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(en) Aufheben #11 "Picket and Pot-Banger Together: Class Re-Composition in Argentina?" I (1/4)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 28 Feb 2003 13:54:08 +0100 (CET)


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A Nation Implodes?
Following years of 'neo-liberal' restructuring in
Argentina, and with thousands of private and state
workers not having been paid in the last half of 2001,
by the end of that year the social situation was
deteriorating fast. The collapse of a heavily indebted
economy threatened ever wider social sectors with
the loss of their livelihoods. This situation was not
going uncontested, however. There were twelve
general strikes in 2001 alone. On just one day in
August of that year, a huge piquetero action involved
over 100,000 people and blocked 300 roads.

On the 17th of December the government of De La
Rúa announced further cuts. The state budget was to
take a further 20% reduction. This meant more cuts
in services, wages and pensions. Unemployment
already stood at 20% and the corralito (banking
restrictions) had been put in place on December 3rd
to prevent people withdrawing their savings. A
generalized insurrection gripped the country. And on
the 19th, huge sections of Argentinian society
mobilised not only against De La Rúa but against the
whole Argentinian political class. On the 15th,
organised lootings spread through Argentina?s
provincial cities; on the 16th and 17th they hit
Buenos Aires, where thousands attacked
supermarkets, warehouses and shops, as well as
official buildings. In Quilmes, in greater Buenos
Aires, 2000 people besieged a supermarket and
refused to leave until they were given 3000
twenty-kilo bags of food. The movement spread
spontaneously. Many banks in the heart of Buenos
Aires were burned on the 19th.

De La Rúa denounced this ?anarchy? and instituted a
state of emergency. This threat of state repression, a
very tangible threat to Argentinians with their
memories of the terror of the dictatorship, instead of
demobilising people became the spark for an even
wider mobilisation. More than a million people filled
the centre of Buenos Aires and headed for the Casa
Rosada, the presidential palace in the Plaza de Mayo.
There were also hundreds of thousands on the streets
of most of the other cities: Córdoba, La Plata,
Rosario. The impoverished middle classes came out
into the streets, in a mass cacerolazo, a symbolic
protest involving the beating of pots and pans. At
exactly the moment when the state attempted to
intimidate and create division, with a call to order
against the looters, people filled the streets chanting
?the state of emergency - they can stick it up their
arse?. This crucial moment became effectively an
endorsement of the insurgency of the previous days.
More than 30 people died on the 18th and 19th, shot
by shopkeepers and cops at lootings around the
country, and in the streets around the Plaza De Mayo
in Buenos Aires during riots; but the ?party of order?
was decisively pushed back. The massive defiance of
the state of emergency appeared to lay to rest the
ghost of fear and intimidation from the years of the
dictatorship; the phrase ?No te metes? (?Don?t get
involved?) was no longer heard. All the main
protagonists of this story were involved on the 19th.
There were the unemployed, who participated in both
the piquetes and the lootings all over the country.
The ?middle classes? were also there; in the following
few days, they would set up popular assemblies in
their neighbourhoods. Prefiguring this, people met
and discussed on street corners, where many stayed
until late into the night, lighting fires in the middle of
the roads at the intersections of wide avenues -
reminiscent of piquetero tactics of the last few years.
The workers from the Brukman factory, occupied on
the 18th, were there too. 

As the 19th turned into the 20th, the cacerolazo
protest escalated into open confrontation with the
state and there was massive street-fighting in the
centre of Buenos Aires. At the Obelisk, in the centre
of Buenos Aires, hundreds engaged in running
street-battles with police - including the motoqueros,
the motorbike couriers, who gave aid to the fighters
from the back of their bikes, charging the police,
rescuing those overcome by tear-gas and bringing
loads of stones for others fighting. People celebrated,
as De la Rúa fled the Casa Rosada by helicopter, with
music, champagne and bonbons looted from nearby
shops. The banks burned in the centre of Buenos
Aires on the 19th and 20th, an expression of anger at
the corralito; the bank freezes affected not only the
middle classes but also many workers with small
savings and those who depended on cash by working
in the black economy. The demos, riots and lootings
took place throughout Buenos Aires province and in
more than 12 cities around the country. Barricades
were erected in some areas of the capital and massive
riots ensued. Many joined the weekly vigil of the
mothers of the disappeared in the Plaza de Mayo;
some tried to storm the Casa Rosada; the Ministry of
the Economy was set alight; and people besieged the
home of the hated minister of finance, Cavallo. In
Cordoba, the second city, site of Argentina?s
declining car industry, the breakdown of negotiations
over the payment of wages between municipal
workers and the council led to an occupation of the
council offices, where a popular assembly was held.
Thrown out by the police, they tried to burn the
building down and build barricades in the street,
helped by workers from various factories that had just
gone on strike. As in Buenos Aires, lootings occured
involving different sectors of workers and the
unemployed. A new slogan against the political class
resounded in the streets all over the country, one
taken up and much-debated ever since: ?Que se
vayan todos? (Out with them all). 

