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

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 28 Feb 2003 13:59:01 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> 8. The ?middle classes? and the neighbourhood assemblies
The French group Mouvement Communist warn of the
dangers of the alliance between proletariat and the middle
classes in Argentina: ?History shows the exploited have little
to expect from these sectors of society, always ready, in the
last instance, to save their own skins by allying themselves
with the dominant class to the detriment of the
working class.? Time will tell if this turns out, again, to be the
case. But this view ignores the rapid and drastic
proletarisation of the majority of the middle classes .
Of course, the warnings of Mouvement Communist have a
basis in reality, which proletarians involved in struggle
recognise. Working class cynicism about the new ?middle
class? movements in Argentina ? ?they?re only on the streets
now because their pockets have been touched? ? neatly testify
to this truth while simultaneously confirming the
reality of the middle class? changed situation. Some
proletarians are reluctant to tie their fate too closely to that
of the middle class assemblies movement for fear that
they will eventually be betrayed. Considering the state?s near
bankruptcy however, it is difficult to see how it will have the
means to buy off the middle class. Even a
patched up settlement involving new IMF money can only be
a short-term solution for the bourgeoisie.
One of the biggest difficulties for us has been to try to
understand the composition of this newly vocal and
troublesome middle class. What does ?middle class? mean in
Argentina? Some comment that, for an Argentinian, ?middle
class? can mean what we in the West would recognise as a
secure proletarian job, even a factory job. This entails
a problem of class categories being mixed up in translation,
but the issue does not end there. It seems clear that a large
number of people that we would recognise as
middle class have plummeted into a life of bare survival. The
papers are full of stories of academics and other professionals
being reduced to selling candles in public
parks, or well dressed Buenos Aires families exchanging their
extensive wardrobes in the barter clubs, or even forced to
collect rubbish on the streets. Echanges state that
some 500 000 people have fallen into social immiseration to
populate the villas miserias where banners ironically
proclaim: ?Welcome to the middle classes!? One Argentinian
economist states that ?the middle classes understand that
they?ve reached the end of the road. It?s now a whole new
situation?. But what of the teachers and other
government workers which have been such a strong feature of
this cycle of struggle from its beginnings in the mid-90s?
Would their traditional status and pay mark them out
as middle class professionals? What about the
petit-bourgeoisie? Are many of them losing their property in
this economic climate? Are they involved in popular assemblies
and in attacks against the corralito? What is the relation of
the assemblies to the barter clubs and who is involved in
these? All of these questions go to explaining the
difficulty of understanding the phenomenon of the popular
It is often stated that the neighbourhood assemblies ? one of
the forms associated with middle class organisation in
Argentina - are so heterogeneous that it is almost
impossible to study them. The fact that there seems to be
neighbourhood assemblies in all areas of Buenos Aires
involving proletarians in different situations as well can
lead to lazy affirmations of diversity and openness for post
modernist ideologues intent on shedding class as a social
category. Echanges et Movement, dispel some of the
fog by distinguishing between two broad tendencies of
neighbourhood assemblies. One as a phenomenon coming
from a long tradition of neighbourhood organisation in
working class areas and shanty towns, merging with the new
assemblies of the piqueteros in the new situation of mass
unemployment of the 90s; and the other as a result of the
sudden and more recent impoverishment of the middle
classes. In recent months of course, with different sectors
recognising each other?s needs in struggles, these two
tendencies may have increasingly coordinated their actions
and demands, (and certainly have talked to each other at the
Interbarrial), further complicating the situation.
But if the ?middle class? assemblies are dismissed, it is
usually by identifying them with the merely middle class
problem of the corralito, (in Argentina certainly, they
are not understood in this limited way any longer). This
identification is then useful to denounce the so-called middle
class struggle and their supposed hegemony in the
movement. Although it is true that these assemblies were
formed around the time of the implementation of the bank
freezes and that this problem mobilises a part of their
energies, it is a mistake to limit them to this.
Twenty assemblies sprang up in Buenos Aires in the two
weeks following the 19th and 20th, and there are now
estimated to be 140 across the country, with some 8,000 regular
participants. It?s sometimes said or assumed that the first
cacerolazo, on the19th of December, was a protest about the
corralito. Certainly there was widespread anger and
despair over what many suspected was the permanent
disappearance of their life savings. But it was De La Rúa?s
announcement of the state of emergency which mobilised people
in an immediate, spontaneous reaction. Whilst of course the
?middle class? experience of the corralito was one of the
reasons for their presence on the streets on the 19th,
the radical meaning of the events that ensued is that everyone
was on the streets refusing with disgust the state of
emergency, (and the memories of dictatorship that it
awoke), and in that could recognise each other as subjects in
struggle, ultimately on the basis of a real, material
rapprochement in their experience of exploitation. After
that day, in the many cacerolazos that followed, placards
saying anything about the lost savings were in a tiny minority.
