Argentina swinging between a crisis of governability and a Mafioso dictatorship

We are facing the first steps of an authoritarian adventure of uncertain outcome.

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It has been pointed out ad nauseum that for the first time in a century, in the December 10 2015 elections, the right-wing came to government without hiding its face, without fraud, without a military coup, through supposedly clean elections, and that this is something new.


It is necessary to make three things clear:-


In the first place it is obvious that there was no question of "clean elections", but an asymmetric process completely distorted by media manipulation, unprecedented in Argentina, that has been active for several years, but which finally led to a very sophisticated and overwhelming operation. With the electoral operation accomplished, the outgoing president was removed from office some hours before the transmission of the presidential mandate through a "judicial" coup d'état, in a demonstration of the strength of real power that thus established an important precedent, in reality the first step of the new regime.


This takes us to a second clarification: the Kirchnerists did not produce any decisive structural changes of the system. They introduced reforms that included vast sectors of the lower classes, responded to unsatisfied popular demands (such as bringing to trial protagonists of the last military dictatorship), implemented an international policy that distanced the country from wholesale submission to the United States and other measures that overlapped with existing structures and power groups. But this did not generate a plebeian avalanche capable of neutralizing the social bases of the right, breaking the pillars of the system (their judicial, media, financial and transnational apparatus, etc.), or of dismantling the reactionary onslaught.  The radicalized transforming alternative was completely outside of the progressive libretto; astuteness, clever games and their good results in the short and even medium term was the marvel of Kirchnerism.  It led them along a winding path, accumulating contradictions as they marched to the final defeat. They never proposed infringing the limits of the system, jumping over the elitist-Mafioso institutionalism of the judicial cohorts upheld by the media party, which consists of a lumpen-bourgeoisie that took advantage of the reestablishment of governability after 2001-2002 to cure their wounds, recuperate their forces and sharpen their appetites.


As was foreseeable, the middle classes, the great beneficiaries of the economic prosperity of the progressive years, did not turn thankfully to Kirchnerism but on the contrary, instigated by the media powers, they returned to their old reactionary prejudices; their social ascent reproduced latent cultural forms reminiscent of the old “Gorilismo” [an ultraconservative and authoritarian tendency], the contempt for "la negrada" [a racist term], associated with the present regional and occidental wave of middle-class overtures towards neo-fascism. This was not, then, a simple question of media manipulation through the well-oiled communications apparatus, but rather the right-wing taking advantage of irrationalities rooted deep in the soul of the bourgeoisie.


The third observation is that this phenomenon is hardly new. While it is true that the process of electoral manipulation is situated within the decline of Latin American progressivism and that it was carried out seamlessly by top-notch specialists, almost certainly monitored by the intelligence apparatus of the United States, we should not forget that before the advent of Peronism in 1945, Argentinian society had been molded by an oligarchic republic for nearly a century (that was not abolished during the period of Radical governments from 1916 to 1930), leaving deep cultural and institutional imprints throughout the successive transformations of the dominant elites, as a sort of mythical reference to an era where supposedly those on top took charge through stable authoritarian structures. There is a curious symbolism in the fact that it was Federico Pinedo, the "interim-instantaneous" President imposed by the judicial mafia, who took charge of handing over the presidential baton to Macri. Federico Pinedo is grandson of Federico Pinedo, one of the most representative figures of the oligarchical restoration of the 1930s, and great-great grandson of Federico Pinedo Rubio, mayor of Buenos Aires at the end of the XIX century and then national congressman during a prolonged period as a representative of the Conservative Party. By following the trajectory of this family, we can observe the ascent and consolidation of the colonial aristocratic country built up from the mid-nineteenth century.  It was the distant descendant of this oligarchy who was charged with handing over the attributes of Presidential power to Mauricio Macri, himself the inheritor of a Mafioso family clan with Italian Fascist roots [1], about to establish a "government of managers".  The occurrence of an instantaneous coup d'état established a symbolic historical link between today's lumpen-bourgeoisie and the old oligarchic caste.


