The article presents important analysis and material on one of the most important stages of Latin American history, making much of it available in English for the first time. The (frequently heated) discussion on the condition of the trade unions under the special conditions of Latin America hold important lessons on the ability of the proletariat to retain its combativity, and about the ways in which revolutionaries try to relate to proletarian institutions.
The GOM [Grupo Obrero Marxista] a group led by Nahuel Moreno, which claims to be Trotskyist, maintained during the 1940's that the Argentinian trade unions had become bourgeois organisations which the working class must aim to destroy. The GOM [then known as the POR] held that position for 10 years.
The leadership of the French OCI now comes out with this same theory, claiming that the absence of a revolutionary workers' party in Argentina is due to the failure of any organisation to maintain a Trotskyist analysis and draw the practical conclusions from the Peronist transformation of the trade unions in to bourgeois organisations. In so doing, they are not only revising Marxist theory but falsifying history.
For the 10 years between 1944 and 1954 the positions now advocated by the OCI leadership were theorised, argued for and put into practice by the Morenoite tendency. As we will see, that put them on the side of imperialism, the oligarchy and the big bourgeoisie, and against the mass movement and the political independence of the proletariat. The OCI cannot plead ignorance of the history of so-called Trotskyism in Argentina, as not only have we described it(1) but they were then a member of the same international organisation as the Morenoites. In 1952, when the Pabloite split occurred, they were co-founders of the International Committee, of which the Morenoites remained members until 1963 [that is, during almost the entire period when Morenoism had dissolved into Peronism].
There is an extraordinary similarity between the analysis and programme now presented as new by the OCI, and that put into practice at that time by Nahuel Moreno to justify his alliance with oligarchic-imperialist gangsters. It is no accident that Nahuel Moreno has concealed his documents from that period, so that he can totally distort his past positions. Once he described Peronism as "Fascist" "a reactionary right wing movement" etc. only to make a 180 degree turn to put himself "under the discipline of General Peron" [The "Palabra Obrera" group from 1954 to 1964].
The transformation of workers' unions into regimented bourgeois and State institutions meant, according to his "theories", that the ruling class were able to smash the proletariat completely, by depriving it of all means of expression or struggle and by transforming its organisations of self defence into their opposite, organs belonging to the exploiters.
So, for the GOM-POR [as for the OCI] that is what happened in the 1940's, when the Argentine working class mobilised under Peron's nationalist and democratic banner and turned its back on the traditional workers' parties which remained in the camp of the oligarchy, the big bourgeoisie and imperialism [Unió n Democrá tica]. That would have meant the loss of working class independence and the transformation of the unions into State organisations as the workers' movement, which had been in the hands of the CP and SP, came to be led by a bureaucracy linked to Peronism.
In order to come to that position and to demonstrate the "workers' defeat" of 1945, the GOM-POR maintained that the 17th of October was an event created by the police and the army which was the culmination of an offensive against the workers movement. Peronism, [described as Fascist, semi-Fascist, a reactionary right-wing movement] not the Unió n Democrá tica, was the workers' enemy. The workers' trade union and social gains were pure military demagogy, the socialist and Stalinist trade union bureaucracies were an expression of workers pressure, the CGT of 1936, the collaborator and supporter of the regimes of the "infamous decade", was the greatest expression of workers' independence, etc, etc. and all of this culminated in the slogans which identified the Morenoite tendency at that time:
"A United Front against the CGT"17 October 1945: "A MOBILISATION CREATED BY THE POLICE AND ARMY AND NOTHING MORE"
"For the destruction of the CGT"(2)
"On October 17 the workers' movement was mobilised, not on anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist slogans, but in order to maintain bourgeois order, represented by the army and police and to free Peron [the shouts: long live Peron, death to Braden !] hardly mattered... This was not an anti-imperialist mobilisation, but one carried out by the police and the army officers, and nothing more... There was no working class initiative nor opposition to the capitalist regime, nor struggle nor conflict with it. It was, therefore, not a workers' mobilisation...October 17 represented the culmination of this offensive and the beginning of another one..."(3)So, 17 October 1945 the largest mobilisation of the working class and the Argentinian masses until then, which transformed a political crisis, initiated by the resistance of a section of the bourgeoisie and the army to unrestricted Yankee colonialism, into a national anti-imperialist mobilisation was the "mortal sin" of the Argentinian proletariat. Although neither Peron nor the trade union bureaucracy which supported him wanted this, it defeated an alliance of the oligarchy, the big bourgeoisie and imperialism, which were directly supported by the CP and SP. Precisely because of that, an exceptional opportunity arose for a revolutionary tendency to lead the masses, but for that to happen the first thing would be to flee like the plague from demands such as those made by the GOM-POR.
