Forwarded from Anthony (ex-Morenoists commentary) (First part of a reply in two parts)

Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar
Tue Dec 25 07:04:22 MST 2001


I sincerely hope Anthony does not feel attacked by what follows, since I am 
attacking some of his friends. Please don't take me wrong, Anthony.

But when I began to read the article that he sent to the list, I said to myself 
"well, these people have some data wrong". Then, while I got to the end of the 
article, I arrived at the conclusion that the article was mostly lies. I 
repeat: lies, not a wrong or a different interpretation. Lies. So that I had to 
write this.

There are some clerical mistakes in the article from Frontlines. They do not 
affect the general thrust of the article, but modify some things in an undue 
way. However, there are other, more serious things. There are so many lies (or, 
if you prefer, unconscious mystification and wishful thinking) there that I had 
to write down this long posting.  I am positively NOT doing anti-Morenoism on 
this post. I am just exposing lies and, yes, trying to give a political setting 
to a particular cast of mind in Buenos Aires today.

En relación a Forwarded from Anthony (ex-Morenoists commentary), 
el 24 Dec 01, a las 11:22, Louis Proyect dijo:

> 
> Part 1
> 
> 
> Argentina is in economic default, its banking system shut off, 
> stricken with massive bankruptcies. Unemployment has risen to 2.5 
> million (22%). This figure does not include the 1.2 million 
> unemployed (11% of the population) in the "Black Economy" - informal 
> economic activities.

Unemployment figures are not accurate. It is around 18%. Underemployment is 
also around same figure, so that the whole population with severe labor 
shortage turns out to be some 37%, not 33%. Informal sector, to be honest, has 
not been evaluated as yet. But they may be well above the 11% the article 
mentions. I would like to know the sources of the data.

> 
> Earlier this week, the Argentinean government fell twice in 48 hours. 
> First, the massive and spontaneous protests, massive looting of 
> Super- Markets in twenty cities in ten different provinces, including 
> the country's capital, forced the entire cabinet to resign. Then the 
> President himself resigned when the opposition Peronists refused to 
> join a National Unity government. 

Well, this is the "leftist" expression of de la Rúa's own explanation. People
who marched on the Squares during the 19th had it clear that the goal was de la
Rúa. They (we) had not marched against Cavallo when he captured their savings 
and wages (I myself had to wait for 13 anguished days until I could extract my 
own monthly salaries from the greedy hands of the banking system!). But the 
establishment of the State of Siege was too much. This had to be stopped.

> 
> Hours before de la Rua's resignation, Washington told him he was on 
> his own. Around a week ago, the IMF refused to give Argentina the 
> $1.3 billion scheduled for disbursement. No money, no bailout or 
> renegotiations, no liquidity for the economy, despite the fact that 
> de la Rua was the first Latin American president to commit troops to 
> the peace force in Afghanistan (which also produced indignation among 
> the people) 

Unfortunately this is not quite true. The majority of the population here 
wasn't interested in Afghanistan. The general mood in Argentina was rather 
"well, let us hope the Americans loose".  Only those who cared to read the 
papers in detail discovered that not only we were sending troops, also that we 
were paying for the expenses! But this is not something that would have moved 
people anywhere. To say this is attributing Argentineans an "abstract 
internationalist" cast of mind that doesn't really exist. Of course, people in 
the Left such as me or the correspondents of Anthony's friends did care about 
such kind of news, but not the mass of the people. Certainly not those who took 
to the streets..

> and that he was inclined to accept or at least negotiate 
> with the US to erect American military bases in northeastern 
> Argentina on the borders of Brazil and Paraguay. According to the US, 
> this is a pro-Bin Laden enclave because there are numerous Arab 
> residents in the area.

Palestinians. But these issues were not at all foremost in the heads of people.
What people were thinking about was not the international scene (a luxury for
intellectuals and some politicians) but how would they get food the next day, 
or how would they manage to pay their debts without having been able to extract
their money from the banks.

> 
> Despite ferocious police repression, there have only been 2000 people 
> arrested all over the country, 350 in Buenos Aires. Around 30 people 
> were killed and over 900 wounded on Thursday, December 20. In working 
> class neighborhoods, people organized self-defense committees, cut 
> off access roads to their areas of control and erected barricades. 
> Tens of thousands are marching in downtown areas of the country's 
> major cities.

