By Roberto Sáenz

Categoría: English

A strategic wager

Last weekend the leadership of our party took an important decision, facing the forthcoming primary elections next august. We decided to make a change in our presidential formula, placing our comrade Manuela Castañeira at the head of it, running Héctor “Chino” Heberling for governor (a post we had vacant) and confirming Jorge Ayala for vice-president.

We bet on new generations

The first factor in this decision has to do with a more strategic choice. We are living the emergence of a youth, worker, participant of the women’s right movement, militant generation worldwide. Our organization has identified this phenomenon a while ago and from there we built our constructive orientation, starting by the youth to go from there to the worker’s movement.

This generational phenomenon expresses itself too at the electoral level. Aside from its reformist character, it is not by chance that formations like Syriza, Podemos, even the PC of Chile, are represented today by young figures: they seek to “dialogue” with the current phenomenon we alluded to.

We live the restart of historic experience of the exploited and oppressed; a moment in which the class struggle seems marked by the young generations; part of this same phenomenon is the emergence of a new worker’s generation that makes its first experiences in the class struggle.

Even if there are no historic struggles of the proletariat yet, but rather warm-up ones, the fact is that this is the second factor we believe fundamental to take into consideration.

And there is a third one: as a part of this moment of restarting historic experience there is a bigger sensibility towards the oppression of women at an international level; this expresses itself in our country in the rising of women’s rights movement  since 2001.

These international tendencies are the first ones we refer to when making the change in our presidential formula, by trying to reflect them in it.

National considerations

Along with the previous ones, there are national considerations. A new general strike for better salaries and against Salary Tax is coming, but that doesn’t mean that, on the grassroots level, there is a rise in struggles.

Rather, what is happening is a political-electoral transition that is unusually quiet for the parameters of our country and where, on top of it, each time more analysts begin to express the probability of a triumph of the current government by the hand of Scioli, even on the first round.

This does not mean that we are not facing an end of cycle in relation to the “progressive” profile the Kirchner government had; in any case, the end of cycle will be more mediated or “managed” that the triumph of Macri (right wing candidate) would imply.

Of course, history is not written and we still have to see the election results. Besides, the three main bourgeois presidential candidatures have the same plans for 2016: They are all candidates of austerity regardless of how “gradually” they want to make the workers pay the cost of the crisis!

In this sense, the election has shifted to the right-center, although we must see an important element: the balance of power between classes had not been modified, had not been tested. The harsh defeats last year in Gestamp and Lear (two car factories) have had an important impact in the worker’s vanguard, but they don’t concern the balance of power at a national level.

This is the context of the election of the Left. The FIT (Workers and Left Front) benefits from its public appearance and, in spite of losing votes, it maintains its election expectative up high with the idea of maintaining or widening their parliamentary representation.

However, a serious crisis has opened within it: the electoral cooperative creaks, even though they share – in general terms- a political program of class independence, it ends up being an opportunistic ensemble where the only thing that matters is how many points each of their members can score.

On top of that, they don’t truly discuss anything that is not the candidatures. The very Del Caño (presidential candidate of the PTS, one of the parties of the FIT) has recognized in the media that it is a struggle only of “nuances”, although he didn’t take the time to explain what those nuances were. The word debate is not known to them, even, on electoral politics, and on this subject we have to take into account that the campaigns of the PO and the PTS in CABA, for example, were indistinguishable.

Thus, we are in the presence of a mere dispute of political apparatus.

Turn

In the context of these objective conditions, the leaders of our party considered that our election campaign had to make a turn. In reality, every party campaign (and not only electoral ones) is a relation of the party with reality which must go through the test of experience, making the necessary modifications from this experience: a construction by successive approximations (like we discussed in our National Conference)

In spite of our low amount of votes in the Capital Federal (as a sub product of the nature of apparatus campaign it had and the lack of free publicity), the reality is that the figure of Manuela is beginning to be installed in wider sectors every day, projecting from the city to the rest of the country.

The very campaign was an experience for Manuela to start rehearsing a more global speech. It is a presidential campaign; presidential campaign where the party will present a group of representatives of its policy, of “figures”.

With Jorge Ayala –Union grass-root delegate of FATE, a tire manufacturer- as vice-president we seek to give the message that the working class must take in its hands the political issues; the example of one of the best of the new workers generation that takes up political responsibilities; a candidate that is truly a luxury for the party and is the pride of our comrades.

With the “Chino” Heberling for governor in the province of Buenos Aires, what we seek is to place a leader of wide trajectory in revolutionary socialism in a battle that won’t be easy, in a campaign that will be tough, as campaigns in the province of Buenos Aires are, the heart of the power in the country. It is the second candidature in importance for the primary elections in august and it will have to be measured not only against bourgeois candidates, but also with the FIT, a sizable opponent.

