of the government's new Alliance with Menem's former Minister of Economy,
Domingo Cavallo, at his core, could be the last attempt at saving
what is left of the régime of domination established in 1983,
caught between the capitalist crisis and the workers' and people's
struggles. But this very act of 'salvation' inaugurated a régime
with pre-Bonapartist characteristics. All the political institutions
that the ruling class had used to preserve its hegemony and which
have gone through a deep process of decomposition throughout the past
18 years, have now been discredited. Faced with the government's weakness,
the parliament has been unable to limit the dissatisfaction of masses
and find a solution to the economic, political and social crisis gripping
the country. This inability was most clearly expressed when the parliament
granted Cavallo, the Minister of Economy, special legislative faculties.
This political crisis of bourgeois democratic regimes, is being experienced
by a growing number of Latin American countries with their own peculiarities.
Colombia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador are the most evident
Meanwhile, during and after the crisis, all the representatives of
local progressivism -as usual- have begun to play their reformist
role. Radical deputy Elisa Carrió, who denounced the legislators
that 'have climbed aboard the Titanic' by voting the delegation of
faculties, and who proposed the 'refounding of the republic', took
back her accusation of 'infamous traitors to the country' as soon
as she could. How would this eloquent deputy 'refound' who-knows-which
enigmatic new republic, if she is not even capable of upholding a
modest judicial accusation against the representatives of the 'old'
republic?. Other tendencies of the center left have raised hue and
cry and proposed a referendum as a solution for the crisis. Others
are busy building new political groups and new 'opposition' fronts,
in order to try their luck in the forthcoming elections, while right-wing
Minister Cavallo will push ahead with his 'neoliberal' policies before
and after the October elections. Cowardly towards power, helpless
in the present and fearful of the future, the new center left does
not and cannot constitute an organic force able to save the poor and
exploited nation from its ruin. As the political leadership of the
petty bourgeoisie they kneel before the big bourgeoisie and pay tribute
to imperialist capital, before which they bow servilely, thus being
impotent to represent the genuine interests of the ruined middle class
who can only find a solution to their needs in the only class and
program that can lead society ahead, the working class.
and political representatives and union leaders that turn to progressivism
or the so-called 'new thought' have seen their new attempt to achieve
a 'social', 'participative' democracy or one of 'equal opportunities'
collapse after the complete failure of Alfonsin's goverment (1983-1989).
Since the crisis and downfall of Menemism, hundreds of articles, magazines
and books have captured their growing dissatisfaction with the different
economic and political initiatives implemented by the goverments of
the time. Democracy as a 'procedural' mechanism was associated with
neoliberal policies and democratic restrictions.
"Democracy or cutbacks" says the Central de Trabajadores
Argentinos (Argentinian Workers' Union Federation, CTA) led by Victor
De Gennaro. Sociologist José Nun, a regular in journalist Horacio
Verbitsky's editorials, has claimed in his book 'Democracia ¿Gobierno
del pueblo o gobierno de los políticos?' that what is needed
is something like a 'Keynesian democracy', based on 'people's well-being
and participation' and which would ameliorate the social conflict1.
Thus, he overlooks the fact that welfare States have only been possible
in the imperialist States, particularly during the postwar boom, and
that semicolonial and dependant countries like Argentina have at most
achieved pseudoindustrialization by means of import substitution,
being tied and subordinated to foreign capital. Center-left thinker
Guillermo O' Donnel came to similar conclusions, prescribing, against
'the authoritarian power of financial capital', a 'productive alliance
based on values of social equity and a reinvigorated democracy which
would in turn lay the basis to rebuild the nation'2. But we insist,
Argentina is a semicolonial nation, lacking sovereignty and linked
by economic, political, military and cultural ties to imperialist
All these people were supporters of Alfonsin's régime, in which
they sought to find a balance between parliamentary democracy and
social justice after 'decades of military coups and populism'. Later
they were joined by some who were disappointed with Menemism. Then
they promoted 'transparency' and the 'fight against 'corruption in
opposition to Menem's cutbacks. This accounts for the emergence of
the Frepaso, after the 'Pacto de Olivos' in 1994. This center-left
group became part of De la Rúa's ruling coalition in 1999 -a
bloc made up of the Frepaso and the bourgeois Radical Party. Later
on, they granted Cavallo the 'superpowers' and were thrown into disarray.
Those who first propped up the bipartisan régime, saving its
parties from collapse, later fell down with them. The new center left
that is emerging from the old, based on the spirit of class collaboration
and the defense of the bourgeois State, will end up in the same way
as its predecessors, torn apart by class struggles and the capitalist
The CTA, at one time claimed that a new 'antineoliberal democracy'
would emerge from the changed relationship between social forces,
that is to say, from a State and government that would listen to the
masses' demands. 'Civil society' could impose the people's demands
on the capitalist State. What De Gennaro and its center left co-thinkers
have failed so far to explain is why the upswing of the people's and
workers struggles, as shown in the past four general strikes, the
organization of the unemployed workers'movement and the mass opposition
against the capitalist onslaught, have not led to unemployment benefits,
'participative democracy' nor anything like it. Quite otherwise, they
have nurtured something new, "Cavallism". Because for progressivism,
the class nature of democracy is, in the best of cases, an incomprehensible
hieroglyphic or else a demodé Marxist dogma.
