Forwarded from Nestor (reply to Carlos/Alternative)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 5 08:43:08 MST 2002


ALTERNATIVE:
There are some materials in English that you might consult and read. 
For example, if you get a copy of Galeano's "las venas Abiertas ..." 
( I think was also published in English),"

NESTOR:
I would not recommend Galeano´s otherwise excellent book if one tries 
to understand the reasons for the collapse of Argentina, and there 
are two reasons for that:

a) a general reason, which is that Galeano´s book is too 
lacrimogenous for my taste; once you have read it you have a distinct 
feeling that the rape of Latin America is somehow overwhelming, and 
he provides no way out of the tragedy. There are other books 
(probably Galeano used them to write his report of crimes), notably 
"Las inversiones extranjeras en América Latina", by a Bolivian petty 
bourgeois nationalist (can´t remember name, perhaps Montenegro or 
-less likely- Céspedes). While this book is written as a tool for 
struggle against American imperialism (and it includes the actual 
massacre of the Colombian banana plantation workers that García 
Márquez depicted later on his _Hundred years of solitude_, which if I 
am not wrong Galeano did not include), and thus the final conclusion 
was one of call for struggle, Galeano´s "objective" mood tends to 
draw the reader to commiseration rather than struggle. Anyway, if one 
wants to have evidence, _Open veins_ provides a veneer of facts. More 
focused are Gregorio Selser´s _El pequeño ejército loco_ (on Sandino) 
and his other book (can´t remember the name) on the creation of 
Panama.

b) a more particular reason, which is that Galeano, a left-liberal 
Uruguayan who turned to a Latin Americanist revolutionary humanism 
during the 60s and 70s under the influence of the Cuban revolution, 
knew little about events across the River Plate. He is not to blame 
for this at all, but he was nurtured by the Uruguayan tradition of 
"democratic formalism" which blocked most of Uruguayan intelligentsia 
the access to understanding of Argentinean struggles, particularly 
Peronism. Both Argentinean and Uruguayan socialists were, for a long 
period the last decades of which were the nurturing ground of 
Galeano´s views, completely blind as regards the very specific 
peculiarities of our dependent and semi-colonial status.

During the late 50s, 60s and early 70s there appeared a few socialist 
Uruguayan intellectuals who understood it, most notably Vivian Trías 
and his disciple Carlos Machado (incidentally, they became the 
leading group within Uruguayan socialism after the 60s), but their 
work has not been translated into English to my knowledge. The 
complete works by Trías have been published very recently by the 
Uruguayan Parliament (under Galeano´s auspices), but in Spanish. 
Machado´s texts, which are a wonderful introduction to the history of 
Uruguay and -not to a minor extent- to the two River Plate countries, 
are available in Spanish too.

ALTERNATIVE:
"Also, if you consult Moreno's "Metodo de Interpretacion de la 
Historia..." which essentially deals with an overview of Argentina's 
history since colonial times to about the beginning of the 70s (if 
I'm not mistaken), you'll find a number of quotes and the sources of 
material in English, some of them Marxists. I do believe that there 
is an English version of Moreno pamphlet somewhere. You can also 
research whether some pieces of the work from Milciades Pena is 
available in English."

NESTOR:
Both Peña and Moreno share the same view on Argentina. Moreno, in 
fact, precedes Peña and set the general thrust of his ideas, even 
though he has not been acknowledged by his follower -mainly because 
Moreno´s views were always coarsely exposed and thusly rather 
unpalatable for academic minds or for readers with a strong general 
culture- and in fact Peña linked himself and his current with the 
European Trotskyists while Moreno did so with the American branch of 
Trotskyism.

All of their work tends to demonstrate that Perón was (as against the 
official line of the Communist Party, which tended to toe the 
American imperialist original definition of Peronism as a local form 
of Fascism) either a British (yes, British) agent against the "more 
progressive" American imperialists (Moreno) or a bourgeois in the 
same level as, say, Nelson Rockefeller.

