Populist temptation in Latin America is a deep-rooted evil. In Argentina it manifests itself with peculiarities typical of the lower urban classes, dominated by the charismatic suggestion and by emotionality as a form of community participation and decision-making. Juan Domingo Perón, “the first among the workers”, is the leader of a social component in which prestige, albeit artificial, prevails over the actual consistency of the economic and productive system. The re-election of Perón, in 1973 (the first presidency included the years 1943-55), confirms the drop in tone of Argentina. The country is under the illusion of returning to past magnitudes when, guaranteeing the supply of foodstuffs (wheat and meat) to the warring powers during the two world wars, it had hoarded considerable monetary resources, such as to allow modernization and extreme urbanization of the country, subtracting it from the dramatic experiences of the technologization of work through the militarization of the workforce and the joint exaltation of the factory and the war. Evita Perón gives Argentine populism a soap opera setting and the orgiastic corrective of providentialism. The art of rational infidelity takes its revenge in boulevardier Luddism, in the nationalistic exaltation. The tango – defined by Enrique S. Discepolo ‘a sad thought that one dances’ – ends up enclosing in its representative diameter the epic of the emigrant, the story of the explorer of the unexplored spaces of multi-ethnic and multilingual sensibility, internalized in the amalgam of eros.
Populism claims a sort of undifferentiated and emotional general will, which in the past breaks out into the capataz and in the present is manifested in the often unpredictable and negligent characters of the story. “In Argentina, beyond the conjunctural or fundamental identification with ‘Nazi-fascism’ – argues Alain Rouquié (Amérique latine. Introduction à l’Extrême-Occident, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1998; trad. it. Milan, Paravia-Mondadori, 2000, p. 221) – Peronism, from the point of view of relations with the working class, has been the subject of two interpretations: one controversy, in which the opposition of the leaders of democratic socialism is manifested in the face of the ‘laxism’ of the masses, the other sociological, based on historical research. According to the first, the Argentine working class has sold their freedom for a plate of lentils, agreeing to support the tyranny. According to the authors who support the second interpretation, the success of Peronism would derive from the existence of a ‘new working class’, emerged from the rural exodus, devoid of trade union or political traditions, captured by the paternalistic policy of Colonel Perón. It can easily be seen that, with the exception of principles, these are two different presentations of the same opinion. And this is what the Argentine Communist Party expresses with consummate elegance, in the plastered Leninist language, when it affirms that it is necessary to “lead the Argentine proletariat back to the organizations of the working class” ».
The income redistribution policy is not a concern of populism. In its political program, welfare is the responsibility of the state, as long as it can draw on the monetary reserves accumulated in the years of greatest productive splendor of foodstuffs, without prejudice to the approval of the terratenientes and estancieros. accustomed to living with the established power, influencing their resolutions or disregarding them. But there has never been an open discrepancy between the so to speak productive sectors and the so to speak parasitic sectors: their complementarity has given rise to a hybrid culture, both localistic and universal. The exhortations of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, concerned with making the masses literate, are matched by the ecumenical appeal of the intellectuals who rushed to the editorial board of the magazine Sur by Victoria Ocampo, a universalizing aristocrat, able to gather around her person characters from world literature such as Pedro Henríquez Ureña, José Ortega y Gasset, Enrique Anderson Imbert, Fernando Rosemberg and others. Intemperate and authoritarian by nature, the founder of this modernizing literary association refrained from glimpsing in the filigree of 20th century culture that slip knot that has even changed the anthropological aspect of the world: the technique, the media function of human imagination and enterprise. The lack of connection with the technological and technocratic universe forces Argentina to gravitate in a cultural circuit, whose ancient, archaeological sediment is, moreover, in the old continent. The country, continually fought between America and Europe, it has not managed to escape from the insidious rear lines of power and to inaugurate the tumultuous trajectories of the masses of contemporaneity. Emporium of the aesthetic adventures of English, French and Italian architects and planners, Buenos Aires competes with the most renowned metropolises in the world, but the modernity that distinguishes it already has the wrinkles of obsolescence because it is entangled in the myths and allegories of an illusory legendary past and of a dramatic and unfortunate present for the impromptu nature and gratuitousness of the evil manifested and denounced with the bitterness of estrangement.
