Argentina: A necessary assessment to stand up to what is coming

The result of the runoff opens a new moment in Argentina. The first analysis we need is to explain why La Libertad Avanza’s (Freedom Advances) resounding victory occurred, and this conclusion must allow us to debate with the thousands of workers and young people who are thinking about what to do against the extreme right. It must allow us to strengthen the organization and the struggle, to collectively confront the reactionary policies of Milei and Macri, and lay the foundations for a larger political alternative, outside the old structures of traditional politics that brought us here, so that the same mistakes are not repeated.

By Guillermo Pacagnini

To make a comprehensive analysis of the rise to government of the extreme right, we cannot fail to mention that Milei has had significant media support recently, starting in 2018 as the economist with the most air time, a perk that continues to this day. To the surprise of many, in 2021 he achieved a significant electoral result, winning seats in Congress. In the current electoral year, after running in a large part of the districts[1]  that held early elections, supported by the structures of old politics, he presented his candidacy for president. He won the most votes in the primaries, quite a feat, he came second in the general elections, and in the runoff, he also had the support of Bullrich and Macri.

Throughout this path, what he managed to consolidate is a vote from the most rancid right in our country, but he won with much more than that sector. He won the vote of many young people and workers who consider that they have no rights to defend, and found in Milei’s proposal of dollarization, a response to inflation and social and labor precariousness, as well as in his anti-political caste discourse, the answer to corruption and the privileges of a minority.

The fact that this speech and those proposals resonated among many people is a product of the significance of material conditions with unsatisfied needs and unguaranteed rights, and a great frustration with a government that promised and betrayed them. Let us remember that the current government had promised a full fridge, that they said they were coming back to be better this time, that the people at the bottom would be the first priority, and we can continue with their slogans. But the reality is that none of that happened and furthermore, they shifted the agenda to the right, and the “national and popular” agenda was limited to advertisements and insufficient policies.

Promises, frustrations and failure

The government that validated Macri’s scam and knelt before the demands of the IMF, advanced with extractivist legislation and projects throughout the country, was the same one that carried out the campaign to stigmatize social movements and cut the social budgets in the middle of a social and economic crisis. The same one that, at the service of the employers, corporations and IMF, allowed workers, both active and retired, to have salaries bellow the family basket. It is the same one that created the Ministry of Women, Gender and Diversity to institutionalize the “green tide”, but left the ministry as an empty symbol without funds. And it is the same political force that tainted the flags of the struggle for human rights, opening the way for pro-dictatorship deniers. In these examples, just to name a few, resides the discontent that Milei and La Libertad Avanza channeled.

Of course, there is concern, fear and anger in broad sectors, mainly among activists, but to transform that into an organization to confront the reactionary policies that the government will want to implement, we have to draw fundamental conclusions. Why did the right grow under the Peronist government? What responsibilities does it have? What is the alternative solution?

The truth is that are numerous examples that show how the PJ (Peronist Justice Party) paved the way for the right. If we recall, since 2011, the Buenos Aires PRO-K pact strengthened Macri, allowing him become president in 2015. Likewise, since 2021, the national government of the PJ encouraged Milei’s rise in order to divide the JxC opposition on the right and, in the process, shifted the entire political agenda to the right. Suddenly, Peronist businessmen Vila and Manzano, owners of A24, provided Milei a permanent TV platform. Massa himself received Milei in his office, as he acknowledged in the presidential debate. And there are more links. Milei ally Ramiro Marra was an advisor to Marco Lavagna and became a Buenos Aires legislator on Lavagna’s list. Furthermore, several of Milei’s candidates for mayor in the Buenos Aires suburb districts come from Massa’s sector, and the PJ helped them complete their lists. Popular expectations were frustrated, and that ended up feeding the monster.

The truth is that the apparatus turned to the right. And it is not because of those who are now, a few hours after Milei’s victory, willing to reach agreements with him, like some PJ leaders or the union bureaucracy. It is because of what they have dome up to this point. It is a party that openly defends the capitalist system, which engenders and deepens social inequality.

Building organization on other bases

The idea that fighting inside Peronism, that they are the lesser evil, no longer applies. Because that is what brought us here, from the lesser evil, they came to defend Massa as president, the same Massa who agrees with the IMF, the same Massa who applies austerity, the same Massa who defends the genocidal State of Israel. Lesser evilism brought us here. It is the failure of Peronism, and that old structure can only be the cradle of new frustrations. That is why we say to workers, to the youth who understand that resignation and fear are not an option, to those who know that we must stand and fight for what is ours, come and build together with the left. Because what we need is something bigger, with all this militant activism, but it has to be on the left because social justice, economic independence and political sovereignty cannot be defended by those who impoverish us and are subservient to imperialism and the corporations. It is with the left, which always defends and will always continue to defend the rights of workers, social rights, and fight for decent living conditions, facing whoever we have to face.