The pro-Yankee semi-coup d'etat of 9 October, which had jailed Peron, was reversed by the action of the masses in the streets. For a sectarian that amounted merely to the replacement of one bourgeois by another. However the masses understood that Peron's imprisonment gave free reign to the pro-Yankee offensive and the destruction of the worker's gains. In spite of the fact that the Peronist leadership gave no orders to act [Peron in a letter to Evita from his place of imprisonment in Martin Garcia concluded that his political career was over] and that the trade union bureaucracy hesitated to declare a general strike [after hesitating for days the CGT by a majority vote called for a strike on the 18th] the workers declared a political and clearly anti-imperialist strike on the 17th.
According to the GOM "the shouts 'Long live Peron, death to Braden !'" were of no importance. However those "shouts" epitomised the cross roads of the nation's political crisis. The masses wished to defeat the pro-Yankee semi-coup and the reactionary alliance led by Braden, the American Ambassador.
The working class mobilisation of 17 October was democratic and anti-imperialist. The fact that the army would not have repressed it and even that the police and a sector of the military who sympathised with Peron allowed it to go ahead, shows the extent to which the proletariat had understood the depth of the political crisis and the paralysis which it had produced in the State apparatus, particularly in its repressive forces, which presented an opportunity to defeat the reactionary pro-Yankee alliance. The GOM was blind to the fact that the basic condition for opening up a revolutionary perspective was to be among the forces mobilised to defeat the pro-Yankee semi-coup - irrespective of its leadership.
According to Nahuel Moreno "Neither the presence of workers in a mobilisation nor its apparent objectives nor those of the organisation which called the mobilisation, constitute grounds for defining a mobilisation as working class and popular".(4)
All this theorising shows that the "Trotskyists" of that period were prone to disqualify mobilisations according to whether they agreed with their own idiosyncratic catechism and were incapable of showing the proletariat a revolutionary way forward. The list of reasons which showed that the mobilisation of 17 October was not legitimate disproves the "theoretician's" case as it admits that the "Affair" of police and military and "nothing more" was a huge event ["presence of workers"] for legitimate objectives [only "apparent" to the sectarian] and that the masses responded to a call of the CGT ["the organisation which called it"].
On October 17 the majority of workers were to be found on the side of the struggle against imperialism and native reaction. The workers used their own weapons, the general strike and street demonstrations. The majority of workers turned their backs on their traditional parties [the SP and CP] because they were mobilised on the side of the pro-Yankee semi-coup. If "neither the presence of workers, the organisation which called the mobilisation, nor its declared objectives" justify the action, then Stalinist and Social-Democratic activity, which was aimed at crushing the movement of resistance to imperialism and the conversion of Argentina into an economic and military base for the Yankees would be justified. "Workers' unity", continues Moreno, "the product of working class initiative, is an essential characteristic of any mobilisation of this type".(5) Here we have another false idea for if a mobilisation is genuine only when it has the support of all the working class tendencies then no genuine mobilisation will ever happen. The most reactionary workers' tendencies will prefer to sabotage the struggle rather than give it legitimacy by joining. This claim blames the working class for its division and betrayal by its counter-revolutionary bureaucracies.
Because of the betrayal of the Communist and Socialist parties a sector of the working class did not mobilise on 17 October. They described the demonstration as a "police attack", as did the GOM. Rather than recognise that the core of the working class had mobilised independently of its counter-revolutionary leaderships, which supported the semi-coup, the GOM's schematism gave cover to the Communist and Socialist parties which had sabotaged the struggle.
"A genuine working class mobilisation" - continues Moreno - "will be faced with the capitalist class instincts and be opposed by the unity or near unity of the bourgeois regime"(6) Once again the same method is employed: it is the bourgeoisie, not the proletariat, which determines the class nature of an event ["unity or near unity"]. That is a double falsehood. All historical experience and revolutionary theory show that it is the crisis of bourgeois rule, with its internal divisions and struggles, which opens the way for the proletariat, leading both the urban and rural poor, to make a breakthrough. One of the conditions Lenin thought necessary for a revolution was that "the rulers can no longer continue to govern in the old way".