'cutbacks' and 'democracy' are not incompatible, on the contrary,
they constituted the framework in which the political régime
has operated for 18 years. In the words of progressives, democracy
was not meant to be Keynesian, but 'neoliberal' through and through.
And in this case, as in so many others, the aristocratic Schumpeter
was more realistic than all the center left put together: "democracy
is what it is."
The bourgeois democracy of 1983 emerged from the people's struggles
against the dictatorship, but was marked from the beginning by the
defeat of the working class and its most combative vanguard under
the military dictatorship on one hand, and by the country's defeat
in Malvinas before Anglo-American imperialism, on the other. It emerged
from those historical defeats that allowed US imperialism to promote
bourgeois democratic regimes in Argentina and in the rest of Latin
America, all of them instrumental in their domination and much more
secure and stable than the old worn-out and discredited dictatorships.
The democracy inaugurated in 1983 was thus a post-counterrevolutionary
Under the cover of democracy and the Constitution the ruling class
and imperialism carried out an extraordinary political, economic and
ideological offensive against the masses. This capitalist offensive
carried out under the banners of democracy took place in different
countries and in different circunstances3, as part of the imperialist
counteroffensive and as a counterrrevolutionary response to the uprisings
that took place worldwide from 1968 to at least 1981. These policies
of democratic counterrevolution were always combined with punitive
military interventions as in Iraq, or support for self-coups like
The bourgeois democratic régime, whose most solid institution
has been perhaps the universal vote, creates the illusion of sovereignty
and autonomy in the decisions of the masses through voting. Representative
democracy ignores the class antagonism in production relationships
and treats citizens as free and equal before the law, beyond their
belonging to a certain social class. This democracy, progressivism's
panacea, has been the most effective political instrument in pushing
ahead with an unparalleled capitalist offensive and imperialist take
over, with no precedent in any political régime in national
history -except during the '30s.
Without the capacity of the subordinated classes to seriously question
private property and imperialist domination altogether, the exceptional
stability of Argentinean democracy was the consequence of a new bloc
of bourgeois power constituted throughout the recurrent crises in
the 80s, and which was consolidated during the 90s. This process could
be divided into three stages: 1) under the military régime
the indebtedness and the differential interest rates that allowed
for increased financial speculation along with the flight of capitals,
the opening of markets and the nationalization of foreign debt in
1981-82 were the key weapons of the massive transference of resources
away from the workers and the masses and into the hands of both local
and foreign big capital. This continued under Alfonsín's government.
The State was a key lever in this exorbitant transfer of resources.
The rapid increase of foreign debt that was later combined with a
deep economic recession during the 80s fuelled the flight of capitals.
It is estimated that, through these mechanisms, "the total transfer
made from the state to concentrated capital in the 80s was worth 105
billion dollars"4. Of this amount it is believed that about 35
billion came from the surcharges paid by the state in purchases and
contracts, directly benefitting companies like Pérez Companc,
Techint, Siemens, etc., that is to say, the association of the so-called
'industry captains' with foreign corporations. The world capitalist
crisis, the end of the postwar boom, the exhaustion of the import
substitution stage that cleared the way for the opening of markets
according to the productive needs of imperialist countries, concentrating
on agroindustry and raw materials, and a domestic market mainly limited
to the upper-middle class, brought about a change in the social base
and alliances of the classes. The new ruling bloc has no intention
of playing a demagogical card. On the contrary, it is permanently
pursuing the devaluation of the labour force, and rests upon the concentration
of capital in a handful of large corporations, establishing a long-standing
bond with foreign capital on which it depends financially and technologically.
Alfonsín's government, after the complete failure of his Minister
of Economy Grinspun and the 'debtors' club', reached an agreement
with creditors and imposed an economy of war against the workers.
By issuing currency and devaluation, it favored the devaluation of
salaries on one hand, and by means of exports promotion it was able
to get the revenues to pay back the debt, on the other. Even so, big
capital managed to take advantage from the sky-rocketing inflation
and the Radical government's impasse. 2) Menem's government, after
some hesitation came to impose this program. The inflationary crisis,
while the working class was prevented by the union leadership from
carrying out independent policies, was used to push ahead with big
capital's unfinished tasks. The results are well-known. Later, the
defeat of the struggle against privatizations stabilized Menem's government
and gave it enough strength to implement the whole of the establishment's
political program. This coincided with the relaunch of the US offensive
worldwide -as the war against Iraq showed.
