Reports from Argentina
Election Round-Up Pt. 3.5: The Rest of the Right
Posted: Mar. 10 2003, 20:00The ARI is a group led by Elisa Carrió that split from the Radicals about a year ago. They are the radical Radicals, the ones who promise real changes, not just the same old superficial changes that Radicals have been promising for the last 100 years.
The most striking thing about the ARI is Elisa Carrió herself: she is a fucking water manatee. I'm not some incurable sexist who says that a woman has to be attractive in order to be active in politics; I'm just saying that female politicians, like their male counterparts, have to follow a few basic appearance guidelines. For example: don't wear baggy vacation clothes all the time, don't be massively obese, don't have shabbily bleached hair, don't smoke constantly, don't weigh yourself down with a giant metal cross, in general try not to be a laughing stock. Elisa Carrió breaks each one of these rules (and how!) and yet is in second or third place in the polls. This shows you that despite being such a hideous sea cow, she is saying exactly what the middle classes want to hear.
(You don't believe me, do you? You think I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect. Well look at this. Or this!)
With the fall of De La Rua the middle classes lost their political direction. Their traditional system of following the bourgeoisie had stopped working; the bourgeoisie had sold them out on a huge scale.
But the middle classes can't lead radical social changes (i.e. a revolution) because that would mean eliminating private property, and the middle classes cling to private property just like the bourgeoisie. So their visions of revolution are limited to abstract conceptions about "equality" in which capitalism will continue but somehow be made less brutal.
The first expression of these desires were the Popular Assemblies. They provided this middle-class concept of equality (everyone could discuss and vote) without concerning themselves too much with economic equality. Thus they weren't able to bring about any real changes and faded into meaninglessness.
Now the middle classes want a party to do what the assemblies couldn't. They want a party that promises change but not very drastic change, a party that will make things better without making things too different. That party is the ARI.
ARI does not seem to have a fixed name. "Alternative for a Republic of Equals" and "Argentinians for a Republic of Equals" are two popular varieties, but others exist: Assembly, Affirmation, Action, etc. The important thing is that this is a group that wants a Republic of Equals.
What is a "republic" of "equals"? Elisa Carrió's job consists in explaining this highly complicated theoretical concept. Basically, it is a republic in which everyone is equal. (Of course, even in the current republic all citizens are equal, but that's a different story.) This "republic of equals" will have "participatory democracy" and government will be "open" or "clean."
Will this equality mean taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor? Of course not! That is anarchy and barbarism! That is sacrilege! (And we know from the size of Elisa Carrió's cross that she'd never do anything sacrilegious!)
This process of equalization proposed by the ARI is a semantic excercise. The millionaire exporter earning a forture from the devaluation and the downsized worker living on the street and collecting trash would be formally declared equals, and problem solved! They won't have equal rights to a steady job or even a place to live, but they will both have the equal right to complain about their problems in a popular assembly that no one attends.
This whole project is so pathetic I feel ashamed to describe it. This is the same old concept of christian bourgeois equality which means that you take the lot given to you and shut your mouth. You might end up on the street but rest assured that you're "equal before the law." Of course it's a very different law than rich people are subject to but don't think too much about that one.
The middle classes eat this shit up. Since they are trapped between the two big poles, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, they would like to think that there are no poles at all. "We are in the middle, we are normal, we are like everyone else." They want equality in the sense of their former pseudo-equality to the bourgeosie, back when they weren't screwed over so openly.
What makes this all interesting is that the the "leftist" trade union, (a workers' organization) is supporting the ARI. The bureaucrats of the CTA know that the trade unions are completely discredited. All unions in Argentina are linked to the Peronists, and the Peronists brought privatizations, currency devaluation, and misery. In order to keep its "leftist" denomination the CTA bureaucracy needs to distance itself from that and make itself look progressive. At the same time, it needs to keep the workers under control so they don't actually begin to attack bourgeois property relations. The ARI is the perfect solution. Supporting Carrió means telling the workers "Don't organize, don't prepare for a fight, just find a section of the bourgeoisie that's 'progressive' and let them solve your problems for you."
This strategy might have worked for the CTA except for one little electoral snag. Elissa Carrió knows that if she makes it to the second round she will be up against one of the three Peronists. That means that by default she will be the Right's candidate, since the Right hates the Peronists, even the right Peronists. Even as we speak she is working out agreements with the various right and extreme right fractions in order to get their support in the second round. And the CTA leadership is flailing around trying to decide what to do: their formerly "progressive" candidate is making alliances with neoliberals and fascists, and they just can't sell that to the workers.
The extreme right in Argentina, as if all the other parties weren't far enough on the right, is represented by a chap named Lopez Murphy. His political party is called Recreate Argentina, which for me fits in nicely with the "let's make Argentina better" naming scheme that all parties have agreed upon. Lopez Murphy's campaign is that Menem, privatizer of privatizers, in reality did not privatize enough. For example, even though Menem sold all Argentina's oil fields to foreign imperialists for very little money, he only sold them for thirty years – he should have sold them for a century at least!
Lopez Murphy is, obviously, the favorite of Aznar and Berlusconi.
– Dzhon Rid