[Marxism] The disappearing Peronist legacy

Carlos Petroni cepetroni at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 25 18:57:06 MST 2006


Louis:

Some observations on your text:

To exert foreign monopoly of agricultural and meat exports, Peron created the
National Board of Cereales and Meat (Junta Nacional de Granos y Junta Nacional de Carnes)
through which his government established prices to buy production and then
turned around and sell it for export, the state pursing the difference.

These are not per se socialist tasks but democratic ones with a transitional
character.

Unions were formed by initiative and with the support of the government,
replacing in many instances old ones, creating new ones and was a serious
attempt to create "unions by branches of the economy", whereas workers who
worked for one industry, irrespective as to whether they were industrial or
administrative workers, would belong to the same union and established what in
some countries are known "national contracts" or "industry contracts" which in
Argentina were known as "paritarias", negotiations between parity commissions
of employees and bosses with the state reserving the right to cast a decisive
"vote" or decision in case of stalemate in negotiations.

One of the most important pieces of legislation passed by Peron's government
was the "statute of peons", or "Estatuto Del Peon" that ended the "traditional"
16-hour workday in the countryside and the practices of paying with credits in
bosses' owned stores.

The nationalization of railroads, gas, electric and telephone services and the
expansion of the role of the state-owned YPF (Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales)
were the main staples of his policies of expansion of the role of the state as a
producer and an employer.

Evita was the force behind the efforts to grant the right to vote to women in 1949
which practically guaranteed the re-election of Peron, after Evita was pressured
to abandon the vicepresidential slot.  Those were the times of expansion of the
most popular stage of Peronism.

The most striking negative aspects of that period were the dissolution of the
Labor Party and the incarceration of its founders who were among the instigators
of the popular mobilization of October 17 that freed Peron from jail in 1945 and
the regimentation of the unions, imposing upon them the discipline of the state.

Those two things that were accepted by the working class in exchange of the
gains they obtained, will later come to hunt Peronism and the working class.

That started to changed in 1951 with the "Congress of Productivity" and later with
the death of Evita. The economic conditions of the war started to change and so
did Peron and his policies.  In 1955 he was overthrown by the oligarchy and the
military and the fact that the working class has not independent organizations
and actions of their own were the most important factor in the defeat of
Peronism. On spite the courage and decision of workers to resist, they were told
not to by their own leader who abandoned the country and ceded power to the
military.

You're right that the defeat of Peron's reforms was a consecquence of not being
radical enough (he did not attack -- for example -- the basis of oligarchic property
and refused to carry out an agrarian revolution, even though he introduced
substantial changes in the countryside nor he deconstruct the power structure in
the army, accostumed to organized coup d'etats periodically since the 1930s.
He thought he could seduce them.) but the question of the political
independence of the working class form the state and the bourgeois staments of
the "movement"  probed to be fatal.

Another factor Peron did not tackle was the power and influence of the Catholic
Church, pro-oligarchic and hostile to Peronism' reforms. Not by coincidence,
the main axis of the coup d'etat in 1955 were the army-the oligarchy and the
Catholic Church.

Without the political independence, the working class has one hand tied in its
back could not defend the gains of the Peronist government nor advance in
a revolutionary direction.

Peron took the same measures in that sense than the other grand bourgeois
reformer in Latin America: Lazaro Cardenas: Concessions in exchange of
political independence.

Peronism evolved since 1955 and passed through many mutations.  It is no
longer the national and popular movement of the 1940s and first half of
the 1950s and it certainly does not represent the aspirations of
national sovereignty, social justice and economic independence of those years.

Over the years, different factions controled the movement: the left, the
revolutionary nationalist of the so called-Resistance of the 1950s and early
60s, the conflict between the Montoneros left and the right wing with the
support of Peron at the beginning of the1970s; the extreme right wing
domination of government and the party, including death squads, in the
mid 70s; many of today's leaders collaborated with the military dictatorship
in the 1970s; became neo-liberal, champions of privatization under Menem
and are now under the control of a soft neo-liberal wing (Kirchner and co).

It is no longer the party nor the movement of nationalizations and the
expansion of workers' rights, but the administrator of the interests of privatized
businesses, friend of multinationals, reconstructers of the Armed Forces and
while they may keep the majority of the working class votes at election
time, they hardly enjoy the working class militancy of past decades.

In 60 years, Peronism went from a popular and national bourgeois movement
to a party of the lumpen bourgeoisie, the multinationals and the corrupt union
bureaucracy.

In the 1970s Peronism was threatened from the left to be overcome and replaced
by a more left leaning movement that certainly included the non-Peronist left and
militant wings of the Peronist movement.

That's why the military brought Peron back to power in 1974 and overthrew his
government after his death -- and in the hands of his wife Isabel Peron: they
were unable to check the movement towards political independence of the
working class.

The legacy of Peronism is not dissappearing.  The last vestiges of it was
murdered and buried in the 1970s.

The historic democratic task it proposed in the 1940s - sovereignity, independence and social justice -- would have to be accomplished through
socialist revolution.

Peronism is now a corpse, or rather, a political zombie.


Happy new year!











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