By the same token then, it would be wrong to
characterise the assemblies as populated solely by disgruntled
savers, who, presumably, would turn their back on the
movement once their savings were returned to them. The
problem of bank freezes takes up a relatively small part of the
discussions of the assemblies and the Interbarrial. Though
their appearance was sudden, the assemblies did
not materialise out of a vacuum, but out of a developing
situation of material impoverishment and the attendant
disillusionment with politics, (in the general elections of
October 2001, 22% of the (compulsory) ballot was blank or
spoiled, whilst 26% of voters stayed at home). At the
beginning it seems, the new assemblies, based on their
middle class constituency, (apart from passing numerous
resolutions on political subjects such as the national debt),
were concentrating on organising new cacerolazos, the
?symbolic? form of protest associated with the middle classes.
The cacerolazos had a life of their own anyway, attracting
many more people than regularly attended the
assemblies. They took place every Friday in the weeks after
the 19th, in almost ritual fashion.
Violence was a feature of savers? actions from the 19th
onwards. Since then, savers? protests inside banks have also
been attacked by the police. This does not, of course,
suffice as proof of the revolutionary intent of the middle
classes. We note some of the statements that accompany
middle class corralito protests ? ?we are the middle
class, we send our children to school, we pay our taxes, and
now we have been robbed.?, ?we never break the law, we are
not criminals?, ?without savers no credit, without
credit no production ? without production, no nation.? These
slogans display classic middle class subjectivity of course - the
implicitly anti-working class, self-
righteous sense of betrayal of those that ordinarily play by the
rules and do well by them, which is also a general
identification with a properly functioning system of
capitalist wealth production. But we are almost tempted to
say ?so what?? The subjectivity of the newly proletarianised
middle classes is going to lag behind their practice
in a situation of impoverishment. It is not what this or that
skint ?middle class? individual thinks about his situation at a
particular moment which is important, but what
they will be forced to do as a proletarianised class. Not all of
them will be completely skint ? and the slogans quoted above
may sometimes come from the less badly off
parts of the middle class ? but it looks like their lot can only
worsen and a large proportion of these people are having to
come to terms with a situation where their
traditional demands for a renewal of the political system,
based on moans about corruption and the failure of mediators,
is failing to meet their immediate needs.

Neither should we assume that the savers involved in actions
against the corralito are only ?middle class?, as it has also
affected workers with relatively small saving,
pensioners, and indirectly but very tangibly, as we have
already noted, workers dependent on the black economy.
Indeed, Echanges claim that the unofficial sector makes up
50% of the real economy! On the 15th May 2002, an elderly
couple in their eighties who had got a court order to force
their bank, Banco de la Nación, to release their life
savings, found that the bank still refused, claiming that the
law had changed since the order was signed. The couple, living
on a pension of 150 pesos a month (£30),
decided to remain in the bank until they got their money (US
$38,000), and sat themselves in the window, refusing to leave.
As night fell, two local assemblies arrived to
support them, joining the crowd that had already gathered,
until there were around three hundred people, banging pots
and chanting ?Give them their money back!? Having
entered the bank that morning, the exhausted couple finally
left at 9pm, with the bank?s promise of half their money the
next day. This example, we feel, ably demonstrates
the possibilities of different needs, in a situation of class
mobilisation, to be immediately recognised by others and
their meaning transformed in this socialisation
Leaving aside the cacerolazos and protests against the
corralito, what is perhaps more important is that, like the
piqueteros, the assemblies are being pushed by immediate,
everyday needs to develop radical practices which come into
confrontation with the essence of capitalist social relations ?