"Only" 2 000 people????????????? In fact there were above 3000, and this is an 
enormity, which gives the measure of the massivity in the act of repudiation 
implicit in rejection of the State of Siege. Most (not all) "self defense 
committees", unfortunately for our friends, were not prepared as a consequence
of class consciousness, but due to perverted moves from the Security Forces of
the Province of Buenos Aires, who spread the fear that there would begin to be
gangs of looters of individual homes. The committees had nothing of "self
defence" in the revolutionary sense. On the contrary, they were a desperate
answer of fear against "those below us", a fear that proved unjustified almost
everywhere. [The leader of the Matanza piqueteros (road blockers), D'Elía, 
denounced this manoeuver by the Chief of Police of Buenos Aires Province (now 
Secretary of State for Security of Rodríguez Saá) on the TV. And he made the 
denounciation while waiting to be received by Rodríguez Saá!  That is, actual 
politics runs along very different lines than those drawn up for us by 
Frontlines.]

> 
> Immediate Background
> 
> The now ex-President, Fernando de la Rua, was from the traditionally 
> liberal Radical Party. 

"Traditionally liberal" is the way the Radical Party thinks of itself. In 
practice, since 1955 they have been the "popular" side of the most conservative
and reactionary forces in Argentina. Their "liberal" verbosity is just the 
cloak under which some of the most criminal people in my country hide 
themselves. This characterization betrays the lack of Marxist background and 
knowledge of the reporters that Frontlines relies on. Calling the Radicals 
"traditionally liberal" is more or less the same as calling the Democrat Party 
of the United States a "progressive" party.

>  He was elected two years ago in coalition with 
> some center-left politicians and in alliance with a segment of the 
> Peronist Party. The election gave the Radicals some relative mass 
> support once again.

Again, a mistake. No segment of the Peronist Party made part of the Alianza. 
The cdes. are talking of "Chacho" Alvarez, the Vice President of De la Rúa, and 
his Frepaso. But even when he was a member of the Peronist Party, Alvarez was 
as Peronist as I am a crocodile. He was, all of his life, a "Radical" in 
disguise. The anarchic structure of Peronism allows for these aberrant 
phenomena to take place, but it is a mistake for a Marxist to take these 
phenomena without adequate reading.

They are simply captured by the management of the realm of appearences centered 
on the great newspapers and the "serious" political commentators.

> 
> But the government continued the previous Peronist government of 
> Carlos Menem's policies of shock, privatization and cuts in 
> government spending. 

Carlos Menem's policies were not Peronist, but Radical. It was _the Radicals_ 
who continued with the policies that the 1976-82 regime had established, in 
their usual tortuous way. Blaming the Peronists for these policies is a display 
of deep anti-Peronism. If you don't say that Menem betrayed his voters in a 
manner neither Alfonsín nor de la Rúa ever did, then you fall into the group of 
those who consider Peronism a historical mistake and a cancer that has to be
surgically extracted from the consciousness of the workers. Which is, of 
course, the general cast of mind of this kind of leftists in Argentina. A cast 
of mind that runs very deep in our history, as far back as Domingo Faustino 
Sarmiento and his bloody predilection to teach the gauchos to behave through 
military interventions in the provinces and through massive shootings. 

> Widespread discontent with these policies led 
> two ministers of the economy to resign within 72 hours of each other 
> last year. The buck finally stopped with Domingo Cavallo, who had, 
> ironically, also served as Menem's minister of the economy. This 
> government imposed the dollarization of the economy, which failed. 
> The stock market was soon in ruins.

The sentence is not clear. Cavallo was elbowing dollarization into the economy,
but not with the agreement of the Radical Party. This image loses sight of the 
(most important) fact that the general social group that votes Radical had been 
swept aside by de la Rúa, and that the Party was in virtual opposition to the
President. These details are very important to understand why the mass
gatherings of the petty bourgeoisie during the night of the 19th were an
objective alliance with the "lootings" of the morning.

> 
> Unemployment rose, services were cut. Over 40% of public employees 
> were fired and the wages of those remaining were cut twice in the 
> last year, the last one announced last week (20% once, 20% the second 
> time). 

The data above are simply false. I know because I am a State employee. The cuts
were smaller (anyway, they amounted to 25% in total), and not as many people 
was fired as the report says. Massive layoffs were on the agenda, however, and 
one of the most important declarations by Rodríguez Saá when he assumed was 
that there would be no layoff in the State structure.

