Forwarded from Nestor (Unity of "socialists")

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Sep 19 06:57:51 MDT 2002


Armand Diego wrote:

[...]

The Cuban report contains a number of mistakes and obviously does not make 
a characterization of these groups. See my comments interspersed in the 
Cuban press release:

<My own comments, between "<>"s, interspersed in the interspersed comments: 
palimpsest reading skills mandatory, I guess...>

"Buenos Aires, Sep 13 (PL) Saturday, Argentinean socialist forces will 
establish their fusion into one party after more than 45 years of 
divisions, it was confirmed in this capital."

Obviously, this is far from reality. There are more socialist 
organizations, with more members and influence in the working class than 
those who are fusing.

<A. Diego's paragraph is, at the same time, true, and not so much.>

<In Argentinean politics, one must distinguish between "_the_ socialists", 
and "socialists". Since in Spanish you always use the article in this case, 
it is sometimes hard to see the not so subtle hue. In Argentinean political 
usage, _the_ socialists mean those groups which consider themselves the 
actual heirs and inheritors of the old Partido Socialista.>

<Since I guess I know who was the person that promoted the PL article (most 
probably it was Emilio Corbiére, a journalist who has always been a part of 
"_the_ socialists" and who is currently working for Prensa Latina) I think 
that I know what was going on in _his_ resourceful and tricky mind while he 
drafted, or suggested a draft, for the article. Corbiére is very linked to 
"_the_ socialists", he is a good person and an able journalist, albeit too 
opportunistic for my taste.>

<I also understand A.Diego's uneasiness at the article, as well as his own 
version of the facts. But, I am afraid, neither the article nor the 
comments bring to the fore the actual meaning of this piece of news.>

<As I commented above, the political camp of "_the_ socialists", in 
Argentinean political usage, is reserved to those formations who claim to 
be the direct inheritors and true representatives of the old Socialist 
Party of Juan B. Justo, Repetto and Palacios. This is not contested in 
Argentina, save for the few sects -even eventually bulging sects such as 
those which, in A.Diego's own words, can boast today "more members and 
influence in the working class than those who are fusing"- who dispute over 
words and names in the name of "revolutionary socialism" against 
"reformism". Please don't take "sects" as an indication of size, but rather 
in the sense Marx used the word, of groups which did not stress their links 
with the actual consciousness of the working class, stressing their 
differences instead and try to "raise" the workers to their illuminated 
ideologies.>

<A. Diego is right in pointing out that the news release by PL does not 
take into account -as "socialists"- the variegated array of formations 
which tend to melt into such alliances as "Izquierda Unida" or the "Polo 
Obrero". But, at the same time, he is wrong IMHO because he does not meet 
the basic issue, which is the nth attempt at the reconstitution of the old 
Socialist Party by what remains alive of "_the_ socialists".>

<Of course, the intention of the article is to blur this issue, and I 
understand A. Diego's itch. But this is a microdebate completely alien to 
Argentinean mass politics. Mainly because, even though they have criticized 
"_the_ socialists" on every ground imaginable, all the sects and groups 
which can get annoyed at this article from PL have _never_ criticized the 
basic mistake of "_the_ socialists", namely their completely erroneous 
understanding of the national question in Argentina. On this, they share 
the same ground, which makes their claim somehow irrelevant.>

"The rebirth of the Argentinean Socialist Party (PSA) will be the result of 
the merger of the Authentic Socialist Party and the Popular Socialist Party 
and will be directed by leaders of both organizations: Alfredo Bravo and 
Ruben Giustiniani as president and General secretary, respectively."

Apparently, those fusing are attempting to call the party the Socialist 
Party. Period. PSA was the name of one of the factions in the 60s and 70s 
led by, I believe, historian Gregorio Selzer and later by others. The 
announced fusion is betwen the Democratic Socialist Party (PSD) - a right 
wing, anti-peronist, very conservative organization and the Popular 
Socialist Party (PSP), a formation mostly around the MNR - Reformist 
National Movement- in college campuses that held some weight until 10 years 
ago based on a de-politicized, student service program in universities 
around the country. The Partido Socialista Autentico, a phamtom group that 
was in every coalition of the UCR (De La Rua party) was actually no invited 
to the fusion and is bitterly complaining about it.

<True, the actual actors of this nth attempt at welding the unweldable are 
the PSD and the PSP, and not the PSA.>

<The characterisation of the PSD is more or less accurate, only that it 
does _not_ say that Alfredo Bravo, the main figure in the "center- left" 
ARI, which is not exactly a right-wing, conservative formation, belongs to 
the PSD. The basic feature of the PSD is their organic anti-Peronism (they 
even obtained an Embassy during the 1976 regime of Videla and Martínez de 
Hoz), but with time and the experiences of the remains of the petty 
bourgeoisie of Buenos Aires that they represent, even _that_ has been 
waning, Alfredo Cartañá, for example, takes pride in having ejected Américo 
Ghioldi from the PSD. In this sense, I am afraid that even the current PSD 
is _less_, not more, anti-Peronist than the many "revolutionary socialists" 
that criticize the PSD as "reformist">

