To Louis RE: Corradi, Radical Party and Fascist Peron
alternative at sbcglobal.net
Tue Apr 30 01:01:45 MDT 2002
I thank Louis for answering two questions I had to his previous posting
on Peron (Argentina Part 3). Particularly about the Radical Party and
Corradi and as to why he argued against those who still equate Peronism
Louis: (posted the following quotation from Corradi as his source for
the characterization of the UCR (Radical Party):
"The Union Civica Radical never represented a united, coherent class,
but was rather an aggregation of disparate groups and individuals.
Initially, it was more representative of the old middle class, which
was largely Creole and in which independent farmers were heavily
represented. It eventually came to encompass the new middle class
which was drawn mainly from the descendants of Spanish and Italian
immigrants--the growing white-collar strata of clerks and
bureaucrats, and the petit-bourgeoisie of shopkeepers. The leadership
of the party was dominated by landed interests not closely tied to
world markets. Hipolito Yrigoyen, the party leader who became
president of Argentina in 1916 and again in 1928, was himself a
marginal landowner. (Corradi, pp. 337-338)"
Corradi is wrong. I will start with the last sentence about Yrigoyen
being a MARGINAL landowner. As far as I know, Yrigoyen has interests in
couple of "chacras", the equivalent in Argentina to farms. Highly
qualifying him as a representative of the landowner class. That is
probably why he referred to him as a "marginal landowner ... no linked
to the world markets."
There were some landowning interests in the Union Civica Radical since
its inception, and some aristocratic layer of bourgeois leaders. But
the predominant social base, and leaders of the UCR in the 1800s and the
first decades of the 1900s were the middle class. Not just shopkeepers
and professionals, but also students, plebeian sectors of the small
towns - not only the cities - and chacareros (farmers) and the
The UCR emerged as the opposition to the dominant Conservative Party,
the political vehicle of the landowners, the estancieros and the
oligarchy. Conservatives called the "Radicals" "la chusma" (a term that
means a mix between the populace and a mob). The aristocratic socialists
attacked the Radicals as "uncivilized" and "typical creole politics."
The radicals inaugurated in Argentina the modern democratic procedures
and the most advanced political features that will distinguish later
most of the bourgeois parties in Argentina. They reformed the electoral
law allowing secret vote, limiting the "winner takes all" system and the
rampant fraud and box stuffing and vote buying practiced by the
With the radicals began in Argentina de mass conventions and primary
elections to vote for party candidates. This was, at the time, very
innovative. Before, political parties rarely existed beyond the small
circles of founders and leaders who appointed all candidates.
They applied a number of social reforms and developed a patronage system
among the lumpenproletariat. In 1918 they supported the revolutionary
upsurge of the University Reform movement and that gave them a
tremendous support among students that lasted for decades. Te
democratization of the university - with its autonomy, a government of
students, staff and teachers and its complete academic and political
freedom - constituted the utopian dream of the petite-bourgeosie.
The revolutions and putsch organized by the "Radicals" in since the
1890s to 1916 were essentially supported by young officers of the army,
shop keepers and students.
Over time and led by Yrigoyen, the productive bourgeoisie of the cities
started to influence the party - not the landowners - and British
imperialism tolerated them because the radicals were an additional
barrier to the penetration and competition of US imperialism. Yrigoyen
took a number of anti-US stances, but he never took any action against
the British. Yrigoyen opposed the US in Cuba and Central America, for
At the same time, Yrigoyen and the Radicals tried to conciliate with
unions and workers, but they were upset by the continuous attacks by the
CP and the SP and the tactics of the anarchists. The UCR was in the
government when especially anarchist unions were repressed.
Alvear brought to the party some landowners during his presidency and
controlled briefly the party, but they were not the decisive force.
Yrigoyen returned and defeated the candidates of Alvear to succeed him
and Yrigoyen himself ran again. Alvear opposed his candidacy. Yrigoyen
was elected with 49% of the vote and the dissident radicals got less
than 5% of the vote. The military overthrew Yrigoyen in the name of the
landowners in 1930.
The UCR epitomized the party of the petite-bourgeoisie, was hegemonized
by it and led by it for 40 or so years. The question as to why they did
not go further with a reformist plan or why they were so inconsistent
was precisely the trademark of the class they represented.
Carlos also asked if any respectable bourgeois historian regards
Peron as a fascist or a caudillo nowadays. I am rather surprised that
he would ask this question. As far as I know, this is the standard
interpretation to this day. While I have no time to dredge up all
sorts of references, I did a search on "Peron" in the H-Humanities
book reviews section and came up with this, from a review of Deborah
L. Norden's "Military Rebellion in Argentina: Between Coups and
Consolidation." (follows example that Louis, correctly, calls
Actually my question was if either bourgeois or Marxist historians would
support such a thing of the past.
Maybe is my isolation from US academia, but I thought those kind of
idiocies of equating a bourgeois nationalist movement in a semi colony
with the nationalism of the bourgeoisie of an imperialist country that
produces fascism were things of a distant past. But again, I shouldn't
be surprised since there are some "Marxists" that characterize Argentina
and Brazil as imperialists or the few hundred employees of a British
company in the Malvinas Islands with a nationality that deserves
"self-determination." Go figure.
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