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Defend the Partido Obrero!
Dated June 12, a text was sent to the National Committee signed by comrades Altamira, Ramal, Ferro, Blanco, Quintana, Viñas and Busch. The text demands the formation of a public fraction and its publication in the internal bulletin.
When the National Committee was set to discuss this document in its meeting the past 14th of June, the document had already been profusely distributed widely beyond the limits of our Party, and even within other left wing parties. At the FIT steering table, on the 13th of June, other members informed us that they already had knowledge of this document’s existence. The text had been spread all over the social media.
We point out this situation, because it proves the method that we’ve been reporting. They demand the publication of the text in internal bulletin at the same time that they don’t hesitate on distributing it publicly. This is evidently an act of deceit: what exists is factionalism instead of the best interest of the Party and the search of a loyal mechanism to overcome these controversies.
The document begins with a quote from a speech by Altamira from 2014 Congress. Altamira calls to “stand up to intrigues” and “self complacency”. Altamira quotes himself as a source of authority.
The popular saying sentences wisely “tell me what you brag about, and I’ll tell you what you lack”: the policy of intrigues and factionalism has advanced greatly. It existed before the congress, but it has intensified after it took place. In these two months since the congress, we’ve been witness to a clandestine meeting of a sort of parallel leadership, that was one of many similar other meetings that took place in the city of Buenos Aires and different provinces, calling militants to meet outside of the party organizations they belong to. Part of this group has stopped quoting or started to quote half way through. This same attitude has been seen in some people close to the Party, that have been convinced by this group of the decision. The authors of the fraction’s document, have abandoned their organizations and stopped collaborating with our newspaper. They even refused to appear before the Control Commission, which is an obligation of every Party member, set by our statutes.
The document states that Jorge Altamira was proscribed from participating in several talks on the Cordobazo. But what the document does not say is that Jorge Altamira has previously refused to participate in the International Commission. A similar position was taken by Marcelo Ramal, when he refused to continue in the Editorial Committee and said that he would no longer write for Prensa Obrera. This is a self exclusion and even implies a breaking with Party unity, as being a Party member requires the participation in its organizations. This is the main point of the legacy of the Bolshevik Party, to the the point that the split with the Mensheviks during the Russian Social-Democrat Party’s second congress, where they withdrew in minority. The protests against “a state of siege in the party” attributed to Lenin and the Bolsheviks by those who didn’t agree that party organizations should be defined by a majority vote of the militants, at the expense of the indisputable character of leaders, founding members or circles of affinity are identical to the alarmed protests of the fractionists because the leaders that they favor were not voted by the congress. Plejanov, just like Altamira, was in favor of a centralized party where the will of the congress and its delegates must prevail, as long as his “acquired rights” and those of his collaborators were not infringed upon.
There is also a qualitative jump in the level of falsification in discussions. Criticisms are made without putting forth quotes or evidence to back it up. This was the case with the balance of the elections in Cordoba, when JA posted on his social media the accusation that the PO of Cordoba carried out a campaign that was “poly-class”, “without class frontiers” and “feminist”. The allegation had already been proved wrong, in advance, by the coverage of the Cordoba campaign on the Prensa Obrera webpage. There, the class character of the Cordoba PO´s campaign was proven, where the central slogans put forward were “if you vote Schiaretti, you get a Macri”, “the candidates of the IMF or the FIT”, “let the capitalists pay for the crisis”, “for a left and worker´s solution”. To this moment, Altamira hasn’t provided any proof, and he won’t be able to because there isn’t any. This method of affirming something without giving any quote or evidence has become a constant for all members of the fraction. This is taken to the extreme with the document where they proclaim they have become a public fraction. Those who have read this text have felt stunned: statements of all sorts against the Party, without even quoting texts, documents or facts from the class struggle. This irresponsible method couldn’t be more systematically applied.
We have now an aggravated repetition with the balance of several provincial elections on the 9th of June (Jujuy, Tucumán, Mendoza, Chubut) where it accuses the whole FIT, without distinction of an electoralist adaptation, including the Partido Obrero. It purposely ignores the struggle we´ve been waging to transform the FIT into a channel for the class struggle on every level and for the convening of a congress of the FIT to promote this perspective. They use the same method: unfounded accusations without referring to the slogans and positions we put forward. It would be enough to refer to the content of the campaigns, widely documented, to confirm that our orientation was presided by objecting the IMF regime and its candidates, opposing it with a worker´s political solution so that the crisis is paid by the capitalists and to head to a complete reorganization of the provinces and the country on new social bases, to solve the national crisis.
JA’s analysis are arbitrary, trying to make a factional exploitation of the left´s decrease in votes, ignoring objective and more general facts of the political situation. A serious analysis cannot overlook the confirmation that the bourgeoisie dominates the political scenario. Naturally, this collides in contradiction with Altamira´s proclamation that there are no blockades from the capitalist parties, in the name of the crisis of political regime. Objectivity is sacrificed on the altar of factionalism. In the aforementioned article factional manipulation reaches absurd proportions. Altamira accuses the PO and the FIT of being electoralists and attempts to use that as an explanation for the drop in the election. But he leaves Tucumán out of the analysis, despite the FIT being below 1% in that election. The reasons for this exclusion? Very simple: a majority of the Tucuman Committee is aligned with Altamira’s faction. Now, the slogan used in the Tucuman campaign was exactly the same as the one used in Cordoba. But since one follows Altamira, and the other doesn’t, they deserve to be valued differently. Their revolutionary character or lack thereof depend on this fact! It is safe to say that there is no interest in elucidating facts, but to carry out intestine recriminations to the convenience of a factional policy.
They have gone as far as to publicly criticize the candidates designated by the Partido Obrero. Gabriel Solano’s designation as candidate for mayor which, after being voted as the main candidate for the city of Buenos Aires by the national conference, was supported by a conference of the delegates of that city with 95% of the votes, was considered and denounced in JA’s Facebook page as an act of proscription of Marcelo Ramal (who received 5% of the votes), as if there were natural or lifelong candidates. Altamira had already ignored Romina Del Pla’s nomination, in a first stage after her designation by the national electoral conference in March 2019. A public impugnation of this nature is a low blow to the battle we have ahead of us against the bourgeoisie and a serious breach of party unity. Let’s add that the attack towards the PO’s CABA conference was only 24 hours after a press conference made those announcements publicly. Isn’t this a new boycott of the activity of the party, which they attempt to damage in order to prop up the intriguing work of a faction?
One of the most aberrant aspects of this are the constant factional attacks in workers fronts, against unions, sections, shop-steward committees and anti-bureaucratic groups led by the PO or where it plays a leading role. We call attention to this matter, as a line has been crossed. Not only is the breaking of party unity at stake, but even abandoning a fundamental principle such as the united front of the working class, in opposition to our adversaries who are enrolled with the bureaucracy that acts as a transmission belt for the boss´s parties. This task is developed in collaboration with people who have abandoned party militancy, or anybody that will throw in with them, as can be seen on social networks. In the internal bulletin there are reports on very serious attacks on the AGD-UBA assembly, in reference to the conformation of the multicolor list in ATE-La Plata, as before on the Tribuna Docente Congress.
The PO’s revolutionary policy is the defense of the class united front, in defense of the unions and class struggle and anti-bureaucratic groups that the working class has managed to put together. Factional actions are not harmless and have already long transcended the context of internal debate. None of the changing arguments justifies this practice against the PO and against the united front of the working class.
This leap in intrigues and factional actions happens after the Congress, a point which can’t be overlooked. It would have been logical that, after the Congress whose legitimacy no one questioned, we would close ranks behind the policy that was voted and march into the class struggle to strike as one fist. The validity or not of the policy voted will be known by the filter and verdict of the class struggle. Meanwhile, we put all our strength into achieving the success of policy voted. This is the historic tradition of the Partido Obrero, which we vindicate without hesitation and we call to defend fervently.
Let’s remember Altamira’s own words at the last Congress: “it was simply a difference over slogans” (final statement of his closing speech for his report as a minority), definition that he topped, in response to the repeated protests from congress delegates about his group breaking the unity of action of the party, with the exhortation “now we all go forward as an only fist”. However, two months later, they supposedly discovered that we are in presence of a difference of principle, which is the pretended basis for demanding the fraction. What is the reason for this sudden change? The long, 20 page text does nothing but rehash all the positions and controversies that have drawn out during the period. There’s nothing new in this. Neither, we add, has there been any event in the class struggle that can be considered a qualitative change that justifies a new political comprehension. At a climax of irresponsibility, this same text admits now the possibility of withdrawing “Down with Macri” as an electoral slogan, establishing an alternative slogan derivative of “Down with the IMF regime” that was voted at the Congress, “Down with the sell-out government and the sell-out parties of capital”. The two alternative slogans that the factional document proposes do not have the same meaning, one is centered on Macri, who is in retreat, and the other one includes, in another choice of words, the bourgeois opposition that covets taking his place. We’ve been discussing this problem the whole period of congress debate and it occurs to you to modify your position only now, without attempting a political approximation at the party congress! However, they don’t deduce form this any political approximation, but the sign to advance in the division of the Party with this formal fraction request. Clearly the root of this factional outbreak has nothing to do with agitational slogans, which are manipulated as an excuse to produce a clash.
The spokesmen of the so called “minority” during the debate never put forward forming a tendency. Now, suddenly, they demand the right, not to form a tendency, but a fraction. The difference between a tendency and a fraction is not a minor one: the last one is formed when the differences affect matters of principle. A clear example of the triviality and irresponsibility that they act with. In our opinion, we are not in presence of a difference of principles. We, of course do not belittle the differences or consider the debate unimportant. More so, in this document we pretend to advance in the analysis of the crisis and to characterize the nature of the confrontation and the struggling tendencies.
This controversy can and must be continued through an honest and loyal debate inside the Partido Obrero. What cannot continue and must cease immediately is the intriguing and factional practice. This is incompatible with the party. In the 20 pages of the fraction request, the text justifies the previous existence of clandestine meetings, the abandonment of practical party organizations and ceasing to write for the newspaper, not standing before before the Control Commission, not acknowledging the policy and the resolutions voted at the Congress and the National Committee, not paying dues or paying them partially, and breaking the united front in trade unions, work places and youth centers where the party intervenes. There are sufficient reasons, therefore, to conclude that the fraction request constitutes an intent to give legitimacy to actions incompatible with the party. It is not by chance that this demand is made when many comrades have denounced this factional action, because they have been invited to clandestine meetings or are invited to reroute their dues. The demand for a fraction wants to give a “legal framework” to this action of splitting the party and its most basic unity of action. Attacking, for example, nominated candidates voted by a conference on the eve of their public announcement, or denouncing the leadership of a union headed by the PO as a bureaucracy. This and nothing else is what is intended to be maintained and even multiplied. It is the split of the Party, or rather, the existence of a party within the PO, whose purpose is to undermine it to affect its results.
A characterization of the fraction: electoralism, demoralization and propagandistic fatalism
To have a thorough understanding of the crisis that our party is going through, it is necessary to have a political characterization of the fractionists and, especially, of their leader, who exercises in the splitting group a messianic type of leadership.
The most outstanding element of the splitting group is their contempt for scientific analysis and their acute impressionism. All texts and documents of JA lack a characterization of the concrete situation of the workers’ movement, of the blockades it faces to evolve to independent class positions, the balance of their defeats and their victories, the scope and limits of mass mobilizations that have taken place throughout the last period, of the currents that intervene in them and the role they play, etc. This is confirmed, for example, by the political document of JA which was an “alternative” to the document calling the XXVI Congress and approved by the majority of the CC, where a characterization of the movement of the masses is absent. As was duly noted, the “alternative” document didn’t broke all records, because never in the PO a document, much less a congressional document, omitted completely an analysis of the class struggle.
The document entitled “Why a public fraction of the Partido Obrero” is inscribed in the same line. Its chapter referring to the workers’ movement is, as we will discuss later, the poorest and less rigorous of all the chapters of the document. The absence, in the analysis, of the most important element that a revolutionary Partido Obrero must take into account, not only expresses a glaring error of method but, above all, expresses a renouncement to the struggle for the political conquest of the masses. The struggle to influence the political process, giving a precise orientation to the workers vanguard with slogans that allow it to open an independent channel, has been replaced by a propaganda of bombastic phraseology, aimed at “explaining the crisis”. This would be, according to the JA itself, the central task of the current political stage.
We alert about the modification of the character of the Party that this attempts to introduce subreptitiously. The PO would stop being a combat party, based on a program of intervention in the class struggle, to become a group that “explains the crisis” to the workers. It is the Party’s adaptation to the activity that Jorge wants to do, namely, to give talks. But a party is much more than that: the recruitment of the vanguard workers must be carried out by a combination of agitation, propaganda and revolutionary organization, seeking to open up a path in changing circumstances. A party gains workers’ confidence when they verify by their own experience of how far a party is willing to fight and put itself on the line in each class combat. The “explanation of the crisis” as the exclusive task of a party degrades the PO, which would stop being a combat party to become a propaganda group.
In JA’s texts the “regime crisis” has become a political subject in itself, replacing the action of social classes, which is class struggle. The regime crisis, as analytical category, must integrate the action of social classes and political forces, otherwise it becomes an abstraction.
Against this fundamental method, in a recent video, JA affirms that the slogans “Down with Macri-Constituent Assembly” must be raised regardless of the concrete stage of the movement of the masses and the evolution of class struggle. It would be equally valid for an insurrectional period as for one in which the working class is going through an ebb, with marked electoral expectations.
Under the same parameters, the capitalist class’ capacity for political action and strategy is also ignored. This is what was evidenced in the main thesis of the article World Overview by JA, when he characterized that “in Latin America the bourgeoisie has lost the strategic initiative”. JA’s anger at the criticism of “a simple sentence in a long article” speaks of the political level to which the author of the article has stooped, not to that of his critics. Because what matters in political articles are their theses, more than any accumulation of words and data. This thesis assimilates as equivalent categories the historical decadence of capitalism with the capacity of the bourgeoisie to promote “strategic initiatives”. What matters, in the class struggle, is with what policy can the working class defeat the initiatives of the bourgeoisie, denying the existence of these initiatives only leads to confusion.