The crisis


The international economic context involves a deflationary crisis motorized by the deflated growth of the great economic powers. The United States, the European Union and Japan are navigating between anemic growth, stagnation and recession. China is decelerating its growth and Brazil is in recession. This creates a situation marked by the cooling of global demand that lowers the prices of raw materials and stagnates or shrinks the markets of industrial products.  To sum up, it is a negative world panorama for a country such as Argentina, which is principally an exporter of raw materials and to a lesser extent of products of medium to low technology industries.


In the face of this adverse international cycle, from a theoretical point of view, the Argentine economy, in order not to fall into recession, should rely increasing on the expansion and protection of its internal market, its industrial network, its financial autonomy.  Nevertheless, the Macri government has begun its mandate doing the exact contrary: shrinking its internal market through the drastic reduction in real terms of wages and pensions, increasing its foreign debt, and failing to protect most of the industrial structure.  This is the gist of their initial economic decisions such as the mega-devaluation, the elimination or reduction of taxes on exports, rising interest rates, the liberalization of imports and soon, the elimination of subsidies for public services with the consequent increase in rates. This means a gigantic transfer of income to the most concentrated economic groups (the big agrarian exporters, companies and financial speculators holding funds in dollars), through mammoth looting that will be prolonged in time along with rising prices, lower wages, devaluations and the "tarifazos"-- [huge rates increases]. Unemployment and poverty will increase, the concentration of incomes will rapidly grow (it is already happening) and null or negative economic growth will be inevitable.


According to some experts, we are caught up in a completely irrational whirlpool, marked by the decline of most industry and the disintegration of society, as the result of the orthodox application of "erroneous" neoliberal recipes. But the government is not in error, it is acting according to the dynamic of a lumpen-bourgeoisie that conveys an instrumental rationality, whose goal is nothing other than the rapid accumulation of wealth, looting everything that crosses its path. The rationality of the bandits in power is not that of a harmonious and general economic development, such as nests in the heads of certain economists.


Thus, we have passed from a soft version of a counter-cyclical economic policy (from the point of view of global economic trends) to a pro-cyclical policy aligned with notable ferocity with the overall degeneration (financial, institutional, ideological, etc.) of the capitalist world.


The progressive sector governed between 2003 and 2015 re-establishing the governability of the system. All went well while the beast was licking its wounds in a context of relative prosperity, recovering from the earthquake of 2001-2002; but since 2008 things were changing. The flattening of economic growth aggravated their desire to seize a greater part of the pie.  This December 10 2015 could be seen as the point of inflection, as a qualitative leap of Draculinian power of the dominant elites inaugurating a stage of decadence of Argentine society. The devastating entropic forces have succeeded in imposing their dynamic.


Two scenarios


We are now facing the first steps of an authoritarian adventure of uncertain outcome. This is not a result of chance, but rather of a prolonged process of maturation (degeneration) of the dominant elites of Argentina converted into predatory packs, coinciding with the global phenomenon of financialization and decadence. It is enough to look at the government and its backers where there is an abundance of people accused of being financial delinquents, such as Prat Gay, Melconian or Aranguren, or "godfathers" such as Cristiano Rattazzi, Paolo Roca, Franco Macri (and his son the president) or others pointed out as agents of the CIA such as Susana Malcorra or Patricia Bullrich [2], in order to perceive that the local tragedy is nothing but a peripheral appendix of global capitalism embarked on a crazy race under the leadership of the wolves of Wall Street, delirious militarism and corrupt politicians, destroying whole countries, crushing institutions, looting natural resources and imposing a process of destruction on a planetary scale.


The Argentine lumpen-bourgeoisie, their Mafioso interconnections with the centres of power (business, judicial, media) and their institutional and openly illegal projections, have ceased to be the dominant force in the shadows, checking, conditioning, blocking, imposing, in order to openly take over the government. This can be attributed to various motives, among others the lack of a group of "politicians" with the decisional capacity to implement the mega-looting underway; hence it is the managers who must directly take charge of the Executive Power, that is to say "technicians", completely alien to the electoral imbroglio.


