Argentina: Debates with Kicillof and Grabois: prophets of resignation

Apr 20, 2019 | Debates, Latin America

A few weeks ago the former minister of CFK published a book titled “And what now? Repairing the ideas to build a normal country”. The friend of the Pope published his own book last year, which is a mix of fiction, chronicle and manifesto, called “The dangerous class”. With this article we attempt to question the essential issues they raise.

Both are books for the electoral campaign. They have definitions on the essential issues of this political period in the country: economic model, social subjects, capitalism, feminist agenda. They are both gravitating figures that work with a common strategy of uniting the PJ and Kirchnerism in a common political front. At the same time, their fundamental purpose is to influence the peripheral universe of Peronism. This means that they do not discuss inside the PJ or CFK’ party, but with the middle class, the student youth and what we could call the social left. Therefore, apart from their form and appearance, what is interesting is questioning their programs, orientations and political assessments during times of strong polarization in our country.

Kicillof, or right-wing Keynesianism

Currently, the former minister is deploying an activity he announces in one of the interviews in his book. He is touring the towns of the interior of the province of Buenos Aires, “Pepe Mujica” style, in his car with a couple of activists. He gives talks, convenes people to the squares and presents his book. The question is that the interviews of the book contain very important definitions. Kicillof makes, for example, an assessment of the triumph of Macri and links it to the communication merits of the Cambiemos campaign (Duran Barba) and a cultural defeat of Kirchnerism (“it was unable to explain itself”). Not even one word of the disappointment of a great part of the people with the policies -not the discourse- of CFK, and that that is why they migrated to Macrism. On privatized service companies, he is categorical: he does not clearly support nationalization, but “being flexible and not being tied to schemes of propriety”. Translating: co-management with the capitalists of the sector. The -“homeland of the subsidy”. On the other side, although he dismisses Marx and vindicates Keynes, he says that, on the industrial issue, at best “the task is adding a little bit of value”. Even the substitution of imports of the first Peronism seems impossible to him. Two more key issues: the IMF and capitalism in general. The former minister explains that today the IMF plays “a different role than in the 90s” and that, therefore, the key is “paying but negotiating from a different position of force”. This means that they will pay the debt. The chapter dedicated to capitalism is clear. Kicillof says: “some hear ‘the end of capitalism’ and think that’s nice. Leave capitalism where it is, let’s try to make it better”. Summarizing: an entire conception of conscious and resigned “not liberal” management of capitalism, paying the debt, maintaining privatizations and in defense of a low intensity Keynesianism.

Peronizing millennials

Grabois´ book seeks to be a radiography of the poor and poverty. Throughout the text, he inserts anecdotes and hardly understandable references to Marxist and Christian authors and, obviously, references to the Pope. The whole proposal of Grabois has a series of very categorical definitions:

  • He says that his generation post-2001 is pacific, that Che is only for wearing on his t-shirts and that, in every case, he does not seek abrupt changes.
  • The “dangerous class”, meaning the poor, are not an independent subject, but the social base of Peronism led by organic intellectuals like the Pope.
  • The economic strategy is re-distributing (social plans) and raising the consuming capacity of the masses.
  • He explains that abortion and anti-capitalism are issues of the petty-bourgeoisie, as is feminism in general. That poor people don’t care for it nor mobilize.

Finally, a message directed to the bourgeoisie in the middle of the book is revealing. It says something like this: against neo-liberalism, which causes struggles and alters the social peace, our project is an alternative to the radicalization of the millennial youth. Before there are “revolutions or Al-Qaeda cells” (sic), we are a better option, the unity of Peronism.

We are then before a proposal destined to “peronize” the middle class that is radicalizing and, specially, the most irreverent youth. And a proposal: to replace Macri, we must unite bureaucrats, mafia mayors and “pro-life” governors in the same amalgam to manage a capitalism a bit less semi-colonial than that of Cambiemos. This book, and Kicillof´s, more than just two books are handbooks for resignation.

Our platform: the left as an emergency brake

The metaphor belongs to a German Marxist, Walter Benjamin. He says that revolutions, more than “trains for the progress of history”, are actually an emergency brake against the catastrophe this system is leading us to. But to not fall into abstract thinking and discussing real things, let’s say this: when the left poses its solution, the answer is more or less this:

  • The debt must be paid, because if we don’t “we would be isolated and the economy would be chaotic”.
  • Private companies cannot be nationalized, because “the service would fall, everything would be awful”.
  • Nationalizing external trade: “it would be crazy, we would end up without credit”.

Now well, we wonder: with the payment of the debt, isn’t the economy chaotic? With privatized services, isn’t everything “awful” already? And with the current foreign financial system, who’s being benefited with loans?

Let’s get to the point: the only real proposals for a solution that guarantees that the crisis will be paid by the bankers and the capitalists, and not the working class, are raised by us, the left.

Why suspend the payment of the debt? To have resources and injecting them into the real economy: a massive plan of house building to activate the branch of production linked to this part of the economy. With the debt interests of one year, we can build 400.000 houses, 1.2 million direct jobs y 600.000 indirect jobs. We could solve the current unemployment crisis in months.
Why nationalize the financial system? To politically focus the national reserve with a different orientation. Once again: investing that enormous amount of money in the productive economy, not speculation. A general rise of wages and pensions. A budget rise of decisive branches: health and education.
Why end the contracts with the private companies without indemnification? First, because they didn’t comply. Second, because they took super-profits. And the essential: because those levers of the economy, under the social control of the workers and consumers, will allow the planning of the public services as social rights, including reinvesting what is now being appropriated as profits by the concessionaires, to improve the services.
Why prohibit lay-offs by law and distribute work hours? Because, in politics, every project responds to antagonistic class interests. We won’t subsidize capitalist profits, we want to protect the right to work and everyone capable of working being able to do so.
These three emergency measures, combined with the elimination of the sales tax and the wage tax; and in politics, legalizing abortion, eliminating subsidies to the Church, democratizing the justice system, dismantling the state espionage system and abolishing the privileges of the political caste are the base to really pulling the emergency brake on the catastrophe that Macrism is taking us to -or the PJ, if it wins the elections. To assure the rights of the social majority. So the working class, and not the bosses, can win. Because we are a realist left, that doesn’t ask for the impossible: we struggle for a solution of the majority that works (or tries to). An anti-capitalist and socialist solution.

Mariano Rosa