The specific form which the national political crisis took was a division between supporters and opponents of Yankee imperialism in all social classes [including, because of the pernicious behaviour of the Communist and Socialist parties, the working class]. A relatively young working class, although brought up in the treacherous traditions of the Socialist and Communist parties, could not remain indifferent to the national crisis and seized the opportunity to mobilise against imperialism and its native allies.
To ignore a national dispute and deny that the working class mobilisation was genuine, because the bourgeoisie was divided and the Socialist and Communist parties were on the side opposed to the mobilisation, would be to postpone the revolution in undeveloped countries for ever. We must explain that the revolution will never win unless the working class, that is a revolutionary party, leads the anti-imperialist struggle. To do so we must take the opportunity presented by the mobilisation of the masses as a result of the general crisis and the flirtation with nationalism of some sections of the bourgeoisie. That is necessary, not only to defeat imperialism and its local agents, but to take the leadership of the national movement away from the bourgeoisie. "A national victory led by the bourgeoisie which, to the extent that it closed the breach which had opened up between its two sectors, between October 1945 and February 1946, would be an indirect defeat for the proletariat, as it would allow both factions to unite their efforts to defeat the workers' mobilisations, organisation and social gains. However, the key thing to say to the workers' vanguard in such cases is to beware of the sectarians and schematic commentators who fantasise about changing the world according to their dogmas. If the workers followed such advice they would **[word missing here in the original] the basic condition for victory. That is, to begin by being on the right side in the struggle".(7)
....The GOM's whole approach was an attack on the workers who had mobilised behind nationalist and democratic banners. They were described as "the most backward workers", "workers drugged and bound by the bourgeois state apparatus". Everything was reduced to "police-worker" mobilisations.(8)
All this anti-working class position was based, not as Nahuel Moreno claimed "between Peronism and the Unió n Democrá tica", "our duty is to fight in a third front in order to awaken the class consciousness which the workers have lost" as the dispute was between both factions of the bourgeoisie. The GOM described Peronism as "the vanguard of the bourgeois offensive against the worker's biggest gains", that is as the main enemy.(9)
The GOM's schematism produced the conclusion that: the victory of the Unió n Democrá tica was the lesser evil, because it would have left the working class in the hands of the Stalinists and the Socialist party, which meant retaining their "class consciousness". Class consciousness had nothing to do with it, as the argument came to the stupid conclusion that Stalinism and Social Democracy, who were up to their ears in an anti-working class, pro-imperialist alliance, were the guarantors of an unblemished class consciousness.
Nahuel Moreno tried to justify this outburst by looking for a "Third Front" and ended up decorating the Unió n Democrá tica and the counter-revolutionary bureaucracies which supported the government's of the "infamous decade", only to end up opposing the working class on the grounds that the unions must remain independent of the State and of Peronism.
THE MODEL OF THE CGT OF 1936 [OTHERWISE, THE "INFAMOUS DECADE"... WASN'T SO INFAMOUS]
"We can place the beginning of the rise of the Argentinian working class movement at around 1933: its highest point was the General Strike of January 1936... The rise of the workers' movement produced the following victories: a powerful union federation [the CGT], the independence and the freedom of the unions, and freedom of the press"(10)
First of all, we must point out that the working class leaders of the CGT [created in 1930] were direct accomplices in General Uriburu's reactionary coup. "The CGT, which represents the country's healthy forces, believes in the provisional government's administrative reform and is prepared to support its social and institutional measures... we are convinced that the provisional government maintains martial law in order to guarantee peace and ensure the government's authority, and that all trials and sentences have been in accordance with military regulations."(11)
"As soon as the provisional government which emerged from the revolution of 6 September was created, we quickly declared that we would not put the slightest difficulty in its way in carrying out its task which we consider arduous and indispensable".(12)
The Communist Party also approved of the coup, stating a year later that "Yirogoyenismo contains all the elements for a mass Fascist movement and extends its tentacles as far as the workers' movement".(13)
Using a variety of arguments, all were agreed in supporting a government which proposed that workers should wear work overalls on Sundays and holidays to distinguish them from the rest of the population.
The CGT, founded in 1930, was "independent" of working class control. It did not hold a congress for 6 years. "During General Justo's presidency a CGT delegation had an interview with him and indicated ...... its determination to remain within the law, fighting for the general good, opposing all attempts at creating disorder, whether by native demagogy or from the reactionaries".(14)
The "greatest achievement of the workers' movement" - the CGT in 1936 according to Moreno - was the product of a quarrel within the bureaucracy which illustrated its "independence" from the working class. The Socialist Party union leaders [supported afterwards by the Communist party] forcibly seized the CGT headquarters - then in the hands of the anarcho-syndicalists. According to S. Marotta, the police supported this action. That disaster for the Socialist and Communist parties was motivated by their adoption of Popular Front policies. That was shown on May Day 1936, when, for the first time in the history of Argentinian trade unionism, representatives of the bourgeois parties were offered a platform [Frondizi for the UCR and L.de la Torre for the PDP].