the commodity form ? all the while developing
debates on the national debt and petitioning the state on
certain issues. Many assemblies have set up communal soup
kitchens, organised collective, self-reduction actions
to reduce food prices; organised to defend impoverished
tenants from evictions and set up groups (sometimes with
workers from utility companies) to illegally re-connect
people cut off for non-payment of bills to public water and
electricity supplies. Assemblies have also negotiated with (or
rather pressured) utilities companies for
reductions in prices. There is strong support within
assemblies for local facilities and schools in crisis ? some
school canteens, unable to function for lack of funds, are
being run by assemblies. This is already an impressive list of
steps of direct appropriation of use values by people for whom
?paying for things? ? exchange value ? must
become a ridiculous notion, if they are to meet their human
The other important mobilisation has been around the
problems of health provision - hospitals and clinics being in
absolute crisis due to the collapse of PAMI, the state
medical service. In response to price inflation and shortages
of drugs, (many drugs were withdrawn from the shelves at the
start of the crisis in order to protect their
prices), one group, including medical workers, set up a table in
the centre of Buenos Aires where people could bring their
unwanted drugs and perhaps find something they or
a family member needed; a long and desperate queue quickly
formed. At the same time the health committees of some 36
assemblies had made a written request to the government
of Buenos Aires proposing that the committees participate or
take over the running of faltering hospitals. The health
department exhausted their patience with diversionary
tactics, meagre concessions to the plan etc. A turning point
was reached - ?In the face of their failure to address our
concerns in writing, we resolve to suspend meetings
with these bureaucrats. And we propose to take control
ourselves, forming Popular Health Committees in each
hospital, following the example of the Belgrano-Núñez assembly,
which got medicines and supplies for their hospitals through
their mobilisation.? The assembly of Belgrano-Núñez, a
prosperous barrio of Buenos Aires, had joined with other
local assemblies in April 2002 to assist the stricken local
hospital, whose workers had informed them that drugs were
being withheld by pharmaceutical companies, leading to
price increases of 300% and 400%. The hospital workers and
asambleístas produced a list of the drugs most sorely needed,
and went en masse to the laboratories of Novartis,
a pharmaceutical company, to demand the drugs. Within days,
Novartis was forced to provide 25,000 doses of 1,129 different
medicines. In September 2002, the assembly of
Flores in Buenos Aires occupied a clinic that had been
disused for 6 years with the aim of opening it to workers from
occupied factories who have been cut out of union
managed health provision, and also for the use of the
neighbours. The assemblies have moved also in the winter to
occupy disused buildings to use for meetings and
organising. The assembly of Parque Lezama Sur, occupying a
disused bank building to which they invite piqueteros and
other groups, describe this initiative encouragingly as
?not about simply replacing the state in the functions in which
it has absented itself [health, education], neither is it about
simple humanitarianism, nor nostalgic
actions destined to uphold the old national-state promises of
integration and progress. Instead it is about taking
responsibility / control of our actual conditions...
proposing the establishment of social links where capitalism
acts as a force of separation, of sadness and the formation of
isolated individuals.?
As we have seen, there is a growing tendency within
assemblies such as these to fill the gaps where the state has
become unable or unwilling to act. As is clear from the
health issue, the assemblies move, according to the urgency of
their need, from discussing the national debt and making
demands of the state to taking direct action.
Assemblies have also been attacked by plain-clothes police
and other armed gangs. Members have been followed,
threatened and beaten. Goons gathered together by municipal
Peronist leaders have attacked assemblies, such as the
assembly of Merlo in Buenos Aires. These attacks are a seal
of approval of the radical political significance of the
assemblies which its members presumably cannot ignore.
Another issue we should consider is the ever present and
contested attempts by leftist groups to bring their politics to
bear on the assemblies. Initial press coverage of
the Argentinian movement was full of reports of participants
rejecting leftist organisations from assemblies and demos. At
first glance this may of course look like a
radical rejection of politics, but more needs to be said and
understood. The obvious thing to say is that if the assemblies
were largely ?middle class?, then the rejection
of leftist politics could be seen as a rejection on the basis of
middle class experience of class politics in general, in favour
of a politics based of citizenry etc. On
the other hand, as we have discussed, the ?middle class?
cannot really afford this sort of politics any more, and their
initial knee-jerk reaction against class politics,
could well have quite naturally mutated into a more radical
rejection based on their immediate needs and the
autonomous forms of struggles they have developed to meet
If a ?middle class? assembly is trying to organise school meals
and stealing electricity and saving neighbours from eviction
for non payment of rent, and discovering new
forms of social cooperation in the process, the intrusion of
leftists with their programmes and insistence on leadership
would naturally be unwelcome! As one asambleista
put it ? ?the assemblies belong to us, not to militants who
look upon us with contempt and try to impose on us an
experience that we do not need.? .