> Wages for pensioners and retirees were also drastically cut. 
> Many provincial governments owe their employees 4-7 months back 
> wages.
> 
> A year ago, the Vice-President Carlos Alvarez - a dissident Peronist 
> allied with the Radicals - resigned when de la Rua insisted on 
> retaining two members of his cabinet who had been implicated in a 
> congressional bribery scandal. No replacement had been found, further 
> souring the pickle of the Argentinean ruling class when de la Rua 
> quit.

This is sheer ignorance, sorry. No necessity at all to find a replacement. 
There were many times when our Presidents ruled without Vice-President. There 
is no proviso in our Constitution indicating that the Vice-President has to be 
replaced. Much to the contrary. 

>
 > Then came a massive general strike and more than 300 other labor 
> actions since March.

More than 300? Not sure. By the way, who launched the general strike if not the
roguish Peronists? As usual, the "left" uses a particular code: the strikes
are launched by no-one, the workers are betrayed by the Peronists.

> 
> In October, the government's alliance lost the elections to the 
> Peronists - formerly a populist party, now a fragmented confederation 
> of right wing, conservative and center right factions , who recovered 
> control of both the House and the Senate.

In the description there is no mention of the national question, which turns 
the whole thing a simple cliche that reproduces the blueprints drafted at the
Sociology Departments of the American Universities during the 50s. 

> 
> The Peronists also control the majority of the governors' mansions. 

What are the governons' mansions? This is a honest, direct question. Don't 
understand.

> But the Peronists were not the real winners of that election. More 
> than 25% of the Argentineans who went to the polls to vote that day 
> either did not mark any candidate or spoiled their ballots in 
> protest. The fragmented left (including the Communist Party and four 
> Trotskyist parties) got over 1 million votes.

True and important, but fragmentation is structural in a "left" which reached a
ceiling on that election. Anyway, the political "anomy" may be read from very
different angles. I agree in that repudiation was the main tune, however. So
that on this issue we are in full agreement save for the hopes placed on a
sterile left which waited for hours, five hundred meters away from the
incidents, while ordinary people were fighting police in May Square (ref.
Pablo Malizzia's report).

> 
> Most of the million were cast for the Trotskyists, scattered 
> throughout four different small parties leftover from splits in the 
> Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), arguably the largest Trotskyist party 
> the world has ever seen. The MAS, which virtually became THE left in 
> the eary 80s, exploded in different factions when they shifted their 
> traditional revolutionary policies.

Because it gave Trotskyist form to the prejudices of the Argentinean petty
bourgeoisie. Of course, during the reactionary early 80s, with the generalized
"Alfonsinista" outlook, the MAS became THE left. It was THE left of a self-
complacent colony. It took the place that had been previously taken by the PI,
and later on by the Frepaso of Alvarez. And as to revolutionary policies, in
fact the only member of MAS who survived politically was the now deputy Luis
Zamora, who campaigned on general ethic issues and obtained an excellent 10% in
the Federal District. Zamora, of course, did not obtain the 20% of the votes
that is stated below:

> 
> One of these fragments only ran candidates in Buenos Aires and got 
> 20% of the vote, electing two Congressmen. The Humanist Party (who 
> some consider a left party) also had a good election, with more than 
> 240,000 votes nationwide. 

The campaign of the Humanists ran on similar arguments as that of Zamora, sorry
to say.

> 
> Social Explosion
> 
> Argentina will officially default on its foreign debt in January, but 
> banks are already running out of money. The Central Bank can no 
> longer guarantee the value of the money. Many Argentineans were 
> already withdrawing their savings accounts for fear of losing them in 
> the looming default. The Argentine government responded by freezing 
> bank deposits and restricting withdrawal or transfer of funds to $250 
> a week, leaving citizens to get by as best they could on their credit 
> card transactions at a cost as high as 30 cents on the dollar. 

This is slightly (or not so slightly) misleading. Most people could have 
managed with the 250 a week limit. Most people simply earn less than 1000 a 
month. And they were allowed to extract money directly through debit cards, so 
that save for little money the measure seemed to be reasonable and there would 
be no necessity to use the credit cards.

On the other side, the 30 cents to the dollar are charged for unpaid
consumption. If you clean up your credit card every month, then you pay less 
than that. Thus, the petty bourgeois looks at the little details of everyday 
life and does not look at the concrete. Ah, Marx has something about this, or 
was it Lenin.