The CGT's First Congress, in 1936, approved resolutions such as: "On the first of May, where conditions are favourable, the CGT will invite democratic groups, which share its programme and aspirations to celebrate together ..."
"That the Argentinian working class, appreciating the great value of the governing republican institutions, which the government upholds, as well as the absolutely democratic National Constitution, the First [ordinary] Federal Conference declares:The Second Congress of the CGT took place in December 1942. "Considering, ... while internally [the government's politics] promotes the systematic reduction of constitutional rights, internationally it has isolated the Argentinian Republic from its American brothers, and from the United Nations which is fighting for the defeat of the Nazi-Fascist barbarism ... we declare that the workers' federation is able to promote the unity of all political and economic sectors of the Republic ... that we involve ourselves in the ranks of the democratic forces in the struggle against the totalitarian Axis ... therefore ... resolve:
"We re-affirm our absolute support for democratic institutions and will defend them on all fronts".
"We will work for the reduction of arms to the lowest possible level but, where there is a threat of conflict with totalitarian countries, we will co- operate unreservedly for the triumph of the ideas of peace, democracy and social justice".(15)
1] Fully approve the CCC resolution to support Democratic National Unity.
2] Instruct the leading bodies of the CGT to immediately begin negotiatiations with all - absolutely all - political parties, trade unions, and democratic economic, and cultural organisations ..."(16)
Such was the CGT of 1936, which Moreno and the OCI saw as a model.
It was not merely a matter of declarations. The "model" leaderships sought to betray the movement which began in the mid-1930's, where the working class opposed the fraudulent, unpatriotic regime. [The meat industry strike of 1942, etc.].
Moreno continues, "If the CGT's formation was the culmination of the rise of the working class movement and its greatest achievement, then its division showed that the working class had abandoned the struggle and had ceased to bring pressure on its leaders, allowing them to quarrel among themselves, the Stalinists being used by the native exploiters."
Once again the working class is blamed [for not pressurising its leaders] whose divisions are divorced from the content of the dispute. Never mind that unity in 1936 supported "democratic" reaction, and that the 1943 split reflected the division between the pro-allied and the nationalist section of the bourgeoisie. Neither side represented "working class independence", but first we need to describe them correctly. The GOM regretted the split because it preferred the CGT to be united behind Unió n Democrá tica and therefore blamed only those bureaucrats who sought integration with the State and not the Socialist and Communist parties which split.
The "independent" trade union, which the GOM saw as a model and which the OCI would like to reconstruct, sunk under the weight of its betrayals and its collaborationism and not as the result of police activity or of the drugged state of the workers. It is false to present those leaderships as defenders of trade union freedom and independence. They supported the governments of the "infamous decade" and the formation of Unió n Democrá tica. The 17th of October 1945 saw the collapse of that trade union movement, so closely linked with imperialism and the worst native reactionaries. The Peronist bourgeoisie's attempt to regiment the workers was made possible because of the terrible crisis of working class leadership [an international phenomenon]. That was not easy, but we must point out that the GOM was unable to play any positive role because its whole orientation was to blame the workers for ignoring its "theories". "These new unions were the result, not of a rise of the working class, but of its abandonment and defeat. They were the result of the workers inability to defend the unions' legality. They passively supported the Stalinist union."(17)
The GOM was reduced to blaming the workers for refusing to defend something they had no wish to defend. Neither did the Stalinists, Socialists or Sindicalists as Moreno had to recognise in his own distinctive way in his journal.(18) "Now, many unions controlled by anti-government forces, mainly socialists and Sindicalists, put a thousand obstacles in the way of calling assemblies, because they fear that the Peronists will gain the majority. We must explain and argue that in order to avoid disunity it is best to set an example of trade union democracy and call an assembly."(19) Finally, at the end of 1946, the Stalinists dissolved its unions and joined the CGT in order to collaborate with Peronism in bringing the unions under State control.
THE SOCIAL AND TRADE UNION GAINS OF THE WORKING CLASS ... "MILITARIST DEMAGOGY".
