The Partido Obrero (Tendencia) of Jorge Altamira supports the State of Emergency
by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 29 April 2020, www.thecommunists.net
The world is under the spell of a global counter-revolutionary offensive marked by a draconic lockdown policy and the suppression of democratic rights. Shattered by the Third Depression of the capitalist world economy  as well as the global wave of class struggles in late 2019, the ruling class has launched massive attacks against the worker and popular masses under the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Large sectors of the trade unions, popular organizations and the so-called left have capitulated to this offensive and support the lockdown policy. Shamefully this includes also a number of self-proclaimed “Trotskyist” organizations.
In this article we will not repeat our analysis which we have elaborated in our new book on the COVID-19 crisis as well as in many other documents.  We will rather focus on another example of such “Trotskyists” who have become social-bonapartists, i.e. “socialists” who support the current bourgeois policy of expanding the bonapartist state apparatus.
We talk about the Partido Obrero (Tendencia) in Argentina, an organization which split last year from the Partido Obrero and which is led by Marcelo Ramal and PO’s historical leader Jorge Altamira.  Like many countries all over the world, Argentina currently faces a lockdown imposed by the bourgeois government of President Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. In order to enforce this lockdown, the government has mobilized massive numbers of police and military controlling the streets. The result has been many arrests and the suppression of any public assemblies and demonstrations. Already in the first week since the beginning of the state of emergency more than 6.100 people were arrested. 
“Apply state coercion consistently”
The official declaration of the PO(T) leadership on the state of emergency contains some, let us put it in diplomatic terms, extraordinary statements.  The real essence of the PO(T) statement is the following. After criticizing the government for not closing down consistently the economy, not paying wages, etc., the PO(T) concludes: "We must demand that they (the government, Ed.) do not abolish the state coercion but apply it consistently." 
The statement also refers to the people’s “lack of discipline” which, according to the PO(T) leadership, would justify the brutal intervention of the police and army: "The necessity to apply this coercion is seen in the numerous cases of violation of the restriction of public presence by many people." 
Likewise the PO(T) leadership denounces those revolutionaries who call for driving off the police and the army. “The Kirchnerists and Macrists say: ‘We are with the gendarmerie, the police and the army.’ Left-wing infantilism says: out with all of them.” 
Of course, these messages are coated with wordy denunciations of capitalism, criticism of bourgeois governments and promises what a future workers government would do. All this is nothing but hot air which only serves as cover of the social-bonapartist essence of the PO(T) statement.
What does it mean, what can it mean to demand “consistent state coercion”?! What does it mean, what can it mean to defend the “necessity to apply this coercion” against the people?! What does it mean, what can it mean to denounce the call to kick the police and army out as “left-wing infantilism”?! It can only mean that the Altamira and the PO(T) leadership fully supports the actions of police and army to enforce the state of emergency with all the consequential repression – in fact they even demand more, “consistent” repression! If can only mean that Altamira and the PO(T) leadership defends the presence of the police and army on the streets!
Such a position is politically criminal in the extreme! Socialists, not to speak about Trotskyists, can never support the state of emergency of a capitalist government! This is even more the case in a country like Argentina which has a long and painful history of military dictatorship with tens of thousands people killed and many more disappeared!
However, such a social-bonapartist capitulation does not come as a surprise. As the RCIT has shown somewhere else, the whole current of the Partido Obrero – both the majority as well as the minority – has a shameful history of opportunist adaption to Stalinism and Chinese and Russian imperialism.  They claim that China and Russia still have not become capitalist states and, hence, call to support them against the Western Great Powers.  Consequently, they hope to build a new International together with Stalinists like the Russia OKP. Such a social-imperialist policy is covered by “ultra-radical” rhetoric about the imminent collapse of capitalism – since more than 20 years!  In short, the PO(T) is a telling example that social-bonapartism and social-imperialism are twins.
Correct criticism but …
We are not the first who denounce the shameful capitulation of Altamira and the PO(T) leadership to social-bonapartism. Others, like the comrades from the PTS/FT, the PO and the FLTI, have also criticised the PO(T) statement.  PTS and PO are major components of the electoral alliance FIT(U) which has won some deputies in national and regional parliaments in recent years. 
However, we want to use this opportunity to draw the attention of the comrades in FIT(U) to the following problem. While they correctly denounce the outrageous PO(T) statement, they themselves run into danger of making concessions to social-bonapartrism. In the recently published May Day statement of FIT(U), the comrades correctly call for the defence of democratic rights. But at the same time the statement lacks an unambiguous denunciation of the lockdown as well as a call for mass mobilizations to defeat the current state of emergency. 
The FIT(U) statement even contains a potential dangerous formulation: “For a quarantine without layoffs, suspensions and salary cuts.”  This can be interpreted as a call to maintain the present lockdown. True the comrades also demand to have such a lockdown without wage cuts, sacking, etc. But, as the RCIT has emphasized repeatedly, this is a utopian demand. As long as the workers are forced to stay at home, they have no rights and no possibilities for public assemblies and demonstrations. But the working class can only fight, can only put pressure on governments and the bosses, if it has such democratic rights. How shall it enforce any demand if it forced to stay at home?! By launching an online petition?! This will hardly impress the ruling class!
Probably, the parties in FIT(U) currently have not sufficient strength to enforce such a overthrow of the state-bonapartist regime. But our criticism is not that they comrades are not already strong enough. The problem is rather that they don’t clearly denounce the lockdown, that they don’t explain to the workers and oppressed that it necessary to prepare and to organize for such a struggle to bring down the regime, that they don’t explain that the pandemic must not be an argument to halt the mass struggle.
