Reports from Argentina
Posted: Jan. 15 2003, 21:29Even though I'm at least 10,000 miles (or 16,000 kilometers) from anywhere I've ever been before, I can't really say that Argentina is outrageously different from other places I know.
The girls I'm staying with mentioned that a lot of "revolutionary tourists" like me picture that every day in Buenos Aires is Dec. 20, 2001; they come here expecting to get off the plane and join a huge battle in the Plaza de Mayo.
Unfortunately – and predictably – that is not the case. Your typical bourgeois tourist wouldn't see much evidence of the elevated class struggle. There are clues (lots of posters calling for a boycott of the upcoming elections, political graffiti demanding "que se vayan todos", etc.) but there's nothing obvious like patrols of armed workers operating under the banner of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee.
What makes Argentina special only becomes clear upon a somewhat closer inspection. For example, in Buenos Aires you can go into a factory and hear how the workers seized it a year ago and are now running things via a general assembly. Or you can go to a political rally with tens of thousands of people that calls for the resignation of the entire government.
Those are things that you couldn't really find in London or Berlin. They are exceptions, at least for now. But millions of workers see what is happening and can apply the lessons to their own lives.
The lesson here is that a pre-revolutionary situation is not something that punches you in the face. According to John Reed, the very night of the October Revolution affluent citizens went to the theater and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.
Life will continue as it always does. The differences are subtle. Does one participate in government by going to the poll booth or by going to an assembly? Does one get the orders of the day from the boss or from a workers' commision? In both cases the busses run as usual.
I guess that's what makes us revolutionaries special. We know how to distinguish a pre-revolutionary situation. A CNN commentator will look at Argentina and only see a decline of such-and-such percent in the GDP. The revolutionary sees workers realizing that the bourgeois parlamentary system is against them and they need to take matters into their own hands.
– Dzhon Rid