[Marxism] The "weird alliance" and the "Left"
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Wed Dec 27 13:43:58 MST 2006
[After Perón died]
"A weird alliance between fascists, ultra-catholics, cops, military
officers and trade union bureaucrats under the command of Lopez Rega,
the "Brujo", managed to briefly control the state, using death squads
against leftists and working class activists and dreaming of a
"corporate' state a la Franco.
A general strike pushed them out of power. Then the military
The description and sequence being _relatively_ accurate, there are
some meaningful omissions which must be put in clear. Inverted
commas, save for those implying direct quote from the text above,
should be read as heavily underlined.
a) if that "weird alliance" managed to "briefly control the state",
it had at least a little to do with (1) the prescindent attitude of
the "democratic" anti-Peronist parties (electoral calculation proved
more important than the interest of the country as a whole: if
Peronists made a horrible administration, then perhaps they might
lose in the elections scheduled for 1977) and (2) with the pertinacy
in error of some armed groups who insisted in waging "guerrilla"
actions not just nor only against a military dictatorship but _also_
against a democratically elected Government, as if 7 million vote
counted as much as three votes of Commanders in Chief, as if between
the bourgeois Peronists and the oligarchic military of Lanusse (et
al.) there was no difference at all, that is as if (and this is the
core of the ideological confusion) all were, basically, "fractions of
the bourgeoisie". This was the transposition to the language of
bullets of the old social-imperialist idea of the initial Socialist
Party of Juan B. Justo who, by the late 1890s and early 1910s,
divided politics into "scientific" politics (that of Europeizing
middle-class formations, such as the PS itself or the PDP in Rosario,
the most progressive fraction of the Conservatives, and a few
"illustrated" members of other parties) and "creole" politics (that
is, the actual gist of politics in Argentina, the struggle between
the oligarchy and the still in diapers national front which by those
times was led by the Radical "caudillo" and future President Hipólito
Against these "Leftists", many of who believed to be Peronists
themselves, Perón saw himself forced to rely on his right wing. And,
indeed, rely he did, something he was as well prone to do as used to
There is an interesting side point here, which in the end marks the
necessity of a socialist leadership in the national revolution in
Argentina. "Left" critics of Perón, either "Left Peronists" or "Left
Anti-Peronists", can't understand why is it that this _most
electoralist_ of Arg politicians was so fond of relying on those he
himself despised as "piantavotos de Felipe II" ("Phillip the Second's
The objective, material reason was not, of course, a personal liking
of Perón for Fascism, whether this existed or not: he was basically a
realist, like his Brazilian counterpart Vargas. These psichologist
explanations have little, if anything, to do with political analysis.
This reason is quite easy to grasp when you realize that Peronism was
an attempt to launch from the structures of the State a national
revolution under bourgeois rule and capitalist objectives, and when
you consider that the leaders of this revolution met the strongest
rejection of the bourgeoisie together with an overwhelming working
class support. _Under such conditions_, the leader of that revolution
must have _some_ kind of ideological check, and this is what the
"piantavotos" (Arg slang) worked for.
But in the mid 70s, Perón was trying to rule in a more "bourgeois-
democratic" manner, and even many of the "piantavotos" themselves had
begun to understand the essential role of the masses in a national
revolution. Thus, Perón offered the intellectual levers of the
country to the "Left" in his own movement, this self and same left
that questioned his leaning on his "right" without a clear idea of
the reasons for such a behavior (in the best case; in the worst, with
clear intention of robbing him of the leadership of Peronism).
The University of Buenos Aires, for example, fell to the hands of the
"Left Peronists", under the Rectorship of Rodolfo Puiggrós. Every
"sepoy Left" critic of Perón -either "Pure Left" or "Peronist Left"-
will immediately stand on the toes, rise to its highest pitch and
yell "It was not Perón, it was Cámpora, you liar!". Oh, please, let
us be serious: this cannot be a subject of serious debate.
To begin with, Cámpora's Presidency had been the product of a
negotiation between Perón and the oligarchic military. This
negotiation implied the acceptance on Perón's side of the
proscriptive clause by which he, Perón, the _single_ Argentinean who
most Argentineans wanted to be President, was forbidden to be a
candidate. Thus, Cámpora's Presidency was _less_ and not _more_
democratic than that of Perón.
Second, and most essential: under these conditions, Perón chose the
best man for the post. He was in exile, his movement a mess,
Argentina a shaking structure. He needed the most absolute loyalty.