The new scheme is highly efficacious at the moment of adopting blunt measures against the majority of the population, but appears of little use to soften popular discontent (including that of a significant portion of the unsuspecting voters for Macri). Union leader cliques might, for a short period, generate inaction, some provincial politicians can push in the same direction, the mass media can try to distract, confuse, justify (they are already doing so) intensifying the campaign of idiotization, but all this is insufficient in the face of the huge oncoming disaster.


On the other hand the lumpen, unstable character of the Macrist regime, affected by foreseeable internal disputes, financial coups, exogenous turbulence of all kinds proper to a world system gone adrift, which is also (mainly) under pressure from a social base whose discontent will grow like a gigantic avalanche, is leaving open only one possible alternative for Mafioso governibility.


This is the formation of a dictatorial system with a civil face and variable features. It has clear recent international antecedents, it is guided by the intelligence apparatus of the United States and it is supported by the so-called doctrine of Fourth Generation Warfare, whose central objective is the transformation of the society undergoing attack into an amorphous mass, degraded, harassed by "messy" irruptions of chaotic violence, and thus impotent in the face of looting. Iraq, Libya, Syria appear as extreme and distant experiences, out of the manual; on the contrary, Mexico and Guatemala are Latin American paradigms to take into account, although the specific case of Argentina will surely bring some original features. We should think in terms of a pragmatic combination of distinct doses of direct "classical" repression, legal prosecution of opposition figures, be they unionists, politicians, etc.; media bombardment (diversionist and/or demonizing), clandestine repression, incentives for rivalries among the people (the bloodier the better), irruption of bands that terrorize the population (such as the "maras" in Central America or the battalions of narcos in Mexico), electoral fraud, etc. In this way Argentina would fully enter the XXI century under the sign of the ascent of thanatic capitalism.


Nevertheless, this strategy cannot be fully installed from one day to the next; it needs time, a certain passivity of the popular bases, and it could meet with serious difficulties in a complex society such as Argentina, with its broad range of lower and middle classes and media representing cultures, organizational capacity, of a history, that under the superficial glance of the financial managers and the experts in social control do not appear as visible threats (or appear as impotent resistance or nostalgia); nonetheless, they represent a latency, time bombs of enormous power that could explode at any time. This challenge from below converges with the fear of those above of unmanageable uprisings, posing great and sticky questions that generalize the uncertainty of the elites and deteriorate their psychology.


The non-viability of this sinister scenario, its possible bogging down, leaves some space for the development of a second scenario: that of a crisis of governability that could be much more devastating than that of 2001. In this case, the elitist fantasy of a dictatorial-Mafioso restructuring of political power would have been simply a bourgeois illusion accompanying the end of governability, the beginning of a period of high turbulence, of social disintegration of unpredictable duration. The progressivism so despised by the elites and their middle class preservers would be a capitalist paradise destroyed by its principal benefactors. 


As we can see, the Mafioso hell is not inevitable, although we should never underestimate the operative capacity of its local executors and their imperial mega-godfather, the United States, which is game for reconquering their Latin American backyard.


Where will this history lead to?  People’s resistance has the answer.


(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)


- Jorge Beinstein is an Argentine economist, professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires.





[1]    Horacio Verbitsky, "A las Malvinas en subte. El rol de la P-2, los Macri, FIAT y TECHINT en la guerra de 1982",


[2]    ARGENTINA: the new foreign minister belongs to the CIA, according to Diosdado Cabello.

- The President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, said that the Argentine Foreign Minister, Susana Malcorra, belongs to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "She was here, I received her in my office, she is the CIA itself, she was named Foreign Minister by Mr. (Mauricio) Macri" elected president of Argentina, Cabello stressed in his weekly Wednesday broadcast, transmitted by the Venezuelan state Television channel (VTV).


- Patricia Bullrich also reports to "the Agency" and probably others do so too, such as Laura Alonso. The current rumor is that Malcorra was practically unknown to Macri and was imposed by a telephone call from the State Department.

- Pájaro Rojo, 11/12/2015,
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