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CHAPTER FOUR Syncretism in Argentina’s Party System and Peronist Political Culture Pierre Osticuy RECONFIGURING INSTITUTIONS ACROSS TIME AND SPACE Introduction Syncretic Responses to Challenges of Pol Party systems, and the parties composing them, both express a i i channel differences in society. Using the Argentine party system and cal and Economic Transformation what can loosely be called the Peronist as outcomes, this chap ter enhances our understanding of two syncretic processes, triggered in part by the logic of political competition: first and foremost, the— polemical—naming of what became the central cleavage in Argentine politics; and second, a particular type of mass party organization and structure of authority that became legitimized and somewhat routinized in the process. Certainly, “Peronism” incorporated and to repre sent the popular sectors not in terms of a widespre: ogy Western Europe, nor through a bureaucratized social-democratic socialist, or communist party. Instead, the popular sectors were incor: porated and the Argentine party system defined in terms of historical templates and of a locally powerful structuring myth that oi took hold in the course of nation-building. Indirectly, this chapter also pro- vides an account of the intriguing construction of Argentine national identity, the tensions within it, and of nationalisms Local myths, transformed politic into ideological weapons, played a key role in defining what Peronism came to stand for sociopolitical algrave Macvllaa QooF x= 84 Pierre Ostiguy ‘As Peronism and anti-Peronism came to embrace the local repertoire of antinomies of nineteenth-century Argentina, twentieth-century class politics took a strongly syncretic turn in Argentina, The political cleav- age and party system became partly framed in terms of the Argentine dichotomy of “civilization and barbarism” —or what I have elsewhere called much more precisely the “High” and the “Low’ (Ostiguy 1998), ‘This chapter highlights two synctetic outcomes. First and most signif- icantly, intermittent but remarkably persistent invocations of the mythic and iconographic repertoire of opponents of nineteenth-century Federalism played a major role from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s in defining the core political cleavage around which the Argentine party system is built, Second, Peronism, in its different militant organizations for power (party, unions, etc.) became an institution whose internal noms of operation clearly recalled the personalistic, culturally-popular, and deliberately concrete relationship that had also earlier united the Federal caudillos and their gaucho followers. This so-called inheritance has been highlighted by anti-Peronists and Peronists alike Finally, the chapter argues that the syncretic nature of the institution of Peronism, including in terms of what it stands for politically contributed to its success in carrying out high-modern tasks, from state-building and welfare-state construction to neoliberal privatization.” These two aspects also helped it achieve a high level of popularity and legitimacy both in the hinterland and among the urban popular sectors. To explore the syncretic nature of the Peronist “party” and the modem Argentine party system, this chapter first situates the Argentine case in the literature on institutionalization and syncretism. It then presents key mid- to late-nineteenth-century historical myths and cul- tural templates used much later to define the central political cleavage institutionalized in the party system. The bulk of the chapter traces from there the emergence and crystallization of a syncretically-defined party system, using four important phases of Argentine political history: (1) national integration of the immigrants; (2) the Peronist regime (1944-55); (3) oppositional Peronism (1955-75); and, much later, (4) the Menem era.” This examination shows that local history provides not only essential ideological tools for political competition, but also cognitive and normative frames, through which political cleavages institutionalized in a party system are defined and popular and effective institutional forms of political leadership established. n politics SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA’S PARTY SYSTEM 85 Institutionalization as Infusion with Values (But Which Ones?) Syncretism is a subtype of institutionalization that does not conform to the original model of the institution, whether the latter is imposed, imported from the metropolis, or globally in vogue. Institution syncretism always involves a process of reinterpretation, as syncretism is, about local actions deforming and thus reforming an institutional design in order to make an institution more “local.” Institutional syncretism thus allows for the redeployment of elements of