Factional excuses to avoid supporting the FIT-U

The sectarian drift of Jorge Altamira’s group, now with international pretences

Versión en español  

Jorge Altamira’s group, represented by Marcelo Ramal’s penmanship, has decided to object to the International Declaration in support of the Workers’ Left Front – Unity (FIT-U), agreed upon by the Front’s four member parties. To someone who isn’t aware of Altamira’s group’s sectarian drift, Marcelo Ramal’s attack against this international text released by the FIT-U will come as a surprise. This is due to the fact that the Declaration has political and programmatic definitions aligned with socialist principles.

The Declaration supports the unity of the world’s exploited people in the fight against Capital and for the establishment of working-class governments. In the face of imperialist interventionism and a renewed failure of nationalist experiences and the class-collaboration they promote in Latin America, this proclamation advocates for class-struggle and the fight for socialist unity in Latin America. In light of the failure of the European Union and the centre-left endeavours such as Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain, it stands for the socialist unity of Europe. It also underlines that FIT-U hasn’t confined itself to an electoral squabble, but has actively bolstered an intervention by employed and unemployed workers in the national crisis, and the fight for a 36-hour active strike and a course of action.

The definitions that appear in the Declaration, due to their international, strategic and principled reach, are a step forward in comparison to those of the FIT’s programmatic Manifesto signed in 2013. It groups some of the fundamental principles upon which the Workers’ Party founded its international regroupment, for example the relevance of the fight for socialist and working-class governments, the rejection of class-collaboration and the formulation of a anti-capitalist strategy based on the Transitional Program’s method and assertions.

This, naturally, doesn’t exempt our FIT-U allies from the policies that their sister parties uphold in the rest of the world, which are in many cases contradict the definitions of the International Declaration and FIT-U’s own program. For instance, the opportunistic dissolution of the Socialist Workers’ Movement (MST) within Syriza and their ongoing flirtation with American social-democrats; or the integration of the Socialist Left (IS) to the centre-leftist regroupment which is the Frente Amplio in Perú; or the Socialist Workers’ Party (PTS) falling into line with the PSOL in Brazil. But our comrades’ contradictions must be met by them. For the Workers’ Party (PO), on the other hand, FIT-U’s International Declaration represents a contribution to the development of a revolutionary political statement in the international arena.

Ramal alleges that the “‘Internationalist’ endorsement that the FIT-U is seeking is a booby trap for the international left and a request for a political safeguard.” In times when Alberto Fernández (Presidential candidate and front-runner for Peronism’s Frente de Todos) is doing a world tour seeking support from different governments and capitalist groups, and pronouncing himself regarding diverse international processes, in Ramal’s opinion, the course of action embodied by a principled international declaration would be, to all intents and purposes, a political crime. That is, those who vindicate the FIT’s Manifesto from 2013 condemn FIT-U’s International Declaration. Inadvertently, Ramal is incurring in national-Trotskyism.

It so happens that, in Ramal’s opinion, the Declaration would be pursuing the objective of spurring a gambit by part of the PTS: the conformation of a far-reaching party with countless tendencies. But the coquetry with this democratizing position didn’t originate from the PO’s leadership. In a Youtube channel called “Altamira Responde” (Altamira answers), its namesake echoed PTS’s proposal, overlooking the fact that it was a publicity stunt, as PTS rejected any practical common initiative with the Left Front. It wasn’t a coincidence that La Izquierda Diario (PTS’s periodical) iterated Altamira’s words as an auspicious sign.  May we say, by the way, that those who have revealed themselves as the champions of a party with tendencies have been Altamira and Ramal. After losing 80 to 20 in the Workers’ Party’s Congress they founded a new organization, with its own political positions, its own internal organisms and parallel finances, but trying to usurp the name of the Workers’ Party under the alibi of constituting themselves as a “public fraction” or “tendency”.