This confusionism, at odds with the contributions made by Leon Trotsky in the Third Congress of the Communist International, was elevated to doctrine by Altamira and Ramal. Thus, they became the spokesmen of a coarse economicist fatalism, of a vulgar “catastrophism” which has nothing to do with all the theoretical elaboration of the PO. We warn here about the “coherence” of this degradation that Altamira wants to introduce to the PO. If the bourgeoisie has lost all initiative, then the class struggle and the strategies that the working class takes to defeat it and take power are no longer important. The only task remaining is to “explain the crisis”.
It is a central part of the PO’s political capital to consider that the capitalist bankruptcy is the objective basis of the validity of socialist revolution as a political position. Our Party characterized and established very precise predictions, in recent years, regarding the impact of the capitalist crisis. In our XXV Congress (2018), for example, we foresaw the return of Argentina to the ward of the IMF, while the entire establishment predicted an economic upswing. We based our prediction on the characterization of the international capitalist bankruptcy, marked by the accentuation of the commercial war, the flight of capital from the peripheral countries to the metropolis, and the lack of funds of the Argentine state, which created a significant rise in its country risk ranking and pushed Argentina to have to go to a lender of last resort. Since then, Argentina is far from having dispelled bankruptcy, because all the factors that led to this situation have worsened. The government, with the aim of containing the runs against the exchange rate, has had to put interest rates at exorbitant levels, pushing the country into a deep recession.
It is one thing to base an analysis on capitalist bankruptcy and quite another to ignore the development of the class struggle. For Altamira and his followers, the masses will inevitably rise to the revolutionary program because of the enormous “regime crisis”. When assessing this crisis, we must take into account the ability of bourgeois political parties, whether pro-government or opposition, to manipulate the masses; the political evolution, particularly of the labor movement, of the women’s movement and the youth; and the place conquered by classism and the revolutionary left in them.
As an example, it is worth observing what happened after the battles of December 14th and 18th, 2017, which showed the enormous capacity for struggle of the Argentine labor movement and put a certain limit on the government’s capitalist offensive. After those battles, an operation of containment and sabotage of all workers’ struggles was launched by the trade-union bureaucracy; and an operation of political detour by Peronism: under the strategy of replacing mobilization with the passive expectation of electoral change of office, because “there is 2019”. Despite the tireless efforts of the combative sectors of the workers’ movement and the left, these operations of political and union containment imposed themselves, making Macri’s government survive and even now struggle for reelection, despite having executed huge cutbacks with heavy consequences for the masses. The capacity of political action of the capitalist parties has been yet again evident in the successive electoral results, where the left is obtaining meager results and in which more than 90% of the governors have been re-elected, despite having all been indisputable partners of macrismo. The re-elections of the governors, in many cases with plebiscitary results, are a counteracting factor of the “regime crisis”, because it is an important point of support for the bourgeoisie to resume with all its anti-worker plans.
JA’s fatalism, which establishes a mechanical relationship between capitalist bankruptcy and the eruption of the masses, has been no more than the theoretical and political refuge of a leader demoralized by the ups and downs of the political struggle. This change finds its foundational cause in the PASO [internal elections] of the Frente De Izquierda in 2015, where the list led by the PO and headed by Altamira was defeated by the PTS’ list. Our defeat was the consequence, on the one hand, of a greater influence of PTS’ democratizing proposals in front of the PO’s revolutionary proposals within the electorate of the Frente De Izquierda itself; and, on the other, of the crisis of our own party’s internal regime, which had its most concentrated expression in the dissolution of its leading organizations. The clearest proof of that organizational breakdown was that an organization voted in the 2014 Party Congress, the expanded CC, did not meet even once in the course of two years. In 2015, when we decided to go to the PASO in the FIT, the party congress was not carried out. Precisely, the Party Congress of 2016 had as central resolution the recovery of the internal regime of the party: the functioning of its leadership organization, of the cells, the central place of the party press, etc. In a word, the recovery of the Bolshevik method.
The bankruptcy of the internal regime of our party was the expression of a profound political problem: the swing of the PO to electoralist propagandism. Just as today JA’s propagandism is at the service of a vulgar “catastrophism” and an anti-electoral line, in the past propagandism was at the service of a feverish electoralism, which flared up in 2011 with the electoral success of the Frente De Izquierda. Altamira, who today underestimates the results of the left in the name of the exceptional character of the “regime crisis”, in 2011 edited a book entitled “El Ascenso de la Izquierda”[The Ascent of the Left], supported exclusively on the FIT’s electoral results. The dissolution of the party leadership bodies was the expression of this electoralism, because the progress in the masses, the conquest of new classist leaderships, party building, require a collective method of action and a leadership that organizes initiatives.
Electoralism was also expressed in an important fact: the main leaders of the Party were, at the same time, its main public spokesmen. The constitution of the leadership was overrun, increasingly, by the public spokesmen of the party and not by its organizers, as evidenced by the fact that the CC lacked the necessary cadres to form its organizational secretariat. This electoralist propagandism pretended to be the short cut to achieve the conquest of the masses. With the electoral victories of the PO in Salta, in 2013, Altamira predicted the “jump of the fence” of the Peronist workers to socialist positions and promoted the slogan “for a new popular movement with a socialist flag”. Now, a text of the minority in Salta returns to the characterization, arguing that the triumph of the PO in Salta’s Capital was “only the first test of the rise of the working class to its own Government”. But what the process showed was the limits of an electoral triumph of the workers and socialist left if it is not accompanied by the independent and revolutionary organization of the workers’ movement. The nonsense here cannot be greater: for Lenin the revolution of 1905 was the rehearsal for October, 1917, but in 1905 soviets were formed, the working class and part of the peasantry revolted, street battles of enormous magnitude were developed. None of that happened in Salta. The anti-electoralism of the faction hides in reality a feverish electoralism.
From propagandism oriented to the electoral struggle, that combined with a method of personal leadership led to the undermining of the internal regime of our party, JA has swung, after the defeat of the 2015 PASO, to a fatalistic and anti-electoral propagandism. The change is due to a single fact: that JA stopped being the central candidate of the PO and the FIT. Thus, if JA is a candidate, everything passes through the elections and it was even affirmed that the FIT recovered the socialist policy for the electoral process. If, on the other hand, JA is not a candidate, the rest is electoralist and the task of the party would be to attend his talks where he “explains the crisis”. Within the change there is a thread of continuity: the center of gravity is still JA, raised to the status of the “program-man” after being for decades the “candidate man”. It is an unmistakable symptom of demoralization and political bankruptcy. Against electoralism, on one hand, and propagandist fatalism, on the other, the Partido Obrero defends the need for an independent political structure of the working class in the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
A “reinterpretation” of the Transitional Program
This propagandistic position has been transformed into theory by the “reinterpretation” of the transitional program. In 1938, Trotsky unfolded the contradiction between the objective conditions of the collapse of capitalism and the maturity of conditions for socialism, on the one hand, and the immaturity of subjective conditions, on the other. This immaturity was the result of the brutal defeats of the revolutionary proletariat, product of the treacherous policy at the hands of their traditional leadership (the second and third international); Trotsky characterizes the lack of preparation of the younger generation, in addition to the demoralization of the older generation of workers.
A system of transitory demands was proposed that orient the masses incrementally in struggle against the bourgeois state, to the extent to which these demands are incompatible with the social regime. The transitional program develops a program of power based on 1) The objective conditions of capitalist catastrophe, 2) The elementary needs of the masses and 3) Their subjectivity, the character of their leadership and their experience, marked by the October Revolution of and by later defeats.
The Transitional Program is a huge system of slogans, as are the programs of the Second International and even the Communist Manifesto. The Transitional Program takes into account in particular the subjective tendencies of the masses and the need for political action by the IV International, on the basis of a program, to win them over to a strategy for taking power.
The propagandist degeneration of our minority sweeps away this elaboration and considers that a call “for taking power”, that is, the direct call, without transitions, for the masses to take power, is independent of the subjectivity of the masses. On the contrary, calling for a “workers and peasants government” in the transitional program, for example, is a way to unmask the politics of the traditional workers’ leaderships, urging organizations that are unlikely to do so to take power, in order to win the masses to the perspective of the Fourth International. When Lenin raised the demand “down with the 10 capitalist ministers”, his aim was to break the influence over the masses that the conciliators with these 10 ministers had, preparing a call to take power.
When our party adopted its system of slogans, it took into account that in the midst of a brutal austerity plan against the masses, the response of the workers was contained by the union bureaucracy and by Peronism. That is why we put forward, as point number one, “Let capitalists pay for the crisis, let’s defeat the war plans of Macri and the Governors”. The question of “let’s defeat” deserves to be vindicated, because it alludes to the promotion of direct action by the masses, without which speaking of “taking power” is an act of sectarian onanism. The propagandist groups show themselves to possess markedly pacifist characteristics, since they boil their activity down to “explaining the crisis” as if the only obstacle that the masses have is their degree of consciousness, ignoring the physical oppression suffered by the working class every day of their lives in the factories and in society in general. The working class’s understanding of the situation it confronts, that is, its passage from class in itself to class for itself, is not an intellectual process but has to do rather with struggles and organization, which are what ultimately condition their capacity for political comprehension. With “defeat” we gave ourselves the policy of moving the masses to intervene in the situation through struggle. It is the starting point for any party of combat.
We led right off with these slogans considering that the political situation as a whole depended on the response of the masses in the face of the government offensive. Altamira, on the other hand, not only denied the existence of an offensive but also fought tooth and nail against the slogan “let’s defeat the war plans of Macri and the Governors”.
It is unclear why those signing the document consider in their statements that it is “pedantic” of the Partido Obrero to have voted in this set of slogans. This criticism sounds strange coming from those who head up a document with quotations from one of the authors themselves, who make their own prominence and protagonism a matter of principle, and who repeatedly make mention of what they consider to be a lack of training and understanding to even be able to undertake this polemic, on the part of those with whom they have shared years and in some cases decades in the day-to-day of party leadership and whose positions have won over the support of the overwhelming majority of that party. Are you really worried about pedantism?
We have pushed forward, in a campaign of rallies, the need for workers to mobilize, overcoming the defeatist policies of the trade union bureaucracy and the bosses’ political opposition, against the austerity government of the IMF. On this basis, in rallies throughout the country, we have put forward “Down with Macri and the corrupt regime of Macristas, Pejotistas (members of the classic peronist PJ, Justicialist Party) and Kirchnerists, and the Constituent Assembly.
The Partido Obrero is accused of distorting the Transitional Program for defending mobilization against the government’s war plans, proposing its defeat in the streets and defending the need for the working class to defeat the government’s war plan with a 36-hour strike, a national Cordobazo, and preparations for a general strike. Central to the Transitional Program is, against what our detractors are saying, the mobilization of the masses against the bourgeois state. For the propagandists, however, the task was to “explain” the crisis. Because of this position their proposal to us, who have been involved all year long in the most tenacious intervention in the struggles, was a plan of talks by Jorge Altamira on the Constituent Assembly.
They accuse the leadership of the PO of wanting to modify the Programmatic Theses of the CRFI of 2004. Another shot in the dark. All our analysis arises out of our understanding of the global crisis that is expressed in that text and many others that our current has produced. It is JA that two years ago promoted the holding of a conference to “review and update” the CRFI Theses, it is not known towards what positions. In the meantime, on several occasions over the recent years, he has developed positions related to capitalist restoration in China and Cuba and the formulation of the Constituent Assembly that differ from what was voted in the CRCI congress. JA is, specifically, the only PO militant that has called to modify these theses.
The “alternative” document insists on ignoring that the essence of the “There is 2019” slogan was synonymous with achieving “Down with Macri” through elections. It is the tendency that prevailed in the masses. The Pejotist (PJ) opposition fully exploits democratic illusions with a call for change without popular mobilization. A call placing “Down with Macri” at the top of the list without a call to defeat in the streets the war plan of the governors was functional to this policy. This was true already in 2018 and now even more so, because a polarization has developed in the electoral process that will explode these democratic illusions thoroughly, while, contradictorily, both blocks tend towards the center due to the pressure of the bourgeoisie and accentuate their pro-IMF features.
Therefore, our approach to the electoral process can be summarized in the slogan “Down with the IMF regime”, which also includes Peronism. Altamira’s “Down with Macri” is voting for Fernández-Fernández. In other words, it is a capitulation to bourgeois nationalism.
A turn that paints the whole factional character of the polemic
It is significant that Altamira, while claiming a fraction because the Partido Obrero Congress does not vote in the slogans “Down with Macri, Constituent Assembly” accepts, in one part of the document, replacing the slogan Down with Macri in electoral agitation. He has also omitted this slogan in his latest articles. Strikingly, the Constituent Assembly also disappeared, being replaced directly by the call for a Workers Government. The lack of seriousness of the faction makes it clear that all it is seeking is the personal prominence of an individual. Everything else is functional to that petty goal. Will Altamira come back to Down With Macri or not? Nobody knows, it will all depend on speculations or personal whim. What matters for the party is the following: under these conditions and with the electoral campaign under way “Down With Macri” places us in the camp of “critical” Kirchnerismo. Its logical consequence in the electoral field is support for the Fernández-Fernández formula, in the absence of opportunity for or existence of any Constituent Assembly. The PO Congress, which rejected it as an electoral slogan, did vote, however, in its central document, that the slogan Down With Macri would be appropriate in a situation of rising struggles against the government, which could be triggered by a deepening of the economic crisis, if it involves the direct action of the masses. As an electoral slogan, it is pure tailing of Peronism.