local history and perceived tradition in reconfiguring institutions (Galvan and Sil 2007). ‘With regard to institutionalization, a theoretical point of departure often mentioned is Philip Selznick’s definition: to institutionalize is to infuse an organization with value (1957: 17); his test for infusion is expend- ability. The organization becomes meaningful in and of itself, that is, it becomes meaningful for the subjectivity of the actors involved in it, beyond the technical requirements of the task at hand. The organization comes to symbolize a group’s aspirations, a sense of identity (ibid: 19). ‘The most highlighted component in Selznick’s definition of institu- tionalization has been the expendability argument, with clear Weberian overtones. Similarly, for Huntington, institutionalization is the process by which organizations and procedures acquire value and stability (1968: 12). Unfortunately, the scholarly debate after Selznick not only narrowed, but also impoverished his concept of institutionalization. The argument became focused exclusively on stability: that is, the importance of sur- vival or adaptation of the organization for its members; the lack of expendability of the organization beyond the task at hand; or the stabil- of the game. “To infuse with value” became synonymous -0 give importance to.” But “to infuse with value” also has another meaning. Moving from Weber's sociology of organiza~ tion toward a more anthropological approach, we may also ask, to infuse an organization with what values? Particular conditions may indeed infuse organizations with quite peculiar values. In fact, for Selznick “organizations do not so much create value as embody them. As this occurs, the organization becomes increasingly institutionalized” (1957: 20). According to him, “the character [of the organization] will be shaped by values already existent in the community at large”; “intemal struggle for power becomes a channel through which external environmental forces make themselves felt” (ibid). “Infusior here takes on its full meaning, 86 Pierre Ostiguy March and Olson add a necessary destabilizing element to Selznick’s “culturalist”—and possibly deterministic—view, one that is particularly relevant for defining Argentina's main political cleavage and understand- ing what Peronism came to stand for. They question the common assumption that institutions face the challenge of adapting to exoge- nously created environments, even arguing “institutions create their own environment in part” (1989:46).* In the mid-1940s, in Argentina, the political definition of the newly emerging Peronism was largely shaped by the actions and political thetoric of the many opponents of Perén (later called anti-Peronists). They themselves were of course reacting to Per6n’s type of political authority and to the character of his newly found followers. March and Olsen provide a second important contribution, bridging the agency in interaction and the culture characterizing the environment: “the development of preferences and beliefs under conditions of ambi- guity [tends to} strengthen preexisting structures of related values and cognitions. Understandings of events and their value are connected to previous understandings ... and to social linkages of friendship and trust” (1989:41). Frequency of interactions (following Deutsch 1953) and degrees of trust produce solid institutional bonds. Perén was able to clearly beat his political rivals, including traditional leftist politicians on those two fronts, among Argentina’s popular sectors on those two fronts. ‘This victory initiated the much-celebrated loyalty of the popular sectors to Peronist leaders. Certainly, trust is independent neither from cultur- ally-shared understandings (be they class, national, or religious), not from the political use of elements of local history. So while one must clearly recognize that informal pattems of institu- tionalization are real and operative (Levitsky 1998a: 86-7), our own interest lies with such dependent variables as the institutions’ effective~ ness (including their working adaptation to their particular social environment), their legitimacy, and the political support for them. A foundational hypothesis of institutional syncretism is that formal and especially informal patterns that are syntonic (harmonized) with the cul~ tural norms of the group working in or served by the organization pro- duce institutions with a high degree of legitimacy. While syncretic institutions are likely to score higher on meaningfulness and legitimacy than imported or imposed ones, the impact on effectiveness is less clear. If the latter is positive, syncretic institutions are then more likely to be self-sustaining than other more universally recognizable ones. ‘The gap between formal rules and actual practices is particularly salient in the case of the Peronist party. Levitsky (1998a; 1998b) calls this SyNcRETISM IN ARGENTINA'S PARTY SYSTEM 87 “informal institutionalization.” These informal rules, while often jarring for foreigners, may however be culturally in cane with Peronism’s concrete milieu. Certainly, culture, including political culture, can be as rooted in class differences as in ethnicity, nationality, religion, or other socially differentiating factor. Many factors such as material interests, political incentives, or a basic lack of law enforcement may spur members of an organization to act in ways markedly at odds with formal rules and procedures, and with what most members or customers of the organization would prefer or like. One must thus avoid culturalist tautologies. A way to determine whether such behavior is normatively deviant or, rather, culturally syntonic is to look at the emotional attitudes—love, indifference, sad resignation, hate—of the organization’s “customers” toward it. In the case of the PJ, itis clear that most of the popular-sector P.J. voters feel a strong emotional-passionate attachment to Peronism, despite the PJ's reputation for corruption, disregard for the rule of the law (or, at least, its spirit) and for its own formal procedures. The personalization of political rapport, the lack of separation between the public and private spheres, the ethic of loyalty, of so-called (feminine) caring and (mascu- line) pelotas and ability to lead, have all contributed quite positively to the attachment of subordinate social sectors to the Peronist party (see also Auyero 1999). Furthermore, these characteristics of the PJ. corre- spond well to the class culture of poor urban dwellers and people from the more traditional hinterland in Argentina, Peronism, while often improper and somewhat deviant in the eyes of most foreigners, enjoys high levels of legitimacy for, and emotional support from, its followers. For most of its history, Peronism has been, on the one hand, so different from the norm that most observers have been reticent to consider it a political party in organizational form or in terms of broad ideology. Bu on the other hand, it most certainly appears to be (socio)culturally syn= onic in terms of its concrete traits, as well as highly effective, politically. Barbarism and Civilization: The Tortuous Path from Gauchos and Caudillos to Workers and Perén The starting point in syncretism is always the local and, at times, its past. Global models and institutions that are diffused world-wide, whether through importation or imposition, usually require little descriptive expla nation. Liked or not, they are expected, claiming to be “normal Institutional syncretism is about (re-}combining the idiosyncratic and less 88 Pierre Ostiguy known (outside of the local arena and area specialists) with the more widely known, For this reason, the lonely pampa of Argentine “Founding, Father” Domingo Sarmiento® is a good starting point for our topic. ‘Argentina has been considered simultaneously a society of diverse origins that achieved a remarkable success in national integration —through the school system, military service, and civic-patriotic indoctrination— and a society marked by irreconcilable dichotomies, including a dichoto- ‘mous view of national identity itself. From an anthropological standpoint, ‘Atgentina’s history seems strongly marked by both intense uni rituals and moments of Durkheimian “collective effervescence” (world cup soccer championships, the eclipse of reason regarding Maradona, the Malvinas war, etc.) and by a very extensive series of—largely interchangeable—organizing antinomies. Moreover, these series of antinomies largely function according to what Laclau and Mouffe would call a logic of equivalence, that is, as interchangeable, even though they are semantically quite different. They have also proven more pervasive in Argentina than the “totemic” or Durkheimian moments. The most dominant of these antinomies has been, I would argue, “civilization and barbarism.” This dichotomy figured centrally, first, in the project of nation-building and was transferred, much later, to the social question. It is therefore impossible to understand most of Argentina's politics without referring to this pervasive, structuring myth.’ ‘The mass adoption of this myth structuring the party system occurred in two key causal moments: first, in an intense electoral competition associated with the incorporation of the working class (Collier and Collier 1991) and emergence of a new leader from outside the party sys- tem; second and one decade later, with his exile and the electoral prohi- bition of his political party, allowing—paradoxically and for militant purposes—a syncretic fusion with earlier oppositional nationalist con- structs of the 1930s, But in order to understand these local myths, then used as ideological weapons (and normative frames) that ended up defin- ing both Argentina’s party system and, in a rather syncretic way, the Peronist political culture, this section therefore introduces (1) the histor- ical base of the core nineteenth-century myths, including the impor- tance of Federalism; (2) the iconographic figures of the caudillo and of the gaucho; (3) the militant “memory-myth” of the montoneras. History Mythifed ‘The first president of what would later be called Argentina, Bernardino Rivadavia, was also the first in a long list of Argentine leaders to attempt SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA’S Party SySTEM 89 to import Wester Europe in South America, Rivadavia had traveled extensively in Europe, where “he grew to admire the English political system, became enamored of Jeremy Bentham .. . and acquired the high tastes and pretensions of a French dandy” (Shumway 1991: 82) Furthermore, in contrast to the commanders who had fought the wars of independence, Rivadavia was little in touch with the country’s populace. His “unitary republican” dream inspired the educated, Buenos-Aires-based, pro-free-trade, Europhile and republican Unitarios political movement, thus defining one side of Argentina’s enduring political and socio-cultural dichotomy. Rivadavia and the Unitarios’ vision of a unified, centrally governed Argentina also deeply antagonized the provinces. Thus, a fall century and a half later, Rivadavia and his heirs would be accused of aping Europe and its republican institutions; of being disconnected from the nation’s “true” popular sectors; and of selling the motherland to (North-Western) Europe through free-trade policies. His position fragile and his project never hegemonic, Rivadavia lost power in 1827. Anarchy then crept in. By 1832, all of what eventually became Argentina was clearly under the rule of strongmen, the Federal caudillos, arch-enemies of the Rivadavian project (many of whose supporters went into exile). Federal caudillismo emerged as the dominant form of “institutional” authority for the fall next two decades. Simplifying, caudillos were strongmen on horses, experts in fighting, closer culturally to the estancia labor and who could command the allegiance of the populace through a combination of locally-valued virtues, military leadership, and somewhat arbitrary repression.” Caudillos were a rural-pastoral phenomenon and, in sharp contrast to the European-looking Rivadavians, were explicitly native in culture. The historical caudillos were all on one side of the political cleavage of the time: they were Federales and were opposed to the Jnitarios’ centralizing and modernizing project. ‘The most combative and colorful of the Federal caudillos, clearly sup- ported by the subordinate strata, came from the poorest, driest, and what ‘many would consider most backward regions of the north-western hin- terland. But by far, the most powerful caudillo of the Confederation was the conservative and relatively popular Juan Manuel de Rosas, who ruled the province of Buenos Aires with an iron hand and in a personal- istic way for more than 20 years between 1829 and 1852 and also to a certain extent resisted the imperialist encroachments of Britain and France on the Rio de a Plata. ‘The original Spanish meaning of the term caudillo, according to Halperin, was that of leader of an armed retinue (1999: 19). But for the 90 Pierre Ostiguy Unitarios heirs of the republican project, the term caudillo came to mean simply “tyrant,” ruling in an arbitrary way. The Unifarios also used the term to stigmatize the leaders removing increasingly large parts of the territory from the authority of the government seated in Buenos Aires, For them, the caudillismo was “contaminated by the primitivism found in the remote regions where it was influential” (ibid). Certainly, the his- torical myth of the caudillo later played a central role in the polemical labeling process that occurred much after their demise, particularly with Peronism. ‘At the height of this Federal caudillista period, one of the most promi- nent Founding Fathers of the Argentine nation—as it was to distinctly emerge—began writing and acting. Domingo Sarmiento believed in progress, in the superiority of European civilization and people, of urban- ity over rural life, and in the need for formal education to reform the peo- ple. He is the author of the “manifesto” that arguably became the most important book ever written in Argentina: “Civilization and Barbarism; Life of Facundo Quiroga and the Physical Aspect, Customs, and Habits of the Argentine Republic.”