The new mood appeared to be summed up in a
statement by one of the piqueteros involved in the
MTD Solano (Movement of Unemployed Workers:
?We heard rumours of deaths [from repression] but
we knew we were participating in something
historical and you could feel the solidarity there. We
weren?t piqueteros or middle class; we all felt the
sensation of being ?one??. But this provokes the
question: What was the nature of this feeling of
?being one?? A problematic cross-class solidarity in
which the proletariat were in danger of losing sight of
their class needs by joining with other classes
affected by the Argentinian crisis? The present
article seeks to answer this fundamental question of
the composition - or re-composition - of the
movements which have been threatening the social
order in Argentina over the last 12 months. 

In order to gain an understanding of the nature of the
current struggles, we need first to place them in their
historical context, beginning with Argentina?s
?golden era?, when the economy revolved around the
agro-export business. The rise of Peronism heralded a
new ?settlement? with the working class which helps
explain some of the peculiarities of the present-day
struggles. In this context, we trace the origins and
outline the trajectories of the different sections
making up today?s movement: the unemployed and
piqueteros, the situation in the factories, and the
impoverished middle classes and the neighbourhood
assemblies. While there appears to be a generalized
?rejection of politics?, there remains the question of
how all these aspects fit together - do the various
struggles in Argentina constitute a proletarian attack
against capital? Is the ?rejection of politics? a radical
advance for the movement, or an expression of
sectional fragmentation? We suggest that the
?neo-liberal? attack has resulted in a massification of
the class in which the middle classes are being
absorbed into the proletariat. This is happening in
specific conditions of a country on the periphery of
capital, where an immediately social mobilization
around the neighbourhood is possible. 

1. The contradictions of the 'golden era' of the
agro-export business 

As thousands of Argentinians loot stores for food and
goods while grain and meat is shipped away to the
western markets, the ?iron? laws of economy are
exposed as reified expressions of the class war.
Indeed, the whole history of modern Argentina, of its
changes in economic strategies and its various crises,
is the history of the Argentinian bourgeoisie?s battle
to reimpose, again and again, capital's control on a
fierce, riotous proletariat. 

In 1914, Argentina's economy was based on
agricultural exports, mainly of grain and beef. The
Argentinian bourgeoisie was composed of landowners,
who had control of large latifundias, and export
businessmen, and confronted a huge number of
discontented agricultural workers whose pay and
conditions were appalling but whose dispersion in a
large backward countryside was a great obstacle in
their attempts to organize. In the rural region of
Patagonia the meat-processing, service and transport
workers of the small towns of Rio Gallegos and Puerto
Deseado were already developing organizations based
on small federations. Patagonia's largest union
organization, the Sociedad Obrera de Rio Gallegos,
was centred in the small capital Rio Gallegos and had
been active since 1911. 

While Argentina's rural hinterland was left
underdeveloped, the agro-business trade had
necessitated the development of some subsidiary
industries and services, such as meat-processing
plants, cargo transport, railways, docks, triggering the
expansion of a few coastal cities and a growing urban
proletariat. The urban workers could organize more
easily and by 1914 they were already a combative
force and a challenge to the status quo. 

The urbanization of the coast, functional to the
export-oriented economy, involved the growth of an
urban middle class and petit bourgeoisie composed of
shop-keepers, petty businessmen, professionals, and
civil servants. The development of the urban middle
classes and the threat of the proletariat gradually
started undermining the power of the agrarian
oligarchy. By 1911, the conservative government had
to concede to the struggles of the middle classes and
the petit bourgeoisie and extended the electoral
franchize to include middle classes and to the bulk of
the working class with the law Sáenz Peña (1912). In
1916, Hipólito Yrigoyen, candidate for the Radical
Party, which represented the middle classes, was
elected President of Argentina. Yrigoyen's populist
government would combine repression with attempts
to recuperate urban and rural working class struggles.

