Argentina 2001 : Lessons For Anarchism

First publication in Le Combat Syndicaliste Midi-Pyrénées CNT-AIT # 73 – April/May 2002

Since winter inhabitants of Argentina are attacking the State, holding its accomplices from left and extreme left to ridicule. They challenge capitalism, create general assemblies to a large scale never seen since 1936 Spain; and all that without any leader coming on the stage. They chose to struggle freely against state and capitalist terrorism. In Buenos Aires the inhabitants are organizing themselves in neighbourhood general assemblies and are trying to control their lives.

Whatever will the result be, this movement has already broken the old ideological moulds trough the praxis of two new assets (that will be now those of the internationalist class struggle): Direct democracy, the refusal of state institutions. [1]

This new situation of the international revolution should make anarchists happy. But, in France, as elsewhere, anarchist movement is too often trapped in practices showing its vulnerability toward mainstream ideology: participation to antiglobalization spectacle, reformism in the workplace in the name of « efficient syndicalism », pathetic alliances, here with nationalist-regionalist, there with leftists… It’s time, if we really want to pro-pose and participate to the building of another society, free and just, to come back to our sources, praxis coherent with our ideas, an horizontal praxis, autonomous and non-spectacular. Events in Argentina are giving to worldwide anarchists a lesson.

Surprising position of some left libertarians [anarchists]

On December 20th 2001 the population is fighting against the state and there’s an alliance of the poorest with middle class. This alliance is mainly the result of a failed political scheming.

At the beginning, middle class wanted only to get their investments back and didn’t care about others’ misery. At the same time the poorest, starving, were looting for several weeks. The government, to preserve interests of international capitalism, prepared a new coup and was ready to present itself as the defender of order against « anarchy ». The government thought that the middle class would stay on the right side, accepting that deal: to be ruined but without insecurity. The cornerstone of the strategy, promulgation of state of emergency, had the opposite effect: it sealed alliance of all the discontented. The cause is simple: in Argentina, an incredible number of people understood how the system works and decided to end with it and all that it represents. That’s why, as soon as December 20th, there has been a rejection of political parties and labour unions. This rejection will bring astonishing declaration by parts of the anarchist movement. Argentina OSL declared: « But curiously, one of the distinctive attitude of the demo (of 02/12/20) was the complete refusal of political parties. This attitude, promoted by medias, was playing in favour of disorganization and fragmentation, favourable to the right ». That position was published, without commentaries, by OSL Switzerland, and by other anarchists’ medias such as « Alternative Libertaire » in France and « Tierra y Libertad » in Spain. It is an appalling defence of parlementarism. It supports the counter-revolutionary idea that without politician apparatus and labour unions, the popular movements cannot exist!

What happened on the 20th of December? The crowd is in the streets, the state is overwhelmed, parties and labour unions are rejected, police kills thirty-one persons, there’s a lot of confusion. Should we be afraid of that confusion? All revolutionary movement is forced to organize with the contradictions of those who are doing revolution. It is the role of each anarchist militant to work hard, to use all its potential to clarify and unify, with communist-libertarian perspective, the oppressed classes fighting against the state and capitalism.

How could parties and the unions play a role in that revolutionary task? What does it mean to pose the problem in terms of « right » or « left » when it is clearly in terms of « revolution » or « counter-revolution »? On the contrary we thanks argentina insurgents for having accomplished this first necessary step, this truly revolutionary step.


There is in argentina, some « anarchist militants » who joined the way of thinking of leftists groups in their will to sabotage all attempt of popular self-organization.

On the other side, argentina anarchist federation, F.O.R.A (argentina section of IWA) and other militants acknowledged positive aspects of that struggle. As soon as January 2000, « Organizacion Obrera » (Workers Organization) the paper of F.O.R.A explained the main aspects of the fight. Labour unions and left and extreme-left politicians were clearly denounced as enemies of the workers. Their rejection by the population is an encouraging sign. Then « Organizacion Obrera » insists on the definition of anarchists’ concepts and their methods. It is remind that if the state and the institutions are denouncing situation for now in Argentina as anarchy, it is not anarchy in the country! What is happening is a step toward the decay of power. In fact the chaos in argentina is caused by the state and capitalism, not by anarchists ideals.

Argentina’s anarchosyndicalists know that the period is important but that the people has a lot to do to organize a society with social and libertarian bases. That’s why they insist to make their project real. « We F.O.R.A activists are a worker organization who has for social finality anarchist communism and that do not mean that we spend all day breaking windows. This is what the liars are saying to protect their economic well-being and their political power. Anarchism, on the contrary, means a new society with horizontal structure, without benefices for ones against others, where everyone can decide in free assemblies of economic and daily orientations. That society is only possible in a framework of social and economic equality for all persons in the society… » In the same paper, an article proposes the creation of general local assemblies, one assembly of neighbourhood delegates, mandated and removable, some local, regional and international delegates, always removable, and the control of production and consumption by these assemblies.

Lessons for the future

These contributions are not only coherent with our ideas, they reflect reality. Here is the proof. At the very time when resources of F.O.R.A allow only a confidential diffusion of its ideas, argentina population, rediscover, invent practices similar to the propositions of FOR A. As soon as mid February, an article in Le Monde (02/02/20) notes that « In Buenos Aires the residents are organizing in neighbourhood assemblies (…) « they must all go! » This slogan designates politicians, judges, bankers or labour unionists (…) Every Sunday the different neighbourhood delegations have general meetings where the speakers are informing of the work in each neighbourhood and propose new struggles instructions…All decisions are taken with a vote by show of hands, no speaker can speak in the name of a political party, there’s a systematic turnover of delegates positions… » Other testimonies shows the difficult position for politicians and unionists leaders, who are forced to disguise themselves to be able to go in the street, Of course we can imagine all the pain it inflicts on wanna be leaders!

Argentina population is having an amazing struggle. But one should temper its optimism. For many reasons. The main one is that those who are cunning enough to usually present themselves as the supporter of the oppressed, but who are mere political pimps, are already trying to penetrate, infiltrate, corrupt the bases structures by stressing the many contradictions and difficulties they have to deal with daily. Because praxis of direct democracy is not easy. Above all when the social conditions, such as collective re-appropriation of the means of production, are not carried out. Scoundrels of bourgeoisie, politics and unionism are having hard times. They’re waiting. If the struggle weakened, if those who have to work to live are getting tired, if they go back to earn their daily food, then the scoundrels will be able to seize power and restart capitalism. Until the day when all world proletarians, inspired by the events in argentina, will take necessary measures in order to abolish economic slavery.


En français – In french

[1] These events reminds those in Algeria in April 2001 following the assassination of a young man by the police «  The most outstanding aspect of the Algerian insurrection is its self-organisation. The hostility toward political parties and « any proximity with power », the distrust with any uncontrolled representation, the refusal to be, once more, rank and file for political schemes; all that resulted in the spreading and coordination of villages and neighbourhood assemblies, rapidly recognized by everybody as the only authentic expression of the movement. » Jaime Semprun, « Plaidoyer pour l’insurrection algerienne », Encyclopedie des nuisances.

Laisser un commentaire