But the Menem's government also modified the 'rules of the game' by
establishing a Bonapartist power that led to the crisis of the old
bipartisanship that culminated in the 'Pacto de Olivos'. This pact
meant a quantum leap. It codified the juridical and political needs
of the establishment, i.e, to concentrate power in tune with the imperialists'
needs. The constitutional reform nurtured by the 'Pacto de Olivos,
codified, among other things, the notorious provision 76 authorizing
the legislative power to grant the executive special faculties.
Menem's government went for a strong and centralized power, an open
relationship between capitalist interests and State administration,
to an extent never reached by the previous government. By means of
the State Reform and Economic Emergency laws, the political party
system and parliamentary debate were subordinated to the techno-bureaucratic
efficiency of the state which concentrated the fundamental levers
of capitalist reforms in its hands. Its decline, which began with
the 'Tequila crisis' in 1995, would later be reflected by the struggles
of 1996 and 1997. 3) The onset of the world economic crisis in Southeast
Asia in 1997, and the ensuing 1998 recession, the people's struggle
against Menem's government and the rifts in the core of the bourgeoisie,
were the essential elements of the crisis and exhaustion of the cycle
that had begun in the 90s. The Alliance came to derail the masses'
struggle against Menem's government, relegitimate the worn-away institutions
of the bipartisan régime and nourish expectations; the Alliance's
government began with a certain 'reformist' profile. But the Alliance
was eroded by the crisis, the pressure from creditors, the bosses'
demands and the people's struggles whose main characteristic was the
reemergence of the working class with the past four general strikes
and the development of the unemployed workers' movement which has
been the vanguard of the struggle. Cavallos's ascent to power was
the culmination of this process and at the same time the consequence
of the decline of the régime of domination established in 1983.
democracy and Bonapartist tendencies
that political democracy as a type of government, under the effects
of the capitalist crisis and the workers' and people's struggles,
is not widened or else becomes increasingly 'social', as progressivism
proclaims, is not only demonstrated by current experience, but by
the whole contemporary society's record. When Guillermo O' Donnell
and other representatives of native "progressive" sociology
look for political solutions, they should not look for it in Max Weber's
postulates on the Weimar republic5, that sought to preserve and deepen
democracy by controlling the State 'iron cage' and 'inanimate machine',
in spite of a Socialdemocratic majority in parliament. They should
rather look into Weber as an advocate of Cesarism, the one who understood
that behind the reformist leaders were the German workers, and that
the latter's defiant power prevented the bourgeois parliament from
acting freely, especially under the devastating effects of the postwar
crisis, made worse by the draconinan terms of the treaty of Versailles.
The one who believed that 'a nation's interests are above democracy
and parliamentarianism'6. This theoretician, the most lucid of the
bourgeoisie of his time, leaned increasingly toward plebiscitarian
variants, while the legitimacy of the Weimar republic was being challenged
by the emergence of the proletariat. The 'democratic republican' Weber
of 'progressive' sociology, is in fact the theoretician of a balance
between parliament, the state bureaucracy and the Cesarist leader.
The heart of republican policies does not reside in the representation
of interests and in 'participative democracy', but in the effectiveness
of power. "In mass States, this Cesarist element is ineradicable"7,
he claimed, since politics are determined by the 'principle of small
numbers' and their room for maneuver. Hence a stable democracy, based
on a parliamentary institution within which bourgeois fractions settle
matters and achieve consensus requires, on one hand, an unprecedented
economic prosperity and, closely linked to the first condition, the
ability to grant the masses massive concessions. In Weber, the concern
for democracy's slow death under the weight of formal rationality
goes hand in hand with the conviction that martial law is necessary
in certain cases "in order to prevent the risk of going through
what is happening in Russia". He is the advocate, therefore,
not only of parlamentarianism, but also of the Cesarist-styled delegation
of special faculties.
State and national bourgeoisie
or Bonapartist tendencies in semicolonial countries like Argentina,
in periods in which the crises worsen, are reinforced by a three-fold
pressure: that of foreign capital and imperialism, which subjects
the nation to its dictates, plundering the resources of the state
and the society; that of the local big bourgeoisie, who, associated
with foreign capital seek their own benefit by making the masses pay
for their bad businesses during recessions; and that of the working
class and the people that when resisting the capitalist offensive
prevent bourgeois domination from being exerted by means of ordinary
mechanisms, thus forcing the government to adopt extraordinary measures,
in a dialectic of authoritarian measures and electoral deception.
The imperialist take over, the capitalist offensive against labor
and the establishment's extreme greed, leave no room for the progressives'
yearned-for redistributional policies, nor for policies of pressuring
the bourgeois State, on which they depend. The Peronist union bureaucracy
is also increasingly uncapable to wrestle major concessions to keep
the working class in the grip of the bourgeoisie. This inability to
grant important concessions is the wall all progressives come up against,
no matter their belief that the state is not an instrument for capital's
rule (they hate Marxist definitions above all things), but an empty
sack that can be filled with redistributional policies, beyond the
real conditions of capitalist development. Peronism, as a bourgeois
nationalist movement, tended to be overcome by the workers' radicalization
in the 70s. In the past few decades it has definitely become a political
instrument of big capital. What the petty bourgeois center left needs
is a bourgeoisie capable of recreating the past "glory days".
