Argentina: The FIT-U and its dilemmas. For a great assembly to decide everything

By Sergio García

The political and economic crisis in the country, the ongoing social struggles and the proximity of the national elections accelerate all political debates. These are moments of uncertainty in the capitalist parties, in the “red circle,” and nobody knows what the result of the Primaries and the general elections will be.

Political debates also exist in the FIT-U, the political front of unity of the left, which is a significant acheivement that we must all take care of and defend. That is why we propose a big memebers’ assembly to debate and decide everything in view of the elections to come, to strengthen the front in a massive, highly visible event, open to social and intellectual activists and to organizations that support the FIT-U and participate in our lists.

Unfortunately, instead of debating proposals, our front is going through a crisis that prevents it from acting in common when it is needed the most. Like any crisis, it could be an opportunity to change and improve, if the correct conclusions are drawn. Unhappily, today there is nothing but the continuity of an incorrect course plus hegemonic intentions that divide us.

Old and new problems

As we have said many times, the FIT-U has many positive things and also important problems of origin, which are now combined with a leap in a course of electoral adaptation and intended hegemonism by the comrades of the PTS.

The problems of origin come from the previous conformation of the FIT and the responsibility is shared by the parties that gave the front its electoral aspect without ever proposing anything better or deeper. We have repeatedly stressed this and we will continue to do so. The limit of being only an electoral front conditions the front’s intervention, it fragments its strength, it does not allow a common response to major events, it does not strengthen our militant activity in the class struggle, nor does it open the doors to other activists of the social or independent left. It squanders the opportunity to act solidly in a huge crisis of the capitalist regime, by not intervening as a whole in all the planes of the political and social struggle, nor having any permanent bodies to debate and decide everything democratically. The final result remaining a merely electoral front is reaching the elections without political unity to face the electoral struggle.

Adding a new and important problem, we are witnessing a leap in the most electoralist course and in the hegemonic intentions of the PTS, while in terms of membership and social insertion it is not precisely showing an advance, but rather a strong structural weakness in the workers’ movement, where it does not play leadership roles anywhere. Something similar happens to it in the student movement, while it accumulates years of a complete lack of understanding of the piquetero movement, a process it watches from afar with abstentionism and absence from this struggle.

Thus positioned and in need of standing out in the electoral field, the PTS deepens an electoralist course and attempts to gain the sympathy of the Kirchnerist base at the cost of not holding Cristina Kirchner accountable in any way for the enormous acts of corruption under her government, joining the discourse of proscription that Peronist spokespersons agitate. They tries to justify this policy by highlighting the importance of denouncing the judicial castes, which of course must be denounced and confronted, but without denouncing those who were in office and carried out enormous acts of corruption. The same is trus if the suspensions of elections in San Juan and Tucumán, where it is necessary to strongly denounce the Supreme Court and its ruling, but putting at the same level the denunciation against the eternal PJ candidates that should no longer run, because raising an independent position menas unmasking both the Court, akin to the right-wing opposition, and the PJ and its candidates and regimes that perpetuate themselves in power to bring about more austerity measures. The PTS in general prioritizes and gives more strength to the denunciation of the Court, for the same erroneous reasons.

Together with these political mistakes and other similar ones that leave the FIT-U with a softer position in the face of a reality that demands the opposite, in the electoral debates, the comrades of the PTS also intend to place our front in a more closed position, expecting the other parties of the front to support a presidential formula composed only by their party with Bregman and Del Caño. From that starting point, they also intend to apply a hegemonic criterion in all other important positions. Nobody who honestly wants a strong, unitary Left Front, open in expressing all ideas and figures, can support a closed and monolithic formula or a general ballot composition that represents a single voice and a single idea, to the detriment of the rest.

This hegemonism and lack of unitary vocation was expressed in the closing of the Primary lists in Santa Fe, where the PTS only came to one meeting of the FIT-U to say that they would not come to any other if the PO did not self-criticize its political positions, something that is out of place, because asking for self-criticism is not a healthy method. Debates exist and each organizations develops its positions. And they in fact did not come to any more meeting, nor did they call any meeting themselves, nor did they make any proposal. So there are two lists of the FIT-U in the Primary of this province, a unitary one of the MST and the PO, and another one of the PTS which incorporated some comrades of IS who are collaborating with that hegemonism.

