The Argentine Basic Law

Image: Lucía Montenegro
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By FERNANDO LIONEL QUIROGA*

The old “Bus Law”, rejected in February, is now just waiting to pass through the Senate. If approved, Argentina is one step away from opening the darkest chapter in its history

The Argentine Chamber of Deputies concluded, on 30/04/2024, voting on the Basic Law with 142 votes in favor, 106 votes against and 5 abstentions. The “Ley de Bases y Punto de Partida para la Libertad de los Argentinos” – formerly the “Bus Law”, rejected in February this year, materializes the market project represented by the elected president, Javier Milei. From now on, Argentina will be able to get to know up close who it chose to govern the country. The social consequences of the reform should be reflected in the coming months, showing the effects of the measures provided for in the new law. The naivety of those who see adjustment policies as the solution to economic problems will serve as a catalyst for the widespread indignation of the Argentine people. From Argentina, we can expect a brutal intensification of social inequality. Soon, the news will record an exponential increase in homelessness, violence and social abandonment. Collective depression, similar to that which occurred in Greece, is what we can expect from Argentina.

Neoliberalism – the latest version of capitalism – is at the heart of state reform. Arguments such as those that state that the State must be “deflated”, as it is it that produces inequality, as declared by Gabriel Bornoni from “La Libertad Avanza”, stating that the law is aimed at workers in Argentina, and that such reform presupposes the dissolution of organizations aiming to extinguish the “elephant State”, summarizes the recipe that supports the narrative told in microchapters (memes, fake news and similar disinformation that proliferate on social networks), whose function is to spread the old premise that the “State” it is the cause of crises and social problems (the devil, so to speak), and the “market” is the only solution to economic problems (the redeemer of social ills). But what is at stake in neoliberalism is not just the logic of privatizations, but the spiritual possession of the State, now controlled by the superpowers of the chief executive, putting the democratic system itself and the rights of citizens at risk.

The internal logic in which the fallacy is based is that the problem of the crisis arises from the outdated idea that the swelling of the State is the colonizing expedient whose intentionality is also the old logic of extractivism. Just as nowadays empathy has become a fashionable concept precisely in a political context where individualism becomes more intense every day, so too the decolonial and identity movements, at the epicenter of the human sciences, are the thermometer that colonialism It should not only be understood for its echoes, its dark effects after the violence of its beginnings, but as a sign that its vitality is in full development. And, most seriously: just as “empathy” can be the trojan concept of a society whose consumption is increasingly directed towards fragmentation whose result tends to reach its highest degree of saturation, that is, the a new type of massification manufactured by the dimension of desire tracked by algorithms, thus decolonialism and identitarianism ask for an interpretation that goes beyond merely cultural issues, asking for a reading based on their internal logic, that is, that which can be the conceptual trap key at the service of economic power.

Therefore, it is worth warning: never before have the human sciences (including the cunning philosophy) been so threatened under the infusion of Trojan concepts (that is, those concepts that, under the appearance of criticism, have within them the contrary power) – as seen in a more complete way in “gramscism”, used by the Brazilian extreme right. In this sense, what is at stake in the reform of the Argentine State is not just the way in which the State is understood, it is not just a notion of conceptual approach. Such is the strategic argument of a structure known to everyone: colonialism and its purpose implied in the domination and exploitation of natural, economic and human resources for the benefit of the colonizer. Nothing less than what was approved in the Basic Law: the privatization of natural resources without any interference from the State and the spoliation of the rights of workers and retirees: strong signs of unprecedented economic exploitation. Translated, the Basic Law is the imposition of a law of enslavement of the Argentine people. Its form of approval is the greatest indication of its underlying colonizing violence: through an untimely vote, without reflection or democratic debate.

Under the fallacy of the state of “emergency” – another key term used by neoliberalism and its shock policy, the chapters were voted directly, disregarding the detailed examination of their articles, that is, their real content. We voted in favor of Market Laws over State Laws. It is the market that will govern Argentina from now on. Therefore, anyone who thinks that colonialism as a formal system is diminished in the contemporary world is mistaken, leaving only reverberations of a past that requires an almost symbolic struggle to repair the traumas of the past. Colonialism is alive and produces more misery than ever. Colonialism is capitalism itself at its most predatory stage in history, as it aims to carry out a regime of slavery on a global scale, whose bloodstains allow us to learn some lessons:

a) that the thinking of economic elites is not as “short-term” as it may apparently seem. The method of its reproduction is rational and takes into account elements of criticism that end up acting as symbolic Trojan horses (concepts, notions, hypotheses and theses) – which consolidate a type of third-way cognition beyond the classical duality of thought, there the confusion that follows takes place;

b) the appropriation of the critique of capitalism based on a dialectic of dialectics, that is, the deepening of the class struggle and the structure of capital through the diametrically proportional inversion of its critical theses;

c) the gap, in the theoretical field, of a more in-depth understanding of this knot in the historical dialectic perpetrated by the elites.

Thus, the “freedom” of Argentines should not arrive through the recently approved law except under the most fatalistic reading of what freedom may mean here, that is, the very notion that there is no longer any type of protection on the part of the State and that, at the current stage, everyone would have converted to the figure of Homo Sacer described by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben[I].

The basic law, which includes the privatization of eleven public companies, also includes the end of the social security moratorium, in addition to the benefits imposed on large companies and the superpowers attributed to Javier Milei, from whom one can expect the continuation of the great policy of disinstalling the State through an orgy of pen strokes. From the aspects mentioned above, starting with the privatization of state-owned companies, it is possible to expect a sudden drop in the quality of services provided, the impact on workers' lives and the loss of national sovereignty, which becomes “market sovereignty”. As for the elimination of the social security moratorium, the consequences should mainly affect the most vulnerable, especially retirees and pensioners who depend on these resources for their own survival. To the detriment of redistribution policies or taxation of the richest, the new Law provides tax benefits for large companies, implying favoritism to private sectors over social charges.

It should also be highlighted that the absence of debate as central to this Law – always under the moral umbrella of an “emergency measure”, always in the sense of a “sacrifice” necessary to avoid a greater evil – nothing new in the modus operandi neoliberal, based on the “shock doctrine” brilliantly explained by Naomi Klein, as what is “essential” for the establishment of free market policies based on disasters, whether manufactured or natural. Finally, the sad lesson that we see coming to fruition in Argentina is, on the one hand, the reform of the State under the appearance of the only viable salvation for a country going through successive crises; and, on the other, the beginning of an era whose results will soon be seen on the hungry and disillusioned faces of a people who will have the fatal historical task of finding the strength to rebuild themselves from the ruins. Now the Law must pass the Senate. If the latter does not reject it, Argentina will be one step away from opening the darkest chapter in its history.

*Fernando Lionel Quiroga is a professor of Fundamentals of Education at the State University of Goiás (UEG).

Note


[I] The term “Homo Sacer” comes from ancient Rome and refers to a figure of law who, although considered sacred or untouchable, was also excluded from the protection of the law. He was a person who could be killed without it being considered sacrilege, but he also could not be sacrificed according to religious rituals. Agamben expands this concept to analyze the relationship between sovereign power and human life in his work. He argues that Homo Sacer represents a “naked” life form, stripped of legal rights and protections, that can be excluded and sacrificed by sovereign power.


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