Their theory of 'civil society' as a social subject capable of transforming
the State, just misses the point, showing that they have been unable
to find any bourgeois sector able or willing to go for a 'different
country'. The new center left has no other program than that which
can be raised by some sector of the ruling class, nor any strategy
other than class collaboration and bourgeois reformism.
Bonapartist tendencies in semicolonial countries
able to advance in their war against the masses' standard of living,
foreign and local bourgeoisies need to concentrate all the political
instruments of power in the hands of their political representatives,
denying the people any right to make decisions in order to impose
their own will with no restrictions. The idea of 'Democracy for a
hundred years' turned into decrees of necessity and urgency, an injuction
from a servile Supreme Court dictating the privatisation of the Argentine
carrier, impunity for the military, dirty businesses worth millions,
the sale and purchase of votes in the Senate, and a corrupt bond between
the legislators and the large corporations. Even so, all these extraordinary
measures, the widespread corruption and systematic violation of the
reactionary Constitution, were not enough to put an end to the people's
discontent, save capitalists businesses and start a new economic cycle.
Mr. Cavallo, a politician that had been bashed by all the representatives
of progressivism, a name unaccepted by the population subjected to
his policies, hated and rejected by the majority but faithful and
responsible before financial organizations and local capital, was
called to govern because of the impotence and paralysis of the republican
institutions which were forced to turn to him. The State, controlled
by monopolies and tied to international financial capital, is in constant
contradiction with the population's most basic needs, increasingly
losing legitimacy in the eyes of the masses, which regard them a hollow
shell. It is the presidency the one who adjudicates in favor of one
bourgeois clique or another, rather than the ordinary parliamentarian
proceedings. This tendency toward the degradation of democracy, to
concentrate power in the hands of a handful of technocrats and 'saviors'
is not something exceptional but rather the most evident confirmation
of the Marxist analysis on the class nature of democracy. The latter
postulates its degradation and collapse under the hammer blows of
the capitalist crisis and the uprising of the masses, giving the lie
to the advocates of the so-called 'new thought' and State 'neutrality'.
that the democratic period of the past 18 years is an exceptional
phenomenon is shown by Argentinean history. The period of liberal
constitutionalism, at least from 1870-80 to 1920-30 was a relatively
stable one -the exception being Yrigoyen's period*- due to the fact
that it rested upon the agrarian superprofits of the native oligarchy
associated to an expanding English imperialism on one hand, and the
relative immaturity of the proletariat on the other -a time when the
masses were disenfranchised. But as the middle classes burst unto
the country's political scene, along with the emergence of the working
class as a fundamental actor in national political life, the record
of the different political régimes, from 1930 to 1983, was
one of different Bonapartist-type régimes, either reactionary,
like the openly proimperialist military dictatorships, or populist
ones like Peronism. The latter rested on the labor movement in order
to negotiate with US imperialism -to which it surrendered in the end-
the share of national surplus value and the economic sovereignty over
the country's resources and the domestic market9.
These special conditions of State power are determined by the position
of the bourgeoisie in backward countries, as exploiters of their own
proletariat from which they obtain their capitalist benefit and as
a semi-oppressed class, in a tug of war for the exploitation of its
own market with foreign capital. In clear contrast with the proletariat's
social strength and iron grip of imperialist bourgeoisie, it stands
as a weak social class, incapable of exerting its power in an independent
way. This phenomenon fueled a great political instability during all
of the twentieth century in backward countries.
The succesive political regimes since the so-called 'infamous decade'in
the 30s, ranging from Peronism, the ensuing 1955 dictatorship that
banned Peronism and the unions altogether, Peron's comeback to power
in 1973, right up to the 1976 coup, were a whole series of sui generis
Bonapartist-styled regimes which included populist variants such as
Peronism, or else military dictatorships and restricted democracies.
The exceptional current 18 year-long democratic period was thus ushered
in by previous defeats that allowed for a relatively stable capitalist
exploitation that went hand in hand with a post-counterrevolutionary
democracy. But it is a democracy ridden with Cesarist features, one
increasingly degraded because of the combined pressure of foreign
capital and the exploited classes, paving the way for a further confrontation
between revolution and counterrevolution.
infamous pact of the XXI century
of the cycle of military coups and institutional instability in the
country started with Gen. Uriburu's coup in 1930. The military régime
that reinstated a fraudulent electoral system, led to the government
of the 'Concordancia', a coalition of conservatives, a faction of
the Radical Party and 'independent socialists' that supported Gen.