The dominant agrarian and mercantile bourgeoisie
had little interest in promoting industrial production
or the development of the countryside. However, the
viability of Argentina's agrarian export economy
depended on the ability of the Argentinian exporters
to realize profits by selling on the world market. The
vulnerability of this economy, and of the class
settlement which it expressed, was exposed by the
First World War. Causing disruption to international
trade, the war stirred up in Argentina a wave of
strikes and insurrections which seriously threatened
the bourgeois order. This was the beginning of the end
of the era of an economy which was golden only to the
extent of the Argentinian agrarian oligarchy's
pockets. As we will see later, the world crisis of 1929
was to give it the final blow. 

Already before the First World War, Argentina's
extensive but backward agriculture had begun to
reach the limits of cultivable lands, and a change in
economic strategy would sooner or later appear
necessary to the bourgeoisie. However, with the First
World War, the demand for agricultural export goods
from the belligerent countries temporarily increased,
pushing prices up and rewarding the
agro-businessmen with huge profits. But, at the same
time, the war caused a shortage in the import of raw
material and capital goods, and led to a crisis in many
industrial sectors. As unemployment rose and pay
and working conditions worsened, waves of strikes
affected transport and urban service sectors, as well
as the mostly British or foreign, meat-processing
plants, in the towns along the coast. 

Meanwhile, there was also a change in the
representation of the working class. By 1914 the
largest union federation in Argentina was the
Federación Obrera Regional Argentina (FORA),
which in its fifth congress in 1905 had adopted an
anarcho-communist position. In September 1914 the
syndicalist Confederación Obrera Regional Argentina
(CORA) dissolved themselves to join FORA. The
syndicalists opposed FORA's anarcho-communist
position and their entry to the federation was
conditioned by a promise from the anarchist unions to
discuss the problem of common objectives and
principles in the forthcoming ninth congress of
FORA. During this congress, in 1915, FORA's
revolutionary positions were discarded in favour of a
position of neutrality towards different political
currents within the labour movement - this included
the Socialist Party and other parliamentary and
moderate currents, but, as we will see, it also gave
freedom to the union leaders of FORA to accept any
compromise with whoever was in power. Also the
revolutionary positions which had up until then
characterized the syndicalists were toned down. In
fact, while up until then revolutionary syndicalism
had encouraged the use of the general strike as a tool
to overthrow capitalism, the general strike was now
accepted 'only when it is exercized with intelligence
and energy to repulse the aggression of capitalism
and the State'. While moderation took root in the
mainstream FORA, the now minority unions who
were still faithful to revolutionary principles left
FORA to create the 'FORA of the fifth congress'
(FORA V). The syndicalist FORA was then known as
the ?FORA of the ninth congress? (FORA IX). 

With his election in 1916, the Radical President
Yrigoyen sought a conciliatory approach with the
working class and started a ?special relationship?
with the unions of FORA IX. The Radical government
took steps towards introducing labour reforms and
intervened in industrial disputes through a
representative of the President (the governor),
sometimes on the side of the workers. On the other
hand, Yrigoyen's government severely repressed
strikes when no political gain or conciliatory
agreements could be obtained or when important
interests of capital were at stake. 

FORA IX found it difficult to bridle the proletariat
into submission and compromise. After 1918 news of
the Russian Revolution added to the material
conditions of crisis by encouraging the Argentinian
proletariat towards a uncompromising confrontation
with the system. It was the revolutionary FORA V
which took the lead of the new offensive. In January
1919 a major insurrection, which would be known as
the Tragic Week, exploded in Buenos Aires, provoked
by the death of workers during armed confrontations
between the police and strikers in the occupied
metallurgical plant Pedro Vasena & Hijos. FORA V
called for a general strike and the on the 9th of
January a march of 200,000 people led by about a
hundred armed workers turned to a victorious battle
with the police, while looters raided the city. FORA
IX was obliged to join FORA V in calling a general
strike for the 10th, whilst at the same time opening
negotiations with the government. The struggle
continued for the next four days and strikes paralysed
the city, while FORA IX, who were able to negotiate
and obtain petty concessions limited to the dispute
within Vasena, tried to discourage the workers from
carrying on and appealed for a return to work - but in
vain. The insurrection was not really about one
isolated dispute in an isolated factory, but about the
general discontent shared by everyone, and the
workers felt strong enough to prosecute the strikes
while FORA V was pushing for the extension of the
strikes to the revolution. Only the intervention of the
army was able to reimpose social peace. 