The document passes all the limits of ridicule when after a campaign of public divisionism accusing the leadership of the PO as being reformist and reducing all political problems, and even electoral results, to a problem of the slogan “Down With Macri – Constituent Assembly” not being adopted, now announces that during the elections it would be licit to exchange it for “No to the sell-out government and the sell-out parties of capital”. After claiming the pre-eminence of “Down With Macri” even for elections where Cambiemos was in a comfortable third position, such as [the provinces of] Tucumán and Santa Fe, the factionalists admit a slogan that is a poorly disguised copy of “Down with the IMF Regime” that has presided over the agitation of the PO ever since our national congress in April. Arbitrariness and factionalism without limits.
Contrary to what Altamira has argued, the constituent assembly is not enough to delimit against the opposition bloc, because there are even sectors that have proposed a constituent assembly under Kirchnerism, although this Chavista wing has lost ground with the nomination of Alberto Fernández. As an electoral slogan at a time without mass upsurge, the claim of a constituent assembly tends to be identified with a proposal for constitutional reform within the framework of the regime. Altamira has repeatedly and confusingly modified his formulation of the Constituent Assembly. We have been clear. We do not promote a constituent under the current powers, but rather to revoke them. A constituent assembly, even if it were the product of an electoral triumph of the left (which is not a present possibility), would be the expression of a precarious balance between the tendencies towards revolution and counterrevolution. The constituent assembly was our bottom line in a popular rebellion, the Argentinazo: the call to revoke all current powers. Outside of an intervention of the masses, the slogan accentuates its democratizing features.
The proposal of Altamira and his retinue is similar at times to that of Guillermo Lora, who, under the conditions of the retreat of the Bolivian workers’ movement against the governments of the MNR of the 1980s, predicted the non-viability of bourgeois democracy and adopted the slogan “for taking power” of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only slogan. Both statements are identified by their propagandist character and in their refusal to give battle in order to penetrate the masses. Altamira has oscillated on this point, because he defended, in the first phase of the controversy, the formula “Workers Government – Constituent Assembly”. During the internal debates, we rejected this formulation for forcing an eventual workers’ government to assume a constitutional commitment to the power of the current state. Then, Altamira took up the slogan of 2001 (the constituent assembly as a way to revoke state power) but without popular rebellion (and without a plan to develop it). The ultimatum of Altamira to the masses, unlike that of Lora, is developed exclusively around a democratic slogan. Like Lora, however, the subjectivity of the masses is disregarded, the slogans are determined by fixed objective factors.
It is contradictory that while the text claims to attack the power of the state as a way to demarcate from the bosses’ parties, it was decided in the provincial elections to ignore the governors (with the slogan “Down With Macri”), when the governors represent the most significant state power in any province, and have been the channel to funnel the masses opposition to the national government to follow a line of class conciliation. Altamira in his article on “Super Sunday” rejects all vulgar characterizations in order to explain the triumph of the governors without proposing any alternative, except what he characterizes as a deficient policy of the left. After that article, Altamira hid the provincial elections under the carpet in his fractional text.
The inability to analyze the provincial elections in a concrete fashion is an expression of the bankruptcy of the whole characterization. When in the political battle prior to the electoral process the growing adhesion of activists to a change through Peronism against Macri arose, the Partido Obrero discussed the slogans and tools needed to address those debates. Altamira and his fractional entourage repeated against all evidence that Peronism and Kirchnerism did not pose a block for the development of the class struggle, or of the left, either. This version was refuted in each plenary that the militancy of the party carried out all over the country, and was sustained by the fraction against all evidence. We had already characterized a block of class conciliation in opposition to macrismo in the Neuquén elections, the first of the year, and we developed a policy to delimit with them, with the slogan Let the Capitalists Pay for the Crisis. For Altamira, these difficulties do not exist, so the electoral result was to be explained by the slogans of the FIT (Left Workers Front) in the electoral process. Absurd.
The chapter dedicated to the workers movement indicates an involution
As we have pointed out, the fundamental characteristic of the document presented by those demanding to constitute a fraction is the absence of the purpose of fighting for political insertion in the masses, which allows the organization of its vanguard to fight for its leadership. In their terms, repeated by Altamira and Ramal hundreds of times, everything comes down to letting the capitalist crisis do its job and limiting the action of the revolutionary party to explain the its scope. As we said above, we are facing a combination of pacifism and electoralism, which now mutated to anti-electoralism only because Altamira is not a candidate.
In the last pre-congressional debate Jorge Altamira had to acknowledge the total absence of any balance of the class struggle for the period in his so-called alternative document for the congress, pointing out that “a thorough balance of the workers’ struggles during the last period is necessary, as well as characterizing the awareness of struggle and the methods employed by the workers and their understanding of the political crisis”. He did not advance later in this either. The failure to do so was not secondary. Lenin, referring to revolutionary theory, argued that “it only forms definitively in close connection with the practical experience of a truly mass and truly revolutionary movement”.
The previous National Committee did provide an assessment of the state of the workers’ movement and of the masses in the convocation reports to the XXVI Congress. It was a substantial part of the pre-congressional debate expressed by many comrades in contributions that were published in 17 internal bulletins, and finally it was present in the debate of the congress itself. That is to say, the whole party debated taking into account a balance of the class struggle, of the workers’ struggles, of the state of consciousness of the masses and of the intervention of the party in this, and it was on that basis that resolutions were made, slogans were established and initiatives were proposed.
Did the authors of the request to form a fraction take note of all this? No. Two months after the congress had ended, they have not contributed either a balance or any initiative at all. The chapter dedicated to the workers movement shows that an involution has taken place.
You can compare the text presented by the fractionists (by far the shortest chapter of all) with the resolution of the workers movement commission at the congress, which starts out with a characterization of the regime crisis, to finally propose a series of campaigns, taking into account the containment and role of the trade union bureaucracy, the call for a united front, the elections and the workers’ movement, the unity of the employed and the unemployed, the precarization of youth, women and the trade unions, the attack on the retirement pensions, the strike of April 30 and May 1 and the delimitation with the “21 F” block of the “opposition” trade union bureaucracy, and the character, function and contradictions of the Plenario Sindical Combativos (Combative Trade Union Plenary). In a word, a political policy to address the conquest of workers’ organizations, the struggle for the leadership of the mass movement.
With this orientation the Partido Obrero (Workers Party), the Coordinadora Sindical Clasista (Class Struggle Trade Union Coordinating Committee), and the Plenario del Sindicalismo Combativo (Combative Trade Union Plenary) played a prominent role in the strike last May 29. From the roadblocks set up on the bridges our comrades, with their leaders on the front line, faced repression, clearly delineating with the “coffee break” strike called by the trade union bureaucracy; from the platforms raised (like those near the Obelisk) we outlined the prospect of combative trade unionism. The struggle for an active strike of 36 hours (the “national Cordobazo”) and the congress of rank-and-file delegates to defeat the regime of Macri and the IMF and put forward a political alternative for the working class, all took prominence through the mass media that day, in the agitation leading up to the strike, in the daily work inside the factories, workers’ neighborhoods and workplaces. Several of the union leaders from the party and the PSC (Combative Trade Union Plenary) were speakers not only at our rallies but in broader rallies of workers’ organizations, as for example in the provinces of Mendoza, Neuquén and Tucumán. With this same orientation activities were developed for the 50th anniversary of the Cordobazo, ranging from massive events in places like Córdoba and Capital (Buenos Aires) to the unprecedented seminar of the SUTNA [National Tire Manufacturing Union] that “has been a leap in the consciousness of the tire workers’ vanguard. The conquest of the union continues to open new roads in the politicization of workers fighting for their demands and, at the same time, are a channel for the organization of the working class in favor of its historical interests” (Prensa Obrera #1551).
With this orientation we are intervening in the struggle of Alba, Textilana, the tire workers union itself, fighting for the recovery of unions (as in ATE, the State Workers Association) and the struggle of the unemployed.
So the brief chapter dedicated to the workers movement in the fractional document contributes more to the characterization of those who have written (and signed) it than anything else.
On the one hand, the absence of any reference to the workers’ struggles of the period (the reference to the unemployed deserves a special analysis) already reveals the total lack of interest in approaching the mass movement. This contempt, for a substantial aspect of the activity of a party of the working class, not to mention a revolutionary party, also shows a high degree of irresponsibility and improvisation in the nature of the signatory group. They address a party that is involved in the struggle to the core (which is why, according to Altamira, he said at the electoral conference that this was still his party), without a single reference or word on what is the daily activity of thousands of comrades.
Two of the three written paragraphs are intended to refer to resolutions of the previous congress (the XXV) that were voted in unanimously (are they self-criticizing themselves for having voted in favor?). Apart from which the debate taking place at the time is distorted, and facts are concealed.
It is pointed out that the leadership at that moment (which also included Ramal, Altamira, Viñas, Blanco and Quintana) considered that “nothing was happening in the working class”, the rebuttal of which can be verified by simply reading the documents presented to that congress and the resolutions voted. The lie seeks to avoid referring to the statements of Altamira and Ramal. The inadequate position of “prepararing factory coordinating committees” in the document withdrawn by them from that congress, does not correspond to any reality, when we are in a fierce battle to preserve the conquered shop steward committees and try to get through to others in the middle of a wave of layoffs in general and of activists in particular. Let’s say in passing, that following the PTS style, struggles are named that were led by their current followers (AGR) but others, like Interpack, INTI, Textilana and Télam, are ignored. Perhaps because the “theorists of the ebbing tide”, as we are called, were the organizers of these and many other struggles, be they Siam, Alba, AGD, the Sutebas, and many, many others, including our participation in AGR, through the Naranja Gráfica and the Polo Obrero.
There is no balance sheet for the most important thing: what are the results and the relationship of forces emerging from those struggles. The marked reflux in the newspaper or graphics workers unions as a whole (of which we are a part), and in other unions like Smata where there is no left-wing representation left, and the suspensions and voluntary pensioning and massive contract cuts, all going through without a fight, is no small matter. When struggles are fought, there is always a positive result, in the forming of consciousness in activists that will go on to other workplaces, of a record in the historical memory of the workers, etc. But the 46,000 layoffs in March have passed without pain or glory and that is part of a Marxist analysis of reality.
Otherwise, let’s take a look at Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution for a detailed analysis of the number and character of strikes according to the years of ascent or setback between 1905 and 1917. Future rebellions arise from the ebbs and flows, says the document. But of course, intervention is not the same in flows and in ebbs. The characterization that “a Cordobazo is coming greater than 50 years ago and which will lead to the resignation of A. Fernández so that Cristina [Kirchner] will assume [the presidency] as a factor of contention” (Altamira in the Social Sciences Faculty talk) has no grasp on reality, because in any case, it is necessary to prepare the workers on the basis of their current relationship of forces and state of consciousness so that we can reach that desired destination with the appropriate slogans. Secondly, the last part is an embellishment of the FF (Fernandez-Fernandez) formula that confuses the workers about its true content: the president will be the establishment’s trusted man.
Of all this, not a single word. Not only is there no balance sheet on the class struggle, there is none on the slogans proposed to the party either. This reveals that these slogans have not been properly reflected upon, appreciating the activity of the masses and the party itself, but rather that they are lightly tossed on to the table without taking any responsibility for daily intervention in the struggle. There is only preaching from a podium according to their interpretations and individual interests. A single reading of the party newspaper, where the workers’ struggles are analyzed and disseminated, where party work on all fronts is followed up on, helps in order to orient and guide the party. The fractionists should take up this task again if they want to provide valid guidance to the party.
Having an equal lack of any real basis is the proposal for the “workers’ congress led by SUTNA” in opposition to the Lanús congress (which was also led the SUTNA) and which led to the founding of the Combative Trade Union Plenary. The signatories do not offer a clue as to with whom the SUTNA congress would be organized. The objective, they say, would be “the development of classism in broader sectors of the union itself.” But the SUTNA convened the plenary of Lanús after a debate in grassroots assemblies and in their shop steward committees. Putting itself at the head of a regrouping on a national scale, with a program debated by thousands of comrades and a systematic intervention of the united front in the class struggle, clearly enhances the development of classism in the same union. Altamira’s orientation would mean SUTNA breaking relations with the existing classism, to join with no-one. The Oil Federation, in which Ramal placed his hopes for a workers’ congress in the XXV Congress, has come together in the Moyano-Kirchnerist Trade Union Front of 21F. SUTNA’s drive to regroup combative unionism has not prevented it from intervening in the Confederation meeting of the CGT with a class position when the concrete opportunity arose to call for a congress of rank-and-file delegates, something that went unnoticed by the “critics”.
Characterizing the PSC (Combative Trade Union Plenary) as “an agreement among leftist political-union tendencies” in opposition to the Workers’ Congress proposal is absurd. The PSC is a united front of trade union organizations: trade unions, and shop steward committees, based on the practice of assemblies and permanent consultations with their rank and file. This is the criterion that explains the persistence of the Plenary in contrast to other past experiences. Of course, within these organizations, as in any trade union, political currents are at work. The idea of a workers movement “in a pure state” is not only illusory but even reactionary, a corollary of anti-partyism or bourgeois nationalism (which considers the left a foreign element to the organized labor movement).
There is not a single real contribution because actually, what they have to say is whether they are for or against the actions that are developed at the request of the Lanús congress. A year and a half of PSC are sufficient to see that it has been a factor for regroupment to promote independent actions and struggle in opposition to the bureaucracy in each workers’ struggle and even within the independent piquetero movement. On the other hand we had a method: we established a program that is not a done deal, because it expresses a political struggle with the democratizing currents that make up leftist and anti-bureaucratic unionism, but it stands on the grounds of political independence of the working class and a solution and economic plan for the workers. On the other hand, without issuing any ultimatums in Lanús [the founding congress of the PSC}, the CSC-PO (Class Struggle Trade Union Coordinating Committee) put forward the position of the Congress of rank and file shop floor delegates from all trade unions with the slogan for taking power of a Workers Government.
