Argentina’s Return to Being a Bourgeois Country: Part 2

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By: Marcelo Langieri / Source: Grandes Alamedas / The Dawn News / November 10, 2017

This is the second and last part of this article.

Photo Credit: Grandes Alamedas

To a world where we are all socially equal, humanely different and completely free”

— Rosa Luxembourg

The legitimation of order

Italian philosopher and political scientist Norberto Bobbio points out that a general principle of moral philosophy is that bad conduct—not good conduct—needs to be justified. Max Weber, another renowned sociologist, who is far from being a revolutionary, said that “practical problems in the consciousness of rulers, if they want to prevent imminent misfortunes, should include social matters”. However, we often hear certain intellectuals with strong pragmatical tendencies, who find the existing welfare policies and other forms of exchange of influences and favors (which when applied to the lower classes is called “clientelism”) or the application of the arts of realpolitik and electoral support, are extraordinary facts that prove the thesis of the existence of a new hegemony growing.

According to Gramsci, hegemony is not achieved by winning an election. A class or social group becomes hegemonic when it manages to neutralize social antagonisms and transform them into plain difference. The existence of politically and ideologically consolidated minorities with political trajectory and capacity for action, the existence of a parliamentary opposition with potential ability to influence parliamentary proceedings, the existence of social movements that are able to conjure big mobilizations—these are all elements that prevent the consolidation of a new hegemony. What we have now is a dispute over the imposition of a new hegemony.

In the political debates of social movements some also argue that “people don’t think when they vote”. Then we must ask: why do the lower and middle class sometimes vote against their own interest? Why don’t they even consider their economic well-being? I’ll quote Diego Conno, a comrade of the national movement: because there is ideology, which is not equivalent to the way in which individuals represent their conditions of existence in an imaginary manner but the way in which they represent their imagined “relationship” with their conditions of existence. Another answer, from a different standpoint, puts the focus on discourse—meaning the group of practices through which individuals perceive, grasp and classify social reality. Through discourse, dominant groups create in the social classes below them a system of values and knowledge which is perceived by these individuals as a form of truth.

The dispute over the imposition of a new hegemony faces a powerful project against a fragmented popular movement. But the project of the dominant classes is a giant with feet of clay. Their legitimization depends on social consensus and on the vote of the people—which is a loan, not a blank check—as they promote reforms that prejudice them. Also, the manipulation of media and of the judicial system, which is expressed in arbitrary detentions and persecution, tastes like revenge. But everything has a limit.

The popular movement, on the other hand, starts from a position of fragmentation. However, the movement possesses consciousness, and the rights that are currently being attacked are a part of its historical struggle. Even though the fact that the political and social leadership of the working class is a weak point of the movement, the damage that is being done is so deep that we can’t guarantee this leadership won’t crack, as it happened before during Menem’s presidency, and that a part of it tactically aligns with the interests of the people. On the other hand, there is an opportunity to strengthen the reorganization and growth of the committed militancy, which will play a big role in the process of rebuilding a transformative project.

The solution to this story will depend on the intelligence, cleverness and determination of the people to build a political alternative that trumps this attempt to impose the old bourgeois country that Peronismo was able to subdue but not defeat. That’s why the bourgeoisie is able to return now with a different mask. Our challenge is to build a political alternative that overcomes this project and leads the people’s demands to victory.

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