Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Jul 1 07:55:24 MDT 2002

I would caution Scott to take Armand's observations on Argentina with a
truckload of salt. One of the sad facts of the class struggle in Argentina
today is the marginality of Marxism. Although every Marxist sect worldwide
tends to give the impression that something like October 1917 is in the
offing, the subjective factor is entirely missing. In addition, there is
still an enormous lag in consciousness between the mass movement and the
depth of the crisis. Generally speaking, it is better to rely on impartial
observers when it comes to Argentina today, especially James Petras who has
been filing excellent articles that are archived at This is from a June 20 dispatch:

The absence of the Left on the first day of the uprising (December 19) can
be attributed to several factors, both ideological and organizational. Most
of the left operated from a rigid class analysis from which it deduced
political behavior. The left was generally "workerist", what didn't come
out of the factories was suspect. This rigidity took the following logic:
factory worker-unionization-revolutionary party-general strike-revolution.
In the meantime, the unionized workers became a minority, most workers were
un- and underemployed and many were organized in MTD. Belatedly the Left
turned to organize, mobilize and fragment the MTD.

Likewise, the left missed the dynamics of class mobility: the rapid
downward mobility of the middle class, its impoverishment and
proletarianization. Having lost all their savings, the middle class had
nothing to lose -- deeply alienated from their traditional conservative
moorings. They were open to a radical democratic style of street politics
and direct forms of assembly style democracy.

The left only moved into the uprising on the second day, December 20 and
then only the activists and militants as the leaders remained in
headquarters strategizing. On December 20, important contingents of public
sector trade unionists, piqueteros, Marxist activists and tens of thousands
of independent radicalized middle class people poured into the streets.
Thousands of young people, from lower middle class students to young
unemployed piqueteros joined the march and the eventual battles with the
police in front of the Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires and in other
major cities. The downwardly mobile middle class demonstration was the
detonator of the mass and continual assault on power. Four governments in
the rapid succession of 14 days came and went.

The uprising was successful on several important counts. The Saa regime
declared that Argentina would not meet its debt obligations. The populace
was able to force the resignation of four presidents. The uprising
delegitimized the political class and the judicial system, exposing their
venality and anti-national, anti-popular character.

The December 19-20 mass uprising was historically unique for several
reasons: it was the first time in Argentine history that a popular uprising
had overthrown a bankrupt elected or dictatorial leader. It was the first
time in history that the majority of Argentines had confronted and rejected
the entire political class. The uprising and the solidarity that ensued led
to the creation of new and creative forms of direct popular representation
in the form of barrio assemblies, and new tactics of struggle, pot banging
demonstrations which were capable of blocking state decisions adversely
affecting the people (such as the Duhalde regime's attempt to convert the
confiscated savings into fixed bonds redeemable in ten years).

Following the selection of Duhalde as President by a cabal of Peronist
party bosses and Governors and a few demagogic promises, the two official
trade unions, the CGT and CGT (Moyano) backed his regime. The vast majority
of the people were opposed from the beginning and increasingly so over
time. Six months into the regime his support had withered to less then 10%
and he faced a new wave of street blockages and general strikes.

The popular assemblies increasingly relied on the work commissions to
implement policy changes as the Marxist sects began to penetrate, debate,
argue over tactics, programs and party turf alienating many and recruiting
few. There was a temporary retrocession from the high point of December 2001.

The pot banging movement has demonstrated its capacity to veto presidential
nominations and decrees. However its lack of a clear political focus and
its diffuse organizational structure weakened its capacity to consolidate a
powerful national movement. The internal warfare of the Left sects
undermined the assemblies' attractiveness to many participants. Despite
emerging weaknesses, the political experience and the sense of power has
sustained an increasingly radical and growing current of opinion among the
impoverished middle class. Public opinion polls on presidential candidates
in late May 2002 favored a Marxist, Zamora, over any and all of the persona
from the major parties.

Louis Proyect
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