The latest police conflict (TN: policemen strike action in Buenos Aires in September 2020) raised concerns among all the regime’s politicians. A joint backlash was orchestrated by the regime politicians (using as an excuse the policemen demonstration in front of Quinta de Olivos – the presidential residence). This backlash repudiated and denounced the “coup”-oriented character of that action.
By Ricardo García (PSTU-Argentina / IWL-FI section) October 2, 2020
Everyone knew (except perhaps Nuevo MAS, who bought that narrative) that there was no “coup” going on. But the regime could not allow the serious precedent of the rupture of the chain of command that the rebellion brought about. That is, business as usual.
Among the Trotskyist left, an already usual controversy reoccurred.
The Character of the Conflict
Any conflict of this kind in the repressive forces, expresses social differentiations within it. Police officers are not workers, but that does not mean that everyone is socially equal. There are commanders and officers who have full privileges (both legal and illegal, the product of all ties to the offense, judges and State officials). There are the middle sectors, who are left with the crumbs of these privileges. And there are the lower ranks, which live off wages and “eventual jobs” (security in football matches, shows, etc.), which are few in times of pandemic.
These are not ideological issues. We are sure that if everyone had the opportunity to “cheat” very few would not. But the reality is the reality: many of them have no home, they barely reach the end of the month, and suffer shortages with their families. This was what caused the policemen protest. In a context of a force that reached 42,000 agents plus the municipal police (the “Pitufos”), without any training and coming from the most precarious sectors of society, and from the social destruction of 2000.
Some claims of impunity were emphasized intentionally – which existed and we rejected impunity – and in the corrupt character of some of the spokespersons. This existed, but it was not what triggered the conflict. So it ended as soon as the government gave into giving them money.
Democratic Infantilism Versus Revolutionary Stand
Let’s introduce ourselves to avoid confusion. We are the PSTU, the party targeted by Macriism (TN: reference to rightwing former President Mauricio Macri) and its police, whose members have been arrested and persecuted for calling to fight back repression by any means necessary in words and deeds. The party that was the most persecuted by the justice and police of the regime in recent years. No one can accuse us of being “light” in addressing the repressive apparatus.
From that stand, we reject the pacifist policy adapted to the regime carried out by the majority of the leftwing – led by the PTS – to adddress these situations. We are all agree around the need to dismantle the repressive apparatus; it is a condition for a Socialist Revolution that defeats capitalism and brings the working class to power.
Nevertheless, it is wrong to say that this can only be achieved by shouting for the “dissolution of the police”, without having a policy to divide the repressive forces. On its way in defense of its demands and in the political struggle for power, the working class can fight back and overcome repression only if it learns to challenge them with force, to develop a strong and effective self-defense of its organizations and mobilizations on the one hand. On the other hand, having a policy to divide the repressive forces, to break their discipline and morals, and to neutralize an entire sector of the armed arm of the capitalist system.
There is no revolution in history that has been victorious without the masses fulfilling this task, in whatever way that revolution has developed.
Progressive “Ultra-leftism” or Regressive Centrism?
What does this stand express? It is not the ultra-leftism of young revolutionaries with little or no experience. It is not a moment in the education of sectors the “ultra-leftism” sin that later will move towards more mature revolutionary positions. It is not a progressive “centrism”. On the contrary, it is an involution of those who were educated in revolutionary Marxism who are abandoning it, in line with their “successes” in the electoral field, which lead them not to defend the revolutionary program and practice, but the most attractive one to win sympathies and votes. It is a regressive “centrism”.
And on top of that, inconsequential. If the policemen movement was negative and harmful to the working class, as they defined it; if it was because of the impunity of the murderers of Facundo Astudillo (TN: a young man who was “disappeared” by the police); why did they just comment on it? Shouldn’t they have demanded from the government and the regime to take military action from the army to disarm those who were acting against people’s interests, for example? Or at least, shouldn’t they call the unions, the CGT, for concrete action against the police? Why didn’t they do it? It is strong logic. As it is not elections’ period when everything is resolved at the polls, then what is in charge are the slogans.
In order to fight back the armed wing of capital, it is not enough to define it as the goal. It is necessary to establish a “transitional program” that sets policies that may lead to meeting that goal. Our policy for self-organization into committees, for low-rank policemen unions without officers, etc., that is, for breaking hierarchy, is the only policy that may lead to splitting the police forces what might become instrumental for workers’ triumph.
An Anti-Morenist Detour
In previous conflicts, the difference on the left was very definite. On the one hand, those who claim an orthodox, Morenist-Trotskyist heritage support the Leninist position. On the other hand, the parties that never were or that broke away from this heritage (PO, PTS, Nuevo MAS).
We were surprized by the turn of both the MST and the Socialist Left (TN: Izquierda Socialista), which bowed to the conception of the PTS. The pressure from FIT-U seems to be very strong and, more and more, it is making all the parties to adapt to a pacifist stand to the left of the political regime.
We want this debate to help restore, at least in these groups, a Trotskyist and Morenist stand.
PTS: False Quote
The PTS justifies its policy by citing a non-existent text by León Trotsky. In 2012, in a controversy with the PO , the PTS reproduced a material saying that the policemen are not workers (which is correct) . Then, it gave the PTS stand opposing policemen unionization.
However, several years later, in 2017, the PTS reproduces their stand as if it were part of the same quote written by Trotsky , making the Russian revolutionary write what he had never written. From this quote it appears that Trotsky would be opposed to police unionization. He never wrote that.
This quote was reproduced by many activists and fighters (among them the PO Tendency) who mistakenly trusted the PTS quote.
It is right to defend a stand. But it is necessary to be very strict in the reproduction of the articles of our masters. We hope that PTS will clear up this confusion.
 León Trotsky, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/1932-ger/index.htm, January 25, 1932.