In the article
"Crisis of bourgeois rule: reform or revolution in Argentina"
we chart the plans to introduce a "political reform" by
the ruling class in an attempt at derailing the ongoing revolutionary
process. A first plan aims to preserve the old regime by making some
cosmetic changes to it, and is codified in the governmental project
designed to "lower the cost of politics" -which will probably
prove inadequate to boost the confidence of the masses. Elisa Carrió
and the centre-left forces have announced the other plan. It demands
the calling of general elections up to the convening of a Constituent
Assembly, and the incorporation of the "people's assemblies"
into the institutions of a so-called "Second Republic".
But even such solutions might end up in failure, given the depth of
the crisis. We cannot rule out other possible outcome to contain the
action of the working class and the people: bourgeois or petty bourgeois
During his exile in Mexico, Trotsky charted the peculiar nature of
the class relationships within semi-colonial countries. The native
bourgeoisie there is a "semi-oppressed, semi-oppressive"
class, which exploits the workers and the peasants, while they suffer
the oppression imposed by imperialist capital. After the 90s, a decade
in which the local bourgeoisie caved in to imperialism all along the
way, the combined effects of the world recession and a mass upsurge
in the new revolutionary phase opens up likelihood of a revival of
governments in line with what Trotsky branded "left-wing sui
generis Bonapartism". Such governments, confronted with a heightened
imperialist pressure or else a deepening of working class actions,
might seek to manoeuvre by seeking reliance in the exploited classes
-"even giving them some concessions"- and bringing in some
"anti-imperialist" measure, in a double attempt at holding
down the revolutionary outburst while they try to get some autonomy
with regards to imperialist capital. The history of Latin America
has seen a lot of such governments that held down the revolutionary
thrust of the working class and the masses, later on paving the way
for counter-revolutionary coups.
In 1973, the Chilean Unidad Popular government headed by Salvador
Allende went for the nationalization of the copper industry, up to
then in the hands of imperialist companies. A colossal peasant and
proletarian upsurge was sweeping the country, but the masses trusted
Allende. The then US Secretary of State, Mr Henry Kissinger, personally
monitored the preparation for the coup d'état, organized by
both the local oligarchy and US imperialism. In spite of the tendency
of the workers and the peasants to arm themselves, and also the development
of dual power bodies, i.e. the "industrial cordones", the
policy pursued by both the Communist and Socialist Parties, members
of the ruling coalition, undermined the revolutionary mood of the
workers, disarming them and calling on them to trust in the "loyalty
of the armed forces". The outcome was the coming to power of
the bloody Pinochet's dictatorship.
In the wake of the "Chaco war", Bolivia witnessed a process
of social turmoil and the atomization of the ruling class -which went
on for many years. This led to the victory of the candidate of the
Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario, Víctor Paz Estenssoro,
who spoke out against imperialism and also exposed the so-called "rosca"
(the local ruling bloc hated by the masses). A failed coup aimed against
him triggered off a revolution, with the miners as its vanguard. The
masses burst out onto the scene, defeating and disarming the army
and also building militias under control of the unions that controlled
the weapons. The peasants seized the land and drove out the landlords.
The government nationalized the mines and brought in an agrarian reform.
But the workers did go on to the seizure of power. Once the first
thrust had died out, the army got reorganized and tried to rebuild
its links with US imperialism. Paz Estenssoro gave in to the IMF in
a piecemeal fashion, but both the imperialists and the local ruling
class wanted an even more reliable government. At last, in 1964, there
was victorious coup led by General Barrientos that ushered in a harsh
When such governments take office, they are the expression of a radicalization
of the mass movement, while at the same time they are a stumbling
block in the road of the working class towards class independence,
preventing it from giving the lead to the workers' and people's alliance
in the fight against imperialism. It is a "detour" of the
revolution engineered by the native bourgeoisie to prevent the workers
from seizing power. The whole historical record shows that the "national"
bourgeoisie (or else their "shadows", i.e. petty bourgeois
forces within big fronts), regardless of its episodic clashes with
imperialism, prefer to give in to the latter rather than furthering
an independent mobilization of the masses.
We might see a re-run of such developments in the future in our country,
especially if the imperialist pressure is to grow and the mass upsurge
grows stronger. However, it is most likely that they will take on
a rather "farcical" shape, given the senility of the Latin
American bourgeois elites today.
Right now, when such projects have yet materialized as such, we already
see those from the "left" pushing ahead with a class collaboration
agenda, in which the working class is nothing but a subordinate player
to some sector of the local ruling class. The Maoists of the PCR are
anxiously looking for "their" "nationalist" bourgeois
or else military -now openly vindicating Seineldín, former
army commander who stands accused of genocide. They are eager to build
their "government of popular unity", and as a matter of
fact regarded Rodríguez Saá's ephemeral administration
and his gang of Menem's cronies as such. The Communist Party (United
Left member), on the other hand, has wiped the dust off their old-seasoned
Stalinist concept of a "popular democratic revolution",
one that prevents the workers from going ahead to class independence.
Such policies must be exposed right from the beginning: they can only
mean a defeat for the workers. We shall fight back with a combination
of a coherent struggle against the imperialist rule over the country
with a stubborn pursuit of class independence for the working class.
Without it, the latter will not be able to gain a hegemonic position
within the workers' and people's alliance, and will end up being mired
in "national fronts" or else "democratic fronts",
both of them obstacles pinning down the revolutionary will of the
working class and the people.
of an open counter-revolution
The working class,
as we have said above, might be confronted with "detours"
such as "political reforms", or even new outbursts of bourgeois
(or petty bourgeois) nationalism. But we cannot rule out an openly
counter-revolutionary backlash by the bourgeoisie. The perspective
of a traditional coup d'état in Argentina is not an immediate
one. The armed forces remain, by and large, discredited in the eyes
of the masses. They never recovered from the double discredit they
earned for themselves with the murderous dictatorship and the defeat
in the Malvinas war. In the short term, besides, the necessary basis
for such coup, i.e. major sectors of the middle class, is missing.
In fact, they have switched to opposition due to the confiscation
of their bank savings implemented by the government to salvage the
banks. But we Marxists understand the middle class is not a homogeneous
stratum and will tend to split up in the face of a future outburst
by the working class. Without necessarily having to resort to an old-fashioned
coup, the bourgeoisie might however win a social base for a "law
and order" styled solution among the well-off sectors of the
middle classes, above all in response to a revolutionary outburst
of the more exploited classes. They might well seek to pave the way
by inflicting partial defeats to vanguard sectors, which might enable
them to impose a more police-styled regime, or driving the masses
out of the scene for some time at least. If the revolutionary conditions
deepen, we might be in for increased illegal repression by squads
(which inchoately operated in the "Battle for Plaza de Mayo"),
along with gangs of "thugs" with the aim of attacking both
the activists and the left, as we have already seen with some Peronist
thugs and the union bureaucracy. In the face of these possible forms
of repression, it is very important to demand the building of self-defense
pickets (which will be the basis for the future workers' militia)
among the various working class and popular organizations.
In both alternative scenarios, what counts is that the working class
should conquer class independence, to prevent this new mass upsurge
from ending up in a defeat or else aborted.