..."The army officers ... stirred up the workers against the bourgeoisie. Their demagogy produced an artificial movement inspired and supported by state officials and police. When we describe it as artificial we mean that it was not caused by the workers desperate situation or by its own experience and class consciousness".(20)
That expressed the essence of the GOM-POR's position in one of the periods when the proletariat achieved the greatest trade union and social advances in its history. For theMoreno tendency those were gifts from the military to a drugged proletariat, not the result of an unprecedented mobilisation against the bosses. In 1946 and 1947 the number of strikes and strikers was the highest ever, which showed that the working class was capable of fighting to achieve its demands. According to Moreno that "was not the consequence of the proletariat's desperate situation" but it was all "artificial", thus accepting the bosses contention that the workers' demands were excessive and that they were well-off, etc. The GOM-POR was prevented from leading any workers' struggles because it blacklegged on their demands.
"The bureaucracy and the colonels knew that the proletariat had no confidence in its own abilities and would not mobilise to fight the bourgeoisie ... Peronist demagogy was expressed by a mathematical law and all the Peronist assurances, whether anti- capitalist or anti-imperialist were directly related to apathy and were in inverse relationship to the class consciousness of the proletariat ... "(21)
Workers' gains were like manna fallen from heaven. In this manner the GOM-POR wiped out by the stroke of a pen all struggles, whether at the end of the last century or the great strikes and mobilisations of 1945-47, . Moreno ignores those strikes because, for him, they were the work of the army and the bureaucracy. He ends up telling the workers that their gains were the product of the colonels benevolence, not of the class struggle.
In reality, Peronism conceded these demands only because it was confronted by a workers' movement. Many of Peron's concessions were made in order to head off and limit the mobilisation. They owed nothing to mathematics and everything to class struggle. The nationalist leadership needed to control the workers and to gain their support in its limited struggle against imperialism. Because of its clash with imperialism and its need to regiment the workers the bourgeoisie had to pay a high price. The active presence of the working class forced it to grant organisational concessions [expansion of the unions, internal commissions, workers representatives, and social ones (pensions, bonuses, collective agreements, etc.)] which would have been unthinkable two years earlier. These were embedded in the workers memory and could not be abolished, even though that has been the aim of all reactionary governments and military dictatorships after 1955.
THE PRETTYFYING OF STALINISM AND SOCIAL DEMOCRACY
The Moreno tendency believed that the Argentinian working class lost its independence and class consciousness when it mobilised under nationalist and anti-imperialist banners and turned its back on the workers parties within the Unió n Democrá tica alliance. According to the GOM, the split in the bureaucracy, with the great majority going over to Peronism, and the workers leaving the unions led by the Socialist and Communist parties, meant that the unions had become bourgeois and organs of the State. That "qualitative" step was the consequence of the unions being no longer led by the traditional reformist bureaucracies, but by a "State" bureaucracy, so that the unions had become "government organisations".
"The activity, management and propaganda of the workers' movement are ordered in the interests of the government party. They are almost civil servants whose job is to control the workers' movement and hand down the orders which come from above. They do not have the slightest independence: Instructions must be applied without discussion...Their close link with the State shelters them from any pressure from the wokers ... It is in these conditions that the present CGT bureaucracy was born, lives, grows and develops: LA BUROCRACIA ESTATAL."(22)
In contrast, "the reformist bureaucracy, as opposed to the former [the State one] depends basically on the workers. It reflects the pressure of the workers and to a certain extent their changing attitudes. Its role is that of an indirect agent of the bourgeoisie and it cannot be isolated from that. It is a transmission belt - but only ideologically - of those interests, it brakes, paralyses or misdirects workers militancy...Its ideological submission to the bourgeoisie does not prevent it having conflicts with it, above all on the tactics to be adopted towards the workers' movement, means that it is not merely a tool of governments or of the dominant parties".(23)
That bureaucracy has its "models": "In most countries-France, Italy, the USA etc.- that problem [i.e. the State bureaucracy] doesn't exist. The trade union bureaucracy depends ideologically on the Kremlin or on imperialism, but is subject to workers' pressure, so it would be wrong to categorise it as a paid agent of the State even if some of its members- a minority-receive a salary from the employers for their 'work' in the proletariats' ranks".(24)
For the GOM there is a "qualitative" difference between the two bureaucracies.
