[Marxism] The "weird alliance" and the "Left"

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Wed Dec 27 13:43:58 MST 2006


Popetroni: 

[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 
struck."

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 
Yrigoyen)

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 
do. 

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 
vote repellers"). 

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 
_you_"

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 himself!

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 
police action. 

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 
dog's bite.

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".
Aparicio Saravia
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