* Sarmiento depicted the “monstrosities” of an important local caudillo of the remote hinterland, Facundo Quiroga.” For Sarmiento, the cause of this so-called barbarism lay in the geography and sparse settlement of the vast, bare plains of the pampas. “Separate fimilies [were] scattered over an immense surface” (1974: 15) where, Sarmiento wrote, “society has altogether disappeared” and “a dearth ofall the ameni- ties of life induces all the externals of barbarism” (ibid: 16). Sarmiento explained that, “from these characteristics arises in the life of the Argentine people the reign of brute force, the supremacy of the strongest, the absolute and irresponsible authority of the rulers, the administration of jus tice without formalities or discussion” (1974: 9). In short, the structuring antinomy of Argentina during the mid-nineteenth century and again one century later, civilization and barbarism, was coined by Sarmiento, One hundred and fifty years later, the very distorted Facundo Quiroga painted in Sarmiento’s manifesto would become the reference point of the Peronist president of Argentina, Carlos Menem. Juan Manuel de Rosas was defeated in 1852, Argentina's liberal republican constitution was drafted in 1853. And a project of nation building largely influenced by Unitario intellectuals gradually became the hegemonic reality in Argentina by the early 1880s. It is during this process that Sarmiento achieved the status of a Founding Father of this new Argentine nation. He had also become president of the Republic (1868-74). Like the intellectual Bartolome Mitre just before him, he faced several rebellions by Federal caudillos of the northwestern hinterland, SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA'S PARTY SYSTEM nm supported by local gauchos, resisting this state-building project. Sarmiento called this struggle a combat between “the poncho and the frock-coat.” The Federal caudillos were annihilated during the 1860s, thus, it could be said, disappearing from Argentine history. ‘The Gaucho The obsession that came back to haunt twentieth-century Argentine politics had two related elements: the Federal caudillo and, yet more importantly, the gaucho. The gaucho was a rough freeman of mixed Spanish and Indian descent. He roamed over the immense and tree-less plains of the pampa, always on his horse, killing wild cattle for food, living a very rustic life. He was expert with his knife (facdn), lasso, and boleadoras; later, with what most call progress, he came to subsist on o beyond the frontier, often living outside the law. The mythical gaucho was courageous, loyal in his friendships, fearless in combat, undisci- plined, frank, and generous. By the 1880s, the enclosure of the-pampa, land speculation, the disappearance of wild cattle, railroad construction and new settlements, as well as intense persecution by the forces of order, had tured the free gaucho into an historical relic. Sarmiento, himself from the hinterland and knowing the gauchos well, provided a different slant on the same subject, inserting it in his ‘civilization and barbarism” framework: {In] the town inhabited by natives of the country... dirty and ragged children live, with a menagerie of dogs; there, men lie in utter idleness; neglect and poverty prevails everywhere; a table and some baskets are the only furniture of wretched huts remarkable for their general aspect of barbarism and carelessness... . Sir Walter Scott [writes]: “The vast plains are inhabited only by Christian savages Known as Guachos [sic] whose fimiture is chiefly composed of horses’ skulls, whose food is raw beans and water, and whose favorite pastime is running horses to death.” (Sarmiento 1974: 11-12) Sarmiento contrasts this “native-barbarian” situation to the civilization of the cities, where “elegance of style, articles of luxury, dress-coats and frock-coats, with other European garments, occupy their appropriate place” (bid: 13). His interpretation, more than any historical reality itself, was crucial in providing the interpretive schema for twentieth- century politics. 92 Pierre Ostiguy ‘The myth of the gaucho, despite some superficial similarities, is very different from that of the cowboy of the American West. The cowboy was part of the—admittedly very rough—abilization that advanced westward across the continent. The gauchos, in contrast, had been estab- lished for generations (usually dating to the colonial period) in the land hhere they lived, to the point of being halfway like an indigenous group—and as such, resistant to what scholars call the nineteenth- Century liberal project.!