<The PSP is more than what A. Diego (whose vision seems to be moulded by 
the asphyxiating atmosphere of in-campus politics) says. It is an agrarian 
middle class formation, centered around the town of Rosario, who still have 
some basis on the poor chacareros and the middle class of the Southern tip 
of Santa Fe province. They began to fall apart after the death of Guillermo 
(?, not sure) Estevez Boero, a leader of Rosario who, during some time, 
proved to understand Peronism in a relatively decent way, and had a 
reasonable action in national politics. Following the evolution of its 
social base, however, the PSP turned to support of Alfonsín's formal 
democratism soon. Now, their leadership is completely discredited, but they 
are more than an in-campus outfit. Both the PSD and the PSP have 
representatives in the Congress.>

<Where Diego misses the shot completely is about the Partido Socialista 
Auténtico. In fact, this fraction of the old Party is the one which best 
represents the best traditions of radical national- democratic reformism 
which were once prevalent within the old Partido Socialista Argentino (more 
on this later). They have a respectable political structure in some areas 
of the Western and North Western Greater Buenos Aires, and they have a 
sizable _electoral basis_ of their own in the Province of Buenos Aires, 
something few "socialist" parties can boast to have. Their leaders, Drs. 
Mario Mazzitelli and Jorge Selser, are in fact very interesting examples of 
the best qualities of the Argentinean middle classes (in a sense, they fit 
with the profile of a, say, Daniel Barenboim), and sometimes they are to 
the left of their own voters.>

<The attempt to rebuild the Partido Socialista is still another attempt to 
offer to the "progressive" middle classes of Buenos Aires a "socialist" 
group that covers the left wing of the "center"-left coalition led by 
Lilita Carrió, a member of the Radical party who tries to gather the forces 
in disarray of the "progressive" sepoys here. The Partido Socialista 
Auténtico did not join in this attempt, simply because they are nearer to 
have a reasonable understanding of Peronism and the national question in 
Argentina than any other branch of _the_ socialists.>

<The full story should run like this: the Socialist Party, which after 1945 
became more and more a middle class formation (which it had always been, in 
ideology if not in membership, from its very beginning), suffered a wave of 
splits and a process of definitive splintering after 1955. >

<The most ferociously anti-Peronists gathered around Américo Ghioldi and 
constituted the Partido Socialista Democrático (PSD). Anti- Peronism, by 
the way, was a matter of genetics with Américo. His brother, Rodolfo 
Ghioldi, was a Communist Party leader, which did not forbid him in in 1945 
to offer his arm to the American Ambassador and the arch-oligarch 
Santamarina and to head the march against Perón, that fascist; among his 
many demerits one can also count his unable pen's attack on the Spanish 
language when he coined the following definition of Peronism: 
"nazi-nipo-fasci-falanjo-Peronism".

<The bulk of the party gathered around Alfredo L. Palacios but led by 
Gregorio Selser among others (Selser, by the way, is a very interesting 
researcher who prepared, among others, very interesting books on Sandino 
and on Panamá) formed the Partido Socialista Argentino (PSA).>

<This PSA, however, suffered another process of splits, some of its members 
constituting the PSAV, others melting with "Trotskyists" in the PST 
(Moreno's electoral formation), others turning to the Communist Party, a 
few turning to the Izquierda Nacional, and still others entering the 
"special formations" (urban terrorist groups) of the late 60s / early 70s 
(Roberto Quieto, one of the main leaders of Montoneros, was of this origin, 
for example).>

<Though the main political issue in Argentina was, during those times, the 
proscription of Peronism, almost all of these splits tended to turn around 
the "reform" vs. "revolution" axis. It was an abstract axis which in fact 
concealed the increasing rage of the middle classes at their "bad fate" 
after 1955. In a sense, the mood is still alive not so much in the 
"mainstream" socialist formations -which have some links with reality 
through the fractions of lower middle class that they represent- but 
certainly in the sects which have been left aside by the "fussion": Only 
yesterday evening, for example, I met with a guy who had been active in the 
Partido Obrero for ten years, until he left it on this very reasonable 
ground: "Lots of class struggle talk, lots of proletarians against 
bourgeois, but never a word on imperialism!".>

<Against the info by A. Diego, though the original name will be PS, they 
_will_ try to reconstitute the "PSA". The original "PS" name cannot be 
generated withouth the _three_ former members of the "PS" agreeing in the 
usage of the word "Socialist". Without this agreement, the PSA might 
impugnate any other party name with the word "Socialist">

<Thus the members of the renewed party counter attack in an obvious 
electoral trick. The explanation of the trick may be somehow boring, but 
since it might cast some light on the details to which the Argentinean 
reactionaries have gone in order to smother popular voices, I will give it 
to you.