Justo in power. The purpose of this infamous régime was to
prop up the ailing superprofits of the crisis-ridden oligarchy. It
was a régime of national subordination to imperialism that
culminated in the Roca-Runciman pact, which established a real 'legal
statute of colonial subordination'. This infamous pact was denounced
by FORJA (Fuerza de Orientación Radical de la Joven Argentina),
a group of young middle class intellectuals. In spite of FORJA's class
limits -which later led them to embrace Peronism- it took an anti-imperialist
stand, something that today's "progressives" do not even
dare think about.
By means of this pact the local landowning oligarchy, in exchange
for keeping a quota of 350 thousand tons of meat in the British market,
handed the levers of the Argentinean economy over to the British rulers,
i.e., the control of foreign currency, transport, oil production and
the English and US meat-packing trust, among other things. Today,
as in the 30s, this new "infamous" régime seeks a
new legal statute of colonial subordination through the FTAA (Free
Trade Agreement for the Americas), by means of which US imperialism
seeks to obtain a captive market for its products, the control of
raw materials, and all the resources of the continent. It is an ambitious
project in its interimperialist competition with Europe and Japan
in which it uses the continent as a game preserve. Can 'a project
for a new nation' and 'participative democracy' still be built without
breaking with imperialism altogether?
régime, imperialism and working class
center left journalist Horacio Verbitsky has made a seemingly deep
but actually superficial analysis in one of his editorials. Explaining
Cavallo's role in the government, he describes him as a arbiter between
'dollarization-prone multinationals and the pro-devaluation lobbies'.
Both during the 1982 crisis when Cavallo chaired the Central Bank,
and later on his appointment as Minister of Economy in the 90s, he
is regarded by Verbitsky as an arbiter between the different capitalist
fractions. The relationship between the working class and the different
bourgeois solutions to the crises remains mysterious, in a picture
where the working class is always either a victim of exploitation
and deceit or else subjected to State terrorism, inflation or unemployment.
But the various types of political regimes that have been established
are directly related to class struggle. Cavallo's rise to the top
has not only highlighted that the Alliance's government failed in
putting back together the bourgeois front that split up in the wake
of the world crisis that started in 1997 and the Argentinean recession.
It has also exposed the inability of the executive power in pushing
ahead with cuts to state spending that threatened spark off a mass
rebellion. This led to the ousting of 'arch-neoliberal' Minister of
Economy Lopez Murphy and the inauguration of Cavallo promising the
'revival' of the Argentine economy. Thus, the government's current
position is far from stable, since it does not rely on the defeat
of the masses. The big bourgeoisie was able to solve the crisis in
a reactionary way because the official leaders of the mass movement,
especially those that claim to be 'antineoliberal' have failed to
deliver a solution, that is to say, they have been a stumbling block
in the road to the revolutionary downfall of the government.
Verbitsky's analysis has an even bigger flaw. For him, imperialism
boils down to 'transnational capital', encompassing some Argentine
companies within it. Therefore, he overlooks the fact that the democratic
régime established in 1983 has been profoundly reactionary
because it has been the vehicle for the imperialist take over of the
nation, to an extent not even dictatorships like those of Onganía
could achieve. But the word imperialism is alien to the "progressives",
to the extent that they prescribe a 'model' of 'participative democracy',
of 'inclusion' and 'well-being of the people', an independent and
sovereign country, a 'new republic', without touching even one of
imperialism's or capitalism's interests, and breaking with multilateral
agencies such as the IMF and the World Bank.
and national Hegemony
are different strands within the "progressive" camp. Certain
'sophisticated' intellectuals propose a 'people's bloc' or a 'counter-hegemonic
bloc', -some of them stand by bigfrontist projects. They wrongly cling
to Gramsci's concept of hegemony, one that isolates class hegemony
within a nation-state from the influence of the world economy and
the state system in the imperialist stage. 'National demands come
together in the concept of hegemony', he had claimed, although these
demands and their 'combination of national forces' are modified by
international conditions, very sharply at times of crisis, wars and
revolutions10. The "Gramsci-styled" advocates of the 'new
bloc' and the 'new thought' carry this mistaken view to new, undreamed-of
heights, especially when they apply it to semicolonial countries.
To what extent is the bourgeoisie in backward countries capable of
building a 'historical bloc', a long-lasting hegemony in those societies?
The term "hegemony" should be at least be used conditionally.
This theoretical limit is important in backward countries, which are
dependent on foreign capital, and the State has no sovereignty, in
which 'the sovereign majesty of Bismarckism' is not enough, its institutions
of rule being inextricably tied and subordinated to the relationships
between the national bourgeoisie and the foreign classes. It is for
that reason that the bosses' particular interests can never become
the general interests of the nation. Marxists take heed of the pecularities
of national development, but we explain these by analyzing the relationship
and the shifts in its social and political structure, always subjected
to the influence of foreign classes and powers.