How mistaken this policy is, is also expressed in the struggles. In some, like the piquetero movement, by the PTS’ direct absence. And in others, to give a recent example, in the important struggle of nurses in the City of Buenos Aires, the PTS went to the last mobilization with only a couple of members with the sole task of distributing leaflets calling to vote for Bregman-Del Caño. To that degree of electoralism they have reduced their intervention in this important sector. We do not consider this behavior in workers’ sectors to be a coincidence, since in general they have a mistaken policy in the workers’ movement of dividing and attacking new anti-bureaucratic leaderships, as they do in the Garraham, in ALE and in other health sectors. The same logic has also led them to divide union election lists unnecessarily, as in the Sutna and before that in the teachers’ union of Neuquén, just to mention two examples among many others. Ultimately, sectarian divisionism in the labor movement, electoralism in politics and hegemonic attempts are all part of a political and trade union orientation which is opposed to a healthy working class and socialist method.

The FIT-U we are defending in the Primaries

We are facing a problem: although it would be best to have a unitary list, we are very far from that possibility. And this problem cannot solved by accepting an electoralist course or single party proposals, which are not even democratically debated with the front’s members and sympathizers. We do not support this course because it would weaken the FIT-U and question its existence in the future, since the front exists because it is independent at all levels of all the capitalist forces, whether progressive or far-right, and exists on the basis that no one imposes themselves in a disproportionate and unreal political representation that would make the representations and ideas of others invisible.

The Left Front needs solid political proposals and alternatives against all other fronts and candidacies by deploying our anti-capitalist and socialist program. It needs to have a common strategy for the process of struggles beyond the elections, it also needs proposals that are unitary, convening, open, not more closed political visions of a single party. And this is not about the data of any survey or what would be the best result in an election, but with understanding politically how negative the result of a front that does not open to more voices, reflecting less and monopolizing more, would be.

If there is a crisis and a probability of going into the Primaries with different lists, it is the result of political debates in which there are clear differences, combined with hegemonic pretensions and the lack of an open and democratic debate with all the membership and the thousands of sympathizers that support us.

Our proposal

For all these reasons, Cele Fierro’s May Day closing speech developed two central ideas: one about strengthening the FIT-U by overcoming its status as an electoral front in favor of something much deeper, a debate that is key to the medium and long term. And the other proposal was to resolve the political and electoral debate by calling for a big members’ assembly so that thousands of workers and young people could debate and decide everything: the policy, the type of campaign and the candidacies. A big assembly of all the membership of the FIT-U, open to social activists, intellectuals, sympathizers of the front and fellow organizations. A big assembly with real participation, decision making power and collective debate. Last Wednesday, at the launching conference of his pre-candidacy for governor of Buenos Aires, our comrade Alejandro Bodart, reaffirmed the need to call for this democratic event to put everything up for debate and decide with the participation of thousands.

There are only a few weeks left until the date for the presentation of alliances, where the FIT-U has to present its alliances and know with which list or lists it will participate in the Primaries. In the context of the divergences that have arisen, there is no possibility of a common list if a frank and democratic debate where the whole membership takes part is not opened. We hope that all this is reflected upon and that no one refuses to allow a real debate.

Unfortunately it seems that this will not be the case, since, in a recent article, Guillo Pistonesi of the leadership of the PTS (*) has just rejected any type of event and democratic assembly saying: “we do not agree with calling for a ‘congress’ or ‘assembly’ where we should have comrades of struggle who do not necessarily agree with the political orientation of the FITU vote on our program and candidacies. In the PTS, there is permanent deliberation of the entire membership and those who willingly take part in our open assemblies, who are the ones that democratically vote the program and the candidacies that represent them the best.” This is a defensive and mistaken argument that does not explain why that same membership cannot come and debate with the memebrs of the other parties of the FIT-U and with our sympathizers. What do they fear? Why shouldn’t we put the whole of the political ideas and pre-candidacies up for debate? Why not listen to what social activists, intellectuals and fellow organizations have to say? Why can the entire FIT-U not debate jointly? Do they fear that other ideas or candidacies may gain more relevance in reality or in a massive event? The reality is that the comrades of the PTS have decided a long time ago to carry out their own campaign for their own candidates. They decide to reject any democratic instance and a deep and real debate because of that dividing policy.

In the coming day, we will continue insisting on our united proposal and calling the parties of the FIT-U that want a front with a perspective of strengthening unity in the struggles, independent of all the capitalist variants, without mistaken hegemonisms, without an electoralist character and with a democratic and truly united method to form the lists, to act jointly in this decisive political struggle not only for these elections, but also for the future. And we call upon the thousands of sympathizers of the FIT-U, fellow organizations, activists who support us in every election, and the intellectuals and working class, social, environmental, gender and human rights leaders with whom we share struggles, to collaborate in this challenge by contributing to strengthen a united and strong course in the Left Front Unity.

(*) Debate. The Primary of the Partido Obrero, published in La Izquierda Diario.