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Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine

Working Class, 1946-1976 (1988; 1993)
Introduction

The dominant theme in Argentine history: the uneasy but ever

present dialogue between generals and union bosses.
Objective: “to trace the development of Peronism within the
unions in the 1955-73 period. What was the relationship
between union leaders and members? How valid is the popular
conception of union power which emphasizes corruption,
violence and power politicking?” (1). It also addresses the wider
issue of the relationship between Peronism and the Argentine
working class and the meaning of that relationship for workers
in general and the trade unions in particular. This is an issue
that has been approached from the perspective of more general
notions of concerning populism. The political participation of the
working-class (under AND BEYOND Peronism) has been treated
“as something of an historical conundrum requiring explanation,
most usually in terms of notions such as manipulation, passivity,
cooptation, and not uncommonly, irrationality. This work does
not offer an all-embracing theory of populism. Indeed, from the
historian’s point of view I would suggest that part of the
problem with many existing analyses has been the level of
abstraction at which they have operated. Macro-explanatory
frameworks have not been able to cope with the concrete
questions and exceptions they themselves have often suggested.
The specificity of concrete social movements and historical
experience have escaped through the broad mesh of such

frameworks” (2).
Objects: the Peronist union hierarchy and its relationship with
its rank and file, and the issue of Peronist ideology and its

impact on the working class.
The working class treated by scholars as an ideal construct at
the

service

of

different

ideological

paradigms.

(Gino

Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine
Working Class, 1946-1976 (1988; 1993)
Germani/modernization

theory/passive,

manipulated

urban

masses/result from an incomplete modernization process);
(Marxism/inexperienced proletarians incapable of realizing their
true class interests/dominated by bourgeois ideology and
controlled and manipulated by demagogic politicians and a
ruthless union bureaucracy); (Peronist left and radical youth
sectors

of

the

late

1960s

and

early

1970s/exemplary

proletarians forging a peculiarly Argentine movement towards
socialism and national liberation). All those schemes lack any
sense of the concrete historical experience of working people
and

their

complex,

ambiguous,

frequently

contradictory

responses.
For James, this lack results both from academic theory failure
and the importance that past historical models have in
Argentina contemporary politics.

Chapter 1 – Peronism and the working class, 1943-55

“By the mid 1940s Argentina was an increasingly industrialized
economy; while the traditional rural sector remained the major
source of foreign exchange earnings, the dynamic center of
capital accumulation now lay in industry and manufacture” (8).
Industrial economy expanded fast, but the working class did not
benefit

from

this

expansion.

While

there

were

specific

improvements in work conditions and social legislation in the
1943-46

(military

coup)

period,

the

decade

of

Peronist

government from 1946 to 1955 was to have the most profound

effect on the working class’s position in Argentina.
1946 legacy: massive extension of unionization with the
development of a global system of collective bargaining; state
legal recognition (in a ‘monopoly’ sense) of unions over each
economic activity; Confederacion General de Trabajo (CGT)

political and economic life. What explains the political appeal of Peronism? In the past. 1993) centralizing all the unions over the local branches and the national federations. rather. the explanations gravitated around traditional narratives and truisms on Latin American populisms. For James a relative racial and ethnic homogeneity of the Argentine working class and the concentration of them within a few urban center gave the Argentine working class and its labor movement a weight within the wider national community which was unparalleled in Latin America (INTERESTING  POINT). which areas it touched that others did not. 1952-1955: the emergence of the outline of the ‘justicialist state’. in a attempt of setting a clear role to the union movement  in incorporating the working class into this state. more recent works favored instrumentalist approaches of Peronism as an inevitable manifestation of social and economic dissatisfaction. 1946-1976 (1988. In this sense. 1946-1951: the gradual subordination of the union movement to the state and the elimination of the old-guard leaders who had been instrumental in mobilizing the support of organized labor for Perón in 1945. “it also made the state the ultimate guarantor and overseer of this process and the benefits  deriving from it” (10). he argues that Peronism’s fundamental political appeal . in order to understand Peronism distinctiveness.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. “a crucial legacy of the Perón era for labour was the integration of the working class into a national political community and a corresponding recognition of its civic and political status within  that community” (12). with corporatist pretensions of organizing and directing large spheres of social. we need to answer why its political appeal was more credible for workers. For James.

