A note from the translator*
* Sebastian translated the Colectivo Situaciones article also appearing in this issue
Chanting ‘All of them must go!’, on December 19th and 20th, 2001, massive demonstrations forced the resignation of president de la Rúa in Argentina. A new protagonism, which included unemployed workers movements, human rights organizations, factories running under workers’ control, and neighborhood assemblies made clear that neoliberal policies were no longer viable in the country. The English reading public got to know the work of Colectivo Situaciones through their books and articles analyzing the 2001 revolt, the movements that became visible through it, and the reorganization of institutions that followed the 2003 presidential election in which Nestor Kirchner, a former Peronist governor of the province of Santa Cruz, was elected.
It soon became clear that Kirchner’s ability to listen to the struggles and movements that preceded him was allowing him to rebuild credibility in the institutions of representative democracy eroded by the movements. His government clearly shifted away from the path followed by the Argentine democratically elected administrations of the previous two decades. It rejected the Washington Consensus, revised the privatization of public companies, established programs to help those affected by the devastating policies brought about by the previous neoliberal administrations, committed to bringing to justice those responsible for the state repression of the last dictatorship, and wrapped policies in a narrative that rescued the values of the revolutionary generation of the 1960s and 1970s. At the international level, it aligned itself with the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Uruguay. Many members of the generation that awoke to politics in the struggles against neoliberalism gradually became part of the Kirchner government’s support basis. In 2007 Cristina Fernández, Kirchner’s wife and former senator, was elected to succeed him. By this time the new post-neoliberal period was in the process of becoming a form of ‘neodevelopmentalism’, an updated version of the developmentalist policies promoted five decades earlier in Argentina by Peronism and other parties: state intervention in the economy, Keynesian counter-cyclical measures, a boost to construction and public works to encourage job creation, expansion of mass consumption to low income to sectors of the population previously excluded from it, promotion of the national industry (mostly cars and consumer electronics), and exports based on agribusiness (particularly for the production of genetically modified soybean) and large-scale mining to take advantage of the international boom of commodities.
Arguably, this article, written in the late months of 2012, belongs to a different period both in Argentina’s political life and in the work of Colectivo Situaciones. In 2011 president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was elected for a second consecutive term with 54% of the vote. The death of her husband Nestor a year earlier significantly increased her popularity and launched into politics a new generation of activists. During Cristina Fernández’s governments, groups of capitalists whose interests were being regulated and taxed, such as big media corporations and big landowners, reacted and launched a ferocious battle to erode the government’s legitimacy. This, and the government’s strategy to respond to the attacks, led to a confrontation in which it was difficult to escape being on either one side or the other.
Like few groups of activists in different parts of Argentina, the members of Colectivo Situaciones have pursued the sometimes difficult task of creating spaces that escape this and other either/or dualisms. Their activities have involved the expansion of projects and the extension of the networks of people they work with. Some of them have been involved, for example, in the relaunch of Crisis, a key critical magazine of the 1960s and 1970s (www.revistacrisis.com.ar). Others created Lobo Suelto!, a blog that publishes articles on current issues by both real and fictitious authors, as well as pieces on philosophy and art (anarquiacoronada.blogspot.com.ar). As a collective, they share with other groups La Cazona de Flores, a social center based in Buenos Aires that has organized different kinds of activities, from movie nights to lectures by the likes of Antonio Negri, Sandro Mezzadra and Jacques Rancière (casonadeflores.blogspot.com.ar). The Cazona also hosts Tinta Limón, a press run by the members of Colectivo Situaciones and friends, Todo Piola, a cultural magazine run by former juvenile offenders that reflects on being young amidst urban poverty and state repression, along with projects by migrant groups, and some other militant research groups and collectives.
In previous articles Colectivo Situaciones has discussed challenges faced by activists in this period. In ‘Politicizing sadness’ (2007), they analyze the new mechanisms of legitimacy that characterized the period, not yet completely understood by militants that continued to stick to specific formats of practice and that tended to normalize criteria that were once effective in struggle. In ‘Disquiet in the impasse’ (2009), they elaborate on the conceptions of time, discourse, work and popular consumption that define the current historical moment. They define the present terrain of struggle as impure, many-colored, ambivalent, and promiscuous. A patient political craftwork is needed to overcome the either/or polarization that has become established as common sense. None of this has prevented, however, the rise of new struggles.
The following article was discussed by members of Colectivo Situaciones with North American activists during a tour through cities in the United States and Canada. It analyzes their own practices of militant research, a concept and practice discussed by the collective in ‘On the researcher-militant’ and ‘Something more on militant research’. This article could be considered a third installment of the series, but is actually more than that, since it refers to militant-research with movements that are different from the ones analyzed before by the collective in that they were formed during the rise of neodevelopmentalism as a form of ‘governing the crisis’. The specific problem dealt with here is how the subjectivities set in motion before, during and after the 2001 revolt remain in the background of the construction of a new governance in Argentina.