For a United Front of all Workers and Popular Organizations against the New Austerity Offensive and the Macri Administration! For a Break with the Policy of Class Collaboration of Kirchnerism! For an Independent Mass Workers’ Party!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 19.12.2015, www.thecommunists.net
1. The recent electoral victory of Mauricio Macri of the right-wing Cambiemos alliance in the presidential elections reflects both the bankruptcy of the class-collaborationist “progressive” model of Kirchnerism as well as the determination of the capitalists to launch fierce attacks against the working class and the poor. The key tasks for revolutionaries now are to: (a) arm the workers’ vanguard with the necessary lessons of the failure of Peronist populism, apolitical syndicalism, and centrist opportunism; (b) mobilize for a broad united front against Macri’s looming austerity offensive; and (c) organize the workers’ vanguard for the struggle for an independent mass workers’ party based on a revolutionary program.
2. The victory of Macri – a right-wing, neo-liberal and pro-US politician – is part of a general turn in Latin America. During the past decade, the continent has been dominated by bourgeois “progressive” and populist government like Rousseff in Brazil, Chavez / Maduro in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, and Kirchner in Argentina. Against the backdrop of popular mass mobilizations, an economic upswing caused by rising commodity prices for raw materials exports, as well as the rise of China as a new great power rivaling US imperialism – which traditionally dominated Latin America – these governments were able to make some concessions to the working class and poor and came into limited conflicts with US imperialism and the IMF. However, the collapse of the prices of raw materials, the economic downturn in imperialist China, and the accelerating crisis of the capitalist world economy have reduced the room for maneuvering for these “progressive” bourgeois governments and they have begun launching austerity attacks against the popular masses. In short, Kirchnerism, Bolivarism and Castro-Chavism have become exhausted models of bourgeois rule. The ruling class is now turning to political forces which can ensure massive attacks on the working class and popular masses thereby securing the rate of profit in times of economic downturn. In addition, the offensive of such right-wing forces also expresses the desire of US imperialism to regain its hegemony over the continent.
3. Marci’s victory was relatively close. Coming only in second place in the first round with 34.15%, he received 51.34% of the votes in the second round as opposed to 48.66% for Daniel Scioli, the official candidate of Kirchner’s “Frente para la Victoria“ (“Front for Victory” – the “left-wing” faction of the Peronist Partido Justicialista). Sergio Massa, a candidate from another Peronist faction came in third with 21.39% of the votes in the first round. The candidates of the left-wing Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (FIT, Workers’ Left Front) received 3.23% of the votes. However Marci’s presidency will stand on shaky grounds since Kirchner’s FpV holds the majority of seats both in the Congress as well as the Senate.
4. In the first days of his government, Macri has already shown his true face. He devalued the peso, causing massive inflation which is hitting hardest the workers and poor (prices are expected to rise by 5% both in December and January). He is seeking closer collaboration with US imperialism and wants to exclude Venezuela from MERCOSUR. He refuses to convoke the parliament and is ruling via decree examples of which are: his appointment of new judges to the Supreme Court; his giving of exemptions to agrarian capitalists from paying taxes; and his placing of loyal lackeys at the head of regulatory bodies for the media and telecommunications. In short, Macri has already proven in the first days of his regime that he is a right-wing and anti-democratic ruler – an arch-enemy of the working class.
5. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) contends that revolutionaries in Argentina should have given critical support to the FIT in the first round of the presidential elections. FIT is an electoral alliance basically consisting basically of the Partido Obrero (internationally: CRFI), Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (FT-CI), and the Izquierda Socialista (UIT-CI). Despite the limited, centrist character of its program and policy, the FIT represents important sectors of the workers’ vanguard fighting for class independence and a militant struggle against the bourgeois offensive. In the second round of the elections, revolutionaries should have cast a blank vote, refusing to give support to either Macri or Scioli, since both candidates represented different factions of the ruling class.
6. Various supporters of left-reformist Castro-Chavism are shedding tears following the end of 12 consecutive years of Kirchner governments (Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was president of Argentina from 2007 to 2015, while her husband Néstor ruled for four years before). However, these mourners fail to recognize that it was Kirchner herself who started implementing an austerity policy, and she herself supported the center-right candidate Scioli. More importantly, by its very nature Peronist populism is a popular-front which neutralizes the working class’s independent struggle against all factions of the bourgeoisie and hence is incapable of waging a consistent fight for the interests of workers and popular rights. The strategic task – in Argentina as well as in many other countries – is to break the working class and its mass organizations away from the control of such “progressive” bourgeois populist forces and to rally them behind an authentic workers’ party fighting for a program of socialist revolution.
7. In the current situation Kirchnerism is divided. Some sectors suggest collaboration with the new Macri administration. However, other important sectors of the Kirchnerist bureaucracy put up some limited resistance by organizing mass demonstrations, several of which have been held in the past few days. These latter sectors are doing so because they want to reach a deal with Macri and “wait it out” for the next elections in four years. They offer to stop the protests and to ensure the “governability of the country” in exchange for legal impunity for the Kirchnerist leaders. However, this bureaucratic motivation of the Kirchernist leadership must not confuse revolutionaries into ignoring the objective, important class conflict which is behind the current confrontation between the Kirchernists and the Macri administration: the latter represents the anti-democratic and aggressive austerity offensive of the bourgeoisie, while the former represent a bourgeois-populist sector which strongly rests on workers and popular mass support. In such a conflict revolutionaries must form a united front bloc with those Kirchnerist sectors which are prepared to resist in the streets and the workplaces. Such a bloc must be focused on practical actions and must not be allowed to limit the independent propaganda and agitation of revolutionaries.