ultimately social. is better explained “in his capacity to recast the whole issue of citizenship within a new social context”. Those appeals for democracy and denounces of political exclusions were not a monopoly of Perón. was a potent part of Peronist discourse. . and the fact that the state and Perón can be considered as the ultimate arbiter of this process. political articulation of rights democratic and obligations). Instead. had a certain independent. 1946-1976 (1988. “The issue of citizenship. forming part of a language of protest at political exclusion that had great popular resonance” (14). and the question of access to full political rights. almost mystical caudillismo attached to Perón and Evita Perón. demands was a Peronistas claim for a reestablishment of previously recognized rights and claims. for James. and hence political. per se. as a class. Implied social change. Perón didn’t have the discourse of a traditional caudillo or political boss: He didn’t address workers as atomized individuals whose only hope of achieving social coherence and political meaning for their lives lay in establishing ties with a leader who could intercede for them with an all-powerful state. 1993) lay in its ability to redefine the notion of citizenship within a broader.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. his success. context. and irreducible. Tradition => Hipólito Yrigoyen and the Radical Party prior to 1930 (discourse against oligarchy and traditional claims on citizenship. and his constant emphasis on “the social dimension of citizenship” (16). He denied the liberal separation of the state and politics from  civil society. social. the workers. presence. he addressed them as a social force whose own organization and strength were vital if he were to be successful at the level of the state in asserting their rights” (18). Even considering the personalism.

that is. 1946-1976 (1988. The demonstration of October 17 and the description of the masses as murga. las cabecitas negras” (31). fairness. decency. And remember. The superior role of the working class within the whole: ‘the people’ were frequently transformed into ‘the working people’ – the people. The solution he offered didn’t depend on future/remote concatenations but were rather directly verifiable in terms of everyday political activity and experience. Less tangible factors in assessing Peronism’s social meaning for the working class: pride. The ressignification of the word descamisado. In this sense. The heretical social power Peronism expressed as reflected in its use of language: what was silenced or ridiculed in those tangos came became central – social justice. dignity – the heretical social impact of Peronism. turning it into an affirmation of workingclass value. Década infame and the tango lyrics that lack in social engagement and optimism found in some of the tangos of an earlier era. self-respect. the nation and the workers became interchangeable – social justice and national sovereignty became interrelated themes. giving credibility slogans that were purely abstract before. a word only used in the context of . 1993)  The real issue at stake in the 1940s: the different potential meanings of industrialism. “Peronism took the term and inverted its symbolic significance. Also “La negrada de Perón. Workingclass nationalism was addressed primarily in terms of concrete economic issues. there is a normalization of politics that has to influence  in empowering the peronista discourse. Credibility: “Perón cumple!” – the practicability of the hope he offered was affirmed on a daily basis by its action from the state. this is about working class politics.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. doing politics in worldly/practical/constant/normal activities.

Perón reference to “the dangers of unorganized masses”. its breaking out of these confines in a demonstration with a clear political content represented a symbolic subversion of deference for the accepted codes working class” of behavior and (32). [Summary of the chapter]. 1993) carnival/street festivals – “While such behavior was acceptable within the strict limits of carnival. a territory of the gente decente – the spatial aspect. a) Perón’s support was not solely a result of their class experience within the factories. Subversion of language. can be traced to the Perón era” (37). Its legacy is complex and ambiguous. and restricted to workingclass barrios. and from work to  home”. Thompson) of ridicule  and abuse against the symbolic authority and pretensions of the Argentine elite. “From home to work. Its existence and sense of identity as a coherent national force. A reappropriation of public space and a performance that constituted a form of “counter-theatre” (E. “Peronism marked a critical conjuncture in the emergence and formation of the modern Argentine working class. Its appeal for workers cannot be reduced simply to a basic class instrumentalism. Other aspect: the demonstration culminated in the Plaza de Mayo. it was also a political alliance generated by a particular form of political mobilization and discourse (reference to Sigal and Torre – the public plaza rather than the factory as the main point of constitution of the working class as a political force – . both socially and politically. 1946-1955: constant efforts to institutionalize and control the heretical challenge it had unleashed in an earlier period and to absorb this challenge within a new statesponsored orthodoxy. The limits heresy and the ambivalence of Peronism’s social legacy.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. 1946-1976 (1988.