Well, Cámpora's main virtue as a Peronist politician was that he had
no _personal_ will of power at all, that he was an "excellent
Peronist", that is a man who would have licked the floor ahead of
Perón's steps had the Leader requested him to do so. That is why he
became President, and that is why he readily left the post when Perón
asked him to do so. He would have NEVER offered the University to the
"Left Peronists" without Perón's approval.
In fact, during his own speech against the Montoneros, Perón himself
asked at Plaza de Mayo: "You have the Universities, what else do you
want? There are more than a dozen socialist parties in Argentina, we
are Justicialistas.", that is: "We put in your hands the formation of
the future élites, what else do you expect a bourgeois government to
give you? Organize your party if you want, but don't try to
denaturalize mine, nor to use the University as a step towards power
against me and the general will of the people who voted _me_, not
Perón was, in a sense, a victim of his own complex game. Against the
military dictatorship, and in a sense as an _ersatz_ for the popular
upheavals of the late 60s and early 70s (he never came to full
understanding of their meaning, or perhaps he preferred not to
understand it completely) he had fostered somehow the armed struggle.
This was all the easier because armed struggle had in a sense roots
of its own in Argentina, stemming from the Peronist "resistencia"
after 1955. Others, in a more "classical" manner of the 60s and 70s,
were from "Cubanist" or "Foquist" groups with traditional Socialist
or Communist background, and we cannot forget the incidence of
"Foquism" on some Peronists of the Resistence -not few of who, BTW,
had a right-wing "nationalist" (in the strict Argentinean sense of
nationalism without masses) origin such as Rodolfo Walsh or Masetti
and got suddenly "radicalized" (in the general sense of the word) by
the experience of the Cuban revolution.
But of course this was predicated on the Peronists only. Perón never
had any command of the ERP, nor did in fact the ERP consider him any
better than any "military" or "bourgeois" for any practical effect.
Thus the ERP did not stop striking after a Peronist (Cámpora) was
elected for Presidency, thus jeopardizing the very possibility that
Cámpora got to power. If Cámpora did, it was simply because the
bounds and rebounds of the very recent popular upheavals had turned
Arg politics too much to the "Left" for a new proscription of a
Peronist to take place without setting the country ablaze.
As to the Peronist armed groups, these were called by Perón "special
formations". This was a most meaningful name for anyone with
Clausewitzian formation, but these groups had scarcely read
Clausewiz, and most probably they didn't know of the German
theoretician of war. Not so Perón who, like all the officers of his
generation, had learnt his Clausewitz and his Von Der Goltz very
well. For Clausewitz, the "special formations" these are formations
of _temporary existence_, that the High Command disbands once the
emergency is over. The name was a backing AND a warning. But they
were by no means interested in disbanding, and thus the whole drama
began. They found themselves, all of the sudden, fighting against
Perón tried to keep the repression within the bounds of the
Constitution, and sent to Congress some laws which would have made
the struggle against the "guerrillas" a matter of Police and not of
the Army. However the opposition of many deputies of "Left" Peronist
origin (who have learnt a lot since those days, thank God) closed the
way to the changes he wanted to introduce to the legal framework of
This opposition was not really unfounded, because since 1955 the
Police had also become a monstruous machine of the oligarchic regime,
but it was politically wrong in the sense that this "guerrilla" (and
I strongly stress the already stressed inverted commas) _had_ to be
cut, or it would, as it eventually did, help in consolidating an anti-
popular and anti-democratic reaction _against Perón or his immediate
heirs_ while demobilising the masses that were the single serious
bulwark for the Peronist administration.
In fact, it is already over time to admit that what was at stake was
_not_ whether the "guerrilla" had to be dealt with and its actions
brought to an end (this was sheer political necessity, even -and
particularly- for a revolutionary regime), but whether it was the
gorilla and oligarchic leadership of the Army, or the leadership of
the Police (in the end, dependent on the President through the
Ministeries of Justice and Interior) who would reap the "glory" of
such a task. The first perspective was horrible, indeed, whatever our
"Leftists" of that -or our- time might think of the issue.
The "Left guerrillas" were completely blind in their crazed will of
power (Amílcar Santucho told me once "yes, we had too much will of
power in those days"); as to the "Peronist Left guerrillas" (not all
the "Peronist Left", by the way), they simply tried to dispute
Peronism to Perón himself, for example, by killing Rucci, the
Secretary General of the CGT that Perón relied on, a murder they
immediately spotted as a terrible political mistake and never assumed
as theirs, but which everyone knew and knows who was to blame for it.
