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What is at stake in the Argentine elections?

2023-10-14 | Argentina
What is at stake in the Argentine elections?

Every paper from The Economist to El País is following the Argentine presidential campaign with apprehension. A good part of the Argentine bourgeoisie, too. The electoral collapse of Peronism and Macrism visible in the PASO (obligatory primaries) does not suit anyone. The rise of an unpredictable and personally unstable Milei cannot satisfy any imperialist player either, not even the US, whom the libertarian chieftain adores. Has the Argentine bourgeoisie gone mad?

No. In fact, it is simply that its model, archetype of the semi-colonial countries in which the exports of primary goods sustain through the state an always dependent industrialization, has collapsed definitively.

Read also «Semicolonial countries» to understand the historical causes of the permanent tendency toward capital flight. It is this trend that produces exchange rate crises and price inflation.

The main sectors of the Argentine bourgeoisie reach the point of no return.

The two main factions of the Argentine bourgeoisie need a transfer of income from labor just to survive.

  1. The exporting bourgeoisie (agro-livestock, mining, etc.), engine of accumulation, has lost the main meat and grain markets, surpassed by competitors such as Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil. Not only do they suffer the loss of competitiveness due to the increasingly forced exchange rate games, which are required to sustain the model artificially. Retentions and export taxes are draining their profitability. They want a change of direction.
  2. The same exchange rate games -produced by the bleeding out of capital- lead to increasing difficulties in importing. Today the national industry is practically paralyzed due to lack of inputs because it cannot get the dollars to import them.

This feeling of urgency leads them to a fundamental agreement: to carry out a brutal adjustment against the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie in order to recover markets and improve profitability. And the fact is that, as we stated in previous articles, this time the Argentine bourgeoisie has no other possible discussion than the organization of a draconian "adjustment".

It is clear that their problem is not a non-existent dilemma between their international insertion and national independence. Their main challenge is that their political apparatus is too worn out to withstand an "adjustment" such as the one implied by the agreement without risking a generalized protest. This risk is magnified by their inability to face an inflation that is now not only fed by the situation of Argentine capital in the global market but also by the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the reorganization of the international division of labor.

Argentina and the IMF: more serious than you think, 31/3/2022

But this is not enough. One of the two main factions of the ruling class needs to displace the other and subordinate it to its basic interests.

That fight is what is manifested by the electoral contest.

The bourgeoisie of the primary export sector expresses itself through Juntos por el Cambio (Bullrich) and -accompanied by a good part of the capitalist petty bourgeoisie in anger in which it cannot trust- of La Libertad Avanza (Milei). Its program consists basically of "dropping the burden" of the state-dependent industry and "doing away forever" with the trade union bureaucracies and the Peronist system.

The hard core of the Argentine exporting bourgeoisie evidently dislikes Milei. As one of them said: "Patricia Bullrich was the preferred candidate of the red circle". But at this point it is capable of sacrificing governability and compensatory government aid for broad strokes. This sector of the bourgeoisie will manage to tame the monster, or so they think.

On the other hand, the industrial bourgeoisie -and an important part of the bureaucracy of Argentine state capitalism which includes the trade unions- is represented through Unión por la Patria (Massa). Accompanied by the intellectual petty bourgeoisie calling itself progressive and with the bulk of trotskostalinism as its left wing, they seek to obtain legitimacy, through the presidential elections, to carry out an adjustment which will also save the illusory national industry.

The world war is showing its intentions in Argentina

Argentina is moving from the periphery to the center of the map of imperialist conflicts. The severity of the present crisis, which has been going on for years, has intensified the problem of alignment of Argentine big capital. As Massa himself assured:

If we break with Mercosur and China where are dollars going to come from?

The problem is that increasingly the polarization of the imperialist conflicts around China and the US leaves less and less room for those balances.

With a weakened Kristalina Georgieva, due to a permanent friction with the United States. For the first time in a long time, the managing director of the IMF will not be re-elected. This weakness of Georgieva also leaves her with no room for maneuver in her relationship with Massa.

If there were an agreement with China, there would be a sign of that agreement: Argentina would be considering whether to buy fighter planes, war planes of Chinese-Pakistani manufacture. For the Argentine government, this means crossing a red line, it means entering into an alignment with China in matters of war, defense and international security. This is no longer trade, it is something else. [...]

But Taiana travels to India, which is an enemy of China and even more of Pakistan. That is to say, Argentina is looking for another alignment that would give the impression of not matching the versions issued by the Ministry of Economy that say that if it does not settle with the Fund, it will surrender into the arms of the Chinese Central Bank".

Carlos Pagni in La Nación, 18/7/2023

The problem becomes even bigger because each province has different economic interests created with different foreign capitals. If we add the meager armed forces, inoperative either in case of armed friction in the waterways, to dissuade [border disputes for strategic resources with Chile](https://www.lanacion.com. ar/politica/la-cancilleria-presento-una-queja-por-un-mapa-de-la-armada-chilena-que-se-proyecta-sobre-territorio-nid29082023/) or, in the medium term, to put a price on US and British efforts to gain control of the main inter-oceanic route for Chinese ships, we understand the agonizing efforts of rearmament with no other horizon than to buy time and avoid excessive temptations from the changing "allies" of national capital.

What about the workers?

In August, when we were still far from crossing the border of 1000 pesos per dollar, 30% of active workers did not earn enough income to fill the basic food basket with their salary. Even less to support a family. That is why child poverty reaches 54.7% and [40.01% of the population is already below the poverty line](https://www.indec.gob. ar/indec/web/Nivel3-Tema-4-46#:~:text=INDEC%3A%20Instituto%20Nacional%20de%20Estad%C3%ADstica%20y%20Censos%20de%20la%20Rep%C3%BAblica%20Argentina&text=Los%20resultados%20del%20primer%20semestre,%2C1%25%20de%20las%20personas.). On that basis the impact of the coming adjustment on the most basic living conditions can only be brutal.

However, in spite of the invitation of the most rancid sectors of Peronism, which wanted to display "chaos" after the PASO in order to frighten a part of the petty bourgeoisie which had voted for Milei, the assaults and looting, orchestrated by the Peronist punterismo, have not dragged the workers along. In spite of the fact that their combativity is still tightly controlled by the (Peronist) unions in practically all the strikes that open, the dominant attitude is one of contempt.

But the disrepute of Peronism and the left, by itself, does not mean any advance. During the last years the workers did not find a way out to the permanent sabotage of the left and the unions against their struggles. And without that, a volatile situation for the ruling class will not cease to be a gloomy hell for the workers. Organizing, creating and preparing spaces where organization and class orientation independent of national capital and its interests can emerge, is more urgent than ever.