° In the Argentine pampa there was no myth of independent cowboys as heroes on the side of progress, on an advancing frontier, taming the wilderness. Instead, the pampa was viewed as an immense desert that was a “very bad medium of transmission . . . for civilization” (Sarmiento 1974: 6), and in which gauichos were seen as part of the wilderness rather than as Conquerors of nature. Both the cowboy and the gaucho do stand for masculinity. However, the cowboy’s masculinity, unlike the gaucho’s, was part of a triumphant project, even though—or in fact because—he was generally the employee of a rancher. By contrast, the gaucho came closer to being a desperado, albeit fone with a sense of honor, pride, and ethics. The gauicho in Argentina, like the Indian in the United States, was the victim of the advance of law, the force of law, and civilization. The gauicho's songs are therefore laments of suffering and defeated bravery. Civilization, in Argentina, was not understood as a technical and technological mastering of nature, as in the United States, but as diffusion of urban, refined manners and the development of “culture” (letters, arts, thought), as in the European metropolis. ‘The transformation of the gaucho into a symbol of rebellion against established authority would occur only later, in the second half of the century, with the spread of barbed wire, confiscation of lands by speculating large landowners, and forced military service. According to Cymermam (1992: 36), a “holy alliance” arose between the landowner, the sheriff, and the justice of the peace. This holy alliance transformed the free and independent gaucho into an outlaw, forced to use violence to defend his life. The figure of the gaucho mythified into a cultural icon of native resistance to a malevolent legitimate authority, in subsequent gaucho poetry and gaucho novels, was inspired by this period. The most famous, of these works is the epic poem El Gaucho Martin Fiero." Forced to be an outlaw and easily provoked, he would drink excessively in pulperias [bars/general stores], get into fights, and gamble more than he had, thereby adding to his troubles with the representatives of authority. Taken away from his family, the figure became notably nomadic and SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA’S PARTY SYSTEM 93 rambling, In practice, the gauchos not forced into marginality would become peons, that is, salaried (uneducated) laborers for the large cattle ranchers. It is thus not surprising that the gaucho would become a relevant figure, even 70 years later, for urban day laborers in Argentina. Paradoxically, the gaucho would become, at the same time, a symbol of authentic Argentine nationality. The unfortunate but brave gaucho could find hopes of social and political redemption through a caudillo, as occurred with the dreaded montoneras of the 1860s and, as popular wisdom would later have it, with “Perén” in the 1940s. The “Dreaded Alliance”: The Montoneras ‘The consummate image of barbarism, from the standpoint of the so- called civilizers, was very precisely the alliance of Federal caudillos with a large following of rough, horseback-riding gauchos, exemplified historically by the fearsome and epic montoneras. The montoneras were hordes of Federal horsemen, made up of unkempt, unruly, lower-class, and fierce gauchos with lances, fighting under the leadership of a provin- cial caudillo in an uneven battle against Buenos Aires’ centralizing Unitarios. The two most famous historical montoneras of the 1860s, both defeated, were led by the direct successors of Quiroga, the caudillos “Chacho” Pefialoza and Felipe Varela. These rebellions were perceived as serious sociopolitical and sociocultural threats to the authorities of the new country. The form, style, and even political platform of the political leadership of “el Chacho” Pejtaloza and Varela among the gauchos share significant similarities with later Peronist practices among the popular sectors, as many Peronist leaders themselves explicitly claimed. The montoneras, undoubtedly unruly and violent, were, as Orgambide writes (1999: 350), “a political option, the determination to transgress the constituted order when this order is considered unjust.” As part of the national repertoire (re-)popularized in the early 1960s, the famous Peronist leftist-nationalist guerilla fighting for “the people and Pern” in the 1970s, took the name of Montoneros. De la Fuente (1999: 337) emphasizes “el Chacho maintained an important presence in the daily life of the gauchos, whom he [also] assisted in moments of material need.” Certainly, this is one of the traits that would later most distinguish Peronist politicians in the lower-class neighborhoods of modern Argentina. El Chacho went well beyond what might be called personalized clientelism, socializing with his potential followers and even playing cards with them. Practices of 94 Pierre Ostiguy Peronist governor Eduardo Duhalde, in the lower-class neighborhoods of the Greater Buenos Aires, were described to me by local informants in exactly the same terms (including the card playing). There was indeed a noticeable familiarity in the interpersonal treatment; observers are offen struck by the fact that humble Peronists call the Peronist governor “el negro” or the presidential candidate for Peronism in 1989 “little Charly Even in the nineteenth century, the political division between Federales and Unitarios, associated mainly to the urban-rural dime: also had a significant “class” dimension. Varela distinctly worked along- side “the plebs . .. having meetings with the federal chiefs and all the chusma rabble], where they shout publicly against the liberals” (Orgambide 1999: 350). ‘The loyalty was also not exclusively personalistic. The federal party would continue to capture the gauchos’ loyalty even after Peiialoza’s death, as the Peronist party later did after the death of General Perén. ‘The Syncretic Uses of the Myths ‘These defining political-cultural tropes and myths of Argentine history were recaptured and deployed particularly during the political incorpo ration of the popular sectors, the realignment of the party system, and the formation of Peronism—as outcomes. The process diachronically unfolds during four key moments: (1) national identity building in a context of high ethnic diversity during the pre-Peronist period, in which syncretism occurred outside of the political arena; (2) the period of Juan Perén’s regime; (3) the crystallization or “fusion” of a given Peronist identity after the fill of Perén in 1955; and much later, (4) the redeployment of the “equivalent” antinomies once again under the Peronist President Carlos Menem. Antinorn and Syncretism in the Creation of National Identity opular Syncretism Outside of the Party System, 1913-43 In less than 30 years, between 1880 and 1910, Argentina was radically transformed. The population of Argentina in 1914 bore little resem- blance to that of 1884, particularly in Buenos Aires, whether in sheer size, ethnic composition, geographical origins, or local historical con~ sciousness. This radical transformation was a fulfillment of the old Rivadavian dream, and more specifically, of Sarmiento’s plea to “civilize” Argentina through Europeanization and urbanization. More specifically SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA'S PARTY SYSTEM 95 still, che transformation also marked the fulfillment of Alberdi’s dictum. to govern is to settle.” The political position that appeared so vulnera- ble under the rule of the Federal caudillos in the early to mid-nineteenth century had now become not only hegemonic but had wiped out—or so it seemed—the so-called barbaric past described above. ‘At the tum of the century, Argentina and Uruguay were the two countries in the world with the largest proportions of immigrants, larger than of the United States at the time. In 1914, half of all individuals liv- ing in the capital (Buenos Aires) were foreigners. In 1895, a quarter of the country’s population was foreign born; one generation later in 1914, 30 percent was still foreign born (Solberg 1970:36) However, in contrast to Sarmiento and Alberdi’s vision, most of these European immigrants came from Southern and Eastern Europe, not from Northwestern Europe. The actual Europeans who landed in Buenos Aires were very different from the educated diplomats and busi nesspeople whom Rivadavia and later Sarmiento had met in England, France, and the United States. The difference was apparent not only in class origins and cultural traits, but also politically. Many of these Spanish. and Northern-Italian laborers were anarchist. Labor conflicts and vio- ence were high in Argentine cities in the first third of the twentieth century. Moreover, most European immigrants seemed interested in making a “quick buck” than spreading the benefits of European civilization. Many of these immigrants were also single men, leading to social situations that still echo in the lyrics of the uniquely Rio de la Plata tango. In the 1910s, a few dissimilar, prestigious intellectuals, who may be labeled nationalist (other prefer “hispanicist”), started to express concerns about what they considered a degenerating state of affairs. They worried that the immigrants were debasing the language"? and corrupting the “soul” of the country. The problem, however, is that it proved rather dif- ficult to define what, precisely, was the “soul” of Argentina, prior to this massive wave of immigration. Nineteenth-century Argentina presented nationalist intellectuals with, on the one hand, the seemingly barbaric and primitive ganchos and caudillos whom the ruling elite had finally elimi- nated, and, on the other hand, a Europeanizing project that had become reality—although perhaps not the one hoped for. In 1913, a respected intellectual, Leopoldo Lugones (a socialist youth who had turned to militant nationalism during his years living in Paris), delivered a highly publicized and well-attended speech, where he exalted the gaucho as the bearer of the Argentinian identity and “essence.” Around the same time, Ricardo Rojas, a master of literature 96 Pierre Ostiguy and a gifted educator from the hinterland, came to the defense of the earlier so-called barbarism, as an important and non-barbaric part of Argentine history that should be imparted to the