< In Argentina, a law dating back to the mid 1960s forbids to name a party 
after an individual (that is, you cannot call yourself Partido Peronista), 
or with the word "argentino"; it is also forbidden to call yourself 
"nacional" (thus you cannot call yourself _legally_ Frente de Liberación 
Nacional). The law also makes it very easy to impugnate a new party's name 
on formal grounds, such as "we are already carrying the name 'socialist'" . 
This law was passed during the age of the "democratic" President Illia 
(1963-1966) and it aimed at two basic goals:>

<a) the general one of making it difficult for those in the national camp 
to call themselves their actual names. In the early 1970s, we in the 
Partido Socialista de la Izquierda Nacional were forced by law not to call 
our proposed "Frente de Izquierda Nacional" according to what we _actually_ 
were, but we had to call the Front "Frente de Izquierda _Popular_" (FIP for 
an acronym). In the early 80s we in the Partido de la Izquierda Nacional 
had to resort to a "fantasy name" for legal purposes, and had to call our 
electoral structure "Acción Popular por la Liberación". Comrades in the 
former Partido Socialista Argentino de Vanguardia, PSAV, who had 
constituted a Partido de la Liberación Nacional had to accept to become the 
"Partido de la Liberación". And the comrades in the Partido Socialista 
Argentino were forced to replace the "Argentino" for "Auténtico" during the 
mid-1970s. In Argentina, it is legally accepted that you call your party, 
say, Partido de la Revolución, Movimiento Colonialista Italiano, or Partido 
Patriótico Japonés. But you cannot call yourself "Argentinean" or 
"National"...>

<(b) the second goal of this law was to crush the developmentalists, who 
had split from the Radical party after 1955, constituting the UCRI (Unión 
Cívica Radical Intransigente) against the UCRP (Unión Cívica Radical del 
Pueblo). The UCRP illegitimate majority in the Congress forced the 
developmentalists to call themselves Movimiento de Integración y Desarrollo 
(MID), and thus recovered the sole ownership of the UCR acronym.>

<Thus, what is at stake here is the right of the comrades in the Partido 
Socialista Auténtico to carry their own name, and that is why the PS -which 
cannot be called Partido Socialista Argentino- will try to get the 
"ownership" of the PSA acronym. The PS Auténtico, displaying a very 
interesting independence and a complete refusal to integrate to the 
"center-left", which is the only goal of this reunification, should be 
punished, in the stupid eyes of a Giustiniani (PSP) or a Cartañá (PSD), for 
what in fact amounts to a high degree of socialist -albeit, yes, 
"reformist"- political dignity.>

"The formation of the new organization was decided last June 28 with the 
signing of a document in the city of Rosario. This took place on the 
occasion of the 106th anniversary of the foundation of the first PSA."

The first party at the end of the 1800s was called PS, not PSA. PSA is an 
acronym of a faction that split in the 1950s (not sure the year)

<The above by Armand D. is perfect. The _exact_ year during the 50s, 
however, is an essential issue for anyone who wants to understand 
Argentinean socialists.>

"That text called for the new party to become "an example of a great 
coalition to transform it into an alternative able to carry out the changes 
demanded by Argentinean society."

These are not working class organizations, but a collection of 
conservative, right wing old style social democrats that function, for all 
that matter, as bourgeois parties... only small.

<The above is quite ridiculous, in fact. "Working class organizations" such 
as the Política Obrera, PTS or PST sects! There is more actual life to the 
PSP or even the PSD in terms of social class representativity, though 
certainly not of "working class" representativity, than in all those 
"revolutionary", non-bourgeois -actually ultra-left- groups!>

"The document was signed by observers from other South American socialist 
parties including: Ricardo Nuñez (Chilean Socialist Party), Reinaldo 
Gargano (Uruguayan Socialist Party), Elio Alfredo Pieta (Brazilian Workers 
Party) and Carlos Fllizola, president of País Solidario de Paraguay."

This may give tha false impression that the fused organization is somewhat 
officially representing social democracy in Argentina. Is not. The PSD that 
held that position was kicked out as section of the 2nd for being too righ 
wing in the 1950s (they collaborated with the military government to 
intervene and dismantle the Peronsit unions after the coup that overthrew 
Peron). Americo Ghioldi, its hsitorical leader once said, referring to 
workers who were resisting the coup: "the letter with blood will be 
learned." (La letra con sangre se aprende).

<This does not make them any the less social democrats, in the sense of 
social imperialists. In fact, the 2nd. International kicked the PSD out in 
a shameful move, because they incorporated the UCR afterwards. The _false_ 
impression is that the social imperialists support a "socialist" party, 
when in fact they support and give membership to a "petty bourgeois 
rottening" party, the party of De La Rúa, Alfonsín, and others. A. Diego 
comments this below, but he cannot extract the political consequences. A 
pity, really. A pity.>

"At the time, it was also decided that the new PSA would support the 
candidacy of Elisa Carrio, leader of the Alternative Party for a Republic 
of Equals, for president in the elections scheduled for next March."

I bet they won't have more than 1,000 at their founding congress and I'm 
giving them an optimistic leeway.

Both the PSD and PSP were supporting Carrio for a long time. They supported 
the UCR of De La Rua before.

By the way, the official section of social-democracy in Argentina is the 
the UCR. Alfonsin, one of its leaders, presided over the Latin America 
conference of social democracy and is one of its international Vice-chairs.

DA

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar



Louis Proyect
www.marxmail.org



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