After the end of the First World War, a fall of
international wool and meat prices affected the rural
region of Patagonia. Unemployment and the general
worsening of the conditions of rural workers caused by
the crisis encouraged the Sociedad Obrera de Rio
Gallegos, affiliated to FORA IX, to call for a regional
strike of ports and hotels in July 1920. The repressive
response of the State triggered an escalation of the
struggle, which extended among the rural workers in
the hinterland. Armed nuclei composed of rural
workers raided the countryside, spreading terror
among the landowners and the bosses, recruiting, and
propagating the struggle from hacienda to hacienda.
Presidential appeals for reconciliation to the
'genuine-and-peaceful' workers were answered with
armed defiance both in the coastal towns and in the
countryside, and scabs sent from Buenos Aires were
shot at by the workers of Rio Gallegos. Patagonia did
not want a compromise, they wanted to go further:
'This is not a working-class movement' said the
governor Correo Falcon 'but something much worse'.
The strike ceased first in the capital Rio Gallegos and
later in the countryside in front of a total lack of
support from the central FORA IX and of the
promises of generous concessions by the new
governor, Varela, who presented himself as a defender
of workers' rights and was able to obtain an
agreement with the rural workers. The promises were
not met; but another attempt to organize strikes and
armed struggles in 1921 was murderously repressed
by the governor Varela. The upsurge was over, to the
relief not only of the Argentinian bourgeoisie but also
of the English and the German bourgeoisies, who had
appealed to the Argentinian chancery to protect their
property in Patagonia. Between 1919 and 1929
Argentina's economy recovered, real wages rose,
unemployment decreased. This gave the government
the economic basis for a renewed compromise with
the working class. New laws to regulate the labour
market were introduced (e.g. a legislation which
made payment in cash obligatory came in 1925, the
restriction of the working day to 8 hours, except for
rural and domestic workers, came in 1929). The
working class were demobilized and most of the
unions merged to form the reformist confederation
Central General de Trabajadores (CGT, 1930). Only
FORA V and a few communist unions stayed out. 

2. Import-substitution production and
Peronism 

The fall of world trade that followed the end of the
First World War prompted some within the
Argentinian bourgeoisie to disengage with the world
markets and look towards industrialization based on
import substitution. However, a concerted attempt at
national industrialization required a break with the
established class settlement. The emerging industrial
bourgeoisie, in whose interests it was to was to really
push for this new economic policy, was in fact weak
and squeezed between the agro-trade oligarchy on the
one hand, entrenched in their conservative free-trade
oriented interests, and a militant and restless
working class on the other. It was only with the
economic crisis that followed Wall Street crash in
1929, which saw a collapse in world trade, that
became possible to break the existing class
settlement and pursue a policy of import subtitution
led industrialization . Even then the Argentinian
industrial bourgeoisie was too weak and the army had
to step in. 

The army overthrew the Radical government in 1930,
installing a military presidency. In order to regulate
overproduction caused by the international crisis, the
military government placed agricultural trade under
State control, against the entrenched interests of the
agrarian and mercantile bourgeoisie. The monopoly of
the agro-trade profits allowed the State to channel
capitals into the development of a modern army, and
a State apparatus which favoured industrial
development; and (above all later with Perón) to
channel profits into productive and industrial
development. 

At the same time the military government acted
against the working class so as to increase the
profitability of industrial capital. As soon as it took
power, the new governments started repressions of
both militant and conciliatory unions. Despite the
fact that the moderate CGT did not even condemn
the military coup, declaring themselves 'politically
neutral', the new government took repressive steps
against the unions. The industrial bourgeoisie
regained the ground previously lost to the working
class. The labour laws conceded after the insurrection
of 1919 were repealed; regulations were neglected by
the bosses with the approval of state authorities and
during the next ten years the average wage decreased.
In the same period industrial production expanded
and overtook agricultural production. This was
accompanied by a recomposition of the Argentinian
working class: made redundant by the economic
restructuring, masses of rural workers moved to the
urban areas and provided the labour force for the new
industries. 