"For a revolutionary this 'small difference' is of enormous importance. The decisive fact is whether the working class is independent of the State or not, even if in both cases it accepts bourgeois politics... There is a qualitative difference between the two concepts, which is rooted in the social, political and economic factors which produced both bureaucracies. The difference is not one of detail, but is rooted in history. Each bureaucracy is moved by a different dynamic. They are continually subject to different pressures...We repeat, that the State and reformist bureaucracies each has its own dynamic and that their differences are not merely quantitative" [Ibid. p. 53-55].
In order to expound this supposed qualitative difference the Moreno tendency has to prettify the Stalinist and Social Democratic bureaucracy in an atrocious manner. As this difference does not exist it falls, inevitably, into the same errors as the "theorists" of bourgeois trade unions.
It is not true that Stalinism and Social Democracy are dependent on the workers, even partially. On the contrary, they are agents of the Kremlin and of imperialism in the workers' movement. That was why they were in the Unió n Democrá tica in 1945, applying the "peaceful co-existence" line of that period: to make Latin America a Yankee economic and military base.
There is no qualitative difference between a trade union bureaucracy linked to a bourgeois nationalist movement and one linked to Social Democracy and Stalinism, where both defend the bourgeois order. They represent distinct stages in the integration of the trade union apparatus in the bourgeois State and in bourgeois society. Trotsky pointed that out when he compared even "model" unions with fascist ones.
"The French unions - said Trotsky - are being transformed into an official State bureaucracy... The reason for that is that decadent capitalism cannot tolerate independent trade unions... We saw how in Spain the leaders of the most anarchist unions became bourgeois ministers during the war. In Germany and Italy that happened in an authoritarian manner. The trade unions and the capitalist leaders have both been incorporated into the capitalist State. The difference is one of extent, not of nature".(25)
The root of the error which the "theoreticians" who postulate bourgeois unions is that they treat the question of workers' independence in a purely formal way, basing themselves on legal criteria rather than on class struggle. The union bureaucracy [!what an integration!- they even demanded the intervention of the Yankee marines] in the Unió n Democrá tica and with all the governments of the infamous decade. It is no more independent than is the Peronist bureaucracy, which is linked by every pore to the State and the Peronist movement. If in one case there is legislation tying it to the State and in the other not, that does not change the essence of the question: both union bureaucracies are integrated politically to the State and are defenders of the bourgeois order.
Neither is it true that the Peronist union bureaucracies have simply been "State officials". Peron recruited his bureaucracy Peron would have been unable even to suggest the regimentation of the workers' movement without the consent of that bureaucracy. in 1946 the Communist Party bureaucracy entered the Peronist unions and helped Peron to control the proletariat. The trade union bureaucracy everywhere eats the crumbs from the table of the bourgeois state: that is by no means only an Argentinian phenomena. It is a social, not an ideological phenomena, a consequence of the specific conditions of the development of the trade unions and its relationship with the bourgeois State in the conditions of monopoly capitalism. It is therefore false to claim that the "reformist" bureaucracy is not an agent of the State, or that the problem does not exist in the "model" countries. They live from the State budget and they participate in the management of innumerable monopoly firms, they support the interests of the metropolitan imperialists and they support imperialist military intervention in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, etc, etc.
According to the GOM the "reformist" bureaucracy is an ideological transmission belt which "does not mean that it is a tool of government or of the dominant parties". Doesn't that make them look good! For the GOM-POR, being in the Unión Democrática led by Braden, to support Uriburu's coup and the regimes of patriotic fraud - for example the "nationals" is not submission but a sign of being independent. Such are the idiocies with which the theoreticians of the "qualitative difference" end up.
The inevitable conclusion of these claims, presented as opposition to the attempts to bring the unions under State control, was that not only did the GOM-POR play no part in the struggle for trade union independence, but that it turned its back on it.
It is false to claim - as pedants do - that the selection of an trade union bureaucracy which liquidates union democracy developed painlessly and without somersaults. Before that happened there were a number of mobilisations and a crisis in the unions which presented great opportunities for Trotskyism to gain a place in the working class.
The GOM -POR ignored that millions of workers not only underwent the experience of belonging to those unions, but that they fought inside them against bureaucratisation and State regimentation. The GOM-POR denied that those struggles existed and condemned them to defeat in advance, because: "It is Utopian to wish that the CGT should act differently. It is pointless to complain about its actions, as they are an inevitable consequence of its nature: the really dangerous thing is that comrades who declare themselves Marxists back such activity in the illusory hope that they can modify it and show a way forward. The CGT, as an agent of the State and the employers, is entitled to act as it does or even worse if that were possible: In contrast, we have no right to cry as if we are offended.. Our duty is to fight it".(26)
That phrase sums up the thinking of all these theoreticians [remember that for the French OCI the strike of June and July 1975 was a dead end for the proletariat]. For the GOM-POR the struggle against regimentation, bureaucratisation and for trade union democracy is "to wish that the unions would behave differently" and is, therefore, "Utopian". In contrast when the bureaucracy carries out killings or denounces activists to the police it is, to be realistic, "within its rights to do this or worse".