The common appraisal of Peña and Moreno was that there was no ground 
for a _national_ struggle in Argentina, and some of Peña´s followers 
have extracted the logical conclusion that since the Argentinean 
bourgeoisie and the imperialist bourgeoisies are both bourgeoisies 
like, say, the American bourgeoisie, the political task for the 
workers is to generate their own proletarian party, not to lead the 
national front against imperialism.

ALTERNATIVE:
"Your friend Gorojowski could probably help you to dig out some of 
the English language material quoted by Abelardo Ramos here and there 
in his books."

NESTOR:
Well, Abelardo Ramos drifted towards the national bourgeoisie ever 
since 1975 (he ended his life as a Menemist), so that I would hardly 
propose his later work in order to establish some kind of 
interpretation. If I had to quote some of his things, I would 
recommend his _Historia de la nación latinoamericana_ (1968) or the 
1972 edition of _Revolución y contrarrevolución en Argentina_.

But he has not been translated, either, and the few sources he quotes 
in English are not the kind of sources that Lou´s request asks for. 
They are general sources on world history. For Argentinean history, 
Ramos has always sticked to local sources (which I understand to be 
the best practice). There are other historians of the National Left. 
Jorge Enea Spilimbergo, who is also the Secretary General of my 
party, has written many illuminating books on Radicalism, mainstream 
Socialism and Catholic Nationalism, with the intention to provide the 
ground for political struggle against the pro-imperialist versions of 
Argentina supported by -respectively- the core of the petty 
bourgeoisie, the left wing of the petty bourgeoisie, and the 
oligarchic-bourgeois bloc. He has also written a somehow outdated but 
still excellent general interpretation of the Argentinean society, 
_Clase obrera y poder_. This is outdated in the sense that it was 
written during the early 60s, when Argentina was still a country, and 
not a geographic name to be attached to some polygon on the maps.

Other historians of the Izquierda Nacional are Raúl Dargoltz, Dennis 
Conles, Roberto Ferrero and Alfredo Terzaga (who wrote a very 
insightful history of General Roca which traces the political 
scenario of Inland Argentina from 1840 to 1880 --he died before he 
could complete the job). None of them has been translated to English.

To understand Peronism and the country which generated it, the most 
important writers either are not Marxist (though they were heavily 
influenced by Marxism) or believed that it was possible to be a 
Marxist and a Peronist at the same time: Raúl Scalabrini Ortiz, 
Rodolfo Puiggrós and Arturo Jauretche. Nothing by them, to my 
knowledge, is available in English.

Jauretche is also essential to understand the cultural colonization 
of Argentina, to which he dedicated two of his great books (all of 
them written after the 1955 overthrow of Perón): _Manual de zonceras 
argentinas_ and _El medio pelo_. Jauretche´s ideas drifted from 
conservative patriotism to a very advanced brand of bourgeois 
nationalism, and during his last years he was approaching socialism 
at a very fast pace. The tragedy of the Montoneros took him off mark, 
and he could not realize that these youthful middle classes who had 
become "Peronists" during the late 60s and early 70s had not made 
profit of his work in order to criticize their old anti-Peronist and 
anti-national front prejudices. Well, in fact he did, but too late, 
and this realization was one of the reasons for his death in 1974.

ALTERNATIVE:
"You can even find some limited debates with English Marxists, I 
believe, from the Argentinean "revisionist" school of history (if you 
can call them that)."

NESTOR:
The only debate I can remember of was that of Rodolfo Puiggrós with 
André Gunder Frank, which took place in Mexico -where Puiggrós was a 
University teacher- during the 60s. To my knowledge, this has never 
been translated to English. There is also the "early" (for British or 
American readers, since Laclau had been long working among us before 
he left Argentina for England) writing by Ernesto Laclau on the modes 
of production in Latin America, which spurred a debate, but whose 
main interest lies in that it served Laclau to leap to a very 
honorable post in a British University in order to soon write this 
text off by his later positions.

As to the parenthetical phrase by "Alternative", I believe that the 
"revisionist" school of history in Argentina had nothing to do with 
Bernsteinian revisionism. It had to do with the restoration of 
historical truth and consciousness against the "official" oligarchic 
and imperialist history that was imposed on Argentina after 1890. 
This school of thought and historic analysis, by the way, has many 
internal divisions.