8. The struggle for working class independence is particularly crucial in Argentina given the traditional dominance of Peronism and its different respective factions in the trade unions and other popular organizations. Hence, the struggle for political working class independence includes the organization of the rank and file workers against the Peronist union bureaucracy led by figures like Moyano, Caló, and Barrionuevo, who regularly run their union federations with extreme authoritarianism and corruption, and thereby liberate the unions from this parasitic caste. The application of the united front tactic towards trade unions and other workers’ and popular mass organizations – mobilizing and organizing ordinary members; placing demands on leaders; warning the workers against having any illusions in the bureaucratic leadership – is a fundamental element in achieving the strategic goal of breaking the working class away from Peronism. Likewise, the united front tactic is crucial in winning the broad masses of poor sectors of the working class over to the unions and other mass organizations in order to weaken and finally break the aristocratic and bureaucratic hegemony in them. Naturally, in the present situation it is important to also apply the united front tactic (as the comrades of the TPR rightly argue) to the workers and popular mass organizations led by Kirchnerist and Chavist forces.
9. Revolutionaries should sharply denounce bureaucrats like Moyano and Barrionuevo who opportunistically supported Macri in the elections. However, the support of other union leaders from the official CGT or sectors of the CTA for the Kirchnerist candidate was no better. It reflects the central problem of Peronism and syndicalism respectively – not very different from the political collaboration of the British labour movement with the Liberals during the late 19th century – which reduces the defense of workers exclusively to the economic level and openly abandons the political sphere to the whims of bourgeois forces. Naturally, bureaucrats’ support for the bourgeois establishment goes hand in hand with their ravenous desire to get access to posts in the state apparatus, public subsidies, and social security funds.
10. One of the strategic tasks for revolutionaries in Argentina – as has been the case in many other countries during the history of the proletarian class struggle – is to break the workers’ movement’s amalgamation with sectors of the bourgeoisie. This task includes calling for an end to all forms of collaboration between the unions and other mass organizations of the workers and oppressed on one side with the bourgeois state and the capitalists on the other. It also includes calling the unions and other mass organizations to break with the Peronist and other bourgeois parties and to build an independent Workers’ Party. Marxists should fight for a revolutionary program of action as the basis for such a new Workers’ Party without making its adoption a pre-condition for their membership. This is a necessary application of the united front tactic. In our opinion socialists inside the FIT should fight for such a reorientation.
11. Thus we are of the opinion that left-wing groups who believe it is sufficient to call workers to support a small electoral alliance like FIT are wrong. Their error has been proven by their very failure to increase their number of the votes despite the defeat of the Kirchnerists. In the legislative elections of 2013, FIT garnered one million votes, while in the recent presidential elections they received only 812,000 votes. In short, presenting a left-wing electoral alternative – leaving aside the programmatic deficiencies of the FIT program (like a reformist version of the workers’ government slogan) – is insufficient to drive a wedge between the workers and Kirchnerism. Rather, it is vital that the FIT apply the united front tactic to workers’ and popular mass organizations still under the Peronist bureaucracy’s control (or that of the CTA), as well as deliver instructive warnings about the treacherous role of these leaderships.
12. We also believe that those sectors of FIT who consider the electoral victory of Macri as a “process of popular opposition to the government” are completely wrong. Leaving aside the fact that most class-conscious workers voted against Macri, it is dangerous to underestimate the reactionary consequences of his victory. The task now is not to lull oneself into “fatalistic optimism” (Trotsky) that the popular vote for Macri represents an “objective” step forward in the process of breaking the working class away from Peronism. Such idiocy is not only analytically wrong, but is also liable to lead to dangerous sectarian and opportunistic tactical conclusions.
13. At the same time we reject the claims of those sectors of Kirchnerism who have now retreated into a pessimistic and defeatist stand. There is no doubt that the austerity offensive of the new Macri administration will provoke mass class struggles which may even lead to the pre-revolutionary situations.
14. We repeat that the urgent task now for revolutionaries in Argentina is to prepare the workers’ vanguard – both inside and outside the FIT – for the massive class battles ahead. They should call upon all organizations of the workers and popular movement to form a mass united front of struggle against the new Macri administration and its looming austerity offensive. Revolutionaries should call for a program of building action committees in the workplaces, schools and neighborhoods in order to unite the broad masses of poor sectors of the working class together with workers organized in the unions. Revolutionaries should also call for a national congress of delegates of such action committees and the unions and other workers’ and popular mass organizations. It is also crucial that they found self-defense units to defend workers’ and popular actions against the police and right-wing thugs. The goal should be to organize mass demonstrations and strikes, culminating with a political general strike. Revolutionaries should combine such a perspective with the struggle for an authentic workers’ and popular government based on mass action councils and militias.
15. Most importantly revolutionaries in Argentina should unite on the basis of agreement on the central strategic and tactical tasks of the class struggle in the country (in particular in the present situation which demands the necessary struggle against the Macri administration) as well as an international program which includes the struggle against both Western and Eastern imperialism, against all forms of popular-frontism (like Kirchnerism, Castro-Chavism, etc.), for solidarity with the Arab Revolution, the struggle for permanent revolution, and for working class power. The RCIT calls upon revolutionaries around the world to join us in the struggle for a new world party of socialist revolution!
International Secretariat of the RCIT