[Marxism] Change for the worse in Argentina

Néstor Gorojovsky nmgoro at gmail.com
Thu Sep 10 08:40:43 MDT 2009

If the Wash Post sheds tears for our "old manners" husbandry, then there
must be something good with its change.

Gauchos waned long ago. Not even as a metaphor this should be left

The Gauchos are not waning today. They disappeared during the last, and most
mortiferous, chapter of our civil wars (which were of course a social war
also), between 1860 and 1880. In those years they were killed and murdered
by the thousands (one of our Presidents wrote that the single valuable thing
with the gauchos was their blood, and this only if it was used to fertilize
the land). After 1880 and up to 1900/1910, some of the gauchos were
incorporated to the extensive and rentistic system of husbandry created by
the Arg oligarchy in the Pampa region (which, yes, is larger than Texas).
They became peones in large estancias (ranches). Others became peones of the
foreign (usually Italian) petty landowners that spotted some areas in the
Pampa region and who became the nucleus of what was to be known up to this
day as "pampa gringa", where "gringo" means Italian. Most of the remaining
gauchos, however, remained in joblessness and distress, and would have their
time only when, during the industrialization surge of the 30s, a new working
class would emerge in some towns, a working class that fused both
Argentinean original Creoles and foreign workers (and their respective
traditions) in what eventually became the working class that in 1945 created


One of the means by which the oligarchy has been defending the extensive
agrarian system was to highlight the "ecological sense" of a system where
agriculture was ancillary to husbandry, thus fertilizing the land
"naturally" between crops by putting cattle in cropland every some years.
This is absolute nonsense. The system is idiotically unproductive. In fact,
we may not like feed lots (and I don´t) or soybeans (particularly GM
soybeans as are used in Arg today), but capitalist intensification of
agriculture in Argentina is, short of a socialist revolution, a necessity
and a progressive thing. Argentina is the only country in the world (sorry,
Uruguay too) where good cropland is still used to rear cattle. This is
changing. Under imperialist pressure, and with the strong oligarchy at the
helm (they are dreaming of an agreement between them and China based on
soybeans, just as they reached such an agreement with Britain based on meat
in the past), the global conditions of food trade have shifted the interests
of the oligarchy. This shift is putting the whole system of "ecologically
sound" agrarian production inherited from the worst years of Argentinean
subjection to Britain into question.

I don´t think one should shed a single tear for a system that was antisocial
from its beginning. Of course, one should think of a different alternative
to feed lots and GM soybean. But it is absurd to cry for a dead corpse that
has been taking my whole country by the throat for at least 75 years...

2009/9/10 Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>

> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/09/AR2009090903211.html
> Day of the Gaucho Waning in Argentina
> Cattle Being Moved Off Plains and Into U.S.-Style Feedlots
> By Juan Forero
> Washington Post Foreign Service
> Thursday, September 10, 2009
> MAGDALENA, Argentina -- Cattle once ruled the seemingly endless
> grasslands here, delivering decades of prosperity for Argentina and
> producing a brand familiar to the world -- natural, grass-fed beef.
> But a quiet revolution has arrived on the famously fertile pampa, a
> swath of plains bigger than Texas.
> Instead of roaming freely and eating to their hearts' content, a growing
> number of Argentine cattle are spending a third of their lives in
> U.S.-style feedlots. There, crammed in muddy corrals, they are pumped
> with antibiotics and fed mounds of protein-rich grain, which fattens
> them up fast but hardly conjures up the romantic image of the Argentine
> cowboy, the iconic gaucho, lassoing cattle on the high plains.
> It is an image ranch hand Tomás Leclercq cherishes. The strapping,
> ruddy-faced 58-year-old has been working with cattle since boyhood. Like
> any Argentine, Leclercq knows his beef -- he likes it grilled on a spit,
> a tad red, tender as butter. The reason Argentina's meat is so lean and
> juicy, he contends, is that cattle here have traditionally rambled
> across miles of plains, chomping grass until winding up as succulent
> steaks.
> "There's a big difference between

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