else forced to exile to
tens of thousands more.
However, the economic crisis of 1981
undermined the social base of the dictatorship among the middle classes, and it also had
to confront a new workers and peoples upheaval. The attempt at deviating this
upheaval by playing a "national" card on the question of the Malvinas just ended
up in a failure, and forced the militaries to seal a pact with the traditional parties of
the bourgeoisie the Peronist and the Radical Parties-, pulling quickly out of power
to the crisis-ridden armed forces. In this way, a "transition to democracy" is
mounted, that will lead to the elections of 1983.
The "comeback of democracy"
Ever since the downfall of the military
dictatorship in 1982, the bourgeois regime has been the mechanism of political rule at
work in the country. We have branded this ruling regime "democratic
counterrevolution" to clearly define its fundamental content: to impose a quantum
leap in the semi-colonization of the country and in the exploitation of the proletariat.
It just seeks to carry on with the work initiated by Videlas dictatorship, this time
under the disguise of the mechanism and institutions of formal democracy.
Such development in Argentina is just the
reflection of much wider processes of international scope. After its defeat in Vietnam, US
imperialism resorted to a "democratic" disguise, and even a
"humanitarian" one, as a cover-up for the imperialist counter-offensive against
the proletariat, the semi-colonial world and the old bureaucratized workers states.
With this policies, imperialism was able to deviate and defeat the great workers and mass
upheaval of 1968-74 in Europe (dismantling the Portuguese revolution and deviating the
Spanish revolution, for example), although in the Southern Cone it had to resort to bloody
coups détat. However, imperialism went for a "transition-to-democracy"
policy in Latin America in the 80s, when the dictatorships were no longer sustainable. The
various peace agreements aimed at bringing in "democracy", sealed with the
Nicaraguan FSLN (Sandinista Front of National Liberation), the Salvadorean FMLN (Farabundo
Martí Front of National Liberation) and the Guatemalan URNG, all came in the wake of the
defeat of revolution in Central America.
Now then, as we have pointed out above,
bourgeois democracy in semi-colonies such as Argentina is far from being as stable as that
in the imperialist countries. Specially today, a time of unprecedented looting by
imperialism, increasing deterioration of the living standards and working conditions of
the workers and the people, of direct actions by the mass movement and hence the open
clamp-down of the bourgeois state. Why has bourgeois democracy lasted so long in such a
relatively stable fashion then? It is true that it finds a major mainstay in the
social-political role played by the urban and rural petty bourgeoisie, quite large in
Argentina, in the control by the union bureaucracy of unions closely linked to the State,
and also in the bourgeois Peronist leadership at the head of the proletariat.
However, the key for this lies in the two
wars waged against the proletariat and the oppressed masses of the semi-colonial nation,
both of which end in victory for the ruling class. Without these we cannot understand the
relative stability of the democratic regime in the 80s and 90s: the bloody coup
détat in 1976 and the national defeat in the Malvinas war in 1982. These ushered in
a period of remarkable historical exceptionality. These account for the relatively
"peaceful" rule of international finance capital and its break-throughs in the
80s, without the bourgeoisie having to resort directly to a "police-based
dictatorship" against the proletariat, being able instead to uphold the democratic
The first war was the 1976 coup
détat, that brought about a defeat of historical proportions for the proletariat,
murdering with selective civil war methods a whole generation of workers and peoples
activists educated in decades of combat. The imposition of a semi-fascist dictatorship, a
native instrument of international finance capital, was the first milestone in the road
towards reshaping the country under the conditions imposed by imperialism.
The second battle was the victory of
imperialism in Malvinas in 1982, that imposed a defeat of the semi-colonial nation at the
hands of Anglo-American imperialism. This tied the country down with double chains, as
shown later in the 80s with the burden of the external debt, and in the 90s with the
imposition of wholesome privatization and the take over by foreign capital.