However, unable to find a stable form to mediate
class conflict and to integrate the working class with
some form of corporative compromise, the military
government found itself caught between the interests
of the old ruling oligarchy and rising popular
discontent, and they were obliged to progressively
concede power to bourgeois politicians. In June 1943,
during the Second World War, in the face of a
bourgeoisie split by conflicting interests, the army,
led by Generals Rawson and Ramírez, took power a
second time in order to ensure Argentina maintained
a neutral position in the Second World War. There
was an ideological motive in the coup, since the
right-wing army was inclined to maintain a friendly
relationship with the fascist side and many among
them, Perón included, openly expressed their
admiration of Mussolini. In fact the military was
looking at fascism and corporatism as an answer to
growing working class militancy. In 1942 the number
of working days lost to strikes in Argentina was three
times higher than in the past two years. 

Indeed, in 1943, the new Labour and Social Security
Secretary, Juan Domingo Perón, started a coherent
economic and political policy based on the
introduction of protective tariffs to support national
accumulation and industrial development and on a
corporatist compromise with the industrial working
class. By 1944 he had become Vice President of
Argentina. His popularity with the working class
became so high that when the army tried to remove
him from his post and send him into internal exile in
1945, a wave of grass-root struggles spread through
the country obtained his return. In 1946, he was
elected President with the support of the urban
working class. In 1946 Perón initiated an
industrialization plan, based on the income from the
State monopoly of the agro-export, which would be
reinvested in new industries through State-owned
banks. 

The introduction of protectionism and the State
control of industrial development provided the
material means to integrate the working class
through economic concessions. And at the same time
the real improvement in working class conditions,
particularly higher wages, was functional to the
expansion of Argentina's internal market, and to the
development of the import substitution economy.
Indeed, the ideology of Peronism, based on the idea of
a State 'above all particular class interests', was an
ideology that the Radical government of Yrigoyen
(and General Uriburu, with his corporatist
commitment) had tried to propose in vain because it
was challenged both by the old oligarchy and the
working class, and as a result was contradicted by its
actual economic policies. Only with the Peronist
compromise this nationalistic 'third way' was
grounded in the actual role taken by the State in the
control of the economy. And by allowing for a real
change in the conditions of the working class it was
able to secure the material basis for its credibility. 

The gains of the working class were to some extent
comparable to those of workers in European
social-democratic countries. A bureaucratic union
apparatus would represent the workers and guarantee
their 'interests' within a system of collective
bargaining with the state as interlocutor (the unions
received the status of persona juridica in 1945).The
centralization of wage negotiations became a feature
of most trades (already in 1945 there were 142
collective bargains signed at the National
Department of Labour for Buenos Aires and 279 for
the rest of the country). Legislation which benefited
the workers was passed, including a steady rise of
wages, the introduction of an extra month bonus at
Christmas (the Aguinaldo, suspended only in August
2001), the implementation of health and safety
regulations, free health care and new guarantees for
rural workers. 

These 'generous' concessions were offered in exchange
for the workers' submission to the State and the
social order. For Perón the good worker had to go 'de
casa al trabajo y del trabajo a la casa': from home to
work and from work to home - and give up class
struggle. Perón's nationalistic ideology condemned
communism and capitalism as 'foreign' and spurious
ideologies, in the name of the 'third way' of justice
and welfare provided by the Argentinian State. The
Peronist party was called 'Justicialist'. The other side
of this 'third way' was of course military repression,
which was turned against those unions and militants
who opposed the regime (the socialist splinter of the
unions' federation CGT was suspended). 

Instead, the more moderate unions were encouraged
and integrated into the State structure. The union's
complicity with the corporatist state and their
moderation was guaranteed in concrete by a
redefinition of their role within the system of wealth
distribution. The unions were in fact put in charge of
benefit provision and they would run the health
service and even holiday resorts for the workers. This
control on resources was an element of real power and
control on the individual workers based on relations
of patronage. 

