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(en) ILS* Bulletin #1 (February 2004) - Argentina - The difficulties of organising a world without oppressors or oppressed

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 23 Mar 2004 09:09:44 +0100 (CET)

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In spite of the violent eviction and lost battle, the recuperated Brukman mill has
become the world symbol of the resistance of recuperated factories in Argentina.
> But, what are Argentina's recuperated factories really?
In Argentina between eight and ten thousand jobs have been saved by the
workers of recuperated companies who are now working directly for their
own benefit, after the financial crisis caused the owners to abandon them.
This constitutes one of the more evident social experiences of the
popular revolt of 19th and 20th December 2001.
Although they do not constitute a unique movement and although
different viewpoints and experiences cohabit within them, the
companies recuperated by their workers are seeking their own
political project, beginning by making institutional demands.

While the national government announces a slight economic
improvement, Argentina continues to put up with 21%
unemployment, with 21 million Argentineans living under the
poverty line, almost 10 million in a state of poverty, and 70% of
households with real wages at 54% of what they were in 1975.

This is the result of a process of impoverishment, unemployment
and the surrendering of the mainstays of the economy to the
financial monopolies of capital which began during the
dictatorship of 1976, requiring the extermination of a generation of
militants, students, labour activists and social activists, that has
politically continued until today. The role played by the union
bureaucracy also had a great part to play.

However, beginning with the formation of the first organizations
of unemployed workers, and with the occupation of some factories
and their running at the hands of the workers in the latter half of
the '90s, the working class began to look for answers.

Generally speaking, the need to organize arose at the moment of
the closure of the factory (or when the owner abandoned it) and
not before, after sackings and suspensions and the isolation of the
respective unions. "The workers have been paid undeclared
salaries since 1995. In recent months we have been paid with
vouchers for 0.75 and ?1.50 a week"[1]. This was the situation
reported by the comrades in each of the recuperated factories.

The permanent support of popular assemblies, piquetero
organizations, student organizations, workers of other associations
and even the involved neighbourhoods demonstrates the validity of
the unyielding principle of class solidarity.

These factory seizures and recuperations are being carried out in
the general and particular framework of defending workplaces as a
source of labour. In this context, various leftist currents have tried
to centre on the co-operative versus workers' control debate. "We
are fighting for State intervention over the companies ... we are not
looking for a cooperative ... that way we don't have the threat of
competition..." pointed out Celia Martínez of the Internal
Commission of Brukman, confusing the simple legal entity of the
co-operative, essential for expropriation, with the political
perspective of co-operativism. Their policy consists of demanding
the expropriation without any payment, that the State contributes
without refunding start-up capital, that it pays wages and in some
cases that it buys the produce. That the State subsidizes and the
workers administrate and plan.

Expropriation conditions workers to adopt a legal entity like, for
example, the co-operative. But apart from Brukman, Zanon,
Gheico, Panificación 5 and Grisinopolis, around 150 other
recuperated factories have chosen this route.

State intervention under workers' management can only be
considered possible in the context of a State which is subject to
workers' and popular power. It is illusory to expect the bourgeois
State to perceive that expropriation is not a solution in the
capitalist context but that it can be transformed into an act of
workers' power, delivering the factories to the workers, taking
responsibility for wages, contributing start-up capital, considering
that the same State-government was the cause of the situation that
the workers had reached.

On the other hand, co-operativism does not provide a real solution
to the workers' situation. It is incapable of providing an answer in
the interests of all workers. At no time does it question the
capitalist production relationships - it questions only superficial
features (monopolies, competition, etc.). Even less can a network
of cooperatives create a parallel subsystem to capitalism.

In their political search, the movement of recuperated businesses
presented candidates for various lists and parties in the elections of
last August and September.

The National Movement of Recuperated Businesses [Movimiento
Nacional de Empresas Recuperadas] presented candidates for the
Social Pole [Polo Social] (a Peronist current). In the elections for
the city of Buenos Aires they were presented through the Party of
the Democratic Revolution [Partido de la Revolución
Democrática] (another current that supports the president,
Kirchner). Celia Martínez, a worker in the Brukman factory,
stood as a candidate for deputy with the Party of Socialist Workers
[Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas] and her co-worker Juan
Carlos Ragghini, as candidate for legislator with the Labour Party
[Partido Obrero]. Daniel López, of Gheico, was nominated as
legislator for the United Left [Izquierda Unida]. In Avellaneda, the
lawyer Luis Caro (of the current known as the Movement of
Recuperated Factories for the Workers) stood as a candidate for
intendant in the list of the former military golpista Aldo Rico (right

The election of political parties through which it is chosen to
present candidates is not shared by all the recuperated businesses.

For example, in Brukman, in the Zanon ceramics factory and in
Sasetru, the permanent presence of Trotskyist parties in the
process of recuperation generated a constant, direct link with the

The National Movement of Recuperated Businesses and the small
group aligned with the leftist parties are separated by differences
regarding the mechanism of self-management. The former
encourages the formation of co-operatives and the use of
surpluses to generate greater production. The latter seeks the
"State intervention in the factories under workers' control" and for
surpluses to be used "to the benefit of the community". Apart from
all this, the workers are recuperating genuine sources of work, and
are eliminating the hierarchies in most factories and installing
systems of equal distribution of income, uniting at times of

Anarchists have been organically absent from this process. It
could not be otherwise: their social influence is minimal and is
restricted to specific, smaller circles - in the case of the
OSL-Argentina, to the Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados
Aníbal Verón, the human rights movement in the fight against
the trigger-happy policies of the police, the teachers' associations
in the province of Buenos Aires and the couriers' union, SIMeCa
(Sindacato Indipendiente de Mensajeros y Cadetes).

The OSL has maintained good relationships with the workers of
the recuperated Ghelco factory in Buenos Aires, where it supports
the occupation process and the reactivation of the machinery and
more recently a candle factory in Monte Grande on the outskirts of
Buenos Aires whose owners had abandoned it, setting up a
workshop for a group of seven comrades.

The idea of the workers' management of production and of society
implies that the only power in a revolutionary society is that of the
organisations of the working class. This workers' management
should be understood as the abolition of all power exercised by a
minority, the abolition of bourgeois power, that is to say of all
manifestations of the State. The workers must not only take on the
management of fields, factories and shops but also of the whole of

1. "Quienes son los ilegales en Brukman" [Who are the illegal
ones in Brukman], leaflet by the Brukman workers. THE ONTARIO COALITION AGAINST POVERTY

By OSL Argentina, translation by Red Libertaria Apoyo Mutuo

Copied from ILS-SIL http://www.ils-sil.org - International
Libertarian Solidarity - Anarchist federation

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