All in all, the exceptional conditions in
Argentina that brought about a relative stabilization and a new long lasting ruling regime
based on the forms of bourgeois democracy have mainly to do with a quantum leap in
imperialisms oppression over the country, after is victory in Malvinas, and the
radical cut both in the fighting tradition and the consciousness of the Argentine
proletariat as a result of the defeat in 1976.
With the defeat in Malvinas came the
collapse of the military dictatorship, and suddenly the traditional parties were back in
the political scene Both the Peronist and the Radical parties, that had justified the
coup, collaborating with the dictatorship by providing officials and mayors coming from
their ranks. These parties built a "Multipartidaria" (a bloc gathering all
parties) to oversee the "transition".
With Alfonsín, both the mechanism of
coercion and consent used by the bourgeoisie are strengthened, due to the two previous
defeats of the proletariat and the exploited masses mentioned above: "if the
parliamentary regime is challenged by the workers struggle, the armed forces will
come back; if we dare question the interest of imperialism, this will attack us as it did
in Malvinas", such was the underlying consensus achieved by the new bourgeois
democratic regime, among the middle class and the proletariat as well. These just bought
into Alfonsins motto: "democracy will bring us food, health, and
Besides, basing themselves on the ample
illusions of the masses, the traditional bourgeois parties played a key role at that time,
the Radical Party acting as a bulwark for the middle classes, and the Peronists holding
control of the working class movement.
The proletariat, (although it did not get
back to level of struggle of the 70s), organized 13 general strikes and near 6000
conflicts in this period, most of them demanding pay rises. However, the union bureaucracy
of the CGT played a decisive role in holding the working class down, preventing it from
taking an independent stand to respond to the sharp economic crisis affecting the country,
as a result of the "debt crisis" and inflation altogether.
Meantime, both the Radicals and the
Peronists, and all the parties of the regime were busy trying to protect the hated
crisis-ridden armed forces from the peoples mobilization that sought to make them
pay for the crimes of the dictatorship. Especially after the Easter military pronouncement
in 1987, these guaranteed the militaries that they would not go further than a "trial
to the military Juntas" (the leading echelons), and later gave them total impunity.
Thus, they went for a piecemeal reconstruction of the beleaguered military.
That was how the regime handled the high
tensions of the period between 1982 and 1989, being able to choke the demands of the
masses regarding the yet unsolved democratic and national problems. These were inherited
from the dictatorship, and with the deepening of the semi-colonial dependency, became the
driving force of the mass demonstrations, and also the protests by vanguard workers and
advanced peoples activists. These took place against the background of the
"external debt crisis", that shook the semi-colonial structure to its
foundations, fueling a protracted and deep recession that combined with sky-rocketing
inflation and provoked an unprecedented suffering for the masses.
The economic and political crisis that
shattered Alfonsíns government, peaked in 1989. Back then, as
"hyper-inflation" was raging, there were "hunger revolts" in which the
urban poor participated, with 14 dead. The siege was enforced across the country. The
bipartisan regime had moved once again to put an end to the profound governmental crisis
with a "Pact of Governability", which resulted in an anticipated inauguration of
Menem. Meanwhile, the political subordination of the unions to the bourgeoisie allowed the
ruling class to impose a reactionary outcome to such critical situation. Hence,
"hyper-inflation" was truly a piece "economic terrorism" that
inflicted deep wounds to the masses. Sometime later, they would buy into the solution
proposed by the bourgeoisie, i.e., the stability of the currency, with its sequels of
unemployment and increased exploitation of the working class movement.
The Menem government: a legitimate son
of bourgeois democracy.
The center-left holds that Menems
"authoritarianism" was a departure from Alfonsins "ample
democracy". However, Menems regime was nothing but the natural evolution, i.e.,
the degradation of the bourgeois democratic regime in the semi-colonial Argentina, an
embodiment of the strong Bonapartist tendencies fueled both by the take over of foreign
capital and capitalist concentration alike.