What must be underlined of the FIT, and now the FIT-U, experience, is its singularity. It so happens that it represents an exception in comparison to existing left fronts around the globe which, due to their programs and strategies, officiate as a left leaning foothold for the system or are confined to complete political marginality. The objections to the principled International Declaration speaks to a policy of attacking the Workers’ Left Front – Unity. The intent is to thus undermine the class-conscious left’s united front, which is vying to politically separate the workers from capitalist parties. The issue is clear as day: we are faced with a sectarian position. In other words, it is a group which exacerbates differences (factionalism), not even regarding program but ‘a characterisation’, in order to contest the whole initiative and strip the FIT-U of support. So much so, that the ‘critique’ was published before the Declaration it was meant to criticize. It becomes clear that group interests are prioritized over the general class interest. 

A political struggle of principal embodies the need to defend FIT-U, even if it means fighting against the dissolving tendencies that our allies may manifest and have manifested in different opportunities. If the FIT-U is a class-conscious political and electoral tool in order to confront the bourgeois parties, and to channel the shift of the vanguard and a part of the masses towards positions of political independence, we must actively defend it.

A dangerous mechanical approach

Ramal’s text as a whole is impregnated with a method which distances it from Marxist analysis and draws it towards a mechanical approach. He is simply lying when he states that “in the FIT-U’s analysis the catastrophic perspective is absent”. Notably, it is pointed out in the Declaration that “Ten years after the worldwide capitalist crisis unleashed in 2007/08 we are on the eve of a new international recession (…) the capitalists are driving us at full throttle towards a new catastrophe”. Moreover, the rebellions in Argel and Sudan, the yellow vests in France and the rebellion in Puerto Rico are highlighted as “symptoms that the class-struggle’s conflicts will expand in the next phase”. Ramal’s confusion resides in him confusing capitalist bankruptcy with a “strategic stasis” and “a generalized impasse” of the bourgeoisie and its political parties. For him, said bankruptcy would be incompatible with the development of a capitalist offensive against the masses.

This statement is made on the eve of a reactionary pension-system reform being passed by the Brazilian Senate, and the 2020 budget being discussed, which introduces cuts to health, education, social programs and other sectors. This is also the case with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, whose politically defeated and retreating government has just delivered a blow to the workers by reducing compensation for work-related accidents. Capitalist governments’ initiatives against the masses are increasing twofold, rightly at the time of the regime’s deepest crisis, because it is there where their own survival is at stake.

These capitalist offensives are not only leaning on the political force that leads the government and the state. It also finds fundamental footholds in opposition capitalist parties and in union bureaucracies. This is what Ramal seems to disregard when he posits that the FIT-U “delegated the leadership of ‘the opposition against austerity’ to the Kirchnerist movement”, by not upholding the “Down with Macri” slogan. It becomes tiring to have to repeat for the umpteenth time that the Kirchnerist movement has played a collaborative role with Macri’s government. This collaboration had its ‘breaking point’ after the protests on the 14th and 18th of December of 2017 against the pension-system reform, when Kirchnerism set out with the “there’s 2019” strategy (referring to the possibility to oust Macri through voting for them in the elections), aimed at getting the workers not to take to the streets and to structure an electoral solution. The betraying and surrendering role which Kirchnerist and Peronist union bureaucracies played, in each and every one of the conflicts led by the labour movement, be it against lay-offs, for salary or to defend workers’ statutes, are full demonstration of Kirchnerism’s political collaboration with Macri’s government, and in a more general way, with the capitalist offensive.

While it is true that Altamira’s group opposed the “Down with Arcioni” slogan in Chubut province (Arcioni being its embattled governor), where in the last two months a true rebellion of public servants has been underway; it is false that the Workers’ Party (PO) hasn’t raised the “Down with Macri” slogan. In July of 2018, the PO’s Central Committee voted to place the slogan “Down with Macri and the corrupt regime, for a sovereign Constituent Assembly”, as part of a system of slogans which were preceded by “The capitalists must pay for the crisis” and “Let’s defeat Macri, the governors and the IMF’s war plans”. With the deepening of the crisis and the rise in popular fights, during August and September 2018, “Down with Macri” and “Constituent Assembly” became the main slogan of our political propaganda. As a part of the struggle in that direction, in October 2018, the PO carried out a huge rally in front of Congress and rallies in most of the country’s provinces.