One can find semi-fascist, Catholic authoritarian revisionists, who 
believe that Argentinean history reached its apex with the 
authoritarian rule of the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires 
Juan Manuel de Rosas during the 1830-1850 years (this brand of 
"revisionism" was used by Peronism in order to freeze ideological 
debate among the working classes after the mid-1940s).

One can also find national-popular, democratic and workerist 
revisionists such as Jauretche, Scalabrini Ortiz, Hernández Arregui 
and others. And you also have a left-wing revisionism, mainly 
represented by the Izquierda Nacional, but not only by us. You have, 
for example, Belloni´s semi-anarchistic history of the Argentinean 
labour movement, and many others. Among the Izquierda Nacional 
writers, in the widest sense of the definition, you can also count 
the works by Galasso, Calello, or Cangiano.

None of the above has, however, been translated into English. None. 
Not a matter of chance in my opinion. The Argentinean intelligentsia 
has been structurally reluctant to admit the positions of the 
Izquierda Nacional, in the same way it has been reluctant to accept 
the progressive, and even revolutionary, essence of Peronism.

ALTERNATIVE
"It is a common mistake made by a number of Marxists, including 
Galeano and others, not just European historians, to confuse the 
military and economic actions of one semicolony against another - as 
agent of an imperialist power - as "imperialistic", etc (See for 
example the mistake by a number of historians making the assumption 
that the war of the Triple Alliance (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) 
against Paraguay as an imperialist war or the characterizing as 
imperialistic the Chaco War between Bolivia and Peru)."

NESTOR:
This is very insightful, clerical mistake aside as to the Chaco War 
(see below). There is always chatter of "imperialism" in the 
anti-national bloc whenever some Latin American country becomes a 
possible rallying point for reunification. Much in the way 
imperialism has been chattering about Serbian imperialism in the 
Balkans, by the way.

As to the Chaco war, it was not an imperialist war but an 
inter-imperialist war fought on other peoples´ skins. It was a war 
between Paraguay and Bolivia, during the 30s, where the Paraguayans 
fought on the behalf of the British oil interests and the Bolivians 
on that of the Standard Oil, over a land where there was assumed to 
be plenty of oil fields. It turned out to be a tremendous bloodshed 
on a dry shrubland which seems to have not been holding more oil than 
a teapot. Argentinean diplomat Saavedra Lamas reached an arrangement 
favorable to British interest (and Argentinean oligarchic interest to 
which he belonged) at the end of the war. He was awarded the Nobel 
Prize for Peace for such a dirty deal. Go tell Kissinger he is not 
the first honorable butcher.

But, in fact, there _existed_ a Peruvian-Bolivian war, only that a 
century earlier, during the 1830s. This was a war waged by the 
Peruvian landowning oligarchy against the popular leader Santa Cruz 
of Bolivia, who intended to reconstruct the lost unity of Bolivia and 
Peru. Of course, the local Bolivian oligarchy acted against Santa 
Cruz, in the same way that Juan Manuel de Rosas, the most intelligent 
oligarch of Buenos Aires, who feared that the Inland country could 
escape the stranglehold of the Port and join Bolivia.

The example "Alternative" may have been confusing with the 
Paraguay-Bolivia war was the nasty Chilean war against both Bolivia 
and Perú, the War of the Pacific, which led Bolivia to become a 
landlocked country and put all of the "caliche", "salitre" and 
"guano" fertilizer deposits that had been shared by the three 
countries (lying in what today is Northern Chile) in the hands of the 
British traders and Santiaguino momios and partners of Britain. This 
war took place during the late 1870s.

ALTERNATIVE:
"Some of these authors, unsure of the term, called Brasil or 
Argentina "sub-imperialist" because they cannot deny that these war 
were waged as proxy for extra-continental powers that essentially 
strengthened the character of semi colonies of the victor countries. 
For example, the debt incurred by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay 
waging the 7-year war against Paraguay (which bravely resisted them) 
strengthened British domination over these three countries through 
loans at very high interests to pay for the war."

