Argentina: The last word has not been said

By Mariano Rosa

The government and its allies managed to take a tactical step with deputies approving Bases Law and the so-called fiscal package. But there is a long way to go. The Senate still needs to discuss it, probably on May 15th. Mixed feelings, explicit and implicit collaborators, absences and presences recalculating the new moment. It is essential to think strategically. We need an open congress of the Unity Left Front.

Milei leads a political project that aims to reformulate the pattern of capitalist accumulation in Argentina, in compliance with other previous historical attempts of 50 or 60 years ago. It consists of lowering employers’ labor cost (regarding hiring, exploitation and dismissal of workers) and bourgeois public spending regarding state support, limiting expenses to the indispensable bureaucratic personnel and the repressive tools for social protest, mainly. From this semi-colony, the president, if he pretends to earn credibility in front of big capital, needs to show the ability to restructure the economy, control the streets and sustainability in these conditions.

In this situation, the libertarian thesis assumes that this will encourage private investment and set in motion a “virtuous circle”. Hence the forecast of a “V” recovery and other more aspirational than scientific forecasts. At the end of the day, for that strategy to work, more than parliamentary tactics is required for lobbying and winning some votes in Congress. Actually, and once again: it depends on the power relations, it’s on the streets, you dumbass!

Factory Country

If we list the purposes of the two laws voted on in Congress, we could say that:

It protects money laundering, in addition to forgiving currency fugitives and tax relief for the wealthiest sectors.

It reinstates the payroll tax and stimulates unregistered employment.

It forgives evaders, facilitates dismissals and promotes illegal work.

It raises the retirement age for women and complicates all conditions for accessing a less than minimum retirement amount.

What was voted on energy matters (free availability of capital until 2038 and no obligation to guarantee a minimum quota for domestic consumption) is heaven for oil and gas corporations.

The incentive regime for large investments (RIGI) directly reveals the political decision to transform Argentina into an agro-mining exporting factory in a kind of déjà vu of the Roca-Runciman pact in the infamous first decade.

That horizon aims to multiply the extraordinary income of business corporations, especially agro, mining and financial capital, and strengthen the country’s neocolonial status.

The Bases Law and the fiscal package provide instruments for this orientation. That is why confronting and defeating this new onslaught is fundamental.

Jacobin country

During the deepest and most anti-feudal stage of the French Revolution, the wing of that process that stood out the most were the Jacobins, known for their positions of anti-monarchist radicalism and popular, plebeian base. In the political vocabulary of Marxism – Lenin and Trotsky used it frequently – Jacobinism refers to that irreverent and permanent fighting nature.

The virulence of the libertarian project’s attack on social and democratic rights deepens in proportion to the mass responses it encounters. With the intensity of the blows, Milei and his peers are activating that Jacobinist characteristic of a city with reserves accumulated over decades. If you review these more than four and a half months of polarization, they have featured demonstrations of strength and of enormous power for his massiveness and others for his defiant determination:

– The strike and the mobilization of January 24.

-The actions of March 8 and 24.

– The Federal University March of April 23rd.

These four actions were breaking points in the relations of force and were combined with the action of December 20 of the left, with the multisectoral independent pole, and the resistance to the omnibus law in front of Congress for days and days. They were high points in radicalism that were dialectically combined and added up to the same anti-Milei pole from the streets. This is a clear limit that the reactionary offensive of the government continues to have and clears up a debate: whether or not there are relations of force in the streets in favor of those from below. That is why, although it takes tactical steps, the government fails to impose its hegemony and alter the arm-wrestling between social classes in its favor.

Milei can’t do it alone, chapter 1: explicit collaborators

The libertarian government is not strong by itself, but rather capitalizes on external weaknesses of the traditional political forces that pay the cost of disappointing millions in previous governments. Without its own organic structure, without solid communicating vessels with mass sectors, PRO, Pichetto’s block and the UCR are explicit givers of parliamentary governance. Milei still has a social base with expectations, but not the ironclads that are required to govern: no majority in Congress, no governors of his own, no militant force to support him in the streets.

That is why he appeals to the PRO – as it was known -; to almost the entire Pichetto bloc, including the Civic Coalition and Stolbizer; and the eternal UCR complicit with reactionaries, from Loredo’s bootlicker to Lousteau’s sector that threatened with progressivism that never plays out, and even the four deputies of the neuroscientist Manes, who abstained in an even vote like the one that happened.

They are the carrion of the crisis of political representation of the traditional parties, and the president, the crow that gobbles up those wastes of bourgeois decadence. The people are accumulating in their consciousness who is who. They process their concrete material experience with these sinister characters. And the escraches have already begun, not in the virtual world of the digital battle, but in the concrete field of street repudiation. 