Those of us accused of “saying nothing was going on” by those who voted for documents in common with us at the XXV Congress, prepared in the newspaper, on the fronts and among the militants, the battles of December 14th and 18th, when a week earlier in Facebook JA had written that the crisis was “at the top”; a statement that he held even after those huge mobilizations, as was recorded in the minutes of the meeting of the CC (Central Committee) of that years’ end. Then we characterized these days as a turning point in how the masses considered the Macri government, something that has been driven even deeper as we look back a year and a half later, although it did not mean or signify a workers’ upsurge. On the other hand, Daniel Blanco, one of the signatories of the mentioned text maintained that we had entered into a prerevolutionary situation in the CC that he was part of at the time. We characterized the mechanisms of containment that were accentuated by the December outburst and the mass reaction to the repression and we took up the slogan of Active 36-hour Strike as the most appropriate bridge towards a general strike.
The accusation against the proposal for a congress of the workers movement and the left, made by the XXV Congress, as being “not to elevate the FIT (Workers Left Front) to a strategic development in the class but as a framework to negotiate the electoral lists” is arbitrary and factional. Where is that said? Why negotiate electoral lists a year and a half before? Actually, the accusation seeks to hide its own conception of the congress and the electoralist bias of the signatory group. The 2014 rally in Luna Park ended up proclaiming the presidential candidacy of Altamira, in 2015 a worker meeting in the Bauen Hotel (which Altamira considered superior in its composition and projection to the working plenaries of Sitrac-Sitram and Villa Constitución!!!) was called in support of the Altamira-Giordano ticket and in the XXV congress Altamira y Ramal, together with the general strike and the coordinators, proposed an electoral conference of the party in June 2018 (one year before the close of the lists). Like the movie says: “It’s not you, it’s me.”
The absence of a balance sheet on the pertinence of slogans such as the “general strike” and the “coordinating committees” is illustrative of Altamira’s drift towards propagandism, towards which he wants to drag the entire PO. In fact, the lack of a balance sheet shows that no one was ever really serious about launching a campaign for this. According to Altamira, that slogans for action do not correspond to the situation within the workers movement would be a merit, because only then could they play a “preparatory role.” But if that were the logic to follow, then we should also agitate for “armed insurrection”, because if we limit ourselves to General Strike we would be making the same mistake that Lenin pointed out to Rosa Luxemburg. But it’s all nonsense. The only real preparation is to establish slogans of action that can be adopted by the Party to make inroads into the masses, recruit its vanguard and organize the most active sectors. The rest is to give talks at some cultural center.
Once again on the el Polo Obrero
On the movement of unemployed the signatory group redoubles a petty-bourgeois, morenista and liquidationist characterization that was already highlighted in the congressional debate.
According to them, the movement of the unemployed has been revived for the purpose of demanding social welfare plans, and they try to pass for news a story about the piquetero triumvirate, the pressure of the church, etc. that any delegate of the Polo Obrero can explain with many more elements, conclusions and in actual practice.
The demanding of social welfare plans, to counter the rise of misery, hunger and unemployment, is a hugely powerful struggle against the state and capitalist governments, or do the signatories believe that the bourgeoisie will graciously sustain the hungry masses at the expense of the budget that is earmarked for the payment of the usurious debt and the support of the parasitism of the bourgeoisie? The intervention of the Polo Obrero against the plan of containment designed by the government, the bourgeoisie and the church to avoid a replay of 2001 was opening cracks that we managed to transform into a front of struggle on a national scale. The fight against misery and against the right of the clerical leaders allied with Macri and Minister Stanely to decide who receives official assistance and who doesn’t was transformed into a powerful movement of struggle. In opposition to the giving of alms and beneficence we raised the class unity, vindicating the Polo Obrero’s role in the front lines in every industrial conflict, from AGR, to Siam, to Interpack.
In the paragraph dedicated to the movement of the unemployed, the signatories clarify that the “perspective of the Polo Obrero is conditioned by the class struggle as a whole”. What else is new?! And that of the occupied workers? And the womens movement? And that of the struggle for human rights? And that of the unemployed youth? That is to say, and that of all the exploited? The warning reveals a prejudice.
Instead of proposing the strengthening of the struggles carried out by the unemployed, taking the initiatives that work towards their better and stronger organization, for the growing unity of employed and unemployed (it’s a fact that the Polo Obrero is part of the board of the CSC (Class Struggle Trade Union Coordinating Committee) and the PSC (Combative Trade Union Plenary)), the fractionists tell them to … be trained politically as a condition for converging with the party’s strategy. This recommendation, which is only indicated for the unemployed (workers without work), distills a class prejudice sustained by the PTS and a large part of the media in the hands of the capitalists.
The struggle of the Polo Obrero against the piquetero triumvirate, against the pressure of the church in the neighborhoods (and especially in defense of the right to abortion), against the real estate conglomerates in the struggle for housing, speaks of a convergence with the strategy and the party program that we aspire for all the organizations we build. The recent development of the Polo Obrero has already provided a huge opportunity to organize activists and militants throughout the country.
The Founding Congress of the Youth of the Polo Obrero, voted by the XXVI Congress and publicly reviled by members of the faction, has revealed youths that face the misery and violence of the state are reaching this comprehension with a growing consciousness. The Polo Obrero has regrouped with the united front method, as we did in the past with the National Piquetero Bloc, among the sectors in struggle not co-opted by the State. This front of struggle has been a disruptive factor in the demobilization of the masses promoted by all the trade union bureaucracies from Daer to Yasky and Godoy, all tailing the formula FF (Fernandez-Fernandez) or even others within a divided Peronism, like Barrionuevo. The boycott carried out by the leadership of the PO of Tucumán of the Youth Congress of the Polo Obrero and its most recent national mobilization confirm a defeatist and depoliticized path and the liquidationist-rupturist character of the fraction in question.
Defending the Left Front today is to defend the political independence of the workers
The document presented with the request for forming a “public fraction” perpetrates a true falsification when it says that there exists (apparently in the PO) a divergence in the character of the FIT from the moment of its forming in 2011, as to whether it has a democratizing or revolutionary character.
Again, the quotations that reveal said 8 year-old divergence are conspicuous by their absence.
As in religion, on the messianic road to nowhere it only remains to have faith in the man-program. Asking for evidence is an act of heresy.
The group that has been brought together by Altamira and then Ramal within the PO has a position hostile to the Left Front, although oscillating and changing over time. But it was not always like this. When the FIT was formed, and JA himself was his main candidate, he wrote that the 520,000 votes gathered in the 2011 primaries were an “adherence to a political call that had been an objective of the program, the parties and the leaders of the revolutionary left” counterpoising it to “the democratizing fronts of the past”.
He vindicated the democratic nature of the campaign as positively characterizing the FIT as an “anti-capitalist force” with a platform of immediate demands that a workers’ government needed for its realization. He claimed as central to the 2011 campaign “the slogan ‘let the capitalists pay for the crisis ‘ and their concrete demands are summarized in the Transitional Program of the Left Front” Of course everyone in the PO marked the limits of the FIT (Left Workers Front) as a strictly electoral front which constituted a commitment, a bridge, towards an electorate that was not that willing to accompany our revolutionary program but which supported us in an electoral contest against the disappearance or capitulation of the democratizing left and the center-left in opposition to the central bosses’ blocs.
We marked the contradictory character that it had due to the political divergences between the PO and the democratizing character of our partners coming from Morenism.
We denounced at each step the factional blockades to the development of a united front, from the unions to the breaking of the parliamentary blocs.
This year, the political resolution of our XXVI Congress points out that there are blockades against it developing into a political pole of the working class due to the “outrageously electoralist orientation” of our allies, which constitutes “a divergence of strategic proportions”. It has not developed into a united front present in all fronts of the class struggle. The Morenoist groups, centrist and dedicated to the construction of their groups serving their own interests divorced from the general interests of the class, perform all kinds of factional tricks, tripping up the worker and student fronts, whenever they can. The balances of the FUBA (Buenos Aires University Federation), where the PTS and IS do not join in to strengthen the revolutionary wing of the leadership, of the divisionism that traitorously sunk the combative leadership of ATEN, of the factionalism against the class struggle SUTNA, of railroad workers, where the Bordó List of IS refuses to open the lists in the Sarmiento line to the activism of the left, are examples of this. “This progressive character of the Left Front, and its platform in defense of the workers’ government and class independence, is in contradiction with the electoral orientation of the PTS, which is also a Siamese sister of sectarianism, as it privileges internal competition for the distribution of candidacies over the united front of action that requires a systematic action of struggle for a workers government. From this contradiction it follows that the PO must be presented as a defender of the Left Front and as the party that, because of its program and method, is capable of developing it in a consistent manner.
Our defense of the FIT also lies in the defense of the class struggle united front, which must begin with the united action of the Left Front itself. In order to give it a definite political form, we must insist on our proposal to convene a Congress of the Left Front, to serve as an instance of mobilization of activists from the workers, youth and women movements and strengthen a campaign based on this mobilization. The Left Front’s 8 years of existence must call attention not only to its longevity in itself but because it implies having maintained an independent class stand in the face of changing political conditions and pressures of different kinds. We have surpassed the summit of Christina [Kircher]’s bonapartism, with its 54% in the 2011 elections, to its attempt to star in the dismantling of an interventionist regime under his own leadership with the Kicillof-Chevron pact, the agreement with the Paris Club and the candidacy of Scioli, the victory of Macri, the crisis of the “gradualist” scheme, the agreements with the IMF and the political and economic crisis, accompanied by an enormous operation to contain the struggles and electoral deviation that dominates the current political moment. Much of the Argentine center left and left that were not Kirchnerist in the 12 years of its government have now joined the Frente Para Todos (Front for All), with the K, the majority of the PJ, the Renovator Front and the impulse of the Catholic Church. Pino Solanas, degenarism, Patria Grande, the PCR and Barrios de Pie, along with other minor groups such as the Perro Santillán, the Darío Santillán Front of CABA and La Dignidad, have all signed up there; they supported the FIT in the past.
The existence of the PO in Argentina, its political development and its insertion in the class struggle in our country has been a determining factor in the persistence of the FIT.
Although our partners have flirted with bosses and bureaucratic tendencies, they have not taken steps towards a deep political integration into that leadership, under the pressure of the political struggle that we have undertaken with them minute by minute. This applies to the flirtation of the PTS with Kirchnerism, as well as that of IS with Hugo Moyano. The persistence, and the reinforcement, with the agreement with the MST with this front of class independence, is a political fact of defiance to the predominant current, which leads a majority of workers to vote for Peronism against Macri, with the expectation to be able to defend themselves, even partially, against the regime of the offensive against the working population, wage liquidation, growing unemployment and national subordination at the service of the wage and budget cuts commanded by the IMF.
The Brazilian PSOL, where militant groups linked to IS, the MST and the MAS (and which the group linked to the PTS had left and then asked for re-entry) have been an integral part of the operation of tailing Lula and demobilizing the Brazilian working class against the Temer’s coup and then against the rise of Bolsonaro. Not to mention the dissolution of the whole left behind the English Labor Party at the hands of Corbyn or the Yankee Democratic Party with Bernie Sanders. The FIT plays the opposite role in Argentina. We vindicate its existence and defend it. If we did not have the FIT, we would have to call for it to be formed against the enormous pressure to subordinate the workers to the Pejotist (classic Peronist) front that is strongly evident in all the provincial elections and has marked a tendency to brake or move backward on the part of all the leftist lists. The existence of this front, then, is not democratizing, but rather proletarian, class struggle in its content.
This does not mean presenting an idyllic or innocent balance of the FIT. The fact that the FIT is shared by the PO with centrist and democratizing groups is one of the facts to take into account, together with the political function of the front and the context in which it moves. In other words, it brings a united front to the working class based on its historical interests.
Altamira went into crisis with the FIT when our list lost the primaries. In 2015 he refused to recognize the defeat in the primaries in his position as head of the Prensa Obrera (Workers’ Press), applying censorship on all articles that called to vote for Del Caño-Bregman, something that the whole bourgeois press commented on to our party’s shame and causing harm to our candidates.
In addition, since Altamira had unilaterally withdrawn from the CEN, there was no way to discuss this censorship with him, which he applied by way of fait accompli. In the same line, he had refused to participate in the FIT’s united press conference on the upcoming October elections, disregarding the fact that the leadership had taken the decision of designating him as our speaker in the conference. He indicated via social networks his opposition to the campaign for splitting tickets in favor of Néstor Pitrola as deputy, which resulted in his re-entry to the national congress. In 2017 he campaigned internally for the PO to repeat the primaries, to “prepare the break-up of the FIT” that after an almost unanimous rejection of the party militancy, retired in the congress of Easter 2017, voting in favor of a unified political resolution.
It is true that in the 2015 primaries the PTS was able to make use of the democratic character of the FIT electorate in their favor, appealing to marketing approach and depoliticized slogan of “renovation”. However, as we characterized in the CC of the PO after the elections and then in the XXIV congress, it was a conditioned victory.
The PTS was unable to impose its leadership and orientation on the FIT, which has been in dispute, divided. In the primaries we defeated them in the Province of Buenos Aires, CABA, Córdoba, Salta, among other provinces, although without being able to discount the difference they gained over us in Mendoza and Jujuy. This reality made the PTS far from dominating the representation of the FIT.
From this understanding a line of action was derived that gave great results in favor of the political struggle of the PO, far from dedicating ourselves to crying over spilt milk. In 2017 we went with a great campaign for united lists, for the congress of the workers movement and the left, and it was voted in at the conference of the province of Buenos Aires and then in the XXV congress to promote Romina del Pla as a central figure, together with Néstor Pitrola, in the lists of Buenos Aires. In the course of the campaign the electoral slogans of the PTS on “life and earnings” lost ground against the vindication of the left “together with the workers, always”, that is, of our place in the class struggle. The final balance of the conflict should highlight that not only were we able to get in more parliamentary representatives than the PTS as a result of the 2017 elections, but also that we had a greater political role in its use. The movement for the conquest of legal abortion was highlighted by Romina. Through it, our revolutionary and class positions within the women’s movement had an enormous platform.