Again we must advise caution in attempts at interpretation
because of the opaqueness of this complex situation. We are
not easily going to be able to know the class
composition and histories of the different assemblies, and so
examples of leftist involvement when they come up are going
to be difficult to interpret. More generally, we
must warn against generalising from isolated examples. Some
assemblies will be successfully controlled by this or that
leftist party; the general trend, however, has been
for the rejection of trotskyist and other groups, although some
attempts to manipulate assemblies, by trotskyist groups such
as the Partido Obrero and MAS (Argentinian
Socialist Movement), have resulted in the collapse of
Overtures by mainstream politicians have so far been
rejected. And a transparent attempt by the CTA union
confederation to co-opt the assemblies movement earlier this
year ended in failure. A proposal had been voted through at the
fifth Interbarrial to march around the National Congress on
the 13th of February - ?when the assembly members
reached Congress, they saw that a stage had been put up, from
which leaders of the CTA were already speaking.? They were
later vilified for this manouevering at the
Interbarrial. Because of suspicion or outright rejection from
the assemblies, the leftist parties have gravitated to the
Interbarrial in an attempt to bring their influence
to bear on proceedings. This has led to a reaction from the
assemblies and wearying debates about representation and
process. The weekly Interbarrial is supposed to be a
coordination of autonomous assemblies, not a decision
making body in its own right. It soon became clear to the
assemblies however, that large numbers of militants and
others, (cops and state agents have been mentioned too ),
came to the Interbarrial to vote on issues proposed in the
assemblies without being delegated. A debate on
representation began, in which concerned asambleistas
pushed for a one assembly, one vote system with revocable
and rotating delegates. There were protests from leftist
militants who feared they were being outflanked, knowing
they would have little chance of becoming assembly
representatives. . Many boycotted the debate, and a growing
frustration and disillusionment with the Interbarrial, because
of these problems, was reflected in a sharp fall in attendance,
with some assemblies opting to liaise with
others on a more informal basis.

However, limiting the Interbarrial to coordination only could
in itself constrain the possibilities of the movement and, in
any case, is difficult to keep in practice. To
fall back on assembly ?autonomy? and the repudiation of
collective decisions to protect the movement from outside
incursion could be formalised into the atomisation and
isolation of (direct) democracy. Collective discussion and
concerted action is needed for particular events and is
essential for the long-term prospects of the assemblies ?
especially in the case of state repression. The ?moment of
truth? of Leninist politics is to recognise this need, and that is
why they ?lie in ambush? at the Interbarrial
to influence events. A PO member told the newspaper Página
12, ?If the assemblies limit themselves to running organic
allotments and other neighbourhood questions, that for
us is a step backwards.? Apart from testifying to the
condescending attitude of the trotskyist groups, this warning
has some sense to it. What he cannot see is the
relationship between neighbourhood questions and a wider
struggle. He doesn?t recognise that the ?political? is the
activity of the class, organic allotments and all. The
revolution can only be the process of struggle of the
autoconvocados, the ?self convened?, (as the asambleistas call
themselves). It is also too easy to blame the
stagnation of the assemblies movement on the leftists - these
problems may arise when the movement as a whole doesn?t
know where to go and has lost the initiative.
The assemblies are also involved in the organisation of
escraches, a practice inherited from the aftermath of the
dictatorship. Escraches, meaning an ?outing? or ?exposure?
in Argentinian slang, were developed by the group H.I.J.O.S. ?
children of the disappeared - in the years after the
dictatorship in order to break the conspiracy of silence
shielding the murderers of the dictatorship. They can be
explained as a reaction of individuals against the policy of
impunity guaranteed by Menem in 1995 to the Generals.
They take place at particular locations, often private houses
intending to involve the local community to ?out? individuals.
They boast an impressive amount of organisation
and creativity and attempt to involve locals etc. Their glaring
limit is the fact that, with their language of ?justice?, they can
identify the inequities they?ve suffered
with particular individuals and not the social system as a
whole. It is particularly in this that they seem open to be
recuperated as merely the radical part of the
normalisation process after the dictatorship. On the other
hand however, they are also by their very nature a
confrontation with the fact that democracy has itself
normalised the era of dictatorship, and this could lead to a
more far-reaching understanding of the interdependence of
periods of democracy and dictatorship in a country
like Argentina, especially in the present climate, when the
weight of more immediate needs is pressing on its actors.