However, the union representation found itself in a
contradiction. In order to maintain their privileges
which were the token for their submission to the
State apparatus, the unions had to strive not to lose
their control of the workers' movement; but on the
other hand they had also to strive to maintain their
legitimacy in face of the workers, whose militancy was
growing. Indeed, contradictorily, in their efforts at
recuperating the proletariat through representation,
Peronism encouraged the workers to meet and
participate in union activities, and to organize.
Unionization was made obligatory for the state sector,
and new unions promoted. The same fact that
unionization was encouraged meant that while
between 1940 and 1944 there were 332 strikes with a
loss of one million working days, between 1945 and
1949 392 strikes soared to a record of nine million
working days. In fact, while the main union federation
CGT had become a bureaucratized mechanism at the
service of the government, struggles proliferated
around the shop stewards and the official
representatives in the factories (comisiones internas),
escaping the control of the leaders. With its
nationalistic and militaristic ideology, and with its
attempt to surpress class conflict through a
state-imposed corporatism, Peronism appears
strikingly similar to European fascism. However,
although Perón openly sought to emulate Mussolini,
and although many commentators have seen
Peronism as merely a form of fascism, there were
vital differences. First, Peronism did not arise out of
a mass movement rooted in the despair following a
decisive working class defeat. Second, in his efforts to
modernize Argentina through a policy of rapid
industrialization, Perón was unable to rely on the
backing of a relatively strong industrial bourgeoisie in
order to overcome entrenched conservative agrarian
interests. Instead, as we have seen, Perón came to
power with the support of the working class. Far from
smashing already demoralized working class
organizations, Perón was obliged to establish a modus
vivendi with such organizations. The fact that Perón
was obliged to establish an alliance with the working
class has led some commentators to suggest that
Peronism was essentially a form of social democracy,
or at least a cross between social democracy and
fascism. However, to the extent that social
democracy becomes the representation of the
working class within the state and capital, it
represents the working class as individual
commodity-owner/citizens. As such, social democracy
tends to lead to the demobilization of the working
class and the atrophy of its self-organization. 

In contrast, although Perón could maintain an iron
grip at the national level, at the grass-roots level both
formal and informal working class organizations and
networks were not only preserved but left with a large
degree of autonomy. At a national level, Perón tied
the working class as a whole to Perónism through
substantial material concessions, while at a local
level the various local grass-roots organizations were
tied to the state through a system of patronage. This
co-option and preservation of the pre-existing forms
of working class self-organization was further
consolidated with Perón?s move towards
democratization. In doing so, Perón established a
system of clientelist relationships which guaranteed
political and financial autonomy to the electoral base.
Peronist local organizations were left totally or
almost totally free from any political control on their
activities. They would support their politicians at
electoral times, receiving in exchange financial help
and jobs. This encouraged identification with, and
support for, Peronism, since such support actually
meant welfare, state-guaranteed rights against the
employers, and also space for militant actions and
self-organization. 

It is worth noticing that the Peronist structure of
power, by giving a limited autonomy to its electoral
base, encouraged and reproduced a traditional
practice of self-help and solidarity at neighbourhood
level. This tradition was rooted in the life of the
pre-1920s conventillos, large buildings where working
class families used to, and indeed some still do live
(they have the structure of convents, with shared
kitchens, and central patios). Workers' cultural
associations, popular libraries and anarchist schools
proliferated around the conventillos' patios, as well as
instances of organized neighbourhood-based struggles.
When, by the end of the 1920s, the workers were
rehoused in individual houses in the suburbs of the
cities, they tried to overcome their isolation by
organizing themselves in the neighbourhood (barrio)
through social and sport clubs and cultural
associations - however, as Ronaldo Munck stresses,
the new social heterogeneity in the suburbs would
'tend to dilute the harsh proletarian experience of the
pre-1930 period. This base activity was encouraged by
Peronism, when welfare was provided by the union
structures through a network of associations (such as
recreational groups, co-ops, etc.); this situation
probably reflected the weakness of a bourgeoisie
which could not afford to provide the working class
with a modern welfare system. The ?mafia?-like
structure of Argentinian power was one side of the
coin of this weakness; the failure of the Peronist
?welfare system? to fragment and individualize the
working class (as was achieved instead by the western
welfare state) was the other side of this same coin. 

This had allowed the Argentinian working class to
experience communal self-organization as a central
part of its reproduction and survival, balancing the
obvious pressure of capitalism towards bourgeois
individualism. This tradition of solidarity in the
neighbourhood and at street level, which Argentinian
capitalism could not affort to dismantle, was an
important element in Argentina's historical
insurrections. One tradition which has reoccured from
pre-Peronist times up until today today is the
organization of ollas populares, community kitchens
during episodes of strikes. But above all this
experience is important for its revolutionary potential
- the fact that struggles which start from certain
categories of workers can actually involve other
proletarians and expand to whole towns.

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