She was also one of the most prominent voices in the political struggle against pension reform and the IMF budget cuts.
The factional document cries out exaggeratedly against those who do not agree with the novel characterization of the FIT that they improvised: “The categorical refusal to characterize the FIT as democratizing gives it a strategic or permanent character”. As a remedy, he proposes that we develop a strategic polemic and have our own agitation and policies in the elections.
Something that the PO has been developing for 8 years, and continues to do so at every opportunity. With unsubstantiated assertions, JA and his followers deduce the imputation of a “tendency to dissolve the party in the FIT”, “not to say what will happen if it reaches agreements with AyL, MST and the New MAS”.
While Altamira limited himself to internal bickering within the PO with the excuse of “Down with Macri – Constituent Assembly”, the party, faced with the refusal of a common campaign of the FIT in the face of the national crisis that we proposed publicly, carried out a series of massive rallies of its own all over the country, setting a position and a program in the face of the national crisis while agitating among the activists a series of polemical letters to the FIT, which also included disarming the factional maneuver of the PTS for a “unified party” when it could not even agree to having a united rally. In the February 2019 electoral conference, Altamira and Ramal played a sorry role, refusing to nominate candidates to advance in the closing of an agreement of the Left Front, with the argument that “the crisis” brought into question whether or not this year’s elections were even going to be held, while Altamira presented a statement calling to “Vote for the FIT” while there was still no agreement, and described an idyllic advance in a common action in the workers movement that was a frankly inexplicable embellishment.
From there they went, on the eve of the party congress itself, to the characterization that the FIT is democratizing, erasing its differentiation with the Frepu, Izquierda Unida and “broad” international formations such as PSOL or NPA, which are a heritage of the PO in the last 8 years, in opposition to the IS defence of an undifferentiated “left unity”.
It seems that the place of Altamira in the events is enough to modify all the categories of analysis. When he was a central protagonist he defended the FIT as anti-capitalist and revolutionary, which did not seem contradictory, the slogan “let the capitalists pay for the crisis” and their differentiation from the fronts of the democratizing left. Altamira was the author of the correct proposal for a front between Zamora in 2013 with the FIT, which consisted of placing him as a candidate for the first Legislator for CABA, at the expense of Marcelo Ramal, to facilitate the entry of the candidate for national deputy for the FIT, which was Altamira. The text of the factionalists accuses us now of carrying forward the proposal that he voted in favor of a few months ago as a member of the CC, to want to “change Ramal for Zamora or Bodart.”
Could the misrepresentation be any greater? The individualist method is the exact opposite of Marx’s call in the Communist Manifesto for revolutionaries to have no interests of their own, as a group outside of class interests. A political involution that leads to casting judgment on one’s party and the fronts that it forms on the basis of the personal place one occupies in it. But if Altamira does not want to conform to this maxim of Marx, the least he can listen to Perón, who said “first the country, then the movement and finally the individual.” The Altamirista faction applies Perón’s maxim in reverse order.
The FIT-Unidad was formed on the basis of the failure of the MST’s class collaboration policy, which in earlier periods promoted fronts with Proyecto Sur, Luis Juez and had also integrated the autonomous CTA. Its integration reinforces the camp that rejects and has rejected to take that path. The proposal of this front was voted unanimously by the CC prior to the congress, when Altamira and Ramal formed part of it, and afterwards by the congress.
It has a contradictory character, since it adds another democratizing group to the front, with a more opportunist trajectory, and at the same time it extends the FIT’s audience to reach more workers, generating better conditions for a mobilization of forces in the electoral and non-electoral field. We have confronted this particularity by imposing on the FIT the need for our own political agreement before meeting with the MAS and the MST, refusing to dissolve the front inside a general agreement with groups whose actions have been much more erratic.
Our way of judging united fronts is the same one Leon Trotsky had when he proposed to the German working class to promote a united workers front with the PS and the Stalinist PC to crush rising Nazism. The objection to this class unity because of the prior program or trajectory of social democracy was the Stalinist policy of the third period, an autistic ultra-leftism that cost the working class dearly. The history of the Argentine PO and of the entire international workers movement teach the value of the united front to expand revolutionaries´ field of action.
The center of the problem around the Left Front can be summed up in the conquest of the best conditions to regroup a mass of workers, youth, women, and the oppressed around the flags of class independence, knowing that the crisis in course is going to break, sooner rather than later, the ascendancy achieved by the Pejotist bosses replacement plan which has a strong commitment to national and foreign bosses to promote a new round of anti-worker reforms whoever wins the elections. The belittling of the electoral struggle, the “critical” abstentionism due to the contradictory nature of the FIT and any divisionism is functional to the political subordination of the workers to bourgeois nationalism, the church and the union and piquetero bureaucracies that now dominates the political landscape. The defense of the united front prepares the best conditions for a revolutionary leadership in the new stages of the crisis. The “revolutionary” verbiage to make divisive politics weakens the united front and confuses the fighters and the militancy. We must then lay bare their character and defeat confusionism.
On the inner regime: collective practice or personalistic management
The inner regime of the party was addressed as a central issue in the XXIII Party Congress in 2016. The need to do so and pass resolutions arose in the face of evidence that the party was not functioning in accordance with the needs of collective practice that assumes the responsibilities of the leadership and this was verified fundamentally in that their organisms did not meet or they did so sporadically, starting with the Central Committee itself. In 2015 there was no party congress. The national committee had meetings every 3 or 4 months. Its commissions were totally paralyzed. The executive committee, voted by the CC, was supplanted by partial meetings of a part of its members in a coffee shop. The newspaper was not the expression of the collective elaboration of the party leadership. The regional committees in the interior of the country were not centralized. The Internal Bulletin was published sporadically. Until the primaries, the party’s fundamental decisions were the conclusion and the almost exclusive decision of a single member of the leadership: Altamira (it should be remembered as an example that the decision to reject the proposal of the PTS not to go to internal elections and put forward Del Caño as a candidate for vice president was rejected by Altamira in opposition to the position of other members of the executive committee). After the primaries Altamira abandoned the leadership.
The resolutions passed in that congress to solve the “problem of the inner regime” were to begin by regularizing the functioning of the leadership, which was to convene its meetings at regular intervals not to exceed 45 days, and the control commission was even mandated to monitor compliance with this resolution.
The congress dealt with the problem of the inner regime in terms of a precise objective: to guarantee the intervention of all the militants in the daily life of the organization through their respective organizational instances, that is, to endow the party with a collective means of elaboration as a first condition for a party of combat.
Is this what the chapter of the fractionists on the inner regime refers to? The point is used to make unfounded accusations by positioning the party’s leadership as a fraction that imposes a regime of apparatus on the party. This is in itself, apart from being defamatory, incoherent.
The leadership has emerged from a congress held just two months ago, was voted in by the vast majority of delegates (the lowest of those getting in received 65% of the votes, when the most votes obtained by any of the signatories was almost 29%), after almost 4 days of debates and with a congressional period having an extensive exchange of documents (the largest in the history of the PO) expressed in 17 internal congressional bulletins in which Altamira and Ramal appeared the most frequently.
The delegates to the congress participated very actively in the debates both in the commissions and in the plenary sessions, a fact that was highlighted by guests as well as by the congressional delegates themselves. Altamira, in turn, was able to voice his positions, presented as proposed resolutions, with more time than the rest of the delegates.
The entire development of the congressional process revealed an active, militant party, with dozens of cadres intervening and without any apparatus dominating it.
An apparatus (and its ideology) are not created overnight, do not arise by the decision of a group, require special conditions, political positions and materials. In the supposed warning about the appearance of an ideology of apparatus, Altamira does not offer any characterization, or development, that allows the militancy of the party to judge the scope of such an affirmation. In Marxist bibliography the characteristics that revolutionary parties should adopt and the struggles within them have been one of the most discussed topics, from Lenin’s What is to be Done? up to the texts of the congresses of the Third International, and even more so after the appearance of Stalinism.
Trotsky in particular was weighted down by the struggle against Stalin and his regime and he carried out that struggle with care and caution for it not to be used by enemies against the working class and in particular the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The construction of a revolutionary workers’ party is possibly the most complex and painstaking task to be faced by Marxists because it implies a differentiation within the working class (which needs to be united in the struggle against capital) that must be duly justified in function of the collective interests of the class and not of the concerns of a group or an individual.
The diatribes and accusations of the fractionists against the resolutions of the Congress and the leadership it chose to lead them forward reveal an irresponsible group.
As the saying goes: “After the thief, after the thief, says the thief”. The ideology of apparatus dominates the fractionists, this ideology is also combined with a strong tendency towards taking the party to dilentantism and from there to self-destruction.
It is evident that the party has gone from a regime of unipersonal leadership (that of Altamira) to a collective regime. And it is the latter that is being attacked.
Let’s review some of the accusations.
There is talk of censorship of Altamira in the newspaper, when what there is an elected leadership responsible for the published positions.
The newspaper of a combative party is the number one militant in that struggle and not a tribune for free thinkers. Altamira purports to publish articles that attack the provincial electoral campaigns on the basis of falsehoods. Why should we enable an unfounded attack on the Córdoba or Mendoza Committee in the party press? The permanent publication of articles with opposite orientations puts into question the newspaper’s character of political struggle, presenting to the militants an a la carte menu instead of an orientation.
Prensa Obrera was never like that. When the newspaper was managed by Altamira, all the articles first had to be corrected and approved by him. No militant could publish a position contrary to that held by the newspaper’s leadership, readers mail was “open” to the public, not to the party’s militants (with very few exceptions), and obviously, only selected mails were published.
After having lost the primaries for more than a month any article that proposed voting for or referred to the presidential formula of the FIT (Del Caño -Bregmann) was sent directly to the wastebasket without even a debate, purely by the personal decision of Altamira. When Altamira left the leadership (2016) he stopped collaborating with Prensa Obrera and sought a parallel publication through his Facebook page. The publication of any article by him had to say that it had been extracted from his personal web page.
Altamira does not want to write in Prensa Obrera with the methods of a press that represents a party. The articles sent to Prensa Obrera over the last year had to be published without modifications, nor be submitted to debate. The statutes clearly state (Article 25) that “The Central Committee controls all external and internal publications and designates the editorial staff under the responsibility of one of its members. It also controls the participation of every militant in any publication.” Almost 20 years ago, the Razón y Revolución group was separated from the party because it had its own publication.
The Altamira article that attacked the Córdoba campaign with accusations never proven was not sent to the newspaper, it went directly through Facebook. If it had been sent, a debate would have opened up, but that is not what was sought. The non-collaboration with the party press is a serious flaw in a militant and much more in leaders.
The spirit of apparatus of the fractionists reappears on the question of candidacies, which is seen to play a decisive role for them. The anti-electoralists mutate into fanatical electioneers as soon as they become candidates. The outrageous communiqué launched behind the backs of their comrades on the regional committee of Salta to announce the local candidates of the “minority” with an electoral conference which they decided by themselves takes the prize. There they announce that they are going to try to recreate “the victory over Peronism in the capital 6 years ago and that was only the first try of a definitive upsurge of the working class for its own government”.
To confuse the conquest of a majority in a city council with the advent of a workers’ government, which for the PO is the dictatorship of the proletariat, is not just an exaggeration, it is reformist electoralism proper of the most irredeemable social democrat.
Those who claim to ask the militancy and “not arrogate” the right of opinion from it, consider it an act of brutal exclusion and a ban the decision of almost 95% of the delegates attending the CABA electoral conference to proclaim Gabriel Solano as a candidate for mayor and rejecting the nomination of Marcelo Ramal (who obtained little more than 5%). Why? Is it that Ramal might have a “natural right” to be a candidate regardless of the decision of the party militants? The national electoral conference had nominated Solano, Vanina Biasi and Ramal, in that order, as spokespersons for the city. The regional delegates after 4 months of intense intervention and political struggle have all the power to make a final selection, the result of a debate and political balance, as corresponds in an organization that claims the revocability of positions as a denunciation against the bourgeoisie and its political regime.
On professional militants, sanctions and the infiltration of the Party
The fractionists go on to support the accusation of “apparatus” with a denunciation of the existence of paid professional militant, saying that we have more than the German Social Democracy, without providing numbers to support that. The reference to professional militants has the purpose of hiding their own situation.
There is a report available, which was discussed in the CC with the participation of JA, MR and JQ. If they referred to it, they would be forced to acknowledge that there existed arbitrary operations in the party that are unacceptable for a working class organization.
Altamira and Ramal received higher pay than the others. In the case of Altamira, he received an allowance that tripled those received by the others, this without counting expenses for publications, books, trips, photocopies that were covered with party funds. In the case of Ramal, he received income that he did not declare and for which he paid zero percentage as party dues. All this was decided outside party organisms. The National Committee decided, as reported, to make the living allowances equal, against the votes of Altamira and Ramal, who opposed this proposal in defense of “exceptions”, which already had first and last names. The question of the pay for professional militants was the expression of personal management of the party, which the current leadership discussed and now opposes with a collective method, with debate and the revocability of all comrades who receive salaries in any part of the country by the national leadership, with the participation of local committees.
The same occurs with the call for a rotation of paid professional militants. It is a huge sham. Three of the signatories (JA, DB and JF) have been professional militants for decades (JA for more than 50 years), have retired in that condition without ever offering to rotate their income. The same applies to members who adhere to this fraction, such as Carlos Frígoli and Lisandro Martínez. These are still paid despite the fact that, for years, and with Altamira’s agreement, they were told that they should get a job and stop being paid. Today they collect income as “retirees.” From the above, what is clear is that those receiving living allowances in the faction outnumber not only German social democracy but also the Partido Obrero. Since 2016, living allowances are reported, discussed and approved on an anual basis in the national committee. Before only some used to be discussed in the CC, and sporadically at that. The method of collective leadership that prevails today in the party is the basis for preventing arbitrariness.
