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New Left Review I/62, July-August 1970

Ernesto Laclau (h)

Argentina‚ÄĒImperialist Strategy and the May Crisis

Argentina is probably the most industrialized major country in the so-called Third World. Well over 60 per cent of its population live in towns, a proportion higher than that in many European countries. The urban and rural proletariat, organized in solidly developed trade unions, comprises two-thirds of its total work-force. This singular configuration for a peripheral capitalist country has created forms of political struggle not to be found elsewhere in the underdeveloped world. Latin America has in recent years been the focus of repeated debate on the role of guerrilla movements and strategy. Argentina is the one country in the continent which last year, on the contrary, witnessed a mass urban insurrection of a classical type, led by the industrial working-class. The background to the great explosion of May 1969 in Córdoba and Rosario must be sought in the complex history of Argentina since the eviction of Peron, and the modifications of its economy and society that were ushered in by it. This history has many lessons for Marxists everywhere, since the imperialist strategy operative in Argentina in the last decade represents a pilot experience for many other non-metropolitan countries, and has important implications for our understanding of the global pattern of capitalism in the present epoch. Likewise, the response of the oppressed masses in Argentina to this strategy, culminating in the events of May 1969, may presage crucial future aspects of class struggle elsewhere. It is therefore necessary to study both strategy and response very carefully.

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Ernesto Laclau, ‘Argentina--Imperialist Strategy and the May Crisis’, NLR I/62: £3

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