NESTOR:
But this is just a first approach. To begin with, what is sorely 
lacking in all those authors is a correct understanding of 
imperialism as a late stage of capitalism. In the second place, it is 
a great mistake to believe that the Brazilian, Argentinean or 
Uruguayan oligarchies who led the Alliance simply acted as proxies. 
In fact, both in Uruguay and Argentina the Paraguay war was also a 
civil war, and this side of the history is the essential one from the 
point of view of the construction of a revolutionary national 
consciousness, which was the task that the "revisionists" set forth 
as their goal.

The oligarchic version of this terrible history severs the basic link 
between the wars of the Argentinean montoneras and the struggles of 
the Uruguayan "white" gauchos, on the one side, and the operations in 
the Paraguay drama (it would be interesting if "Alternative" could 
give us his reasons for the Paraguayan "bravery" -a mild term, if one 
keeps in mind that the Paraguay war was fought until no male in 
military age and condition was left alive in Paraguay- without 
resorting to the "revisionist" accounts of the popular character of 
the Argentinean and Uruguayan upheavals or resistences against the 
massacre). One of the great historical contributions of that 
"Argentinean "revisionist" school of history (if you can call them 
that)" was to restore the truth in this sense. And it was not only an 
"Argentinean" school, since there are many Paraguayans and Uruguayans 
who share the basic positions of historic revisionists in Argentina.

ALTERNATIVE:
"In some other instances, some Marxist authors confuse the uneven and 
combined character of the Latin America economy - which sometimes 
gave an edge in some branch of industry or financial business to one 
semicolony over others - as the prove that these countries are more 
"developed" and act as "imperialistic" in regards other semi 
colonies. Any close inspection of any of those instances (like the 
known confrontations over "salitre" and shit (guano) and also copper 
between Peru and Chile were just manifestations of the aggressive 
policies of British imperialism through their proxies in the 
continent, etc"

NESTOR:
Which would be perfectly true, were it not because it reduces the 
role of the local populations (even the local allies of Britain) to 
performers of someone else´s script. This cast of mind is precisely 
what the "revisionist" school of historical thought in Argentina (the 
Izquierda Nacional included) has been consistently fighting against. 
Since in Argentinean everyday life history and present are strongly 
enmeshed, it is essential for any Marxist to understand that the 
first battle to be waged is the battle that the "revisionists" waged, 
and in this sense the most scientific -if you like the word- stance 
is the revisionist stance.

"Alternative" gives us a practical demonstration of the consequences 
of his approach when he states that:

"In the post-war period, when the US replaced Britain as the main 
imperialist power in South America, the character of imperialist 
investments changed radically. The US introduced a diversified 
strategy that continued to include financial capital but also an 
increasingly industrial investment (i.e.: Brazil's "miracle" of the 
60s and 70s). These investments helped Brazil became the strongest 
economy in Latin America and the crumbs of the imperialist 
investments strengthened for a while layers of its national 
bourgeoisie. But Brazil did not become an economically advanced, 
independent country, but remained a semicolony since most of the core 
of its economy was privatized and transferred to the imperialist 
multinationals that increased its utilization of Brazil as its 
economic enclave surrounded by a vast semi colonial territory and 
impoverished population."

The above paragraph, sound and clear as it looks, misses the 
_internal_ determinations of the Brazilian national movement, headed 
by the bourgeois (and partly pro-imperialist) State by simply 
replacing for it an abstract "bourgeoisie". If one does that, then 
one must remain speechless about -or musing nonsensical generalities 
on the "imperialist" contents of- an essential trait of the current 
Brazilian policies for Latin America, namely its strong defence of 
Mercosur against American pro-FTAA position (a defence which during 
the recent financial run against the peso took the Banco do Brasil in 
Buenos Aires to sell cheap dollars at a heavy loss), its gruntling 
disgust with American deployment on the Amazon basin, or its 
interesting agreements with the Venezuela of Chávez.