By making a hotch-potch out of Gramsci's postulates, be them mistaken
or not, they seek to explain away the nature of both the national
State and the political régime isolating them from the key
influence of imperialism. They try to portray an infantile and deeply
reactionary picture that a 'new bloc of power' and a 'project for
an independent, democratic and even socialist (!) country might be
created without waging a revolutionary struggle against imperialism.
just look behind the facade of these representatives of 'Keynesian
democracy' (who seek to eliminate unemployment, poverty and all the
calamities affecting the exploited nation by means of a petition and
a good legislation), to uncover the democratic servants of capital
and imperialism, the theoreticians of class collaboration, the humanist
imbued with a bourgeois spirit, one that gets good money and reputation
from their quangos, and also the bureacrat living off State favors.
It is no coincidence that the progressives in our country extoll the
virtues of 'US democracy', as center left deputy Elisa Carrió,
who portrayed it as an example of transparency and decency. They also
praise European democracy, France's in particular, the same that bombarded
Iraq and Serbia, and is responsible for the genocide in Africa. Bernard
Cassen, Le Monde Diplomatique editor-in-chief, claimed on local television
soon after his visit to Argentina, that contrary to the USA, France
has no tariff protection system at all, except for its cultural industry.
But both the local chief of Le Monde Diplomatique, and their partners
from the CTA have remained silent about France's agricultural policies,
not to mention the French lobby in defense of the monopolic positions
of its service companies in the country, or else Renault's dirty businesses.
Does such view respond to the need not to divide 'the anti-American
front' or to the Maoist theory of 'principal and secondary contradictions'?
When the center left speaks out against corruption and bribes, they
should consider the case of arms trafficking, in which an entire sector
of the State, Fabricaciones Militares, army units, etc., was used
to produce weapons and smuggle them into Croatia (a NATO-controlled
zone), and thus counted with the go-ahead of imperialism. It was the
complicity and impunity of the 'carnal relationship' with the USA
that encouraged the government to do this. Other notorious cases of
dirty business and money laundering scandals (Moneta-Citibank; IBM-Banco
Nación) show that corruption is inherent to the parasitic characteristics
of a declining world capitalism, and that imperialist monopolies and
governments alike use it as a tool for domination and looting.
Those that yesterday praised bourgeois nationalism as the solution
to free our 'grand country' (like most leaders of the CTA), today
want 'a social democracy' subordinated to imperialism. And all this
under the banner of 'globalization', the 'new thought' and the 'antineoliberal
bloc'. It is evident that the bourgeoisie holds sway over the petty
bourgeoisie and the labor movement leaderships alike, which have no
alternative to defeat and submission.
solution to all problems is in the hands of ... the bourgeois state
the trade union federation CTA and Verbitsky have been raising the
need of an 'employment and training insurance' scheme. This project
has been presented not as a temporary relief to strengthen the working
class in order to achieve the sharing out of working hours between
employed and unemployed workers, but rather as a universal panacea,
and even as a measure for reviving the capitalist economy! They claim
a Keynesian budget would kickstart the economy. It is a program designed
to help the government put an end to recession. They consider that
'assigning 11.4 billion pesos for consumption shoud lead to the recovery
of demand, multiplying two and a half times that amount.' The companies'
revenues would lead to new wage levels and increased demand, creating
a new consumption level worth 28 billion which would sustain the cycle
of production and consumption. This way, there would be a 'productive
shock' which would revive the country's industry and growth. Horacio
Verbitsky explained this a few days ago. Rejecting the official proposal,
he claimed that 'it eliminates the items of income redistribution,
the expansion of domestic demand and the relaunching of a productive
and reindustrializing strategy and of regional balance, which could
be provided for by the Employment and Training Insurance, that would
work as a minimum wage for the whole economy, bringing about a 'consumption
This train of thought is fallacious. There is no way to be sure that
the companies' extra income should be reinvested in new wages and
fresh capital goods. This depends on the capitalists' profit rate,
the level of labor productivity, the international and national interest
rate that would render productive investment more or less profitable.
When in the 90s the country grew at an annual rate of 6 or 7%, national
capitalists sold their companies but they did not reinvest their capital
here. The multinationals deposited more than 70% of their earnings
overseas, they did not reinvest them in the country, thus worsening
deficit of the balance of payment. But this is not the most important
point, after all, nobody can complain if those who seek a 'humanized'
capitalism try to contribute to the better functioning of capitalism
itself and good businesses for capitalists.
Verbitsky enthusiastically considers that funds from the following
can be used for the CTA's insurance:
1 - 'the 2.6 billion that are being used for family benefits and other
assistance programs'. With this measure, Verbitsky does the same as
the government, taking funds from one program to use for another,
this way creating greater division within the working class.
2 - 'this rise in demand of around 7 percent would make the amount
of tax income increase by about 800 million per each point. Only through
this revival by means of more consumption, can the current tax system
become more productive. The additional amount of tax revenues would
be 5.6 billion.'