Similarly, there appear allegations on sanctions in the party, which, without giving data or any figures, are qualified as constituting a historical leap.
However, this is false. A report of the Control Committee to the Congress had already compared the sanctions produced in the last 3 years with those of the previous 50 years and in this last case the sanctions, separations and expulsions for factional activities arising from political divergences left dozens of comrades out of the party (just to remember the latest: the group that later constituted the TPR, that of Vidal in Neuquén, that of Hueso). Those that have occurred in recent years have had to do in the vast majority with acts of violence, abuse and even rape by male militants, where they proceeded by hearing the complaints, investigating and finally sanctioning. The party acted in defense of the victims, but also of the organization itself. Today there are organizations of the left the world over, including Trotskyist organizations, that have disappeared (the North American ISO) or diminished enormously in size (the British SWP) for not having acted in the face of denunciations of violence against women.
Several of those separated due to these cases today make common cause through the social networks with the fractionists in their attack on the leadership and the party, without the fractionists going on record as rejecting them, even, sometimes that support is highlighted (such as the defense in the social networks that JA made of an intervention by MD of Córdoba, despite the fact that the latter is facing criminal charges for the repeated abuse of a minor in his charge).
We have left for last the reference to the mails that reveal ongoing infiltration and work towards rupture from inside and outside the party for a long time.
Fractionists have made the disclosure of those emails, which indicate at least that they had knowledge of this activity against the party, the central argument that would confirm the theory that in the party there is a bureaucratic clique dedicated to internal espionage.
It may be asked, do you really want to get to the truth or is it simply that “the best defense is a good attack”? Should a leadership that gains knowledge of a clandestine attempt to break the Party hide it from its party Congress? Interestingly, the contents of the mails are never contested, apart from which they do not attend the Control Commission to which they have been summoned (something to which they are bound by the Statutes) in order to expose there even their own denunciations and calls for investigation.
They demand as a condition the expulsion of those who made the contents of the emails known to the leadership to do so, that is, that the leadership exact punishment without any prior process. This, demanded of the very same leadership that they accuse of serial sanctioning.
The entire document covers up the attack on the party, the taking of action to split the party, the infiltration.
The fractionists want us to liquidate and tear up the evidence of that attack on the party, which ends up corroborating what the mails maintain: the existence of a factional action that involves at least a part of the signers of the fractionist document.
The national leadership, the congress, did not adopt any disciplinary measures, that is, it did not issue any “judgement” and it remitted the doings to the Control Commission, something that the comrades of the previous leadership that gained knowledge of the existence of the mails, days before the congress, had decided.
The call made by Marcelo Ramal for a tribunal at the congress itself in response to a denunciation made by a delegate precipitated the events.
Now what they are after is to exploit this attack against the party in order to continue with what the mails proposed in the first place: to break it.
Attack on revolutionary parliamentarism
The action of revolutionaries in Congress, the legislatures and councils is in political unity with the intervention of the Party in all the fields of the class struggle.
We are at the same time spokespersons for the workers and peoples’ struggles, we develop their demands in the parliamentary instances and in the fronts of struggle, unmasking the insurmountable limits of the bourgeois parliament and its agents, and call to reinforce the direct action of the workers in the terms of socialist agitation that raises the conscience of the oppressed, we denounce the social regime and its State and we advocate for a workers government.
Parliamentary action is a privileged forum for political confrontation with our class adversaries, any contempt for the conquest of these positions in a period of political domination of the bourgeoisie under a republican regime, to a greater or lesser extent parliamentary, is a shot in the foot for party building and overcoming the democratic illusions of the masses.
In this parliamentary agitation we use the program, the proposals and the slogans that guide the action of the PO in each stage, debated and resolved in its party organisms (Congress, Central Committee, Provincial and local committees).
The holding of national parliamentary assemblies – the last held in September 2018 – serves achieving a superior collective understanding, but does not replace the intervention of the whole party in the preparation of the agenda. The greater or lesser frequency in its being held has in no way meant a decentralization of political work. The national campaigns against the pact with the vulture funds, against imperialist intervention in Venezuela, against the agreement with the IMF, against the austerity budgets, for the judgment and punishment of the perpetrators of genocide and against the policy of trigger happy police policies, against Argentines troops in Haiti, in favor of legal abortion, the separation of church and state, against huge increases in parliamentary salaries, for the PPP (Participación Público Privada / Public Private Participation) of oil and telephone companies, against pension reform and for the prohibition of dismissals and suspensions against the “parliamentarization of protest” by of the bureaucracy, in favor of the Political Trial of the Supreme Court over the 2×1 settlement for the perpetrators of genocide, to mention a few examples, all confirm that agenda.
Important provincial struggles are also brought to Congress, as is the case of the Public Hearing that we are organizing with the ceramics union of Neuquén and the workers of the sector in struggle, or at the time for the imprisonment of Milani as soon as we took office for the first time in December 2013.
The parliamentary struggle always tests a revolutionary party, and the presence of the PO opened new inroads in Argentina in sharp contrast to the democratizing left. In different political scenarios: from the arrival to the legislature with Altamira in 2000, on the eve of a historic popular rebellion and a gigantic regime crisis, to the conquest of seats in the National Congress with Néstor Pitrola and Pablo López under Kirchnerism, when the Congress was an escrow service for the executive power and we established a determined political confrontation with nationalism, continuing under Macrismo with NP, PL and the incorporation of Soledad Sosa, and then with Romina Del Pla winning her seat, denouncing the regime of coalition a la carte as an expression of collaboration with and political support for the Macri government on the part of the governors and their parties and legislative blocs, and in turn the impasse of this regime of collaboration as a consequence of a crisis of the regime itself in more general terms.
We develop political delimitation with pro-government and opposition parties, not only in debates and speeches, but in the development of a workers’ program in the form of parliamentary initiatives. Some expressions of it were our own dictum for the prohibition of dismissals and suspensions, distributing the hours of work without affecting the salary, against the phony law of “occupational emergency”; the minority opinion against the law of Social Emergency, central to the cooptation of the Vatican triumvirate where we denounce the course it was to adopt with integration to the State and in support of the governability of the offensive against the masses, a bill we voted against; the alternative budget when we integrated the commission, based on an economic plan for the workers, on a system of progressive taxes on capital, on the nationalization of strategic resources, banking and foreign trade, on workers’ control, all based on a congress of workers to decide and to defend it, thus linking our project with a perspective of workers’ government; the elaboration of own projects with the proposal of workers control and for the opening of the accounting books of the capitalists in the strategic branches of industry, such as the integral nationalization without compensation of the hydrocarbon industry and the railways; against the hikes in power and services; the rejection of “trans-party gender unity”, denouncing the nature of the phony parity, the negative punitive character of bills such as the registration of rapists, the criticism of the law and the repressive character of the class state on the occasion of the passage from the inquisitorial regime to the accusatory regime in the Code of Criminal Procedure (against the capitulation of the center-left and the flirtation of Morenoism), the rejection of climate agreements as instruments of imperialism, the rejection of the reciprocal agreements of the Chinese and Argentine Central Banks (approved by the PTS) or the relentless denunciation the clerical lobby on all the parties of the regime in the struggle for the right to legal abortion.
Another highlight of our parliamentary struggle during the last period was the intervention of NP on the occasion of the Bicentennial of Independence in Tucumán, polemicizing with the cadres of the bourgeoisie (all heads of blocks) around a balance of the failure of 200 years of capitalist development in the country, which culminated in a Party rally in Tucumán. The proposal for a referendum on the non-payment of the foreign debt in the face of the first crisis with the vultures (approved by all members of the CC), with Kicillof as Minister. The rejection of the agreement with the vulture funds in 2016, denouncing it as a colonial pact and backbone of austerity, which involved us in a controversy with the FPV (kirchnerism) and Kicillof’s call to pay the vultures the same amount as the rest of the bondholders – which the PTS voted in favor of, and we rejected, calling, in opposition to that, for non-payment.
At the end of Pitrola’s speech addressing the agreement with the vulture funds (transcribed in “The Force of the Left in Congress”) Marcelo Ramal said there would be a before and after in references to the left in Argentina: at 12:20hs just after midnight, from Córdoba, JA tweeted that the speech should be reproduced in the preview of each party activity. Why this amnesia now? Why this liquidationism? Denouncing the huge raise in the deputies’ salaries was also a central point of national political agitation on repeated opportunities, that obtained in 2016 a partial retraction on the part of the government. It was exploited by us to show the class character of the State and the remuneration of its officials associated with the executives of the capitalist corporations for which they govern and legislate. In opposition to the raise in deputies’ salaries we counterposed workers’ demands against austerity: reopening of collective bargaining agreements, emergency raises retirees, the ending of layoffs.
Above all, our parliamentary intervention has exposed the national problems from the point of view of the interests of the working class, with the agitation for the 36-hour active national strike on the road to the general strike to defeat Macri, the IMF and the whole political regime that supports them, including all the wings of the opposition and the union bureaucracy, with the call for a rank and file congress of the workers’ movement.
With the method of not explaining or citing what is stated, the fractionary document claims to express divergences of strategic scope with what has been done by our parliamentary tribunes throughout these years. This subject has already been the topic of controversies that we have refuted by demonstrating – even with quotations in shorthand! – the falsification and ignorance of our parliamentary performance.
For example, on the slogans voted by the CC, for example, “down with the corrupt regime of Macristas, Pejotistas and Kirchneristas, Constituent Assembly” which Romina developed systematically, as called for in the stages through which the crisis passed.
Political struggles must be valued in their context and their implications at each given moment. It is true that we voted in favor of the female quota in Salta – as Altamira had done much earlier on, in the Buenos Aires legislature – but the debate two years later in the Chamber of Deputies assumed other characteristics, in an ascending picture of the women’s movement never before seen, nor was it present on the occasion of the Salta episode. In 2016 parity was a political operation to divert the huge struggles for Ni Una Menos that shook the country without achieving their demands. Parity was also presented as a chapter of the reactionary political reform, the carrot of political regimentation.
Our rejection of parity was the object of a comprehensive political proposal, in which we laid bare the false promotion of women in political and social life — which in fact only addresses the careerism of women of the bourgeoisie, adversaries of the emancipation of working women – and in opposition we put forward a program based on the demands of the workers: equal pay, labor rights, economic independence, the cessation of religious tutelage in the health and educational system, the separation of church and State and legal abortion. A question that was placed in evidence when 49 out of a hundred women deputies voted against the right to abortion.
What is affirmed about the position adopted in relation to the lifting of immunity for De Vido is a unilateral, malicious and, finally, false cutting-out of information. We demanded the lifting of immunity when this had been requested by a judge for the search of the domicile, in the course of the judicial investigations for corruption.
At that time we denounced that Macrism relegated its offensive against De Vido by virtue of his pact with the FPV around the so-called “anti-layoffs law”, to lessen the damage of a more limited Senate bill. The same one that ended up being vetoed by the president without that being confronted by Kirchnerism or the union bureaucracy aligned with the Peronist opposition. All of this was denounced in real time by us in the session of Congress, explaining that “corruption is not the exclusive property of one government or another, it is in the nature of a regime based on capitalist profit that both Kirchnerism and Macrism defend.” (Intervention by Pitrola).
After which came the request for expulsion due to “moral incapacity”, and a monumental pressure from the State and the government built up for us to be part of the “anti-corruption united front”, during the electoral campaign. We rejected it as a measure of exception, a parliamentary coup against democratic and constitutional guarantees.
We polemicized with the PTS which, based on electoral calculations, deprived itself of denouncing the maneuver and intended to abstain instead of voting against the expulsion. The intervention of Soledad Sosa was on the front page of the Clarin: “we are separated by an abyss of blood with De Vido, but we will not endorse this forced measure”. Pablo and Soledad denounced the farce of the supposed crusade against corruption and once again highlighted the corrupt ones on both sides (Macrism and Kirchnerism). We denounced the distraction, in the midst of the industrial crisis and the layoffs, and warned about the serious precedent that was raised “to then get rid of the deputies who defend the workers (…) especially those of us who are in the opposition”, as Pablo López stated. The extended CC meeting referred to under false pretences in the letter suggests a divergence that never occurred in relation to this point, on the contrary, as recorded in the minutes, JA recommended exploiting that when there was a court order for the search we should then denounce that the immunity protects against the crime of opinion but affords no protection to the looters of capitalist corruption.
The allegation against the bill for the impeachment of Vidal presented by Guillermo Kane with the argument that it would mean “an alliance with Massismo and the K” is actually a challenge against the presentation of any parliamentary bill – in which case would any not suppose the vote of the blocks of the bourgeoisie that dominate it? Presenting the matter in this way also means assuming that our bill against the governor could count on the support of the Massism, the K or the PJ -which, on the contrary, we want to demonstrate, reinforcing the denunciation of her performance as saviors of the educational rebellion and in the service of Vidal’s own rescue (“there is 2019”). The request for impeachment was precisely a tool for political agitation that the critics are calling for, unmasking the fact that their shelving it betrayed the political connivance of the Peronist blocs with Vidal. The campaign developed by the Party helped us to increase our political authority in the movement of struggle, and to win over activists and positions in student centers and among teachers.
The stubbornness against this bill is curious, on the part of those who greeted, and voted unanimously for, the submission of a request for impeachment of the judges who voted 2×1 shortening of jail terms for genocidal dictators. In an article in Prensa Obrera No. 1457, Altamira himself defended “the position adopted by the National Committee of the Partido Obrero in its meeting last weekend, when raising the impeachment of the amnesty granting judges — which the PO-FIT parliamentary bloc presented immediately on the morning of Monday 7”. Why yes in the case of the judges of the Court and not in the case of Vidal? No differences can be alleged around the picture of popular mobilization that unleashed one or the other conflict, since against the 2×1 a true peoples’ uprising took place – greater than the one that provoked by the criminal deaths of Sandra and Rubén in Moreno.
