Army and Nation-building in Argentina (was RE: Condor and Carlos)

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at
Sat Jun 17 11:02:54 MDT 2000

I suppose that Julio FB's excellent description of the relationships
between the "anti-national" / "national" divide in our Armed Forces
and, on the other side, the "imperialism" / "nation" contradiction
has left many things clear to most list members.

Now, and just as an additional service to his historic review, I will
just offer the examples that come to my mind (that is, with no
documentation at hand) of how did the Armed Forces, even under the
control of the "liberal" wing, act as the surrogate of a non-existent
Argentinian bourgeoisie in the historic task of building a modern,
self-centered, economy.

The Armed Forces in Argentina not only fueled the national oil
company and the steel industry. They also promoted coal mining,
shipbuilding (the Río Santiago military shipyards -later AFNE,
acronym of State Shipyards and Naval Constructions- produced
excellent ships, even overseas ships, up to the 80s), heavy
engineering (such as railroad rolling stock and locomotive design and
construction), navigation on the Paraná and Uruguay rivers,
intermediate input products for local civilian industries (through
the Military Manufacturing -Fabricaciones Militares- network of
factories, which though primarily engineered towards production of
weaponry did soon become a hub in the general network of industrial
production, particularly in the chemical and metallurgy sectors), a
heavy engagement in standardization and introduction of modern
productive practices among our clumsy and greedy local
"entrepreneurs". They directly or indirectly sponsored hundreds of
technical schools where the children of the most humble families
could achieve an excellent level of technical ability, the country

On the other side, the military weaponry factories and research
institutions were, here as everywhere, prime levers for technological
advancement. The Armed Forces Scientific and Technological Labs
(CITEFA), or the Air Force sponsored and guided National Aerospace
Research Commission (CNIE) generated, for a long time, as much know
how as the remaining, non-military, scientific institutions. High
officers in the Air Force, in particular, had an amazing skill in
technical issues, to the point that during the Malvinas war they
could locate a British carrier through fast mental triangulation of
radar echoes made by the pilots of three planes en route to the
target, which -Britain will hardly admit this, because this would be
to admit that the carrier was ultimately saved by American
intervention in the war and this would be a clear case against the
USA- was seriously damaged by a missile attack.

And these are just a few examples. Let it be said, to sum up, that if
Argentina could produce stainless steel teaspoons once in its past,
it is because the Argentinian armed forces produced the required
steel in their military plants. This relationship between military
industries and civilian usage of their produce somehow reproduces,
though in an "inverted" image, the relation between both sectors in
an imperialist country. Here, it is the military who have generated a
bourgeoisie, an industry, a proletariat, and even unions (because
military managers felt the need to have someone to deal with in a
more or less orderly fashion). There, it is the private sector (that
is the bourgeoisie) who fuel a military demand that helps keeping the
rate of profit high.

A hug to all,

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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