However, when demand increased along with the GDP in the 90s, the
additional tax revenues never rose in that proportion. Also, these
are funds that would presumably (doubtfully) be obtained after a period
of boom. Meanwhile Verbitsky can get a loan from the private pension
funds or else negotiate with the World bank in order to finance the
3 - 'Another 1.5 billion could be obtained if the employers' contributions
be reinstated in the case of big taxpayers such as the service sector,
non-export oriented and therefore not subject to international competition,
like the privatized companies, banks and hypermarkets'. But with this
measure he is just walking in the footsteps of Menem's Ministers Cavallo
and Roque Fernández. When service companies and banks had not
yet been exempted from paying employers contributions, they nevertheless
obtained superprofits out of charging the world's highest tariffs
, royalties and captive markets, increasing their earnings by the
embezzlement of the people's savings. Banks today enjoy tax breaks
on the sale-purchase of stocks and bonds and foreign loans. This can
only lead to caving in to the privatization rip-off, without raising
the need for the expropriation of these companies under workers' control,
refusing to demande a progressive taxation on the rich.
4 - 'the much announced elimination of income tax exemptions, for
which the Congress has now granted the Executive Power its faculties,
would increase tax revenues by at least 10 billion." Although
no one can be certain this amount would ever be collected, companies
will most probably find ways to make consumers pay for the loss of
5 - 'Lastly, the reassignment of the National Public Sector's current
social schemes would contribute with another 3.7 billion'. That is
to say, take the funds from one office to another, although in the
process some specific groups, like the disabled, can lose benefits.
Verbitsky considers the non-payment of foreign debt an expression
of the "populist right, the Paleo-left and the Roman Catholic
Church", and tries to demonstrate that it is possible to eliminate
unemployment, start a process of industrialization and redistribute
the country's wealth without going against imperialism's interests
or capitalist property in the least. How to save farmers and shopkeepers
from economic ruin, how to grant them cheap loans, how to reduce the
cost of public services for consumption and production, how to prevent
the flight of capitals and customs maneuvers, how to prevent a group
of parasites from destabilizing our currency by one single transaction
throwing millions into poverty, how to carry out a plan of public
works to eliminate unemployment, how to prevent the dictatorship of
a handful of corporations that control half of the country's economy,
is a complete and insurmountable mystery to these progressives.
A process of genuine industrialization requires, in the first place,
the control of the key levers of the country's economy, its raw materials,
oil, energy, transportation, iron and steel industry and telecommunications
at least. Only under these conditions can a rational plan of production
and public works for the benefit of the exploited majority be carried
out, creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers.
But today these companies are in the hands of a small group of capitalists
that accumulate extraordinary profits, take their capital abroad and
generate a chronic deficit in the country's balance of payment, blocking
the road to an authentic industrialization. But the center left deems
expropriation a curse, and so they can propose no other solution than
to 'regulate' the privatized companies and reinstate the employers'
contributions. And this is how they plan to industrialize the country!
They propose the same solution for the flight of capitals and the
possibility of financial capital destabilizing the local currency,
instantly ruining millions of workers and consumers. Corruption, money
laundering and bribery, have all been the tricks that big banking
and the local bourgeoisie have resorted to take control of the country's
resources. Citibank has been caught red-handed in a laundering operation
worth 4.5 billion dollars. Tax avoidance stands around 14 billion
yearly. International private loans have been a good way to bring
capital back into the country, avoiding taxation in the process, an
opportunity to get juicy profits out of a differential interest rate.
The AFJPs (the private pension funds), controlled by a small number
of banks, blackmail the nation with usurious rates using the people's
retirement funds. In other words, large banking has seized the nation
by the neck, and our progressives demand... they should be controlled.
Quite otherwise, the nationalization of banking under workers' control
would do away with those calamities, and serve as a means for supporting
small businesses through cheap loans and a production plan nationwide.
Horacio Verbitsky has ended with a conundrum, unable to explain where
the funds for his plan will come from, although he forgets to mention
that the State annually spends above 11 billion to pay back the interests
of the foreign debt. Not surprisingly, he brands it 'public', no matter
the negotiations take place in Manhattan's plush offices.
In other words, the progressives' immagination comes up against the
wall of private property and imperialist domination. They have been
insisting on a campaing to lobby the the corrupt Parliament into passing
their welfare scheme. The Regulation school -of which our native progressives
are extremely fond of -misused and distorted Marxist concepts, postulating
that since capitalism's laws are inexorable and cannot be overcome,
the class struggle would play a major role, not in overthrowing the
capitalist régime, of course, but in ameliorating its hardships,
holding back its more destructive tendencies, and avoiding the crises
and disproportionalities between supply and demand in the process.
The CTA and Verbitsky do not even go that far, because the class struggle
is alien to them. They prefer to canvass for a referendum and lobby
the legislators. Anyway, the union federation CTA and its chairman
De Gennaro would most unlikely put an end to 'neoliberalism' and build
'a new Argentina', since they were unable to defend the workers from
the wage cut implemented by De la Rua's beleaguered government.
by going against capital's property rights, (the expropriation of
large corporations, the nationalization of banking under workers'
control, etc.), breaking away with imperialism are we going to implement
a plan in tune with the needs of the people, the producers and consumers,
doing away with the anarchy of production based on capitalist greed.