However, some members of the original escrache group,
H.I.J.O.S., have expressed reservations about the new
informal ?escrache? practices, which target present members
of the bourgeoisie. In this more generalised phenomenon,
instances of corruption and other misdeeds of particular
individuals are published on the net, in the streets, and
even on a TV programme, with addresses and other necessary
information. Once outed judges, politicians, businessmen are
then insulted, jostled, and sometimes attacked
around their homes, to and from work etc. These attacks are
also reported to happen spontaneously, on the hoof, when
someone is recognised by chance in the street. Even
members of the media have been targeted, the much-disliked
Canal 13 TV station coming in for a lot of stick in particular.
Whilst this could be an expression of a standard
middle class rejection of a comprador bourgeoisie, the fact
that the media is also being attacked is testament to the
marginalisation of the middle classes. These actions
may also be part of a generalised hatred of the
representatives of capital which expresses itself
Another feature of the Argentinian situation associated with
the assemblies and the ?middle class? is the barter clubs. As
the Wildcat comrade commented, ?there are a huge
number of people participating, but I don?t see it as a
?movement?, instead as a method of survival, as a way of
getting things that people are now unable to buy. But the
rules are the same as in the wider capitalist economy:
whoever has money can make a profit and can make others do
something for him. For example, there are people who go to
the supermarket to buy goods to take to the ?trueque?, and
exchange for other things or services that are worth more than
they paid. And anyone who has no money or goods
has no choice but to offer services, or in other words: sell their
labour power ?a well known model?I have even heard that
capitalist frauds have reached the clubes del
trueque, that there are forgeries of the credits which are the
currency. And in the relation between people, there is little
difference from the capitalist model. Each
person appears as an individual to sell/ exchange their things
or services.? We can compare this form of relation based on
survival needs to the more interesting actions of
assemblies and piqueteros described above which organise
survival in a way which relies on collectivity and solidarity.
The barter clubs are a largely ?middle class?
phenomenon, but the quote above also suggests the subtle
stratifications within the ?middle class? - with some
impoverished and trying to converge their stock of belongings
into cash to survive, and others maybe on the skids but being
able to turn a profit because of greater liquidity. As a
corrective to this view, Echanges feel we must keep
in mind that this form of exchange may also take a more
spontaneous, un-commodified form as the neighbourly
exchange of needs based practically on skill, time etc without
these necessarily being measured and equalised . A - ?would
you look after my kids tomorrow if I fix your sink on Tuesday?
- can be proposed spontaneously and goes on the
one hand towards creating social links between neighbours,
but on the other will have a tendency to formalise. In a
situation like Argentina there is going to be both the
pressure on this sort of relation to formalise and to
de-formalise. It might be difficult to trace a dividing line
between the two practices.

> Conclusion

The events of last December hit the headlines across the
world. What struck the bourgeois press was the mass protests
which resulted from the banking restrictions that
threatened the wholesale impoverishment of the Argentinian
middle class. However, as we have seen, there is more to the
Argentinian movement than the banging of pots and
pans. We have shown how there has been a long tradition of
working class struggles based on self-organization, of which
the present piqueteros actions are a recent example.
Also, at the current moment in Argentinian history, the
material conditions of the middle classes have shifted
downwards, and this forms the basis for solidarity with
proletarian movements based on shared experiences.
As we have seen, the movements in Argentina must be
understood in the context of the effects of ?neo-liberal?
restructuring in a country on the periphery of capital, where
social ties in proletarian areas still form the basis of the
organization of life. Whilst in the west, ?neo-liberal? policies
led to the decomposition of the organized
working class and a slide towards the ?war of all against all?,
in the periphery a different trend is noticeable. Neo-liberal
policies, in attacking working class standards
of living and its official form of organization and
representation within capital, also halt the incomplete
process of subsumption of labour to capital, a process which
intrinsically involved with the state and national development
programmes. We have sketched the specific features of
Peronist integration which has been one of the central
dynamics of struggles in Argentina.