The same goes for our bills against the pact with the IMF, at the service of a socialist upheaval that delimited borders with all the blocks of the bourgeoisie. It is questioned that we have accompanied a bill for a referendum proposed by the PTS for the rupture of the agreement with the IMF. It is a statement that we had raised in the past in the face of the first crisis with the vulture funds, and that was explained by JA and MR in the newspaper Nos. 1320 and 1321. It was never explained why it would not work now – when the majority of the population repudiates the IMF, less clear than the non-payment of the debt. Confronted with Macri’s agreement with the IMF in June 2018, the PO accompanied the PTS project and they ours, which we presented through Romina, demanding investigation and non-payment in the face of the rescue of the IMF -a suitable instrument to denounce that Macri and Peronism eluded the debate in Congress.
The insistent falsification heaped on the parliamentary work of the PO is contrary to criticism, because it muddies the court with false assumptions, and blocks an honest and necessary reflection on the limits and mistakes of the activity.
Attributing to Kane the defense of a “pro-positivist action” in parliament is an adulteration of the terms of the debate – and of his own parliamentary action, which is public knowledge. The PO bench method has not been a “pro-positivism” of class collaboration. Our deputies throughout the country have been socialist and revolutionary spokespersons, at the service of the struggles. But they could not replace in the parliamentary field the limits or difficulties encountered by a workers’ or popular struggle. Altamira omits in his statement that he himself voted for various bills declaring factories as being subject to expropriation that were not on our terms but that contributed to the movement of struggle, as we had to do later with the Bauen (under fire from Altamira who criticized the quorum of Pablo López to that session). It also omits the true course of the law of six hours in the subway: the project drafted by NP, as an adviser to JA, had to be prepared and presented in a hurry before the presentation of a project by a Peronist deputy.
We counted on the great work done by our class struggle shop steward Charli Pérez who had been raising the initiative for some time. We reacted and took the lead, although the hustle in the tunnels of the subway that Altamira did not have and Ripoll did have, left room for the growth of other leftist groups on the initiative.
Faced with such fallacy, let us make all the truth emerge, for the education of our younger generations.
Measuring the scope of political campaigns around bills expressing demands that reached parliamentary approval is a deceptive method, because it is equivalent to the demoralizing proposal that only the battles won are worthwhile. Critics of the so-called “positive action”, however, ascribe to a result-oriented thesis, which would allow the character of parliamentary political action to be assessed in the name of results. Important interventions that structured far-reaching campaigns in complete connection with the popular movement –such as Ramal’s huge campaign for the 6 hour workday for nursing or against the real estate negotiations, that of Solano against the Unicaba (folding all teacher formation centers of the city of Buenos Aires into one institute) and for the labor rights of nurses, against the privatization of the EPEC (electricity company of Córdoba) and the defense of the collective bargaining agreement of Luz y Fuerza in Córdoba, the participation in the profits of the telephone companies that allowed us to grow nationally in the union, the organization of municipal workers in Neuquén from the parliamentary seat of Patricia Jure, for the 82% mobile pension and many others throughout the country – would not have had any value. The value that these initiatives and campaigns have had in the real mass movement, in the work of advancing Party influence in the masses and the reinforcement of its political authority, in the name of which there was no “real conquest”, is diminished. The law of reparations to the Ypefians was a victory for their demands (also subject to a compromise different from our own original bill), but we used it as a weapon to denounce the compensation to Repsol that was central to the denunciation of the “national and popular” surrender. Although the 6 hours workday on the subway are a great achievement of the workers and an example of placing parliamentary seats of the revolutionary left at their service, the final political balance is more complex.
Its internal capitalization was finally dominated by a sector of Morenoist left, which eventually co-opted the new subway union and was co-opted by the Kirchnerists. The parliamentary “result-ism” of the fraction does not posses political rigor.
The “resultist” thesis is counter to the political struggle, and the value it can have to raise the consciousness of the masses of the insurmountable limits of the parliament and the political and social regime. From the same angle, the Party campaigns developed by our parliamentarians at the national level for legal abortion, secular and scientific sex education and the separation of church and State have been criticized.
Which on the other hand constitutes an expression contrary to a supposed divorce or gap between “the parliaments and the Party”. Both the half-sanction for legal abortion that was defeated in the Senate, as well as the sexual education reform bill in the legislature of PBA was then blocked in the provincial Senate, or the ruling on the same issue deliberately shelved in the National Congress, have been tools that we exploited to lay bare the agreement of all the political blocs with the churches and their antagonism to the rights being demanded. Far from a diffuse delimitation, it allowed for a sharp contrast and confrontation of positions, from a class struggle and socialist angle. A struggle can be defeated, but at the same time serve to strengthen and advance the consciousness of the most advanced activism.
The opposite can happen with important conquests.
In all cases, it should be noted that the aforementioned theories are only justifications to carry out the task of demolishing the parliamentary work of the Party, leaving only the action of Altamira as legislator in the period 2000-2003. Can you imagine if the half-sanction to the bill for the law of comprehensive sexual education in the province of Buenos Aires had been achieved by Altamira and not by Kane? How many pages of Prensa Obrera, the party press, would have been dedicated to the subject? Once again we have personalist messianism that animates this faction.
Concerning Borelli. The scribes ignore the balance of the Salta Committee, which maintains that it was a case of political and material cooptation and not the result of “propositive” action guided by the PO. His leaving was because he could not coexist or bring his democratizing line to the PO, as he himself says in his resignation text. He also insists on the Botanical Garden bill, which was not a personal initiative of Borelli, but instead a bill proposed by the Partido Obrero signed by the five deputies as the committee of Salta reminds us in its text (but it is noted that this does not fit the objective of our critics, among them one of the signatories, Julio Quintana, who was a signer of the bill). It is about the creation of a botanical garden on the farm school premises, against the pretense of raffling them to real estate speculators, which attracted the support of university scientists, environmentalists, students and teachers at the school. We got the bill voted into law against the real estate capital lobby, and we use this fight to reinforce the organizing work the Environmental Tribune.
Pro-positivism or “real conquest”? The CC received no report about the center-left deviations of Borelli, nor by JA who was aware of them in December 2018.
The controversy surrounding the Micaela Law had already been resolved at the February Electoral Conference. There our critical vote for the law was explained as a result of a commitment with its promoters within the movement to fight against femicides, in particular the family of Lucía Pérez. The parents of Micaela García, who inspired the name of the Evita Movement authored bill, were also present for the vote. Our vote was accompanied by an intervention by Romina, who denounced the initiative as an attempt to co-opt the women’s movement and deviate from its struggle against the State. Romina explained that no gender training for officials will alter the class nature of the state that is structurally committed to the violence that women suffer. And she called for the redoubling of the struggle against that State and not to be carried away by shortcuts that do not lead to any results. In the Conference, Altamira alleged ignorance of the compromise that led us to vote the law (“I have voted many times in favor of bills that we do not share in because they were the result of a compromise “) and withdrew his criticism, which now returns as a reheated dish. As if it were not clear enough, we never made the Micaela Law our axis in the struggle in the women’s movement, nor did we adopt it as part of the program.
The signatories state that “there is a gap between the parliamentarians and the party” that they never explain; nor has JF, who participated in the congressional labor commission without ever raising the criticism of any such divorce, until he was thrown out after an “order” by JA not approved in the CEN (Central Executive Committee).
The approximately 80 public hearings held have been made together with the fronts and respective committees; the fundamental policies have been systematically discussed in the CEN, and DB, as well as his scriptwriter JA, both lied when they said that the accompaniment to the bill for a referendum presented by the PTS against the IMF pact and our bill for non-payment were decided “behind closed doors” (see BI), because they were resolved in the CEN unanimously with the vote of MR. The forced and factional contradictions of all these proposals are in plain sight and our revolutionary action in the Congress is available to all militants and workers in hundreds of videos, articles and publications.
All well-founded and Marxist criticism is welcome.
But it is worth remembering in closing this chapter the affirmation of Leon Trotsky “anti-parliamentary cretinism is the other side of the coin of parliamentary cretinism.” That is why the members of an internal group that boasts that you have to “shit on two or three seats” artificially opposing it to the organizational development of the PO in the class, are fighting tooth and nail all over the country trying to get nominated for candidate slots for parliamentary positions.
The socialist organization of working women
After having given the Party, during a concentrated period of enormous struggles, a political orientation on the women’s movement such as it has never had in its history, we learned from this text that we had been sentenced, accused of the crime of “feminism”.
The text states that “avoiding a sectarian relationship” with a policlass movement would be a pretext, since, again without evidence to launch the accusation, it maintains that this noble goal for any self-respecting revolutionary would be a kind of alibi for giving in to our desire for practicing explicit feminism.
It is necessary to think through how to approach movements in which policlass positions have obtained an ascendancy as a result of the general political ascendancy of the bourgeoisie over the popular sectors and the political defection of the political organizations of the working class. We know as well that the alleged criticisms are full of a deep contempt for the subjectivity of the masses.
As a result of the accusations in Altamira’s text, we now know that he himself must have stopped being a feminist, a political identity that from 2014 to 2018 was perfectly acceptable to him and that was given to our entire organization (“Do you consider yourself a feminist? “Altamira Responds, 2014).
“We fight for a socialist feminism,” said just a few years ago JA. “For a feminism that sees the working woman as protagonist because in her the totality of the factors having to do with the exploitation of women are concentrated.” This unilateral assertion of Jorge (not discussed with his comrades), nonetheless , expressed an effort to contemplate the subjectivity of the masses and to build a bridge for socialist struggle in this movement.
For our daily political work, this position would have given us the comfort that we did not actually get back.
However, placing the feminist identity on the critical plane in which we place it also allows us to show more clearly the class character we defend.
What happened between 2014 and now? We lost a primary election to the PTS, JA connocted a theory about a conspiracy against him, left the party and then positioned himself as a sniper, even contradicting what he had said just a short time before.
The political definitions change in the fractional phase, because the aim is to split, not to orient.
The questioning of the political struggle waged by our PdT (Plenary of Women Workers) (feminist deviation, abandonment of a socialist strategy of class delimitation, opportunism, adaptation) has not been supported by a single example, as we said, but nevertheless the text does not tire of pirating without quoting us.
“The unity of the male and female proletariat in the class struggle is the method to defeat ‘machismo’ among the workers”: in what text or intervention of our comrades do we raise a contrary position? From the pulpit you preach it seems you do not see the action clearly.
The method of swerving and making accusations in the context of circumstantial episodes, trying to turn them into strategic issues, betrays the fractionist. Are we “feminists”, because Altamira did not like how we voted against the Micaela Law? But his faction is not, even though Marcelo Ramal voted in favor of giving a costly Caba property to the NGO of the Macrista official Fabiana Tuñez !! Circumstantial improvisations that do not hold.
Faced with the impossibility of contrasting in the facts the alleged claudication of principles in the political and theoretical positions of the Partido Obrero and the PdT – published in documents, articles, communiqués, bulletins, brochures and leaflets – we are said to “maintain in word a socialist approach, which in practice is diluted into feminism.”
Socialists on paper, feminists in practice. At least for our detractors we might be socialists in something. But throughout this period of strong struggles, what other practice did Altamira propose as a real alternative to ours? None.
Our position on gender parity, highly polemical for the entire feminist universe, including the PTS that did not hesitate to support it, was adopted at the PDT Conference held in Rosario in 2016 and assumed as its own by the party as a whole without changes. The trade union level orientations have been fully elaborated by the fraction of the PdT for the congresses of the Class Trade Union Coordinator, without any contribution from the signatories of the text that today sentence that our intervention is “feminist” without more ado.
Our program for working women in the labor movement, which we offered in opposition to the “gender content” of the Ni Una Menos campaign, –which tended to be reduced to challenging actions in the field of interpersonal relations (machismo), devoid of any questioning of the social relations of exploitation that give rise to it– was resisted on the left itself. The New MAS rejected the existence of a list of women’s demands in the labor movement, absolving the trade union bureaucracy that through agreements on flexibility surrendered rights conquered in the CCT of the 1970s (under the influence of the powerful struggle of women in what was known as the second wave) when we put up stickers in the UBA (University of Buenos Aires) with a comprehensive program in defense of university staff workers. No current took advantage of the rise of the women’s movement in opposition to the oppression of women workers in the face of the trade union bureaucracy’s sell-out to governments and employers, as did the PO, both in unions in which we acted “disguised” as well as in those in which we can take action openly as teachers and government workers.
The PdT developed a program that in some unions was taken as the flag of struggle and that offered the workers an orientation so that their demands could be linked to the general movement, of an anti-bureaucratic nature.
We strive to show that the struggle for the emancipation of working women is linked to the struggle for new leadership in the workers’ movement, delimiting us from the union leadership and their women leaders, who use gender to claim leadership positions in the unions without associating it with any struggle for the demands of the female collective of the working class. We did not see the rupturist bloc offer a single orientation on the development of intervention protocols promoted by left-leaning center-leftists who claim to be “socialist feminists” –like JA between 2014 and 2019–, who distance the problems women face from demands against the government and bosses and place the problematic on the level of interpersonal actions and the “cultural battle”.
The delimitation of class, as opposed to the gender sorority, is not an abstraction, nor is it enough to produce it by repeating the positions of principles that from the days of Marx and Engels until today are the inescapable principled basis for the struggle of revolutionary socialists. “In practice”, far from adapting to the movement’s majority tendency, our comrades struggle to separate the activists in struggle from all the currents of the bourgeoisie, especially the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois reformist nationalism that predominates there.
At the proposal of the PdT, the women’s strike of last March 8 not only denounced the union bureaucracy (which ended up boycotting the rally that was organized), but produced an important political definition for “the unity of the exploited against the exploiters”, claiming “A strike of the entire working class by women, trans, transvestites and non-binaries.” In massive assemblies, the anti-capitalist, anticlerical and independent character was confirmed on all the levels of the movement’s organization (which they could not avoid even though in practice they do not have this orientation). The denunciation of the responsibility of Macri and the provincial governors in the policy of criminal austerity against the working class was conquered after an arduous political battle against the tributary sectors of Pejotism and Kirchnerism that sought to limit the criticism against Macri. The same goes for the requirement of the break with the IMF in the last 3J, which was the subject of intense political debates, and we managed to include it in the document reproduced in the Clarín and Página/12 newspapers.