It is absurd [or rather tragic] to think that such people, who claim to be building a workers' party, make their first task to condemn the workers' struggle against the bureaucracy and for union independence. The OCI now tells us that it is because the GOM-POR recipes have not been applied that we do not have a mass revolutionary party in Argentina!!
THE "COMPRADOR" BOURGEOISIE AND THE WORKERS UNITED FRONT
" The event of 17 October was one of the many barrack coups which arose from the governments which were produced after the 4th of June".(27)
"Since 1944 we have fought in the Trotskyist movement against the proposal to work within the Peronist masses and its unions. We were the first to take up that position. That is, we have never participated in the Peronist mobilisations because we believe that they are basically bureaucratic and not workers' activities...".(28) "for us, Peronism is a reactionary right wing movement which has been able to gain mass support".(29)
The Moreno tendency could not accept that a bourgeois nationalist movement was growing rapidly before its eyes. Not only did it describe it as "a reactionary right wing movement" but it claimed: "The official unions are one more instrument of the government...In essence they are State unions, that is to say, they are fascist or semi- fascist".(30)
The theoretical basis for denying the existence of the nationalist movement, which carried out a limited resistance to imperialism while regimenting the workers, was the Moreno tendency's identification of the bourgeoisie of the undeveloped countries with imperialism. Therefore, any conflict between that bourgeoisie, or a section of it with imperialism was an inter-imperialist quarrel, which could not have any trace of a national demand. Morenoism denied that there were oppressed and oppressor nations and held that the national bourgeoisie [who for Trotsky were a "semi-oppressed semi-ruling class"] were absolutely committed to national oppression. Consequently, Peron's clashes with the Yankees were, for the GOM-POR, proof that he was an "English agent".
The GOR- POR denied that the national bourgeoisie, fractions of it or of the petit bourgeoisie, or the army, substituting for it, could clash with imperialism. It is precisely because there are unresolved national questions in the undeveloped countries that bourgeois nationalist leaders are able to lead mass movements by proposing and carrying out anti-imperialist measures. It is an objective tendency as the national bourgeoisie has to "remember" national tasks, because of repeated imperialist attacks, national oppression and backwardness. This is not an absolute tendency: the bourgeoisie, subject to the pressure of imperialism and of the working class, wavers between flirtations with nationalism and with counter revolution, depending on the degree of the independence of the masses, of their mobilisation and of imperialist crisis. The nationalists demands must be unmasked; they must neither be ignored nor simply denounced as reactionary, as that will only reinforce the bourgeois leaders. The small nucleus of proclaimed revolutionaries will be incapable of winning support in the mass movement if its demands coincide with those of imperialist reaction.
The GOM-POR, in its attempt to deny Peronism's nationalism and to present it as absolutely reactionary, describes it as: "a movement of conservatives and surplus trade unionists, ex-socialists and radicals, killers and CAFICIOS, industrialists and shopkeepers, ranchers and landowners, priests and variety and soap opera artists, agents of imperialism and burnt-out nationalists".(31)
...It is openly totalitarian; it has had serious quarrels with American imperialism, not because it it is anti-imperialist or represents a section of bourgeois anti-imperialism, but so that Argentina remains as a bulwark of European, and especially English, imperialism."(32)
"Peronism is the greatest defender of traditional bourgeois relations in the country: the domination of the interests of the exporters, especially the ranchers and meat packers with close relations with English imperialism."(33) "Peronism is closely linked to the most reactionary elements in the world...".(34)
"That dependent character of the national bourgeoisie, its lack of nationalism, its anti-national and reactionary role...[ensures that]... any bourgeois Argentinian government will be the agent of England".(35)
Peron was "English" and Moreno furiously defended that thesis in spite of the fact that most "English agents" were in the Unió n Democrá tica. Moreno's treatment of that evidence is Kafkaesque. "English imperialism, while having most of it agents in the opposition, strongly supports the government, as the most effective way of defending itself against its imperialist rival".(36)
Consequently, Morenoism opposed the tactic of the anti-imperialist United Front. That tactic, which was approved by the Third Congress of the Third International, aimed to free the masses from dependence on the bourgeois leadership, who were incapable of fully achieving the democratic and anti-imperialist objectives of the oppressed nation. Peron's increasingly pronounced move towards agreement with the Yankees [the signing of the Rio de Janeiro treaty, the Eisenhower mission, agreement with the World Bank, petroleum concessions, the austerity plan etc. etc] and the reaction to these by the working class, would have given a revolutionary tendency the opportunity to make a bid for the leadership of the democratic and anti-imperialist struggle.