ALTERNATIVE:
[Referring to Louis's comment: "Despite the presence of European 
immigrants, industrialization, national independence, the lack of 
feudal-like latifundias, etc., Argentina had much more in common with 
direct colonies in the 19th century like India.] This is 99% correct. 
I would suggest a qualification of the last sentence which seems as 
an overstatement without negating the validity of the rest of the 
paragraph."

NESTOR:
I can´t see the reason for the qualification. Of course, Argentina is 
not India, and it never was. But Louis is talking about the 
structural relationship, which is strikingly similar. In fact, when 
the whole formation whose highest stage was Peronist Argentina 
crashed down during the 1980s, Argentina began a fast descending 
spiral which will take it, if unarrested, to an ever increasing 
formal (not only structural) likeness with the India of the Raj. Just 
take a ride and a walk into the massive shantytowns around any 
Argentinean city, close your eyes to Catholic imagery and posters in 
Spanish, forget that Argentineans like to eat beef, and you will have 
to admit, as a group of Canadian transportation experts did in my 
presence many years ago, that "this is Calcutta".

ALTERNATIVE:
In spite popular beliefs, the railroads in Argentina were not 
introduced nor first built and developed exclusively by the British - 
as it happened in other Latin American countries and Asia and Africa 
- but by the Argentinean state through mixed companies - including 
also Argentinean and British capitalists, followed by a process in 
which Britain - using the Argentinean's foreign debt - forced the 
state to decrease its share in partnership with British companies. In 
that process the state assumed most of the expenses and guaranteed a 
level of profit to its British partners. Later on, the British forced 
the government to sell them the railroads - and to give them the 
lands at both sides of the tracks which essentially gave the British 
property over the prime land of the country."

NESTOR:
The above addition is also very good, but again it misses a central 
point: what the British capitalists wanted to do was to establish the 
dictatorship of the railway fare as a tool for economic planning.

The state-owned railroads in Argentina served the most variegated 
interests along their tracks, just in the way the American railroads 
did. The British-owned ones served oligarchic and British interest, 
by simply raising the fare when some production was appearing that 
would be competitive with their own goals. Since "Alternative" cannot 
see the paramount importance of this fact, even though s/he can state 
it _as a mere fact_(1), he can happily repeat, from a "leftist" point 
of view, the shortsighted tenet by the Argentinean oligarchs which 
was very widespread among the petty bourgeoisie in the late 1940s:

"The British them completed the circle when they forced Peron to buy 
the railroads when they were mostly obsolete."

This, for a Marxist - is a demonstration of class hatred against a 
national-popular movement.

To begin with, the British did not force Peron to buy anything. What 
they had done was to freeze Argentinean assets in pounds for beef and 
grain exported during the war years. That is, they decided not to pay 
their foreign debt to Argentina. Peron, who saw the situation 
clearly, used these frozen pounds which would anyway never get to 
Argentina as a payment for the whole railway complex.

And I say complex because with these pounds that Britain would anyway 
have never given back to us, Peronism purchased not only tracks, 
rolling stock and locomotives. It also purchased the largest 
industrial complex in Latin America (a few years later, Argentina was 
designing and producing its own locomotives), vast tracts of land, 
commercial enterprises, and, last but not least, the _El Mundo_ 
newspaper, which was the "progressive" newspaper which was the 
property of the British railroads and moulded the mind of the 
left-leaning petty bourgeoisie in Buenos Aires together with the 
impressive _El Mundo_ broadcasting network (which had studios that 
were a minute copy of the BBC studios in London, both in 
architectonical and ideological design).