The Menems regime was a combination
of a government with strong Bonapartist features, with the presidency at its core, and a
discretional recourse to decrees and the Supreme Court all alike, but always within the
framework of the institutions of the bourgeois democratic régime. It relied on the role
played by all the strands of the union bureaucracy as a direct agent, the remarkable
bourgeois and imperialist unity around it, the defeat of the struggles and the strikes
fighting back privatization, and finally it also counted on a widespread support among the
middle classes. This was the political form that the rule of the most concentrated layers
of national and imperialist capital took on. In order to push ahead with their program,
they had to resort to the executive organs of the state, especially the most
antidemocratic ones, resorting to the presidential "decrees of urgency and
necessity". They just resorted to the parliament to get the endorsement of decisions
that had been taken beforehand by the innermost circle of high officials, imperialist big
capital and the top 30 national trusts alike.
These reactionary transformations counted
on a widespread support, achieved through the hyper-inflationary terror -that hit back in
1990- and the ideological conviction of the middle classes, who had now been won over to
the cause of privatizing the "inefficient companies". The resistance of the
workers in these state-owned companies, mainly those waged by the telephone and railroad
workers, were isolated and defeated by the open betrayal of the CGT. The work of the union
bureaucracy was made easier by the role played by the left wing parties, mainly the
Communist Party and the MAS (Movement to Socialism), that were the most influential left
parties at the time, having conquered influence among vanguard workers.
Once they defeated the resistance to the
privatization drive, the bourgeoisie closed ranks around the imperialist plan, a fact that
allowed the strengthening of the ruling class as a whole, which now appeared as a
monolithic bloc before the workers and the masses.
If the political stability of the regime
in the 80s hinged upon the aspirations and democratic illusions of most of the middle
classes, that also pervaded the proletariat, the economic stability of the early 90s and
the strong increase in consumption that followed, after years of retreat, boosted a
temporary illusion of progress among the middle classes.
Between 1991 and 1994, a wide and
reactionary class alliance was formed, centered in the petty bourgeoisie (the well off
sectors of this would become fierce supporters of the bourgeois- imperialist plan) and
encompassing sectors of the proletariat and the urban poor, thus giving the regime a
massive social base. In turn, this brought about bigger political stabilization and the
strengthening of the Menemist government altogether.
The Olivos Pact sealed between Menem and
Alfonsín, and the constitutional reform of 1994, in the zenith of Menem, expressed the
solid unity achieved by all factions of the bourgeoisie and their parties, that set the
judicial armory of bourgeois rule in tune with the needs of the imperialist plan. Such
agreement was proof positive of the adaptation of the big "national parties"
that came to life representing different factions of the bourgeoisie, now transformed into
mere administrators at the service of the new establishment commanded by imperialism.
In the meantime, the weakened armed
forces ceased to play their old blackmailing game as a "military party". Now, it
is international finance capital the one who plays the role of "party of
finance", imposing obedience with the threat of leaving Argentina if its conditions
are not accepted. The Frontier Police force, the provincial police and the riot squads,
have been all built up and provided with better equipment. They became the hitmen of the
bourgeois state under Menem, while the diminished and beleaguered army took on a secondary
role. Now it was assigned to take part in the imperialist interventions and the UN
"peace missions", in an unprecedented leap in the subordination to the US.
The role of the unions under
The open betrayal of the Peronist union
leaders, now turned into guarantors and agents of the implementation of the plan of the
new establishment, blocked right from the start workers resistance, and gave
Menems government a counterrevolutionary advantage that Alfonsín could not count
Contradictorily, this role played by the
bureaucracy did not improve their lot as a whole, as the privileged negotiators, as it had
happened in the past, when their collaboration was rewarded with ministerial posts, seats
in the parliament, consultation on political and economic affairs, etc. The bureaucracy
now played a secondary role politically, being co-opted with perks such as union levies,
healthcare funds, etc, and she was kept as a more direct agent of the plans of the
government and the capitalists.