they envisioned an increasing output per . as a denial of the dominant elite’s power. as a movement of political and social opposition. it was akin to “riding the tiger”. in an important sense it was constituted by Perón. since it gave to Peronism “a dynamic substratum that would survive long after peculiarly favorable economic and social conditions had faded” (40). giving expression to the hopes of the oppressed both within the factory and beyond. rather a two-way process of interaction. However. “Peronism in an important sense defined itself. but it was also an enormous advantage. since it meant that Peronism was unable to establish itself as a viable hegemonic option for Argentine capitalism.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. 1946-1976 (1988. in a fundamental way. It remained. Chapter 2 – The survival of Peronism: resistance in the factories  Aramburu’s government main concern was an in increase in the productivity (anchored in the idea that new machinery wouldn’t be enough for that. a potentially heretical voice. it doesn’t imply the manipulation and passivity of Germani’s powerful image of masas disponibles. Bargain. c) Peronism aspired to be a viable hegemonic alternative for Argentine capitalism (this explains the comparisons with the New Deal and welfare capitalism). b) the working class was not fully formed and simply adopted Peronism. symbols and values. 1993) why no the streets). d) those who controlled the political and social apparatus of Peronism had to deal with its inherent “oppositional culture” as a burden. as a claim for social dignity and equality” (39). in a complex process of reconstituting worker’s sense of identity and political loyalty as they abandoned established allegiances and identities. and was defined by its working-class constituency.

This generated a generalized resistance to the notion of incentive schemes and rationalization plans. and communists in a lesser extent. Peronism previous years meant a shift of power within the workplace from management to labor (56). 1946-1976 (1988. “The decline in living standards was rather the result of a political defeat. “Workers had sufferd inflation under Perón and hard times but they had rarely hunted down and treated like thieves” (71). Justicia social: the ability to earn a good wage without being subjected to inhuman pressures within the production process. in a very concrete way. This didn’t imply a critique of the criteria underlying capitalist production relations. However. the change in the sociopolitical position of workers in the broader society as this transformation was experienced at a most basic level of class relationship – the relationship between employer and worker within the workplace”. The government and employers imposed by legal means and the power of state what they could not impose through the discipline of the labor market” (69). “for wokers the work practices and provisions enshrined in them provided a vital safeguard in terms of the quality of life in the factories […] They expressed. and the reestablishment of a ‘healthy discipline’ among workers). maintained an attitude of moral superiority towards the working class. It was the direct result of government attack on the unions and a government-backed wage freeze. there was even signs of “a genuine internalization by workers of pride in Argentine industrial performance which symbolized the regaining of  national self-esteem under Perón” (59). Socialists. 1993) worker. the overthrow of Perón. not an economic one. But this was not ascribed to a manipulation pattern either. .Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. The  socialists initially supported the Revolución Libertadora.

Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. Difficulties to convince the rank and file to vote for Frondizi. non-  professionalism. 1946-1976 (1988. Spontaneous terrorism against the provisory government: sense of desperation + key values of Peronism (self-sacrifice. Chapter 4 – Ideology and consciousness in the Peronist Resistance  Strikes of 1956 and 1957: biggest up to that point in Argentine  history. “There was a friction between these groups and the newly emerging leaders […] The new leaderships who had largely arisen from a spontaneous and de facto democratic struggle on the shop floor tended to carry over the practices derived from this experience in the newly normalized unions” (73). with very little formalized bureaucratic structure to utilize. ordinary people vs.000 abstained or voted blank). including an express order from Perón to the union leaders to convince them (800. 1993) Chapter 3 – Commandos and unions: the emergence of the new Peronist union leadership  Former leaders and the Peronist rank and file. This chapter tries to characterize the ideology which emerged from this general context among rank-and-file Peronist workers. . there was an inevitable increase in rank-and-file  involvement” (75). The emergence of the 62 Organizations was an important development since it not only confirmed the dominant position of the Peronists in the unions but also provided them with a completely Peronist legal organization with which to operate and pressure the government in the wider union and political  field” (76). “Faced with a hostile state and with much of basic trade union activity condemned to semilegality. bureaucratic elite).