It is important not to be blind to the particularities of
Peronism when we enumerate its similarities with European
fascism (integration of class through trade union into
corporatist system, nationalism etc.). Capitalism on the
periphery could not complete the post-war integration into
state-led capitalism in the same way as in Europe. Some
level of class autonomy, of community co-operation survived
where, from their daily experiences in meeting their needs,
people recognized that it was as acting as a class
for itself that produced results. Here, for example, we see the
impact of the semi-autonomous base of Peronism, with its
blurred edges (blurred precisely because it shades
into un-institutionalised immediate community organization),
which eventually became troublesome for Peron and was also
an intractable problem for the dictatorship which
followed (and which actually demanded Peron?s return). Later
we see Peronist base organizations re-asserting themselves by
default under Menem as an unofficial sector which
would cushion the effects of reform. At this point, these
networks actually assisted in the dismantling the very
clientelist network that connected them to the state and
under the period of industrial development were in a sense
the guarantee of their survival. The loose associations now in
place around piquetero groups and assemblies have
a less mediated relationship to the state than they had with
Peronist clientelism. In attacking clientelist waste in the
state, De La Rua, for example, attempts to outflank
the Peronist clientelist channels in local government by giving
out ?work plans? to the unemployed through NGOs. Now
these have effectively merged with piquetero
organizing. This means that the informal channels of
co-operation and neighbourhood provision are now freed of
clientelist mediation and its distortions. Autonomous groups
like Anibal Veron can work collectively in a way impossible
before. They face a weak state directly and try to get what
money they can out of it, disrupting the
accumulation of capital without recuperating counterweights.
However, we must be careful not to fetishize the high points
of the Argentinian movement to the detriment of a more
sober, wider perspective. Although the struggles have
involved hundreds of thousands of people, there are millions
who are not involved. How are we to consider this ?silent
majority?? No doubt many of them are sympathetic with
much of the mobilizations, and may be involved, at one
remove; some may have fallen into despair and the
atomization of a war of all against all of survival on the streets;
whilst others, maybe partly as a reaction to the threat they
feel from this group, are fearful of the chaos that surrounds
them. On the one hand, it?s the inertia of this
silent majority which is the ultimate limit of the movement;
but, on the other, their indecision is a block to the bourgeoisie
resolving the crisis in their favour.
One way of looking at the development of the current
situation in Argentina is to consider the events that led up to
the calling of elections. There were two huge,
country-wide piquetero days of action in May, with hundreds
of roads blocked. Duhalde, trying to convince the IMF that he
could keep his house in order, announced that the
piquetero blockages could be tolerated no longer. Soon after,
and presumably not by chance, the police attacked a
piquetero action on the outskirts of Buenos Aires with
live ammunition, injuring 30 and killing two. But the response
was immediate, the Plaza de Mayo filled up in protest; 50 000
were there by the third day. Duhalde had no
credibility in general and could not impose the violent will of
the state because of the alertness of the mobilization. He
then called the elections. This might be a
dubious strategy for the bourgeoisie, as it might put the seal
on the rejection of politics that has been such a strong feature
of the movements, expressed as a massive
abstention rate and/or spoilt vote. According to a poll in
Pagina 12 newspaper, 71% of people thought that, whoever
wins the elections, little or nothing would change.
If these democratic channels fail, the apparently obvious
option for the bourgeoisie is the return of military
dictatorship and terror. However, terror is never so simple
as it might appear. Proletarians are not always the mere
victims of it. The army in a country like Argentina was one of
the essential lynchpins of the state development
programmes which now belong to the past. Soldiers are closer
to the working class than the cops; they have to be convinced
that they are fighting for the people, not simply
coerced into killing, otherwise the weapons put in their hands
could suddenly turn into the weapons of the revolution. The
army comes in with a new social settlement. If it
can?t, it may not be able to guarantee the loyalty of its
soldiers. The problem with the restructuring is that it attacks
unproductive capital and the state - in other
words, sectors like the army; the Argentinian army is now
much reduced in size. One officer was quoted as not being
certain enough of the loyalty of his troops to consider
an intervention. We must remember at this point that
Argentinians feel that the events of the 19th of December ?
the most generalized and spontaneous mobilization ? was a
repudiation of this very possibility, burying once and for all
the fear and silence of the years of the dictatorship in this
huge collective affirmation.

Unable to impose the policies deemed necessary for the
resolution of the crisis, the Argentinian bourgeoisie face an
implacable international capital organized through the
IMF. The crisis in Argentina has demonstrated the limits of
the neo-liberal policies imposed through the IMF over the
past two decades. By making a few rich while
impoverishing ever greater numbers, these policies have
undermined the social conditions necessary for economic and
political stability. Neo-liberal policies are pushing
more and more countries in the periphery into the same
predicament, particularly in South America. However, with
the world economy entering into recession, the IMF cannot
afford to back down. If the Argentinian bourgeoisie is let off
the hook then Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria and many others will be
next. It will be the end of neo-liberalism.
However, if Argentina explodes in a revolution ? one which
could be contagious given the rise in struggles in Latin
America ? America may have to intervene. But, given the
fact that America is having to defend the neo-liberal world
order in the Middle East at the moment, will it be stretched
by its over-commitment on the world stage?

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