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The New International, August 1941


Pedro M. Maciel

The Situation in Argentina


From New International, Vol. VII No. 7 (Whole No. 56), August 1941, pp. 192.
Translated by J. Curtis.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE INTERDEPENDENCE of the capitalist nations for the purpose of developing their mercantile economy is nowhere so evident as in those colonial or semi-colonial countries which are forced under the whip of capitalist imperialism by the exigencies of the world market.

The crisis in the productive system, determined by the growing conflict between the productive forces and the relations of production must necessarily be reflected in countries like those of Latin America where the leading products – whether meat, copper, tin, saltpeter, rubber or oil – are absorbed mainly by those highly developed industrial nations which put the seal of their economic control on all spheres of their political and social activity.

The native bourgeoisie, content to grow fat on their common cause with the dominating nations, combining simply to enjoy the temporary use of their part of the spoils of native exploitation, console themselves in their respective countries with the illusion of political domination – an illusion which is becoming more and more chimerical in the light of their economic subordination.

To be sure, inside this general picture there is no lack of sections of the bourgeoisie which fear falling into complete vassalage and which push or initiate pseudo-”national liberation” movements, movements which in the light of the above situation and when submitted to the microscope of Marxist analysis appear makeshift and in no way conducive of the end desired.

The truth is that for this section of the bourgeoisie seriously to guide the way toward this “national liberation” would imply dangerous incursions into the domain of private property (breaking up large estates, expropriation of certain industries – shipping, railroads, etc.). This was demonstrated many years ago in Henry George’s Utopian single tax theory, which in the long run would be equivalent to expropriation. The bourgeoisie was born and developed under the dogma of the sanctity and inviolability of private property and never – today less than ever before – will it permit nor can it permit itself to sin against that which gave it its reason for existing as the ruling class.

Nevertheless, this Utopia of “national liberation” (and it is truly Utopian) becomes strengthened and more palatable as an aspiration amidst market restrictions and the consequent economic repression.

Naturally, adhering to these sections of the bourgeoisie as the standard-bearers of this pseudo-liberationist movement, the participating shock troops are the small manufacturers, small shop keepers half ruined by the crisis, proprietors suffering under the taxes and that entire group of disoriented intellectuals and professionals seeking some way out of this dramatic impasse.

And right here is the danger of the “national liberationist” tendency. All these heterogeneous and conglomerate elements are seeking the support of the proletariat in order to realize their hopes. We know from history and sad experience that these social groups are moved by interests antagonistic to those of the proletariat. Particularly in the social struggle, in spite of the pink demagogy of their program, they act “not because they are revolutionists but because they are conservatives; not because they wish the abolition of private property, but its perpetuation” (Karl Marx).

The great danger is in the fact that they try to make the proletariat play a leading rôle in this tendency and the price they demand is that the propletariat abandon its own political physiognomy as an independent class with its specific interests and a specific historical independent goal which characterizes it as the only progressive class in society. And all this to be sacrificed to the homage and greater glory and profit of the national bourgeoisie.

This tendency takes organic form in the Alianza National Libertadora in Brazil, APRA in Peru, FORJA in Argentina, Partido National Revolutionario in Mexico, Avanzar, Agrupacion Democrática-Social in Uruguay, etc.

Take the program of any one of these groups and you see that all their grandiloquent postulates can be reduced to a common denominator: elimination of foreign competition by means of customs tariffs, protectionism and monopoly prices, greater exploitation of the internal market, etc. Thus the advocates of this program want the proletariat to participate actively in its realization and then play the role of the turkey at the wedding feast.

In its general outlines the social and political situation in Argentina is the same except for certain characteristics of its own which it would be well to point out. The national bourgeoisie argues amongst itself in the midst of veritable political and institutional chaos. Its two traditional parties – the Conservatives and the Radicals – are in the process of open organic disintegration. The leaders of the Socialist Party, to their shame, have fallen into opportunistic social-patriotism even more base and repugnant than in the World War of 1914. These gentlemen today openly and without subterfuge support the participation of Argentina in the present imperialist contest.

Confusion is further spread by the Stalinists. One example was the last May 1st demonstration where in the midst of a profusion of national banners and national-socialist slogans the leaders and the led, with moving patriotism, intoned “our national anthem.” ... Orientación, official organ of the CP, dedicates a special number in homage of the revolution ... of May 1810! And the top bureaucracy of the Confederación General de Trabajo constitutes the tail to the train of the capitulators, muddleheads and renegades.

In the midst of this nauseous swamp and as a means of combatting the dangers from the institutional and political crisis which the Argentine bourgeoisie is debating and the tremendous confusion and lack of directives from the pseudo-working class parties, there has appeared a manifesto addressed to the proletariat of the country by the first national Conference of Independent Unions and the remainder of the Argentine Syndicalist Union constituted into the CORS (Workers Commission on Trade Union Relations). This document expressing the sentiments of thousands of trade union workers constitutes a declaration of principles as a program for independent class action and reveals that the Argentine proletariat, represented by its most energetic and class conscious elements, is resolved to revive itself and engage in the struggle against the consequences of the capitalist crisis.

The Argentine, June 1941

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