> 
> In this situation, a couple of days ago, with Christmas fast 

Christmas fast? Guess it is clerical.

> approaching, desperate people began to loot some supermarkets, 
> particularly in the provinces, which are poorer and have a much 
> higher unemployment rate. 

Not 'in the provinces' but in 'the Province", that is the outskirts of Buenos
Aires City which lie in the Province of Buenos Aires and hold 10 of the 13
million people in the town. The poorest 10, of course.

> De la Rua denounced the looting as the work 
> of "subversives" and "terrorists." As he concluded his speech, 
> spontaneous demonstrations erupted on the streets in every major 
> city, including the capital.

This is the main issue, and the cdes. are pointing at it sharply. What turned
the tide was this accusation. People were indignant, and they decided that at
least _this_ part of the Proceso could not be accepted. And thus we began to
march.

> 
> Every Thursday, like clockwork, in front of the Presidential Palace 
> in Downtown Buenos Aires, a demonstration is held in memory of the 
> more than 20,000 Argentinean activists, intellectuals, artists, and 
> writers "disappeared" by the military dictatorship during la Guerra 
> Sucia (or "Dirty War"). On Thursday, December 20, more than 10,000 
> transformed this demonstration into one demanding the government's 
> resignation.

Not so. The demonstration that demanded the resignation had begun on Wednesday
night. What these guys are trying to do is to kidnap the movement towards the
Human Rights movement, thus changing the meaning of the mobilisation which is
far more important than the of course important (but basically testimonial)
demonstration by the Mothers. Only militants in the Left remember that the
Mothers gather each Thursday. People, ordinary people, those who went to the
Square on Thursday, do not. And police forces were careful not to attack (save
for a single mistaken moment) the Mothers. It was a queer thing to see, the
Mothers as if kept safe from a gang of assaulting barbarians by the police
forces. People simply wanted to go to the Square, not to "go to the Mothers". 
Of course, the Mothers agreed with the mobilisation, but they were still 
following their own limited objectives. In fact, the Mothers were as surpassed 
by the mobilisation as Moyano was. It is true, however, that they reacted 
smartly and immediately, as the report says below (the Mothers, not Moyano).

> 
> One eyewitness wrote about the initial moments of the protest:
> 
> "I was - like every Thursday for the last 10 years or so - at the 
> Madres de la Plaza de Mayo´s rally for the disappeared. While I think 
> Madres have gone nuts (their leader said she was happy on September 
> 11) and that they are trying to form an alternative extreme left wing 
> organization, they are the only ones preserving the memory of the 
> "dirty war"... 

There are TWO Mothers organisations:  (a) the organisation led by Hebe de 
Bonafini, who YES did say what she said, and who is in fact a sympathiser or
militant of the Política Obrera Trotskyist group, and (b) the Línea Fundadora
group, which is much less known outside Argentina, but is the most serious one.

Hebe is following an extremely sectarian policy.

Now, it is not true that the Mothers (not only Hebe's mothers) are the "only
ones preserving the memory of the "dirty war"...".  What is true is that the
Mothers and other similar groups are the only ones who want to keep the mindset
of the Left enclosed in the general Human Rights framework imposed during
Alfonsín. This is, in my own and scathing view, the best manner to kill the
murdered for a second time. But to say it without brutality, it is simply still
another expression of petty bourgeois narrowness and lack of political view. It
can be defined  as some kind of "unionism of human rights".

> in any case, I was there with several hundred others 
> in Plaza de Mayo when thousands of people started to show up ... at 
> the beginning I could not believe that so many people would be 
> attending the Madres event ... but they weren't ... they were there 
> to demand that De La Rua resign ... the Madres, who are not stupid 
> and had a sound system and banners - the only ones in the entire park 
> - started to organize the people, gave speeches. The Madres formed 
> protective lines separating the people from the mounted police ... 
> and when the whole thing went to hell, they were the ones who stood 
> their ground (after all they stood their ground against the military 
> dictatorship) and gave people some sense of direction... but they 
> were the leadership by default, not design ..."

This is a very personal interpretation, by someone who is a member of the petty
bourgeoisie who rallies around the Mothers around the Pyramid of May in the
Square. Those who like Pablo Malizzia and yours truly converged on the square
have a different view.

> 
> Tens of thousands more demonstrated Buenos Aires' neighborhoods, and 
> in every City in the country. Everywhere the demonstrators clashed 
> with the police.