With the railroads in the hands of the Argentinean state, Peronism 
could manage the costs of transport all over the country, thus 
setting the conditions for the spectacular growth of manufacture in 
the Inland provinces. The Zapla steel mills, near the border with 
Bolivia, could have never been put to work with the railroads in 
British hands, for example. British owned railroads, on the other 
hand, purchased almost none of their supplies in Argentina. Even the 
boards that hung at the sides of the coaches, indicating the 
destinations, were of British made. This came to an end with the 
nationalization. The Buenos Aires gas plants, which were also 
purchased with the railroads because they belonged to the same 
complex of interests, were also nationalized and the expansion of the 
distribution network began immediately. Up to the nationalization, 
the gas plants used British coal, and the amount of coal that reached 
Argentina was strictly defined by the tonnage of the London bound 
cargo. In order not to bring "empty" ships to Argentina, the naval 
transport cartel allocated to our country a small amount of coal, 
which served a privileged and small area of Buenos Aires. I still 
remember my grandmother -who, by the way, was strongly anti-Peronist 
like most immigrants- blessing the expansion of the natural gas 
network in Buenos Aires which set her free of the old "wood coal" 
oven she had at home, because the poor neighborhood where she lived 
was not served by the British owned gas company...

As regards the contention that the British forced Peron to buy the 
trains, there is something else to be said, which "Alternative" may 
most probably ignore. In fact, it was just the other way round. At 
first, and taking profit of the clumsiness of the Peronist 
negotiators, they attempted to remain in control of the railroads by 
means of a "Sociedad Mixta" where the Argentinean state would be 
their partner while they, of course, would have been holding the 
golden share and weight decissively in every critical issue. 
Scalabrini´s last battle on this issue was a battle for full 
nationalization, and he found support both in the lower rank railroad 
workers unions (not among the engineers´ union, who were an 
anti-Peronist -mostly "socialist"- working class aristocracy who 
despised their darker and humbler fellow comrades) and the 
industrialist military. The combined pressure of both components of 
the national movement forced the bourgeois minister of Economy of 
Perón (Miguel Miranda) to throw his cherished "empresa mixta" to the 
dustbin. Here we have a clear example of the "national movement" 
acting beyond the wishes and desires of the bourgeoisie.

Providing further demonstration that when s/he says that "the British 
forced Peron to purchase the rusty railroads", "Alternative" goes on 
like this:

"It is interesting to note a couple of important things: 1) the 
British used the railroads, more than to produce direct profits, as a 
way to smash competition from the national bourgeoisie in other 
endeavors.They did for example charge double or triple the price to 
transport the goods of competitors and they also imposed stiff 
tariffs over products and merchandise from the interior (they charged 
three or four times less for bulk transport of raw materials thus 
benefiting the British import businesses of competing goods since 
merchandises produced in the interior became more expensive than 
those imported from Britain once they arrived at Buenos Aires) and

2) they brought technicians, skilled workers and administrators of 
the railroads and for other British enterprises from Britain in order 
to create a layer above the natives and slow down the process of 
transferring technology and skills. This only partially worked until 
the first decade of the 20th century. Over time, many of these 
technicians left the railroads and became small industrialists, 
mechanics, small business owners and big merchants (in more than one 
case) and forced Britain to hire even more people in London until 
they abandoned this practice in the 1940s."

Even though he thus recognizes that the purchase of the railroads was 
not a British imposition (which empire accepts to lose grip of any 
given country in exchange for some cents, cents that they would not 
pay anyway?), "Alternative" nevertheless forgets two important issues 
regarding point 2):

a) that _during the 1940s_ Britain "abandoned this practice" due to 
the stresses imposed by World War, which means that this attitude 
arose because they had become weaker vis a vis Argentina than they 
had been during the 30s. It is important to stress this, because if 
we don´t then we may believe that it was a voluntary and "less 
expensive" policy that Britain followed after the 30s which led to 
the abandonment of the "foreign brains" policies. Nothing of such.

b) that under local conditions, an able group of Argentinean experts 
had begun to grow side by side with the British experts (and more 
often than not overriding them in technical skills, because Britain 
"exported" second rate technicians and kept their best people for 
themselves).

Even after the main lines were sold to Britain, the Argentinean state 
begun to develop a new State owned railroad network which served the 
whole non-Pampa country, where British capital had no interest at 
all. These state-owned lines proved a hothouse for railroad know-how 
(and waged a battle of their own against British interests in order 
to reach the port of Buenos Aires), and were expanded both by Roquism 
and Yrigoyenism all along the first 30 years of the 20th. Century.