For both, Perón was, of course, a "Fascist" in the exact way John
Obrien explains on Marxmail, which is only reasonable for an
Argentinean politician given
(i) the origins and history of our middle classes (which were the
organic substratum of the ideology of these groups), and
(ii) that in 1975 the final and subdued "grande sortie" of Britain in
the River Plate was still less than a decade away, and its
ideological grip was still strong in the mind of many middle-class
Argentineans, with lots of consequences too long to deal with here,
but for example with a neurotic rage against a mis- or ill- or not
understood loss of social and economic standing..
Caught between the sword and the wall, Peronism (not exactly Perón
himself, though in a sense -only in a sense, he was rapidly marching
towards death- not without some knowledge by Perón) reacted by
unleashing the Right wing in a way it had never done before. This is
more or less the alliance Popetroni depicts. I would not say,
however, that the members of that alliance dreamt of a "corporate
state a la Franco", which is in fact an eulogy not only to their
eventual progressiveness as compared to what they would have actually
generated if they had remained in power, but also implies that they
had the capacity to have any dreams, something that must be seriously
questioned. Many of them simply reacted to what they felt as a mad
b) Who led the "general strike" against the "weird alliance"?
Popetroni does not give us a clue. It is reasonable, because it was
not the "Left" but -the "union bureaucrats" that Popetroni lumps with
all the unholy elements in his picture above!
This is a fact worth repeating again and again: it was the "union
bureaucrats", led by that arch-bureaucrat Lorenzo Miguel of the metal
workers, who put an end to all the mess! This, of course, changes teh
meaning of Popetroni's "the military struck", because when one
realizes this fact of life, it becomes clear that they "struck"
(i) not because they wanted to unleash repression against the
"guerrillas" of the "Left", who were already defeated and were a
secondary target (though not for propaganda efforts, of course) but
(ii) because they realized that, even under a clueless and quite
conservative (when not overtly reactionary) leadership, Peronism was
still such a revolutionary movement that the economic programme of
imperialists and oligarchs could not be installed by means of the
"weird alliance" (as they attempted through Minister Rodrigo, who had
no Francoite dreams but was a very "modern" pro-imperialist who
advanced each and every step to be taken after 1976 by Martínez de
Hoz, and after 1989 by Cavallo).
Against such a move,
(c) the Peronist working class would rank behind its "bureaucratic"
leadership to make it impossible (as they did).
I don't want to unduly stress the historic responsiblities of the
"Left" and their "guerrilla warfare" in what happened on December
1975 and March 1976, but the fact is that if we had not had the
vicious climate created by the "guerrilla" struggle of the last
months of 1975, the momentous and breathtaking general strike of June
27, 1975 would have allowed the CGT leadership to do something else
than kicking the "weird alliance" in their asses (for example,
ensuring a safer and more "reasonable" Cabinet for Peronism that
would allow the country to arrive to the 1977 elections in relative
safety -and those elections were to be won by Peronism, again, and
this was _another_ reason for the coup).
Thus we had the coup against Isabel Perón, Perón's wife, who he had
put as Vice President on the Peronist ticket of September 1973. It
must be noted that everybody in the political frontstage (_except
for_ some (not all) Peronists and the Frente de Izquierda Popular led
by the then still revolutionary Jorge Abelardo Ramos) welcomed her
overthrow in one way or other (not few "Leftists", either "Peronists"
or not, clinging to the stupid idea that "the worse, the better").
When one elliminates these elements in the picture, what remains is
still another characteristic petty-bourgeois attempt at self-delusion
and confusion. It is ultimately a Radical attempt, in the Argentinean
sense: that of the now dying UCR, not a "bourgeois" party (and
unfortunately so: one of our tragedies has been that Radicalism,
which _could_ have been the party of a bourgeoisie, opted to become
the "democratic petty bourgeois" wing of the oligarchic-imperialist
front), but a petty bourgeois formation harking back to the golden
years of the agroexporting Arcadia (1920s). In the early 70s it was
strong enough to offer some "popular" face to the oligarchic regime,
and indeed in every regime after 1955 (that of 1976 included) the
Radicals were a most important component. Incidentally, the fact that
many in the ERP had had some relation with Radicalism should not pass
unnoticed: Gorriarán Merlo, for instance, had been a clerical worker
of the Radical parliamentary group during the early 60s. The ERP was
the mad answer of young Radicals to the crashed illusions of their
parents, and in a sense the Montoneros were partly the same thing
towards their own Peronist forebearers.
Este correo lo ha enviado
Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
[No necesariamente es su autor]
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"La patria tiene que ser la dignidad arriba y el regocijo abajo".
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