This program for the benefit of the exploited masses could be achieved
by means of a workers' and socialist revolution alone, with a workers'
and people's government. Such government, based on direct democracy
and the self-government of the masses will bring millions of citizens
into the administration of the country. On the contrary, bourgeois
democracy (not to mention Latin America's) to which the progressives
render a religious respect, systematically excludes them from decision-taking
on political, economic and social issues. Thus, a workers' republic
will prove to be a thousand times more democratic than the most perfect
of bourgeois democracies.
1. 'From this follows the importance of the participative way that
I'm referring to, which, among other things, could give democratic
direction to the latent and open revolts and social conflicts which
the situation makes unavoidable, which threaten to become increasingly
radicalized and always turn out to be breeding grounds for self-proclaimed
saviors of the country', José Nun, 'Democracia, ¿gobierno
del pueblo o gobierno de los políticos?'(Democracy: government
of the people or government of politicians?), October 2000.
2 Guillermo O' Donnel, 'El capital financiero y el futuro de la Argentina.'(Financial
capital and the future of Argentina)
3 For an analysis of the different types of democratic transitions
see 'Transiciones a la democracia: un instrumento del imperialismo
norteamericano para administrar el declive de su hegemonía'
(Democratic transitions: an instrument of US imperialism for administrating
the decine of its hegemony), Estrategia Internacional Nº16.
4 Eduardo Basualdo, 'Acerca de la naturaleza de la deuda externa'
(On the nature of foreign debt).
5 See their proposal for political reform in Argentinean newspaper
6 Max Weber, 'Parlamento y gobierno en una Alemania reconstuida' (Parliament
and government in a reconstructed Germany), included in some editions
of 'Economía y Sociedad' (Economy and Society).
8 According to Claudio Lozano, chair of the CTA's 'Instituto de Estudios
y Formación'(Institute of Studies and Training), the 'theoretical
universe' bequeathed by Marx, erroneously led to 'the idea of democracy
as mere institutional fiction or formality'. For the most complete
misrepresentation of Marx's legacy and also its reformist and socialdemocratic
interpretation see 'Democracia, estado y desigualdad. Consideraciones
teóricas. Segundo Encuentro Nacional por un nuevo pensamiento
(Democracy, State and inequality. Theoretical considerations), Second
national meeting for new thought, p. 15.
9 In relation to the political regimes of semicolonial countries,
Trotsky claimed that 'in industrially backward countries, foreign
capital plays a decisive role. This explains the relative weakness
of the national bourgeoisie compared to the country's proletariat.
This leads to special characteristics of State power. The government
wavers between foreign capital and national, between the relatively
weak national bourgeoisie and the relatively powerful proletariat.
This gives the government a sui generis Bonapartist character, of
a particular nature... In fact, it can govern either becoming the
instrument of foreign capital and subjecting the proletariat under
a police dictatorship, or maneuvering with the proletariat, even making
concessions, in this way achieving certain freedom from foreign capital'.
León Trotsky, 1938. In 'Escritos Latinoamericanos (Latin American
Writings), Ediciones Ceip.
10 Gramsci was correctly opposed to Stalinism's ultra-leftist policies
of the period between 1928 and 1935, appealing to the united front
policies inspired by the Third and Fourth congresses of the Communist
International. But he was unable to understand the struggle of the
left opposition against the 'theory of socialism in one country' formulated
by Stalin, whom he supported by resorting to the concept of national
hegemony; therefore, the basis for his opposition to Trotsky was the
need for an alliance between workers and peasants (that Trotsky denied
less than anyone else) without understanding the limits of the revolution,
and of the alliance itself in backward Russia compared to world capitalism.
Gramsci claimed that '... the international situation should be considered
in its national aspect. The 'national' correlation is the result of
an 'original', unique combination, (to a certain extent) that should
be understood and conceived in this originality and uniqueness in
order to rule and lead. It is true that the development tends toward
internationalism, but the starting point is a 'national' one, and
it is in this starting point that we must position ourselves. But
the perspective is international and cannot be otherwise. Therefore
we must study the combination of national social forces that the international
class will have to lead and develop according to the international
perspective and guidelines. The leading class is only such if it appraises
this combination exactly, of which this class is itself a component
and precisely as such can give the movement a certain orientation
according to certain perspectives. This is the heart, to my understanding,
of the fundamental disagreement between Leone Davidovici (Trotsky)
and Bessarione (Stalin) as a representative of the majority. The accusations
of nationalism make no sense if they refer to the heart of the question.
If one studies the effort made from 1902 up to 1917 by the majority,
it is clear that their originality consists in purifying internationalism
of all vague and purely ideological (in the pejorative sense) elements
in order to give it a realistic political content'. Antonio Gramsci,
'Notas sobre la política y el Estado moderno'(Notes on modern
politics and State).
11 Horacio Verbitsky, 'Daño moral', Página/12, 8-4-01.