This reflected the most Bonapartist
features of Menems regime, that in order to push ahead with the demands of
imperialism needed to keep a strong bureaucratic grip on the working class movement, in
turn clipping the wings of the "union lobby" when it came to major decisions.
Meanwhile, the successive defeats inflicted on the working class and the political
isolation of the resistance struggles meant there was no need to resort to an open and
massive prosecution of the working class movement.
Historically, the Bonapartist character
of the semi-colonial countries: "
determines the future of the unions: either
they exist under the tutelage of the state or else are subjected to a cruel prosecution.
Such state tutelage is determined by two tasks the state has to deal with: in the first
place to attract the working class in order to gain support to resist the excessive
demands of imperialism and, at the same time, to make workers obey by putting them under
the control of a bureaucracy." This dialectic had a particular expression under
Menems regime. While the state control of the unions grew apace, and the union
bureaucracy was rewarded with all sort of perks and kickbacks, the role of the unions was
undermined and the positions gained by the working class movement were systematically
attacked (there was a wholesome loss of conquests then), bringing about decreased levels
of union membership.
In this way, sacrificing the most
elemental class interests, the bureaucracy "satisfactorily worked out its own
social problem" using the control of the unions "even against any attempt
by the workers at resisting the attacks of capital and the reaction" . This lead
to the emergence of new layers within the bureaucracy and to a massive weakening of the
links that they had with the masses. The pro-government CGT still gathered most unions,
although different wings came to life inside it. Meanwhile, the CTA came to life as the
"oppositionist" union federation, based on the teachers unions and a sector of
state workers (ATE).
The collaboration of the union
bureaucracy, both in its pro-government version and also the "oppositionists"
propped up Menem, letting the government get away with the implementation of every single
austerity plan pushed through by the bosses or else the government itself. They also kept
workers ranks divided, keeping fights isolated, defeating them, or else leading them
to a dead end (the CTA with the teachers and state workers in the provinces, the CGT in
the general strikes). They did their best to keep the working class out of the political
scene, and after 1996, when Menem started to go downhill, they stood by the bourgeois plan
of leading the growing mass discontent towards the ballot box.
The "democratic" trap saves
In 1995 Menem is re-elected thanks to the
agreement codified in the Olivos Pact and the 1994 constitutional reform. However, the
class struggle ate away his strength.
After 1993, the resistance of the masses
to the capitalist offensive took on the form of a wave of provincial revolts, as the
Santiagazo, and also the struggle of metal workers in Tierra del Fuego and other harsh and
isolated struggles in different factories.
The "post-Tequila" recession
during 1995 fueled mass revolts, where municipal workers, teachers and state workers from
the provinces all came together, alongside the unemployed.
During 1996 and 1997, years of economic
recovery, the unemployed rose up in the provinces, with embryonic self-organization and
elements of civil war in the cities of Cutral-Có, Tartagal and Ledesma.
Parallel to this, when Menem and Cavallo
tried to push ahead with a wage cut affecting the whole working class (doing away with
family pay), the working class displayed its unified strength, paralyzing the country with
the three massive national strikes of 1996, jointly called by the union federations.
This combination of upheavals in the
provinces and the centralized national strikes, while big democratic demonstrations took
place (against repression and impunity), might have ushered in a new situation in the
country, heralding for the first time ever in the 1990s a change in the balance of forces
in favor of the proletariat and the masses. This happened because the alliance of classes
that supported Menems regime was falling apart, a new progressive alliance led by
the working class with the support of wide sectors of the middle classes was coming to
The union bureaucracies of the CGT, CTA
and MTA hold back the spontaneous tendencies towards a mass political struggle. The
Argentine proletariat was thus joining in the working class counter-offensive sweeping
through the world ushered in by the French workers in 1995. However, the limits of this
wave of fights by the workers and the people lay in the weak protagonism of industrial
workers, that had participated in the massive national strikes, but did not come to the
fore in any independent action with their own methods.