Milei can’t do it alone, chapter 2: the implicit collaboration, playing both sides

Capitalist and bourgeois politics has a lot of staging, of illusions built to confuse and distract. That is why it is key to analyze the appearance and essence of things. Peronism apparently stands as a polarizing opposition to Milei after rejecting his project in Congress (although always with some wayward doormats).

However, if you take Peronism as a whole in its parliamentary, trade union and social expression, you can already find a very different essence. To begin with, neither during the omnibus law nor now with this package approved in Deputies have they called to mobilize. Of course, the CGT did not do it anymore, but neither did UxP, and only very testifiably the UTEP of Grabois on the first day of sessions. Without the streets there is no chance to defeat Milei’s plan. Precisely, the strategy of Peronism in its broad spectrum is not to bury Milei’s plan since that is equivalent to burying Milei himself.

Peronism refuses any possibility of taking over the government after a mobilization process that evicts a reactionary government. The reason is class, programmatic and simple: he knows perfectly well that to govern in these conditions implies having to make economic-social and democratic concessions to the Jacobinism of the mass movement. And they would have to affect the privileges of the rich, clash with the IMF and confront corporations.

Not by a long shot do they evaluate that turn. Rather, the incursions of CFK have been giving signals of reliability to big capital or, like Grabois, to justify the erasure of the CGT by saying that it is shameful to tell them what to do. Shameless justification of the role of social containment of the trade union bureaucracy. Peronism reasons with the logic not of defeating the entire libertarian program, but of wearing down the government and in any case capitalizing electorally later on that operation. In the meantime, the crisis is being paid for from bad to worse by those of us who did not generate it. It’s not that way.

There is life after Peronism (and it’s worth it)

Undoubtedly, task number one is now focused on resisting and defeating the ultra-reactionary offensive of Milei’s government. More precisely, it implies preparing the Senate’s battle against the Bases Law by demanding that the CGT and the CTAs call a halt and surround the Congress when it reconvenes. Such a display of mass power would channel the changes in the popular mood and the progressive exhaustion of social patience, being able to block Milei’s legislative initiative. There’s enough strength for that. We cannot but insist on the need for a policy of struggle plan that centralizes all partial fights against the chainsaw plan and concentrates the blows from below.

But also, it is crucial from the left to draw a path independent of any traditional political project. In particular, what it is about is to end this ruling ultra-rightist delusion but not to return to the past, but to overcome everything experienced so far.

It is not about being reliable for the IMF, the corporations and making a pact with the real castes. We must start from the basic needs of the working class, youth and popular majority: 

General increase in salaries, pensions, social programs and study grants.

Freezing of prices and rents, applying sanctions to the remarketers, from fines to expropriation.

Prohibit layoffs and suspensions.

Reduce the working day and distribute all the available work with salaries equivalent to the family basket.

Unilateral suspension of the payment of the external debt and redirection of these resources to massive public works.

To nationalize banking and foreign trade.

Comprehensive tax reform: abolish the VAT and the payroll tax, tax big fortunes heavily.

Banning agribusiness, mega-mining and fracking: reconversion of the productive and labor matrix.

Indeed, there is another way out beyond Peronism, without asking capital for permission.

A left that takes a stand

With this new government, attributes of the left were reaffirmed in the acknowledgement of very wide social sectors: that it is always there, fights, is coherent and does not sell out. We already have that asset.

The fundamental thing in front of the vacant space of opposition that Peronism leaves between workers, youth and impoverished people, is that the left assumes that responsibility and articulates convening policy to be an alternative with real weight.

The first thing is to open the Unity Left Front and give a channel of expression to the existing discontent. And with that, transform the anger into a political proposal.

We propose that the FIT-U convene a large open congress that builds bridges to thousands of trade union activists without expectations in the bureaucrats of their unions or in the PJ or the thousands of precarious, without unions or organization. Also to summon the best of the student vanguard that comes from starring in the federal march. To collectives and social groups. To critical intellectuals. To socio-environmental, gender and human rights activism. To everyone, an open call from the FIT-U. would be a huge event in its anticipatory value.

Our strength would bring to that congress the proposal that we have been raising as an orientation for some time: that the FIT Unidad evolve from an electoral front to a unitary political movement. We are not proposing a single party; it is something else. We imagine a movement as a confluence of tendencies, which interact with democratic parameters, but which give organicity to many independents who vote to the left or sectors that rethink that Peronism is no more.

Such a movement would organize tens of thousands of activists throughout the country, and strengthen the emergence of an alternative force that intervenes daily and is gaining political influence with increasing weight in reality. The left we are fighting for has to take a stand and own the responsibility and opportunity it faces. There are no other options.