for James. for James. Even official Peronist discourse had ifself adopted a more  radical posture after its removal from power. “Yet the presence of these latent. barrio and workmates” (97). 1993)  (counter-culture) The strange mix of anarcho-syndicalism. Another element of the distinctive ‘structure of feeling’ of this era: nostalgia for Peronist era. this was done in a way which challenged implicitly many of the assumptions of formal Peronist ideology”. Potentially.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. The ‘good old days’ of a ‘golden era’: “Elements of this recently passed ‘utopia’ were appropriated selectively from the past to meet present needs and to point the way for future hopes” […] It’s not that the workers were unaware of the partisan class nature of the existing state: “Rather. too. Marxist economics and personal devotion to Perón. it represented a statement of what . together with the affective values associated with home and family. an affirmation of that experience for the post-1955 situation. Ernesto Laclau – “popular democratic elements within an ideological discourse and which refer to a level of social and political antagonism which does not coincide with economic class conflict but refers to what he calls the ‘people/power bloc antagonism’”. assumptions and principles drawn from the experience of class conflict were less easily expressed (as the conflicts emerging in the labor process were). 1946-1976 (1988. half-submerged class elements should not beignored […] They would represent a persistent stumbling block that would confront both employers and the state in  Argentina in the course of the next decade” (96). it is “a summation and condensation of the experience of a significant sector of the working class prior to 1955. Nostalgia and obrerismo: “an affirmation of class feeling almost in terms of sentimental folklore which celebrated the harshness and grief of working-class life.

activists and rank and file  Frondizi and desarrollismo (developmentalism): Peronism had similitudes with desarrollistas ideas both economically and socially.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. during his term). “The end result of this democratically–based struggle had been defined as the recuperation of the unions for Peronism through free elections. This context formed the backdrop to “a process of bureaucratization which was manifested in a changing relationship between leader and rank and file and a changing attitude of union leaders and an  increase in personal corruption” (126)”. passivity the rank and file pushing for a growing isolation of the activists. Little was said of how these unions were to be run after the Peronists had regained them and the opportunities for manipulation of a bureaucratic apparatus had reappeared” (128). 1993) ought to be in the future based on a selective interpretation of what had been in the past”. Betrayal (hostility framed in the language of economic nationalism. growing resignation . 1946-1976 (1988. Chapter 5 – Resistance and defeat: the impact of leaders. .  especially in the context of oil industry. ‘the return of Perón’ symbol and synthesis of “a range of aspirations which workers held concerning dignity. Perón: conscious myth making. “growing fatalism among the rank and file of the unions” (123). Peronist trade union practice had become more democratic. In the enforced absence of a bureaucratic structure available to be used. denouncing concessions to foreign capital – even if Perón himself did his own concessions. social justice and the end to bitterness” (99). Their rupture centered on the economic stabilization plan of 1958.

pragmatism.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. For James this seem to have generated a political context in which the impression for the majority was the necessity to choose between compromising with the union hierarchy and the guerrilla struggle.455 and the instrument of personería (the legal recognition for the union’s ability to  bargain collectively was granted by the state). The exceptional power of state vis-à-vis the union in Argentina: the labor law. the political identity of the Peronist working class increasingly became incarnated in its trade . and the acceptance of the realities of realpolitik which governed Argentina after 1955. 1993)  The instransigent línea dura emerges precisely from this context. He took the hegemony from the línea dura leaders in the 62 Organizations from March 1962 elections on.  cowardice and dishonesty) (133). The Plan de Lucha 2nd stage in 1964 (based on factory occupations) as an example of how integration was not a rule.  not even under Vandor era (167). Ruthless control of any internal dissent. particularly law 14. 1946-1976 (1988. Vandorismo as a synonym with negotiation. Chapter 7 – The burocracia syndical: power and politics in Peronist unions  Augusto Vandor (the leader of the metal workers): personified the transformation of the movement and its unions from a position of outright antagonism to the post-1955 status quo to one of acceptance of the need to compromise with it and find a space within its boundaries. [KEY point in the chapter] “In the situation of general political proscription of Peronism after 1955. their diagnostic about Frondizi government was centered in the idea of betrayal and moral failures (vacillation. and the parallel recreation of a strong union movement.

Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. However. essentially a loosed federation of different groups loyal to Perón” (185). The example of the Plan de Lucha after Illia attended the initial  economic demands of the CGT (193). More on the duros language and their lack of a defined and distinctive ideology and politics. union-based institutionalized form. the consequent . he could remind them of the relative nature of their power (185). 1946-1976 (1988. insisting in defining itself in terms of the values and experience deriving  from class struggle. 1993) unions” (183). Peronism was also about something else. The organizational chaos and eclecticism of Peronism: “It was to remain. which left them unarmed against the overwhelming practical logic of mainstream unionism and Perón’s tactical whims. Vicious circle: when the union leaders’ independence became too great and they started using power in a way Perón disapproved of. Chapter 8 – Ideology and politics in Peronist unions: different currents within the movement   the common platform (188) “what distinguishes the Peronist case was the insistence with which the political role of unions was emphasized. the conscious denial of the validity of a purely ‘business unionism’ conception” […] The rock on which Peronist/non-Peronist union unity always foundered in these years was precisely the Independents’ rejection of the Peronists’ grander political and social claims”. particularly after Vandor’s failure to give it some coherent. and the left within Peronist unionism came to represent the conscience of the movement. [KEY point in the chapter] “The appeal of guerrilla strategy to Argentine militants resulted from the process of demobilization of the mass movement in the early 1960s. suffering and solidarity.

was guaranteed from within the plants and the rank-and-file floors. focismo (and leaders like Cooke) were a result of an isolated militant cut off from the mainstream of the workers’ movement and its daily struggles. Focismo: the emphasis placed in guerrilla theory on the victory of subjective will over the objective conditions. and the concessions to foreign capital considered a ‘betrayal’ by the peronists. Felix Luna Because of the nature of the political discourse and relationships over which Peronism was built. 33 “a terra incognita through which we had never wandered”. YPF monopoly). the “other opposition. long Argentine tradition. roots in the 1930s. based on the counter-discourse . the negotiations (bargain) was a necessity. James argues in chapter 2 that political power of Peronism. in an ultimate level. (p.39) Basically. crisis in their relationship – impact of the economic stabilization plan on employment and wages. 1993) domination of an accommodationist union bureaucracy and the marginalizing of the most militant activists and leader which this process entailed” (210). “Everything up till then was coherent and logical”. The diagnostic for the radical left within Peronism was that the movement was dominated by a union bureaucracy which had profoundly submerged and stifled these longings. Frondizi y desarrollismo. ideological sympathy (Frondizi enforced the importance of a strong national oil industry. 1946-1976 (1988. For James. About the anxiety caused by the entrance of new actors in Argentina politics and public space: “p.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class.

The línea dura “became a state of mind. as an outcome of the counter-discourse which emerged from the 1955-1958 period (133). 1946-1976 (1988. Resistance and defeat period (1956-1959). equity. hardness and loyalty. the morality discourse was important in a certain extent to provide a meaningful basis for individual actions of militants and workers. an attitude. The example of CGT as an illustration of the peronist resignation to moderation: “A regained CGT would be an obvious step forward in terms of organization and working-class unity. the potential for the development of a radical ideology seemed to exist in that period. There were tangible changes in the relationship between the unions and the Frondizi government. For James. class solidarity and a literal economic nationalism drawn from their experience of the Peronist era and the post-1955 resistance” (112). compared to Aramburu’s rule. proposing intransigence. this was how the línea dura emerged. but it was not enough for a union strategy. The most militant sector of the Peronist union movement reacted attacking personal moral qualities of the leaders. vandorist electoral failure This failure and its following resignation and passivity “formed backdrop to a process of bureaucratization which was manifested in a changing relationship between leader and rank and file and a changing attitude of union leader and an increase in personal corruption” (126).Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. instead of looking back to the 1959 defeats. formally a majority within the 62 Organizations thorighout Frondizi government. even if it were also a step toward integrating Peronist unions in a status quo which excluded the direct return of Perón or Peronism to power” […] “The institutional interests of union leaders would prevail over the more general political interests of the Peronist movement” (132). a . relying instead on notions of social justice. 1993) analyzed in the previous chapter. that ignored “the rationale or formal ideological tenets.

Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. What happens next is shaped by the different possibilities of interpreting and acting under those different possibilities and discourses of Peronism. the issue was initially the cost of meals at the university. strong opposition in other universities. Chapter 9 – The Peronist union leaders under siege: new actors and new challenges  antipathy toward Illia government and the support for the June  1966 coup that led to the military coup and to Onganía’s rule. initial emergence of participationists. dissatisfaction of some economic groups and a more generalized civil opposition by 1969. both (?) CGTs declared strikes – the first sign of national organized labor mobilization in more than 2 years. “One of the central’s premise of Vandor’s strategy whad been the effectiveness of applying Peronist union pressure within a political system characterized by weak governments and divided political adversaries […] By eliminating the ability of social groups to bargain politically Onganía laid the basis for the emergence of a state controlled by military and economic elites  which was not beholden to other interest groups” (217). political. Union hierarchy tried to take advantage of the protests to put themselves at the head of the mobilization and thus restablish their credibility and bargaining power with the authorities at a national level. Cordobazo in May 1969. neo-corporatism embraced by some sectors of Peronism within the CGT. seek precedents in Peronist ideology and history. ideological position” (134). 1993) ‘structure of feeling’ rather than an articulated. . 1946-1976 (1988. Onganía attempted to control and suppress large areas of social and political life. Failure of the Plan of Struggle of 1967.

In 19691973 the movements were emerging in new industrial sectors (Córdoba and the Paraná industrial belt). which was a surprise  to both government and union leaders. Clasismo.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. at the level of leadership ideology. Direct action. This changed labor opposition to be stronger out of Buenos Aires after 1969. the other effect of those policies was the revival of local sections and unions in the industries affected. However. “In the urban sectors of the interior where the new industries were installed. The wave of working-class protest beginning in 1969 “was related to longer-term structural factor which had been undermining the union hierarchy’s power and facilitating the emergence of new opposition forces within the labor movement” (223). pushing the union leaders towards a crisis that would be worsened during Onganía’s rule. the years following it saw an intensification of the crisis of the Peronist union leadership as their position was challenged by the emergence of new actors and currents. Decentralized collective bargaining weakened the power of union leadership and it also undeniably weakened the union apparatus to mobilize and to pressure the government. 1946-1976 (1988. 1993)  [KEY point] Yet. ideological concerns. an identification of the working-class movement with . the social conflict generated by factory life was prolonged outside the factory and reinforced by forms of social and spatial segreagation […] A close physical proximity between place of work and place of abode – particularly in many of the singleindustry towns of the interior – also helped reinforce the  internal solidarity of working-class communities” (227). sindicalismo de liberación […] implied. This was intended by Illia to respond Perón’s hostilities. “the leaderships which came to the fore in the modern sector in the 1969-73 period also sought to frame their labor protest in terms of wider.

the union bureaucracy was a corrupt caste whose function was to repress and manipulate the Peronist masses. it was problematic to expect that peronistas would defend radical leaderships under attack from a Peronist state for which the working class had fought since 1955. Peronism should be a national liberation movement. with the final goal of establishing a national form of socialism (241).Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. Under Perón’s government. The reormist nationalism they had identified with Peronism. who didn’t have the ‘benefit’ of a clandestine infrastructure and thus became preferred targets for right-wing death squads. indeed. the union bureaucracy emerged as the . were now assailed in terms of a moral crusade launched by newcomers  with no traditional standing within the movement” (241). and specially after his death. They represented above all “a challenge to the entire trajectory of the union movement within Peronism and. and the pragmatism and compromise that had come to imply after 1955. together with the radicalization of the rank and file particularly in the interior. For the youth and guerrilla group (like the Montoneros). “both the Peronist and non-Peronist left found themselves politically isolated within the working class” (246). 1993) the suppression of capitalism and the creation of a socialist  society” (231). During Isabel’s last 18 months in power. Many of the leaderships believed that was the ideal context for the action of a proletarian vanguard capable of a economic and political blow against capitalism. For them. [KEY point of the chapter] The context of Cordobazo. For James. 1946-1976 (1988. The bloody battle for survival deeply affected the rank and file. the military regime crisis and the union leadership following the social unrest. the identity they held of Peronism as a movement. opened a space for radical politics within the working class.

Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. 1946-1976 (1988. they must be seen as elements of a wider social and historical process if they are to have analytical usefulness (251). Academics repeat. This pessimistic approach resounds also within academia: works influenced by Robert Michels and Max Weber are particularly inclined to repeat the idea that there is an inevitable tendency of bureaucratization and the consolidation of oligarchies in labor organizations. that is. [KEY point about how all the analysis about Argentina have been focusing almos exclusively on the idea of integracionismo] James doesn’t deny the existence of corruption and control within the Peronist union leadership. however. Chapter 10 – Conclusion  2 fundamental poles Argentine politics seemed to revolve:  unions and the military. or reestablish their credibility as a dominant force in Argentine society. but James argues that was a pyrrhic one. since the were able to marginalize the competitors within the working class and within Peronism radical left. for example. among duros and the guerrilla. for instance. he prefers rather than emphasize the . For James. This was the scenario preceding the next military coup. “most of what is talked of as integration in the Argentine context was in fact no more than a normal result of the intrinsically interrelated relationship between unions and capitalism. but they were unable to reestablish their hegemony over the rank and file . the idea that was very strong. a development all the more to be expected in a society with as high a level of industrialization and unionization as Argentina” (253). When he analyzes Vandorism. 1993) dominant force. the integracionismo paradigm and the moral implications historically related to it. in a certain extent. he argues that such factor cannot be taken in isolation.