But once this process of fights was contained and brought to an end, at the beginning of 2019, the slogan became obliging towards a capitalist renovation through elections. When the year began, Ramal and Altamira contended that “Kirchnerism is a paper tiger” and that it wasn’t an obstacle for the left’s development and the working-class’ struggle. In a stealthy and shameful manner, in the weeks leading up to the primary elections, the critics of the International Declaration withdrew the “Down with Macri” slogan and appropriated the PO's, although in a devalued form. The direction voted on by the Workers’ Party’s 26th Congress (down with the IMF’s regime; the capitalists must pay for the crisis; for a working-class way out), and adopted by the FIT-U during the electoral campaign, allowed the left to establish a defiant position in the face of a plebiscite election of the Kirchnerist “paper tiger”.

Something smells rotten

Ramal’s implication that the Declaration neglects the class struggle in our country takes on deeper meaning when faced by the facts. This is due to the mound of falsehoods that he is throwing at the PO and the FIT-U being preceded by a tangible act by Altamira’s group in the past months’ class struggle. The rejection to a united front policy, be it in the political or union terrain, could before only be catalogued as “a criminal attempt”. But now they have gone beyond words, into actions. 

The boycott against the Workers’ Left Front – Unity has not only become evident with the rejection of the International Declaration. Altamira has pushed for the assembly of a divisive electoral ticket in Salta province against the FIT-U and has paraded himself through media outlets in a number of districts throughout the country with the objective of attacking and even defaming local and national leaders of the PO. They have been absent of all of FIT-U’s rallies and have boycotted the carrying out of a rally in Tucumán province, where the ballot is headed by a supporter of Altamira.

Altamira’s group boycotted the “Piquetero” movement’s action plans, which had the Polo Obrero (the PO’s “Piquetero” organization) as one of its main protagonists, and which were put in the centre of the national political stage, shaking up the country. In this same vein, they conspired against the plenary of employed and unemployed workers in Pilar because a member of their group wasn’t a member of the coordinating committee, which sparked disdain from very important sectors of the labour movement’s vanguard. As a stopover in this drift, the boycott against the opposition group in the rail union must be mentioned, which despite this fact achieved 32% of the ballot against Pedraza’s bureaucracy (deceased secretary general of the rail union who was the intellectual mastermind of the murder of PO activist Mariano Ferreyra in 2010). 

They never spoke up about the repression executed against the “Piquetero” camp-out outside the Social Development Ministry nor did they oppose the criminalizing of Eduardo Belliboni and Oscar Kuperman (“Piquetero” leaders who are being indicted for “sedition” by the government), or the persecution of our comrade Patricia Jure (leader of the PO in Neuquén province, who is being taken to trial for opposing the reform of the civil servants’ pension law in her district). Neither did they object to Hebe de Bonafini’s (President of Madres de Plaza de Mayo association, one of Cristina Kirchner and Alberto Fernandez’ most loyal allies) demand that Nicolás del Caño and Néstor Pitrola be repressed and criminalized (FIT-U’s candidates for President and National Deputy respectively). This sectarian and factional blindness has led Altamira’s group to contravene an elemental class principal: you must always be on the oppressed side against any attack by the state. The support must be unconditional, that is, independent of the differences one may have with the victim or his or her organization, because the state, embodiment of the capitalist regime, is on the other side.

Those who allege they support the FIT-U “with criticisms” give yet another exhibition of them investing their efforts, small as they may be, in hindering the development of an independent class bloc. This is due to sectarianism being a dangerous illness, as it is proven by Altamira’s group, which already wanders carrying the smell of political decay.