With Manuela for the presidency it’s evident what we pretend: to reflect the ascent to the principal political responsibilities of the new militant generation in general and in our party in particular. The revolutionary movement renews itself by generations, Trotsky said, and thus we took this decision: as a strategic wager that, obviously, goes further than the elections.

We mean to take advantage of the opportunity that the presidential election presents to install a young party figure, especially to put her at the service of daily struggles of workers, women and the youth. Meanwhile, without any childish “leftism” we seek the best way to give an electoral battle in conditions that will be hard, given the installation of the FIT and its closure towards our party that is all about apparatus and election points.

The struggle for the conscience of workers

The end of cycle of Kirchnerism shows the limits of progressism. It has given everything it could give, especially when the general conditions in which the economy of the country operates have deteriorated. The same phenomenon happens all over the region, in spite of the fact that since the lack of radicalization in the political and class struggle, only sections of the wide vanguard or minorities of the working masses reach the conclusion that we must go beyond posibilism, towards a perspective of social transformation, towards the re-launching of struggle for socialism.

The FIT doesn’t say a thing about this with the excuse that it would be “an abstraction”. Of course, placing this conclusion as the principle of our election politics would be a complete propagandism.

We must begin by separating ourselves from the three candidates of austerity and take into the campaign the main demands from the base: salary negotiation without a limit, general wage raise, elimination of work taxes, eliminating temporary work and all forms of labor flexibility and putting an end to precarious working conditions, expropriation under worker’s control of any company that decides to lay-off (temporary or permanent) massively, the annulation of the payment of the foreign debt; summing up, the necessity of an economic plan of the working class that includes the fight against Monsanto and the agrochemical companies and the expropriation of the great land owners.

Along with this, we must raise high, also, the demands of women, the youth, teachers and health workers (state employees in general): raise of teachers’ salaries, a raise in the education budget, stop financing private and religious education, stopping the femicides, the right to legal, safe and free abortion in public hospitals, etc. A list we do not pretend to be exhaustive here.

But these demands, that every worker and socialist campaign must take up nowadays, must be put in a more general perspective.

The problem is not only (and this is a crime against socialism itself!) that the FIT is making a campaign that has no political content; from there comes, also, their struggle of apparatus: both forces that compose it have taken up campaigns that resemble each other like peas in a pod. It is, also, about not having any strategic perspective.

In the face of the crisis of progressism, and the turn to the right of the election, one of the main tasks of the revolutionary left in the elections has to be to help building the conscience of worker’s sectors.

Today we are not in the presence of a great workers’ party that allows us to go for a “worker’s should vote for worker’s” campaign (although that slogan must be, also, part of our campaign, especially around the profile of Jorge Ayala).

It is possible, however, to install the debate of the perspective of social transformation and the need of it: to re-launch socialist propaganda.

 Manuela said it very well in one of its television appearances: “if you are of the left wing you have to propose a different society”. Our party will take up this flag as a part of the presidential campaign in an attempt to shape up the socialist conscience of workers in our country.

Against austerity candidates, a socialist alternative

We still have one more thing to say about the election perspectives for the Left. Altamira (FIT presidential candidate) has said that the situation in this country is “revolutionary” because the FIT might reach an unaccustomed fourth place in the presidential elections, if it manages to leave Stolbizer (center-left candidate) behind.

It is true that a placement like that would be a remarkable achievement; even if this possible fourth place (so far Altamira is fifth in the polls) becomes a reality the breach with the three real competitors for the presidency will be too much.

The old MAS had some important scores at the end of the 80s in the middle of a general crisis that is bigger than the current one and that score didn’t transform, mechanically, the situation into a  revolutionary one.

That will depend on the struggle itself; on a generalized rise in class struggle at a level that has not been happening in the last few years. And if 2016 seems like it will be an eventful year, we have to wait and see what level of struggle it reaches.

Besides, as an election phenomenon the FIT is living, to a certain extent, a certain “deflation” comparing with the 2013 elections, although they are counting on passing the restrictive threshold of the primary elections (where a candidate must obtain at least 1,5% to participate in the general elections) and having many competitors left out, and so achieving an important election that would get them new seats at the parliament.

To this must be added that the FIT probably (but not surely) will go to primary elections also (that means, that several candidates will compete, instead of having only one list), eventuality that could question the “monopoly” that they claim to have on the Left of the country.

Our party is going out since today to make a militant presidential campaign all over the country. With the candidatures of Manuela Castañeira and Jorge Ayala for president and vice-president and of the “Chino” Heberling for governor, we will give an in-depth fight against the candidates of austerity that goes for the demands of workers, women and the youth and for putting on the table the alternative of socialism.

While we prepare to make the eventual national strike at the beginning of July an active one, we will collect candidatures for our worker and socialist lists all over the country and, thus, install our presidential formula:

Manuela for president, Jorge Ayala for vice-president!