It depends. On Wednesday night, the police didn't want to have any problem. In
my own neighborhood, they didn't even dare to approach us. Elsewhere, they were
encircled by people, who menaced them with putting their own clubs up their 
blue asses if they did not quit, and they raced away. It depends. On Thursday, 
things were different. But during the massive gatherings, the Police was 
overwhelmed and in fact their task was reduced to "protecting" the Square from 
its own people.

But what follows is accurate to the last comma. The following paragraph is the
most valuable part of the article.

> 
> "In my neighborhood, yesterday, we all got together after the 
> President´s speech," remembers Hugo B., a teacher. "No one organized 
> it. We just walked out of our houses to scream at each other about 
> what a son of a bitch he is. People were looting supermarkets because 
> they are hungry ... and he called them subversives and terrorists ... 
> I don't even know who was the first one who proposed to march to the 
> Plaza del Mayo ... soon we were about 1,000 people marching down the 
> streets ... Every time we reached another neighborhood, more people 
> would join us, not individually, but in large groups .... half of the 
> people or more were young, most were shirtless ... when we were on 
> Entre Rios avenue I looked back and I could not see the end of the 
> demonstration, so many people were there ... the only flag we had was 
> a huge Argentinean flag we picked up from a secondary school's 
> entrance ..."

What follows is, at best, wishful thinking. And at worst, lies: 

> 
> Committees are being organized in working class neighborhoods and 
> starting to link which each other on a more or less regional basis. 
> This tradition harks back to the revolutionary struggles of the 70s. 
> While still in its infancy, this could develop into a truly genuine 
> expression of the mass movement, since the disintegration of industry 
> due to the crisis limits the development of a channel exclusively 
> based in the workplaces. 

The above is the pure expression of "piqueterismo", the new petty bourgeois
illusion that somehow Argentinean workers will correct their mistakes of the
past and follow some kind of Soviet Revolution blueprint, particularly against
the "labor bureaucracy", which is given its due in the next paragraph, as it
could not be otherwise. That is, workers are organising committees, which we
"leftists" are so glad to see. But then comes Bad Papa Bureaucrat (Fascist is
not said, but implied) and Foolish Weak Worker does not listen to us any more.
Bullshit.

> 
> The labor bureaucracy also serves as a certain brake on the 
> development of factory committees as well. BG, a union activist in 
> the Northern suburban area of the Capital wrote that, "We still 
> remember the last general strike organized by the unions. It was 
> great and showed that the rank and file wanted to fight and the 
> success and participation was incredible. But the labor leaders did 
> not follow up ... they just thought of it as a de-compression valve."

Yes, these people are always asking others to do what they cannot do by 
themselves. I have a long experience with this in my own workplace, where 
personnel assemblies are always turned into sterile dissertations by this kind
of chatterboxes. What they get is that people get tired, go back to the job, 
and once again (workers and the "leftists") keep doing good work for the 
boss...

> 
> There are now neighborhoods firmly in the hands of demonstrators. 

Absolutely false, misleading, a lie. I wish this was thus. It isn't. There is a 
great deal of irresponsible chatter here.

> Dozens of gun shops and neighborhood police stations have been looted 
> for weapons. In the provinces, reports of assaults of local police 
> stations abound. The army reported that thousands of rank and file 
> soldiers - who are allowed to return home on weekends and most nights 
> to save money during the economic crisis - did not return to their 
> garrisons.

Another piece of misleading information. A heap of cheap lies or 
mystifications. Particularly the lines on the military. There is not a popular
army by regular draft in Argentina, so that if the paragraph about the military
means something, it simply means that the fear of looting spread by the 
Services of the Police of Buenos Aires have decided the soldiers (who are 
nothing more than employees of the army, and are very few) to remain home 
taking care of their few belongings.

It is unbelievable how can these guys lie and distort facts!



Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar

*****************************************************************************

Compañeros del exercito de los Andes. 

...La guerra se la tenemos de hacer del modo que podamos: 
sino tenemos dinero, carne y un pedazo de tabaco no nos 
tiene de faltar: cuando se acaben los vestuarios, nos 
vestiremos con la bayetilla que nos trabajen nuestras mugeres, 
y sino andaremos en pelota como nuestros paisanos los indios: 
seamos libres, y lo demás no importa nada...

Jose de San Martín, 27 de julio de 1819.

*****************************************************************************

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