We hope that the comrades in the FIT(U) parties will correct this major mistake. This is all the more urgent since it is obvious that the government in Argentina, like those in many other countries in the world, will continue to utilize the COVID-19 pandemic (or another pandemic) in the future as a cover to suppress democratic rights. If socialists accept the logic in principle, i.e. a lockdown and the suppression of democratic rights is justified in the case of a pandemic, they are disarmed in the struggle against the capitalist government. In such a case they would adapt to social-bonapartism.
 See on this e.g. chapter I of the book by Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/; Michael Pröbsting: No, the Corona Virus is not the Main Cause of the Global Economic Slump! Bourgeois Media Officially Recognize the Beginning of another Great Recession, 3 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/corona-virus-is-not-the-main-cause-of-global-economic-slump/; Michael Pröbsting: Another Great Recession of the Capitalist World Economy Has Begun. The economic crisis is an important factor in the current dramatic shift in the world situation, 19 October 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/another-great-recession-of-the-capitalist-world-economy-has-begun/; see also Michael Pröbsting: The Next Looming Great Recession. Observations on the Latest Stock Market Slump and the Structural Crisis of the Capitalist World Economy, 12 October 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-next-looming-great-recession/
 Michael Pröbsting: The COVID-19 Global Counterrevolution: What It Is and How to Fight It. A Marxist analysis and strategy for the revolutionary struggle, April 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-covid-19-global-counterrevolution/; see also the RCIT Manifesto: COVID-19: A Cover for a Major Global Counterrevolutionary Offensive. We are at a turning point in the world situation as the ruling classes provoke a war-like atmosphere in order to legitimize the build-up of chauvinist state-bonapartist regimes, 21 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/covid-19-a-cover-for-a-major-global-counterrevolutionary-offensive/. The RCIT has published several dozen documents on the COVID-19 crisis which are all collected at a special sub-page in our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-2019-corona-virus/
 On our assessment of this split see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Some Thoughts on the Split in the Argentinean “Partido Obrero“, 10 July 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/split-in-argentinean-partido-obrero/
 RCIT: Argentina: No to Repression and Militarization under the Cover of COVID-19! Nearly 6,200 people arrested since the government imposed a state of emergency, 27 March 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/latin-america/argentina-no-to-repression-and-militarization-under-the-cover-of-covid-19/
 Un gran equívoco político. Acerca de la izquierda y la pandemia política, Mesa Ejecutiva PO (T), 03/04/2020, https://politicaobrera.com/debate/820-un-gran-equivoco-politico
 The translation is ours. Here is the original formulation in Spanish: “Debemos exigirles, no que anulen la coerción estatal, sino que la apliquen en forma consecuente.“
 The translation is ours. Here is the original formulation in Spanish: “La necesidad de aplicar esa coerción se ve en los casos numerosos de violación de la restricción de la circulación pública por parte de mucha gente.”
 The translation is ours. Here is the original formulation in Spanish: “Los kirchneristas y macristas dicen: “vamos con la gendarmería, la policía y el ejército”. El infantilismo de izquierda dice: fuera todos ellos.”
 See on this Michael Pröbsting: Russia and China: Neither Capitalist nor Great Powers? A Reply to the PO/CRFI and their Revisionist Whitewashing of Chinese and Russian imperialism, 28 November 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/russia-and-china-neither-capitalist-nor-great-powers-reply-to-po-crfi/
 On the RCIT’s analysis of the Great Power rivalry and China’s and Russia’s rise as emerging imperialist powers see the literature mentioned in the special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/. In particular we refer to the book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, January 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/. See also the numerous RCIT’s documents on the Global Trade War which have been collected at a special sub-page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/collection-of-articles-on-the-global-trade-war/
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Catastrophic Failure of the Theory of “Catastrophism”. On the Marxist Theory of Capitalist Breakdown and its Misinterpretation by the Partido Obrero (Argentina) and its “Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International”, RCIT Pamphlet, May 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-catastrophic-failure-of-the-theory-of-catastrophism/
 See e.g. Christian Castillo: Coronavirus y coerción estatal: el derrape de Altamira, 9.4.2020, http://www.laizquierdadiario.com/Coronavirus-y-coercion-estatal-el-derrape-de-Altamira; Juan García: Altamira, apología de la militarización y apoyo a la “unidad nacional”, 6.4.2020, https://prensaobrera.com/politicas/68760-altamira-apologia-de-la-militarizacion-y-apoyo-a-la-unidad-nacional; Paula Medrano and Julián Juárez: Un nuevo derrape de Altamira: ¿Frente único y militar con las fuerzas armadas genocidas contra el coronavirus? 22.4.2020, http://flti-ci.org/argentina/2020/abril/polemica-altam-ffaa-22abril2020.html
 For a critical discussion of the politics of PTS/FT and PO see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The New Global Wave of Class Struggles and the Slogan of the Constituent Assembly. How to apply a crucial revolutionary democratic tactic (and how not) – a critique of the opportunist deviations of the Argentine-based PTS/FT and PO/CRFI, 26 November 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/new-global-wave-of-class-struggles-and-slogan-of-constituent-assembly/
 Declaración del FIT-U por el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores, 24.4.2020, http://www.izquierdasocialista.org.ar/2020/index.php/blog/elsocialista/item/17452-declaracion-del-fit-u-por-el-dia-internacional-de-los-trabajadores
 The translation is ours. Here is the original formulation in Spanish: “Por una cuarentena sin despidos, suspensiones y rebajas salariales.“