Forwarded from Nestor (to Johannes, continued)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Jan 10 15:06:49 MST 2001

Dear Lou, please forward...

Johannes Schneider asked me:

"- What is in general the relationship of the piqueteros to the workers'
movement as a whole? To see them being courted by both the ultra-leftists
and the Blairite unions seems to be contradictory to me."

To begin with, please don´t take my shorthand definitions to the letter.
The workers movement in Argentina, today, is a complex thing, which in fact
simply reflects the exasperation of divisions within the working class as a
result of 25 years of reaction.

The main rift that has been introduced here is the rift between basically
petty bourgeois unions (teachers, state employees, journalists, and so on)
and more working class unions (automotive, metallurgy, transportation).
This rift is important in the sense that it is reflecting a POLITICAL
division, which is the result of a setback for the wage earning petty
bourgeoisie (a very specific trait in the Argentinean social formation) in
their consciousness of the world and their feeling that they belong to a
bloc that can only be unified by the working class in the most strict sense
of producers of value through material transformation of raw matter. This
crack is a consequence of the ideological and political setback that came
after the destruction of the working class such as it had existed between
1945 and, say, 1985, through a series of blows the first of which had been
the 1976 coup.

The Argentinean petty bourgeoisie responded to all this by partially
relapsing into its old prejudices against the darker skinned, less European
so to say, working class. These prejudices came to the fore in the form of
a deep distrust of union leaders (even their own union leaders) and
individualism. Thus, the petty bourgeois unions of teachers and state
employees broke the unity of the CGT to constitute the CTA, in a painful
and somehow sad process. Of course, not few of the criticisms that the wage
earning petty bourgeoisie makes against the "traditional" union leaders are
reasonable, but the step to break the unity of the working class was a bad
step. The consequences have been a continuous social-democratization of the
CTA, which even tends to depend from foreign subsidies for some
developments, and has even been on the line with the Alianza government
through a mild support of Alvarez.

In this sense, they look for the piqueteros as an ALTERNATIVE form of
organization that may help substitute the "classical" working class.

The ultra left formations, on their own side, just reproduce those petty
bourgeois positions and, once elliminated the thin veil that covers them,
show anti-working class positions much on the line of the 1945 Unión
Democrática. In the end, these people believe that Peronism has been a
great mistake, and will always work in order to send this experience of our
masses into oblivion. Thus, whenever they see a "new" form of working class
organization that DOES NOT depend on the mobilisations by the union
leaders, they immediately jump to them as if they were the final solution
to the curse of Peronism.

What is the relationship of the piqueteros to the working class? Well, most
of them are fractions of the working class that have been left jobless.
Many of them are children of working class families such as the one
depicted in "Mundo Grúa", with no future but to die of hunger, become
thieves or beggars. Others are workers who have been recently left jobless
by the privatization of our national oilfields (Tartagal and Cutral Có /
Plaza Huincul, two of the main centers for piquetero action, were former
oil cities, where the influence of the national oil company gave good
levels of living to the residents), and whose anger is best expressed
through road blocks.

But their positions cannot organize the whole class towards power, in the
same way that a series of general strikes does not substitute proletarian
consciousness and hegemony building. In a sense, the road blocks are just
the only strikes available in a country where production is dying away and
you have only circulation as the main economic activity. Blocking a road is
more or less the same thing as putting a branch of production to a halt.

You can get some advantage (generally under the shape of State subsidies),
but you will not go to revolution by merely blocking roads. This is the
basic issue.

Lic. Néstor M. Gorojovsky

Louis Proyect
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