Argentina: For a political movement of the left

In the face of the capitalist crisis in Argentina and the world, Periodismo de Izquierda interviewed Alejandro Bodart, of the leadership of the International Socialist League and the MST in the FIT Unidad, on the challenges and proposals for the left.

In view of the capitalist crisis and the pandemic, how do you see the world and national panorama?

We are witnessing the greatest crisis of the capitalist system in its history, this is going to provoke rebellions, revolutions and a turn to the left in the mass movement. There is going to be great polarization. Because the right is going to come out and face what is coming with a program of super-exploitation. That is why it is so important that from the revolutionary left we build parties and a world organization to appear as an alternative in this crisis.

The resistance of the mass movement was already gaining strength last year, before the pandemic, because the crisis comes from before. With the pandemic the deterioration of governments and regimes has been exacerbated, deepening a pre-revolutionary situation that in Latin America and the Middle East had been developing since 2019. All the things that have been happening in the United States, what is happening today in Belarus, in Chile with the massive mobilization and vote, even defeats of the right as in Bolivia, with a victory of the MAS that will bring about clashes with the new government due to the policies of austerity that it will try to put forward, are expressions that allow us to speak of a pre-revolutionary situation at the world level. And as socialists we have to be prepared for that.

Faced with such a crisis there are only two programs. The right tries to lead us into barbarism, a path to which almost all capitalist variants are adhering. The other program is the one the revolutionary left has: the need to move towards socialism, with unrestricted democracy for the workers and the peoples.

Alberto Fernandez and his government have been yielding to the right. Is a third political space possible? What role should the FIT Unidad play?

In Argentina there is an ascent in workers’, popular and youth struggles, greater unease and weakening of the government. With the economic and health crisis, the initial support it had started fading away and the bourgeoisie became divided on how to act towards the government. The bourgeoisie says they want to collaborate to stop things from exploding, but the bosses and imperialism have lost respect for Fernández. Despite the concessions made to them, and the “unity” that Cristina proposes to them, they criticize the government and want more. With the bourgeoisie, the union bureaucracy and the Church, the government is once again trying to build a social pact. But it is questioned by a growth in the struggles that tends to deepen, spoiling Alberto’s plan to continue paying off external debt, apply austerity measures and attempt structural adjustment policies such as the pension and labor reforms. The perspective is for a greater inflationary spiral, which could even lead to hyperinflation, increased country risk index, devaluation and a new “corralito” . Faced with this, all the different sectors of the union bureaucracy, in crisis and repudiated by the rank and file, are joining the government as a part of this social pact. This could act as mediation to stop the call for the needed general strike. But there are and will be hard struggles, a tendency to overflow the leaderships and increased self-activity as we see with the Nurses, which we must promote decidedly. The priority of the left is to dispute below, sticking with the rank and file and the activists to gain strength in these sectors.

Promote that rebellious young activism, with a tendency to radicalize, that risks everything in the struggles. We must be prepared for possible abrupt changes in the class struggle, from an increase in conflicts or in the economic and political crisis, which would accelerate and exacerbate the situation. When sectors of the bosses speak of an “Argentina on the brink of the abyss”, the left must meet the moment. Promote initiatives that the FIT Unidad should put into action, but doesn´t, to gain influence with proposals and a transitional program for each demand: in the face of the capitalist crisis, a socialist project. This is how we propose it from the MST in the FIT Unidad. And we call on every activist, workers, women, youth and eco-socialist fighters to join together, to unite for that struggle.

At the conference of the FIT Unidad you raised the idea of a left-wing political movement or party with tendencies, could you explain it?

Yes. As I said, the FIT Unidad has been paralyzed for some time. The right is the one that is appearing as an alternative to the government, calling for different actions, banderazos. Faced with this, the FIT Unidad, instead of responding and transforming itself into the third pole that is needed to fill that vacant space, is paralyzed by different debates and conceptions. We insist on marking this because there is space to build an alternative, to promote the FIT-U as the third option to carve into the moment in the country. I say there is a paralysis on the one hand of those sectors that, faced with lockdowns, have a conservative attitude by not wanting to go out and take the streets.

They mistake debates in a way so as not to respond to the situation, when more and more workers from different unions are taking to the streets and the social movements as well. The FIT Unidad had the obligation to come out in support of the struggles and to appear as a pole against austerity, against the economic and social policies but also and above all to present itself as a political alternative. On the other hand, the action of syndicalist conceptions of a sector of the FIT Unidad that separates the struggle of trade unions from the political struggle act, when they are intimately united. And the “Plenario del Sindicalismo Combativo” (Plenary of Class Struggle Unionism) would have to act together with the FIT-U and the rest of the left to put forward an alternative and mobilize together. We have to put an end to the fact that the FIT-U only has a role in elections: it has to participate united in the struggles that take place. And especially act upon the political crisis, with a plan of mobilization and dispute, both against the right and the government, in the face of every event in reality. With great rallies, marches, caravans and different initiatives if we want to become an alternative. We believe that if we do this, we can become an alternative. And if, in turn, we dare to take the step of convening a much broader movement of the left, where everyone can intervene. Our proposal is to transform the FIT Unidad. From what it is today, that is, only an electoral front, to become a great left-wing political movement that allows the incorporation of tens of thousands of activists, social fighters, for human, environmental and cultural rights. Today they have no place in the FIT Unidad, as it is a front that acts only for elections and has an attitude of political abstentionism. If we really want to resume that momentum that it had at a time, it is necessary to transform the FIT Unidad into a political movement of the left. In which the forces of the FIT-U are the driving force. Not only do they not dissolve, but they are a fundamental part of the impulse of an organization of this type to dispute parts of the mass movement. So that this crisis, which is going to provoke more and more disenchantment with the old parties, ends up giving more visibility and strengthening a left-wing alternative so that we can really contest, not only for seats in congress, but also preparing ourselves to contest power. To give a place for other political and social expressions, and to develop democratic mechanisms to decide everything, including how to intervene in the electoral process. Where we can focus on common and deep intervention in the processes of class struggle, in processes in the unions, of the youth, women and the LGBT movement, the environmental struggles. And from now on, to be able to stand as the political alternative to the crisis, with a program that only the left has. We are facing the greatest crisis of the capitalist system in the world and in Argentina. The socialist and revolutionary left needs to appear with an alternative program, which starts from concrete things, such as the issue of wages, layoffs, the pandemic and health, responding to Nurses or education workers. And for that to address issues such as non-payment and social audit of the debt, nationalization of any company that closes or fires people, putting progressive taxes on those who have more wealth, re-nationalizing the privatized companies under the control of workers and users, annulment of hikes in service rates, impose a real exchange control and prevent capital flight by nationalizing banking and foreign trade. We propose a movement of the left or a party with tendencies to put forward that the only way out is a socialist system to give answers to the problems of land, work, industrialization or Latin American unity to confront imperialism and put an end to the pandemic that is capitalism. The advances made by the ISL, as a dynamic sector of revolutionary internationalism, is a stepping stone to respond to this challenging situation and advance a socialist project for humanity.

Interviewed: Francisco Torres