the one with the other” (256). could one really talk of Vandorism as part of the ‘establishment’ […]. Early and mid 1960s – increasing privatization of attitude. and in particular the union rank and file. and that context MUST be the general history of the Argentine working class. 1993) extent of incorporation. 1946-1976 (1988. in the post-1955 era. The ‘romantic’ image of the revolutionary potential of the masses within populism and its movements just because they involve the ‘working class’ as the  mirror image of the pessimistic approach. but are rather intricately interrealated. For James the elements of leadership power MUST be placed within a wider social context if they are to have genuine analytical usefulness.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. Union-state relations: comparison with Britain – “In no sense. Wright Mills: “The ‘managers of discontent’ had also to be. the  organizers of discontent”. a turning inward away from public engagement. The problem with the creation of two metaphysical abstractions: “a working class that always struggles and aspires to independent collective action regardless of context and experience and a bureaucracy which always betrays and represses those struggles and aspirations” (259). even at its apogee. Demobilization.to point out and insist on its the limits. the Peronist unions’ influence on the nation’s councils was grudgingly recognized and strictly limited by the restricted tolerance for all things Peronist and working  class” (255). [KEY BROADER ARGUMENT OF THE BOOK] “The implications of such an understanding are evident in relation to the dyad resistance/integration whose apparently radically opposed . reconstruction in the late 1960s and early 1970s. “In this context bureaucracy and rank and file are not necessarily diametrically  opposed poles.

James also argued in the book that although usually considered as a reformist/non-class potential. At times these elements explicitly denied capitalist values and needs. Raymond  Williams ‘structure of feeling’. James argues that “the Perón era saw the formation of a dominant working-class tradition and a profound recasting of the historical memory of Argentine workers. passivity and the acceptance of the need.Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. This work has documented the remarkable capacity of Argentine working class to act for itself. indeed we have argued that development of the working-class movement and of Peronism in the post-1955 era is incomprehensible without understanding this rank-and-file experience. to create rank-and-file organization. Nevertheless. its historical . How to explain the persistence of Peronism’s domination of the working class as a political and social actor? Social pathology. Pueblo => pueblo trabajador. to organize resistance against social and political repression. emotionalism and ‘false consciousness’ as typical explanations. it is also clear from our study that such vitality and resistance did not preclude demobilization. irrationalism. “posing an alternative reading of reality as part of an emerging counter-discourse” (261). Their experience of the post-1955 era was to be framed within the parameters established by this memory and tradition […] Peronism did not only represent higher wages. to achieve an integration within the  status quo as circumstances and experience dictated” (260). 1993) terms have dominated much analysis of the Argentine working class’s history in the post-1955 era. those notions coexisted and were interrelated with elements which made the consolidation of capitalist ideological hegemony extremely problematic in Argentina. albeit temporarily. the complexity of Peronism  ideology nationalism. 1946-1976 (1988.

leading the occupation of  10000 plants… read more on it there are structural conditions that led to the political radicalization. they felt was their experience and tradition. dignity within the workplace and beyond. For James. finally. and a denial of the elite’s social and cultural pretensions” (263). not that of a particular party” (264).Daniel James – Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class. for better or worse.P. etc were also important to generate that new reality. 1993) meaning for workers was embodied also in a politcal vision which entailed an expanded notion of the meaning of citizenship and the workers’ relations with the state. E. Thompson – Eighteenth Century English Society (Social  History. and a ‘heretical’ social component which spoke to working-class claims to greater social status. 1946-1976 (1988. May 1978) Part five overlaps with Carassai!!! . *Additional notes  “plan de lucha” – Vandor against Ilia. “it was meaningless to expect workers to simply abandon a tradition and experience which.  Perón. but the actions of political subjects like Vandor.