This has made things easier for the union
bureaucracy (the "oppositionist" CTA played an active role in the provinces),
that succeeded in holding down and leading this process to the dead end of the bourgeois
democratic regime. They just stood firmly by a firm "social pact", and the CTA
tacitly said the bourgeois opposition should oust Menem via the ballot box, instead of
workers from below. Meanwhile, the MTA and the UOM (metal workers union) rallied
with governor Duhalde, by then the opposition within the Peronist party.
The regime resorted also to an additional
maneuver: the formation of the Alianza between the Radical Party and the Frepaso , to sow
illusions in an "anti-menemist" governmental reshuffle.
This new bulwark erected by the
democratic counter-revolution, was based upon the yet solid bourgeois unity of the ruling
bloc, boosted by the steady capital inflows in 1997-98, and the good businesses within the
Mercosur in those years. It also contributed the fact that no vanguard sector of the
working class movement was able to turn the milestones of organization and consciousness
lay in the previous phase into permanent organizations. Finally, the bureaucracy also
counted on the open collaboration of the Stalinists of the PTP (Partido del Trabajo y el
Pueblo) and the Communist Party, and also the capitulation and impotence of centrism (MAS,
MST, PO) that refused to go for an independent rallying of the vanguard.
Therefore the regime was able to cushion
the weakening of Menems government, going on to rejuvenate the senile bipartisan
régime , channeling the discontent -regardless of the sharp recession since a year and
half before- through to the elections, that has just resulted in a victory for the
Alianza. The bourgeoisie has thus attained a "quiet" political transition,
backed by the bureaucracy and blackmailing workers with the crisis and the ensuing
unemployment, keeping the essential continuity of the bourgeois-imperialist plan. It has
also upheld the social pact with the bureaucracy and keeps, for now, the masses out of the
The future of the "democracy for
Some commentators have gone on to say
that the new electoral reshuffle means the so-called "transition to democracy"
inaugurated in 1983 has now ended. They claim a stable regime has now settled in, like the
democracies in the imperialist countries . On the contrary, the continuity of the
bourgeois imperialistic plan and the decisive weight of the establishment in the
decision-taking of the new government a heir and trustee of Menems work and
the Olivos Pact- can only boost the profound reactionary, semi-bonapartist features of the
regime, whatever the disguise provided by a rejuvenated bipartisanship and a superficially
The regime of the democratic
counterrevolution in Argentina does not have enough wide basis so as to absorb the
enormous pressures coming from the imperialist rule, the extreme exacerbation of social
antagonisms, and the eating away of bourgeois unity for long (as can be seen in the
formation of the "productive front" between sectors of the industry, the
construction and the farmers). An additional element in the degradation of the state and
its institutions is the rot of the bourgeois cliques (dirty business, corruption, drug
traffic, arms smuggling, etc.) Last but not least, it is hard to believe that the masses
are just going to put up with renewed and harder attacks against their already
deteriorated living standards and working conditions without any resistance whatsoever.
In the last 17 years, besides, the masses
have gone trough a great experience with bourgeois democracy. If we compare the prevailing
mood now with that when democratic illusions boomed in the early 80s, the workers and the
people alike have clearly grown disappointed with the institutions of this "democracy
for the rich": the justice, the parliament, the traditional bourgeois parties. The
erosion of the links subordinating the proletariat to the bourgeois Peronist leadership,
with the union bureaucracy at its core is also remarkable. Although the regime counts on
important mechanisms, mainly the elections and the universal vote as a leverage to use the
illusions of the majority of workers and the people (as last October 24th has proved), the
"normal" mechanism of co-optation and mediation have been seriously damaged, a
potentially weak flank in the face of eventual sudden changes in the class struggle.
The future of semi-colonial democracy in
Argentina is not one of long lasting stability and "improvement" then, but
rather one of weakening of the foundations of the regime and also renewed tendencies to
"short circuits", political crisis, Bonapartist relapses, and ultimately, the
open unfolding of the class struggle.