The culture of elite and universalizing dimensions does not contrast with the populist regime, considered transitional and aimed at the acquisition of progressive prerogatives in favor of an increasing number of individuals. This regime had the effect of the ‘vaccine against the revolution’ through the adoption of social policies which, with the help of rhetoric (first radio, as Aldous Huxley observes, and then television), recognizes a supporting role, rather than of opposition or criticism, to trade unions and peasant organizations. “This is undoubtedly the origin of the noisy and sometimes incomprehensibly chaotic aspect of psychodrama that characterizes populist ideology, within which verbal violence plays a pregnant role. The ‘symbolic death sentence’ of the oligarchies, or by capitalists or foreign companies, it is frequently invoked. It is ‘chaos in the name of order’. In fact, the interests of the targeted groups are not affected. Structural reforms, even when they are rarely implemented, do not go beyond the embryonic stage “(Alain Rouquié, cit., P. 223).
Social transformations, which normally generate, if not conflicts, natural disagreements between the human and structural sectors called upon to carry them out, are often opposed by the action carried out by the guardian power towards the ecclesial institution, the compromise of which is required in order to avoid lacerations between the entrepreneurial classes and the workforce. The integration of the labor force into the productive system is achieved with that particular gradualness which nullifies its impact in order not to compromise the consolidated benefits of the local oligarchies. Bureaucracy and related clientelism strengthen the deceptive identity of the state, which dispossessed civil society of the prerogatives of liberal-inspired institutional associations. “Class consciousness is hidden by ‘mass consciousness’. Solidarity nationalism contributes to the political integration of the subordinate classes and the urban masses “(Alain Rouquié, cit., P. 224). The class consciousness of the urban masses is an antidote to populism; and it is for this reason that, at recurring rates, it is denounced as inadequate or even counterproductive. The contrast between populist ideology – even in its so to speak progressive forms of desarrollismo – and the democratic presuppositions appear incurable precisely in countries, such as Argentina, where interaction with European countries (first of all, Italy) is consolidated and hyperactive. Nominalism and legal formalism simulate an ideal reference to the European ideal movements, to which we owe the liberal and socialist doctrinal currents in their various manifestations. For Argentina political system, please check politicsezine.com.
Privatism is a protectionist and elitist deformation of liberalism. In Argentina it is traditionally converted in the interest of the privileged classes, which oppose the state when it does not become sclerotic, as happens in populist governments, into a welfare apparatus. The aversion to agrarian reform and tax reform on the part of economically hegemonic groups still holds a considerable percentage of the active population in check, especially in the north-eastern provinces, mainly agricultural and with a barely appreciable level of technological adaptation. According to a theological current, social injustice has structural violence as its counterpart.
The relationship between classes, groups and social classes is expressed in a dispute with the aim of a more equitable distribution of well-being (at least of that which is publicly administered, through the state apparatus and the corresponding structures).
The weakness of the mediation structures causes misunderstanding between the different economic groups and unleashes violence. The gap existing in the standard of living between the different social groups cannot exempt the guardian power from the responsibility of not mitigating it. The institutional monopoly, often exercised by a regional group, makes administrative functioning and the understanding between central and peripheral bodies precarious, especially in the size of Argentina (which is about eight times larger than Italy). Subversion and resistance to central power is an endemic feature: all uprisings broke out from the periphery, from a military settlement to a provincial garrison, at the mercy of local leaders, deprived not only of direct contacts but of confrontation and tests of strength with their counterparts. The internal dissociation of the armed forces depends on the different logistical background of their commanders.
The indifference of the privileged classes to the fate of groups marginalized by economic logic and the market is expressed, not only in cryptic forms, but also explicitly, through advertising and propaganda conditioning. Access to knowledge is also frustrated by the hooking of opinion. Radio and television broadcasts favor entertainment over reflection and debate, more or less as happens in other countries of the world, with a peculiar difference: that the inevitability of need is suffocated by the unattainability of guilt. In fact, the prevailing popular culture is that of cynical and cheating destiny, which gathers all the responsibility for what happens on the heads of the rulers, pityingly exonerating the voters.