In fact, the last -and extraordinary- accomplishment of these 
state-owned railroads was completed by Peronism in 1946: the 
Antofagasta-Salta trans-Andean track, the construction of which had 
been taken to complete halt by the British railway interests during 
the 30s. By the way, this line was designed by a great American 
engineer, Engineer Maury, who tied his life to Argentina and left us 
two magnificent masterpieces of engineering know-how: the railroad 
line, and the Tucumán-Tafí del Valle road. These state-owned 
railroads proved a seedbed for local Argentinean know-how, and as 
years passed by the "British brain" policy was becoming each time 
more impopular.

While I don´t have the time to qualify "Alternative"´s exaggerations 
on the effect of British (not State) owned railroads on Argentinean 
independent industrial development (such as "a number of metallurgic 
factories, mechanic workshops and the introduction of some of the 
railroad technology into other fields (agricultural machinery, subway 
system since 1910, etc)"), I want to stress that s/he is wrong when 
s/he states that a side effect of British imperialism was to develop 
in Argentina "the development of the merchant navy", which in fact 
was almost non-existent up to Peronism.

Much to the contrary, British influence and the oligarchy of Buenos 
Aires choked at birth the Argentinean and Paraguayan shipyards and 
overseas trading fleet, which had begun to appear by the early years 
of the 19th. Century! As to the other "beneficial" consequence of 
British imperialism, namely the "massive immigration from Europe", it 
was not fostered by Britain. It was the Argentinean oligarchy which 
brought the immigrants in, and in fact the agro-exporting model 
required a much more limited amount of migrants than eventually came 
to our shores. Since it was based on large latifundia, there was no 
free soil, and most migrants concentrated in the coastal towns, where 
they could not develop a strong industrial economy, which began to 
grow only after the crisis of the 1930s forced Britain to direct 
their attention to more urgent matters than thwarting our 
development. 

After the above, "Alternative" takes an excursus along the history of 
the Argentinean landowning class, which if I don´t recall wrongly 
tends to follow the interpretations of Milcíades Peña. Most comments 
of "Alternative" on Rosas and the different kind of landowners in 
Argentina are very apt (in spite of some historic telescoping whereby 
the Rivadavians who preceded Rosas and the Mitrists who followed him 
are not adequately distinguished. But of course, this he may have 
done for the sake of brevity). After that, s/he emits an almost 
obviously unimpeachable assertion (later on, we shall see how 
unimpeachable it is):

"Latin America countries and societies in general, and Argentina in 
particular, failed to develop strong capitalist economies and 
national bourgeoisies not because they didn't try hard - as it seems 
it is the opinion of Galeano and others (who are mostly waiting for 
that to happen)",

The problem is that the above is diagnosed as a lack of "primitive 
accumulation":

"- but because they emerged out of a process in which they obtained 
an earlier independence (1810-30) as compared to Asia and Africa, but 
they accessed to the methods of primitive accumulation of capital and 
the mass of laborers (...) too late."

If there is something you can NEVER arrive too late to, it is the 
barbaric methods of primitive accumulation. The whole sugar industry 
was mounted on such methods (as among others on this list the late 
Jim Blaut explained), and nothing but primitive accumulation was the 
brutalising destruction of human life depicted by Galeano in the 
mines and haciendas of Latin America. As to the creation of a mass of 
laborers (I guess "Alternative" means "free from their means of 
production"), which would be something harder to get to, I will 
simply remind here that the first "Ley de Vagos" (Law of the 
Homeless) in Argentina was approved as far back as 1822.

So that -at least in Argentina- the problem lies elsewhere, and the 
two causes for "the failure of all attempts at a third road for 
economic, independent development" that "Alternative" is proposing 
should be replaced by something more reasonable, not to say real.

N O T E

(1)Which has been superbly demonstrated for the first time not by a 
Marxist but by Raúl Scalabrini Ortiz during the 1930s on his 
_Historia de los Ferrocarriles Argentinos_, -an essential book along 
with his _Politica británica en el Río de la Plata_-, a book that 
produced scores of rejoinders -I remember Zalduendo´s pitiful effort 
in his _ Libras y rieles_, of the 70s.

-- 
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 04/05/2002

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