Reports from Argentina
Las Manos de Filippi
Posted: Jan. 18 2003, 22:38Dzhon's hot music pick of the week: Las Manos de Filippi, an underground Ska/Punk/Hardcore band from Buenos Aires.
I went to the concert last night with Ana and Coco from the PTS youth group JIRCI. We got to this tiny punk rock club around 1:30 in the morning but they weren't letting anyone in. So we stood around outside with hundreds of young punks and drank beer.
At 3 they finally opened the doors. Admission was five pesos per person (about $1.50) but Ana and Coco had decided they were only willing to offer four. We went up the stairs and Coco spent a long time arguing with the guy at the box office – apparently he felt the five-peso sum was non-negotiable.
So we went back to waiting around outside. According to time-honored Argentinian tradition, admission to concerts gets cheaper the moment the band starts playing. Therefore it was just a matter of time until they would accept our four-peso offer.
I mentioned that I could afford to pay the difference, since it was just three pesos total. Ana and Coco explained that this wasn't about money, it was about principle: a Buenos Aires underground band can't charge five pesos for admission! They suggested I take those three pesos and buy another beer. So I did.
At 3:30 Manos started playing and we got in for just three pesos each. The club only had a few rooms and it was totally packed. But we still managed to elbow our way into the front rows.
The music was really great – upbeat, angry, fist-shaking ska. There were six guys: singer, guitarrist, bassist, drummer, trumpet-guy, and saxophonist. They spent the whole time jumping around and yelling "¡Que se muera De La Rua!" ("De La Rua must die!").
The sound system was pretty bad so I didn't understand the lyrics too well. But everyone assures me they are really great. Example:
A la mierda con la burocracia
A la mierda con la patronal
A la mierda con el Fondo
Fuck the bureaucracy
Fuck the owners
Fuck the International
I could make out quite a few key words, like "working class", "piqueteros", "strugge", "Brukman", etc. Pretty much every song seemed to deal with the political situation in Argentina.
Las Manos is a Trotskyist punk band, which is something I had never heard of before. Aparently that's pretty common in Buenos Aires. This particular band is close to the Partido Obrero, but the PTS has its own punk rock division.
Their PO-orientation became obvious in one of their songs called "Piqueteros." They sang that the piqueteros' methods are "the best, the only way to do the revolution."
This represents a fundamental difference between the PO and the PTS. The PO claims that the millions of unemployed workers who have been radicalized by desperation represent the vanguard of the working class. It is true that they are capable of remarkable heroism: they have led numerous street battles over the last year, block major highways for days at a time, and in one case I know of they even threatened to blow up an oil refinery.
However, they do not have jobs. They are not in the factories, and therefore do not have a real possibility to seize the means of production. The piqueteros represent a very important social force, but it is only under the leadership of the productive working class that a revolution is possible. Only the employed workers can do a general strike, for example.
And now that I'm derailing other Argentinian political parties, let me mention that I hate fucking Maoists. The Partido Comunista Revolucionario here has the oldest and one of the most radical piqueteros movements, the CCC (Corriente Combativa y Clasista; Class-based Combative Current), but they focus almost exclusively on this desperate sub-class of the proletariat, and to top it off call for a government of "unity of the people", i.e. unity with the bourgeoisie! To hell with the Maoists.
Anyway, the point is, las Manos de Filippi is a really good band. I recommend it to everyone – just download a few songs on Kazaa. Enjoy!
Some pictures of the Manos:
– Dzhon Rid