The systematic struggle to orient the women’s movement towards the fight against the State had –and has– a special chapter in the fight for the right to legal abortion, and our intervention in the green tide. The struggle around this democratic demand allowed us to unmask the picture of the backwardness of our country as a whole and to deploy a program against clericalism taught by the State, denouncing its political leaders. The PdT deployed a battery of initiatives in the field of youth, in the workers and piqueteros movement, a political intervention on the streets and on the part of our parliamentary spokespersons from all over the country, with a center in the national Congress, where Romina del Pla figured hugely, aimed at developing the direct action of the masses to wrench this right and promote a revolutionary socialist regrouping within the women’s movement. We were the only Party that fought the thesis of the inter-party common gender agenda, denouncing the commitment of all the parties to the churches and their disciplined defense of austerity and the pact with the IMF – incompatible with any aspiration of female emancipation.
Far from “adaptationism”, we have battled against all kinds of maneuvers to block the scope of the movement for legal abortion. This fight is fully valid after the new presentation of the legalization bill, which, all the political blocs with the endorsement of the Campaign, will let die.
Curiously, the text that aims to give learned lessons on Marxism, characterizations and slogans, offers nothing to guide the intervention at this stage. One of its signatories, DB, harshly attacked the referendum on abortion –a proposal that delimits us through a practical orientation with feminism in all its variants, which does not admit the possibility of a broader clash of the movement with the regime. Altamira, on the other hand, conditioned an action of this type to “gather signatures in court.” Now, those who call on the “Marxist left” to “strive to present their own perspectives, characterizations and slogans”, do not say a word about an approach oriented to the political struggle for an offensive to highlight the question of the parliamentary coterie dominated by the lobbies of the IMF, financial capital and the clergy, and bring it to the popular will; nor do they offer any alternative orientation.
The experience of Textilana has been very rich in every way. But since the leadership of that process does not belong to the fraction, its action is belittled. Textilana is composed of 400 women workers and 50 male workers. They get paid $13,500 as per the collective bargaining agreement. They were subject to all kinds of humiliations and as there is a large evangelical influence, many rejected the agitation for legal abortion. After an extended period of suffering attacks of all kinds, they made a stand with an indefinite strike and won a 35% increase. Today they are suffering new attacks which they face with work stoppages and other measures of struggle. They stood their ground as a result of the massive struggle of the women of our country and in spite of the enormous paralysis in which the trade union bureaucracy and particularly the sell-out bureaucracy of the textile union have plunged the working class.
In reality, what we have is the ignorance of the comrades signing the document of the action of the PdT and the efforts towards developing the program of working women in the neighborhoods and unions.
As we pointed out in the resolutions of the XXVI Congress of the PO: “The prejudiced characterization that life intertwined with the churches is patrimony only of the unemployed sectors is only a petite bourgeois point of view, without a foothold in reality. The task of uprooting the working class from this reactionary influence has the same scope as any political struggle that must be waged so that the workers break with the bosses’ positions.” For the class struggle trade union groups of the PO, this fight was a great topic of denunciation from the trade union bureaucracy with the highlighted Pañuelazo in front of the CGT after the Triumvirate announced, faithful to its alignment with the Vatican, that it would boycott the application in health plans if approved. We made of it a center of political struggle with the Multicolor in the CTA’s denouncing that the center-left gave up this claim because it paid tribute to the Peronist front and to the Pope.
The green tide opened up the terrain of confrontation with the Catholic and evangelist churches and their union and “piquetero” agents (the triumvirate of the Vatican). It is a battle that we must deepen in order to uproot the most impoverished masses from the tutelage of these institutions, within the workplace, in daily union action and in the places of study and in the neighborhoods, with a special value in the struggle towards the interior of the workers movement.
While the PDT is oriented in this battle, our critics tell us to organize “brigades against male chauvinist violence in the neighborhoods”, which directly reveals a deep feminist deformation with respect to a problem that is the majority patrimony of the working class family.
As the Polo Obrero has done in the past and as it does in the present, its assemblies and the assemblies of employed workers raise the principle of combating violence within the home in a comprehensive and common framework of struggle for all the demands as a whole, which includes the direct action of these assemblies, as circumstances demand, such as the expulsion of a violent person from a home or the removal of crack sellers from the vicinity of schools or any other area close to our youth. But now appears the call to form “brigades against male violence” as opposed to our political work in the slums, which guides the struggle for the demands against the State and its agents, including the Catholic and evangelist churches.
The rupturists, once again, do not even mention the churches and the role they play in imparting an obscurantist and fascistizing ideology and practice at the service of the reproduction of violence “within the working family”. It is systematic of Altamira to characterize that what is worthwhile for the Polo Obrero is not worthwhile for the employed workers, which brings his positions closer to the PTS at this stage, no matter how much he promoted the Polo Obrero in the past; the fractional present deforms everything, everything.
The censorship of inclusive language, used to unilaterally challenge our electoral campaign in Cordoba for not integrating a delimitation with the “policlass” usage and brought back in this text under the form of an alleged defense of the “historical language of the working class”, constitutes a discursive and factional abuse.
Even more so when criticizing an intervention by comrade Eduardo Salas in the Córdoba legislature against the monarchy and the Royal Spanish Academy, in a speech in which he denounced the King’s support for the reforms of the IMF and demanded “respect for the self-determination of Catalonia, the end of the Francoist monarchy and a workers’ and socialist federation of the peoples of Spain”! But the point must be appreciated in the light of a more precise characterization of the phenomenon.
Today inclusive language is the heritage of a youth (and not only youth) joining massively together in the struggle and confrontation with the State, being one of its most radical protagonists: the takings of schools, rebellions against clerical authorities, skirt-wearing protests and massive participation in mobilizations. For a broad sector, inclusive language is a symbol of rebellion and the struggle against oppression and abuse.
We have nothing against expressions of rebellion or against the desire that anyone has to make use of them. It is not up to the socialists to devote themselves to the regimentation of the language of “the kids”, much less to the point of elevating its expression to the condition of antisocialist strategic divergence.
The history of the working class is replete with linguistic recreations that accompanied historical periods and struggles, social environments and different stages. The attack on this expression of youth in the name of the working class expresses a conservative way of thinking in every sense, fosters an artificial and useless division. The affirmation of a “historical language of the working class” deserves a chapter apart.
Machismo in the working class is a powerful tool for regimentation and domination by the bourgeoisie, which seeks to divide the exploited and divert a common struggle against capital and the State and a material resource to organize capitalist exploitation guaranteeing the reproduction of the work force. Those of us who fight consistently to raise working class morality against the infection of misogyny and machismo, even among our ranks, must be reminded now that it is not alien to the workers’ vanguard, and that it must be fought “with education and class consciousness among the workers”. The combat of our current against punitivism has been the subject of public polemics, even having to leave the crossroads of a public factional attack in the year 2017. As factionalism unfolds aimlessly through life, today the attack on the PO that fractionists promote contains accused and accusers involved in that anonymous episode.
In the text “Response to a provocation to against the PdT (Plenary of Women Workers) and the Partido Obrero” we affirm that “the overcoming of all forms of barbarism that nest in capitalism, which has ‘resignified’ patriarchy to place it at the service of social oppression In general, begins with the abolition of the regime of exploitation of wage labor and the struggle for a society consciously regulated by the producers of social wealth. In the course of the struggle for that social emancipation, we fight for the end of all the blots on society inherited from the past that are present in society today.”
But our detractors deliberately omit everything written and done, to simulate bringing light on a supposed course deviating from the principles of socialism.
But we want to be clear: to reject punitivism has nothing to do with connivance and protection for those who exercise violence against women within our ranks.
We have become the object of a factional and defamatory campaign by elements separated for violence and abuse, who seek to hide their personal decadence, presenting themselves as victims of political persecution, and whom the minority uses as supposed evidence of a conspiratorial and sanctioning inner regime. What kind of awareness against sexist violence do they think they are inculcating? From the reading of those whom they warn us concerning an alleged “feminist deviation”, an even more common and less-named deviation emerges in our polemic: the male chauvinist deviation of a fraction that underestimates the specificity of women’s problems. Their analysis and resistance are exclusively concentrated against the deviations of promoting a sex-against-sex struggle that come from part of a feminist approach and not the other way around, against the most common way that capital has created to guarantee social bonds that reproduce capitalist exploitation, and that deepen in the stage of decomposition of the regime, which is the special oppression of women that is the material sustenance of male chauvinist ideas.
The position of the fraction is incompatible with an intervention in the women’s movement. It confuses the struggle against oppression in socialist terms with a dilution of our class struggle position. This position has earned it the political support of several of the abusers and rapists separated from the party, with whom the leadership of the fraction has never delimited. The positions of the fraction in this area are a cancer for the healthy development of the party and they turn their back on the most vital mass movement of the last stage in our country.
We have reviewed and responded to all the issues raised in the document raised by the comrades. In general, the tendency that has been formed is characterized by a demoralization in relation to the party’s ability to gain a foothold in the masses, an exacerbated propagandism, a fatalism that does not take into account the class struggle. This is combined with a tendency towards personal prestige, the defense of personal and political privileges in the organization and the contempt for collective work within its framework. A strongly petite bourgeois tendency is present in these companions.
From the nature of the debate that we have been making, important divergences arise but they are not of principle. The document presented does not bring up any new question that has not already been part of the pre-congressional debate. That is why it is striking, we repeat, this sudden change: what was previously classified as a difference of tactics, slogans, is now described as “an explicit attempt by the national committee to break the historical continuity of the party – that is, its principles, its strategy and its methods”. If we consider that what was at stake did not even merit the formation of a tendency, we now turn to the request for a fraction.
This irresponsible behavior has constantly aggravated the situation of the party, characterized by levity and improvisation when it comes to questioning the actions of the party and above all the lurches and contradictions, even among themselves. As we emphasized in a recent text prepared by the CEN that we have published in the BI (internal bulletin): “the controversies and positions change permanently with the evolution of the political situation, but always remain all in the same block despite having contradictory positions from one moment to another and among themselves.
Examples abound: in December we must defend the FIT and promote a united list on the left, in February we have to discard the FIT and the united list, in April we have to make a united list; in October the bourgeoisie is unable to take any strategic initiative, in March it can take strategic initiatives, in April it cannot take strategic initiatives; In February, preparing the electoral campaign is electoralism, in March it is appropriate to start the electoral campaign, and in April it is electoralism; And so on to infinity”.
Of course the scope of the divergences is a debatable matter. To the fellow signatories of the document, as to any militant or group of militants in the party ranks, they are entitled to the right of tendency or fraction. But what is not debatable is that the constitution of a fraction or tendency implies rights and obligations.
Among the latter is the need to act on the basis of democratic centralism. The Statutes are clear in this regard: “The right of tendency is located within the framework of the centralized action of the organization.”
The same principle applies for the fraction. “The right of fraction is located within the framework of the organization and cannot under any circumstances attempt against compliance with the decisions of the Congress and the Central Committee.” The intrigues and factional conduct that we have detailed is incompatible with the party, whatever the party situation in which it is framed, including a tendency or fraction. At present, we are facing a permanent refusal to acknowledge the decisions of the Congress and the Central Committee. Behavior of this kind, in reality, represents a clique, which is expressly condemned by the statutes.
The request for a fraction under no circumstance may be understood as safe conduct to continue with this practice.
Even more so when we verify that the document presented by the comrades puts forward the formation of a “public fraction”, a non-existent figure in the statutes.
The figure of “public” is a homegrown addition, an invention. We issue a warning on this, which encloses the risk of distorting the scope of the right to fraction established in the statute. We reject any maneuver that implies continuing to ignore the obligations established by the statute, leaving their hands free to continue factional activity.
We call, once again, for this behavior to cease.
The fundamental condition to solve the disputes that exist in the party, including the right to form a tendency or fraction, has respect for democratic centralism as the essential touchstone.
This implies payment of the monthly dues to the party, participating in party organizations and collaborating with the press, presenting and appearing before the control committee, channeling the debate through the internal bulletin as appropriate and not ventilating it through the social networks, as has happened with this document, promote in militant terms the orientation and initiatives and decisions of the national committee and, of course, defend tooth and nail the unity of action of the party and a key principle, which is the united front in all areas of militancy. We are talking about something basic and elementary, which, precisely for this reason, should be beyond debate.
Going back to the beginning. The Congress, and in a general way the development that the debate has had, has shown that the attributes that JA raises and stresses that a party must have – the quotes about developing a critical character and not being complacent, are well present in the ranks of the Partido Obrero. If anything has been proven in this crisis, it is the character and personality of the party’s militancy that has not hesitated to confront intrigue and factionalism and that is not self-indulgent.
It is willing to think with its own brain, rejects the cult of personality and of course the thesis of the “program-man” that has tried to sneak a messianic principle foreign to revolutionaries into the development of the polemic.
We are facing a liquidationist outbreak within our party, which has shown a content and a method deeply harmful to the development of our organization. We call to defend the Partido Obrero, the decisions and orientations voted in at the Congress and to face the enormous challenge confronting us in the face of the national and international class struggle.
In this way we will take new steps in the construction of the Partido Obrero and the CRFI!
CC June 15, 2019
Approved by: Eduardo B, Amanda M, Carla D, Claudio DP, Daniel D, Daniel L, Donald Sch, Eduardo S, Emiliano F, Federico C, Gabriel S, Guido L, Guillermo K, Ileana C, Jorge N, Juan Pablo R, Juan G, Juliana C, María D, Miguel B, Miguel DP, Néstor P, Pablo G, Pablo H, Rafael S, Romina DP, Santiago N, Vanina B, Victor DV.
Absent: Alejandro C., Federico N.