However, the GOM-POR put forward the recipe of the Proletarian United Front [appropriate for imperialist countries where the nationalist movements are reactionary - because those nations are imperialist] aimed at the Socialist and Communist parties in order to make an alliance against the nationalists and the masses. Inevitably, Moreno had to search for Stalinist justifications for that tactic:
"The Communist party proposed a programme which, although opportunist, suggested a solution to the current problems. From that viewpoint its principles coincided with those of the POR... The programme included the struggle against imperialism, for freedom and against the increase in the cost of living. ... The only legal party which fights against imperialism is the Stalinist one. It has a programme which gives solutions to workers' problems and, for the moment, reflects working class needs...."(37)
All of this programmatic veneer concealed the fact that the big bourgeoisie and imperialism had begun to regroup behind a coup d'Etat, because they were not satisfied by Peron's concessions and because they wanted to crush the proletariat. In 1951, after Menendez's attempted coup, the Morenoists declared: "Down with Peronism, the coup and the bourgeois opposition", equating the nationalist government and the pro-imperialist coup which tried to overthrow it. [They were] incapable of understanding that once the coup was attempted the manner of fighting the government had to change and that revolutionary agitation had to concentrate on fighting the reactionary coup.
The United Front with the enemies of the anti-imperialist struggle and the supporters of the reactionary coup made Moreno predict the destruction of the CGT - his favourite slogan - which general Menendez then supported, and which was attempted in 1955, not foreseeing the resistance of the proletariat.
"There can be no doubt that the proletariat rejects the CGT. It is not an active rejection, because of the lack of class consciousness [perhaps it did not exist-NDA]...the tendency was clearly evident: the CGT's days are numbered and IT WILL FALL FACED WITH THE WORKING CLASS ORGANISED IN MOBILISATIONS AGAINST STATE TRADE UNIONS..."(38)
FROM SECTARIANISM TO OPPORTUNISM
After a decade spent defending those positions, The Moreno tendency dissolved into Peronism, forming the Palabra Obrera group, whose journal was "under the discipline of General Peron and the Peronist Supreme Command".
Moreno never made any self criticism of his past positions and behaviour typical of a sect. In "1945 añ o clave" he gave the following version of the GOM-POR's history.
"Because of the circumstances already described, the Yankee plan which was put into effect from 1939, was neither denounced nor fully understood by any social or political tendency: least of all by the Communist Party, which acted as a transmission belt in the workers movement for these colonialist plans. We are no different: we did not understand how to denounce these plans with sufficient precision and strength."(39) It takes real cheek to present things in that way !!!
Ernesto Gonzalez in his pamphlet, "Que es y que fue el peronismo" describes the Moreno record. "From 1952, on establishing that the country's main enemy was Yankee rather than English imperialism, we considered ourselves as part of the Peronist anti-Yankee United Front."(40)
Simply because the English had been replaced by the Yankees, a reactionary right wing movement was transformed into an anti-imperialist United Front. With such "theory" the Moreno tendency will never get very far.
Peronism was and is a bourgeois movement with a bourgeois leadership, not a neutral space for a United Front, where the proletariat and a fraction of bourgeois nationalism contends for leadership. Morenoist "entrism" was based on a political capitulation to Peronism, which resulted in another 10 years of atrocious opportunism: it declared itself anti-communist, voted for Frondizi in 1958, described Fidel Castro as another Aramburu and the Cuban revolution as another Libertadora(41) etc. etc.
Such is the fate of all sectarian tendencies, which after vegetating with their dogmas, leap into opportunism: from describing the unions as bourgeois, they move to describing them as revolutionary or independent. Reactionary nationalist movements become anti-imperialist fronts, and a "good" entry tactic can substitute for the revolutionary workers' party: which, alternatively, may be built by splitting a sector of the bureaucracy.
All of these turns and twists are still being carried out by the small sects which remain in the CORCI.
March 1979, Aldo Ramirez & Julio Magri
translated by John Sullivan 1994