Argentina: Unity at the service of austerity

We share the editorial of Alternativa Socialista N° 815, biweekly publication of the MST in the FITU, Argentine section of the ISL, published on 09/21/2022.

After the attack. During the last multiple weeks the national situation was dominated by the debates and tensions caused by the aggression against Cristina Kirchner. While the right wing navigates between a hypocritical repudiation and its own need to minimize the event in order not to strengthen the figure of CFK, the government uses it politically to shore up an administration that had been stumbling, trying to remove from the center of the national debate the brutal austerity plan it is carrying out hand in hand with Massa and which increases social unrest in the midst of a serious economic and social crisis. Likewise, the combination of the details of the investigation that will continue to appear in the coming days and the pleadings of the defense of the Vice President and Cristina herself in the “road case”, will allow the Frente de Todos, that was going through multiple internal tensions, to continue unifying in the defense of CFK.

Political use at the service of austerity. The political response of the government to the attack is aimed at the call for national unity and social peace. This was expressed from the very first moment in the speeches and statements of the main leaders of the FdT, in the document read in the mobilization of September 2, in the mass of Lujan, in the events that Kirchnerism organized in different squares of Buenos Aires and in the statements of CFK in her reappearance in the Senate together with sectors of the church last week.

A call that is not new. During the electoral campaign CFK proposed a social pact using as an example the one carried out by Peronism in 1973 by the hand of the then Minister of Economy José Gelbard with the CGT and the CGE. Closer in time, in April of this year, the still president of the Congress Sergio Massa proposed the need to implement a Moncloa Pact, referring to the agreement sealed in Spain after the death of dictator Franco for the democratic transition. And a few months ago, both Cristina and her ally Wado De Pedro have insistently taken up this discourse in different meetings and events with businessmen and political leaders of the opposition. The meetings with Melconian and with the PRO leader (and personal friend of Macri) José Torello were also aimed in that direction. The attack deepened this path.

Background and consequences. What these pacts have in common is that they were signed in times of serious economic and political crisis with the aim of stabilizing the situation in capitalist terms, having the main businessmen, the Church and the reformist and bureaucratic leaderships of the workers’ movement commit to this government plan to impose brutal austerity on the backs of the working people. The consequences in both cases were the increase of capitalist profits on the one hand and the deterioration of the living conditions of the popular sectors on the other. In Spain, for example, it meant the loss of 30% of the purchasing power of wages, labor flexibilization, cutbacks in rights and a political reform that consolidated the impunity of Franco’s crimes and the promulgation of the monarchic and reactionary constitution of 1978. In Argentina, it implies the elimination of the bargaining agreements and an agreement on prices and wages that was a blow to the purchasing power of the workers and an increase in the profits of the bourgeoisie.

The crisis as a backdrop. As the echoes of the attack begin to dissipate, the concern for the fall in salaries and the inflationary escalation acquire political centrality and become a time bomb. In this situation of social and economic crisis, added to the commitment assumed with the IMF to deepen austerity (ratified in Massa’s recent tour), the new attempt at a social pact is based. It seeks to contain the struggles of the working class and the popular sectors and at the same time to advance in the surrender of the common goods for the plundering of the imperialist corporations, deepening predatory extractivism, such is the meaning of De Pedro’s call to agree with the opposition on a productive model and Cristina’s call for an economic agreement.

A gallery of horrors. The actors of this pretended national unity could be seen in the images that traveled through the media during the last days. Massa and AF in the USA with the IMF and the CEOs of the multinationals reaffirming the colonization agreement and taking new debt; Cristina with sectors of the Church and the leadership of the FdT in Luján; businessmen like Funes de Rioja at the Plaza de Mayo event and the union bureaucracy at the Yankee embassy with praising phrases towards the ambassador. Unity to make austerity deepen.

Is democracy at stake? The key argument of the main references of the FdT and disseminated by the media close to the government is that democracy would be in danger and therefore its defense would be the main task. An argument out of reality, since there is no sector that is encouraging a coup d’état: neither the US embassy (more than satisfied with Massa and his plan), nor military, political or economic sectors. The rejection of the right wing, for the time being, to the call for national unity does not express, as they try to claim, a destabilizing policy, but electoral speculation trying to wear down the government on the road to 2023 on the one hand, and to avoid the leak of votes to the right wing on the other hand. At the same time, it is the regime as a whole, including the government itself, which curtails democratic freedoms by increasing the persecution, criminalization and repression of social protest.

How to confront the reactionary right. It is true that there is a radicalization of sectors of the right wing as part of a phenomenon of political and social polarization that is sweeping the world. In this context, fascist groups are growing, but so are the struggles and radicalization of sectors towards the left. The promoted national unity tries to contain, above all, the possibility of more sectors radicalizing towards the left, but in this way they manage to strengthen the right wing they claim to fight. Fascism is promoted by financial and concentrated capital, which it needs to increase super-exploitation and liquidate any kind of workers and popular resistance. The discourses of the extreme right that encourage these groups, seek to gain a foothold in sectors desperate for the social situation, pointing to the oppressed sectors (workers in struggle, unemployed movements, feminist collectives, immigrants) as responsible for misery. At the same time they show themselves (hypocritically) as rebels in order to capitalize on the disgust with the political caste that does not solve anything and lives in their own bubble of privileges. It is not possible to defeat these sectors with concessions to the right wing nor to economic power (the real responsible factor for misery) but by promoting the mobilization against the economic and political privileges of these sectors. The limitation of the Frente de Todos to promote this fight lies in the fact that it is part of the defense of this social order and of the political caste that sustains it. And that it is applying in good part the economic agenda that the right wing postulates.

We need another kind of unity. What the FdT and its spokesmen consciously omit is that in this class society, conciliation between exploiters and exploited can only benefit the former, above all in the framework of a world economic crisis like the one we are living through, where there is no room for concessions to the mass movement without affecting capitalist interests. On the contrary, the bourgeoisie demands higher levels of exploitation. The unity that must be built is that of the workers and popular sectors to confront the plans of the government and the IMF in the first place, and as a more strategic task to forge a political tool to fight for a government of the working class to end this system of exploitation, oppression and violence.