children of the new immigrants. As Rojas wrote: ‘This barbarism, so defamed by our historians, was the most authentic fruit of our territory and of our character. The montonera were nothing but the independence armies fighting in the hinter- land; and almost all of the caudillos who led them had served as apprentices in the war against the monarchist If intellectuals were starting to question Sarmiento’s liberal, old antinomy, a much more creative syncretic and intriguing cultural process subsequently took place at the very popular level, with the national passion for soccer. The game, as is well known, was originally imported by the British in the 1880s. From its origins in Argentina in the 1880s to 1912, soccer was a British-dominated sport. Gradually, how- ever, immigrants of Southern-European origins became increasingly involved in it. Between 1913 and 1929, popular wisdom noticed a fun- damental difference of style between the play of the British and that of the Latins—and entirely new category. The former were said to be phlegmatic, solid, methodic; they were disciplined, organized, playing in teams that worked like an oiled machine. The latter, by contrast, were restless, showy, undisciplined; they were informal, quick, generous. ‘Others described the British style as “cold” and “mathematical,” and the Rio Platense style as “hot” and “improvised.” In a popular metamorphosis, however, the Latin style became defined asa “creole” and “gaucho” style of playing the popular sport, while the British and their style remained impermeably “foreign.” For Archett: ‘The “creole” was founded by the sons of “Latin” immigrants ‘The sons of English immigrants were never conceived of as “creole”, they did not become “creole” through playing soccer. Genealogical reasoning was replaced by a reasoning based on style. Styles, in turn, are based on ethnic differences conceptualized as difference of character and as mode of structuring feelings and bodily practices. (ibid: 430) ‘The Latin European immigrant ways and the nineteenth-century creole American ones thus meyed, by vie of their equivalence as opposites of the ritish. SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA'S PARTY SYSTEM 7 A key to this merged identity was class. While the British in Argentina earned soccer at school, the “creole kid” (pibe criollo), in reality a “kid” of working-class Southern-European origin," was said to learn soccer in the “cattle ranch” (potrero), that is, in the vacant spots of the outskirts (arabal) on the periphery of the growing city. Like the gaucho, he was said to learn without any teacher and “in liberty.” In the potrere, the kid invented the creole style, according to a leading soccer magazine. Just like the nineteenth-century gauchos, the more uneducated and poorer (immigrant) segments of society became understood as more “Jocal,” more “native,” while the more educated sectors, who also bene- fited from the institutions of school and state, were depicted as either for~ cign or foreignizing. As important as the fictitious descent of the Latin poor from the creole gachos are thus the common attributes of poverty and (“natural”) lack of education, then associated with informal local ways. In this syncretic merging, there were certainly concrete empirical affinities between the arrabal or orilla (the urban outskirts) and the pampa with its historical-mythical gaucho. The two, for example, were so-to- speak spaces of liberty in the open air, with no formal rules and no educators, where ragged but free poor people could run loose, improvising without interference. But equally important, both also stood in opposition to the urban, the “civilized,” the educated, the industrial, and the British. In short, they had the same structural positioning. ‘This border area (orlla) between the pampa and the city was the meet~ ing ground for the ex-gaucho and the Southern European immigrant, both often wielding the knife as their working tool, of humble social origins, and under-schooled. For Sarlo (1993: 21) ‘The orillero was the inhabitant of those neighbourhoods, usually considered coarse and often violent, who preserved many of the customs and attitudes of his recent rural past. The orillero worked in semi-rural and semi-urban enterprises such as the slaughterhouse, where many of the skills of the rural workhand were needed and employed. He knew how to use a knife, like his forefather the gaucho. ... The archetypal orllero belongs to the criollo cultural tradition, prior to the arrival of Italian and other European immigrants. But, as Borges... admitted, the sons of the Italian immigrants who managed to become integrated into ciollo culture could also aspire 0 being compadrtes. (ibid) ‘The liminal orilla ot arrabal is probably one of the spaces that gave rise to the most distinctively Argentine (national) creations: tango in music, the 98 Pierre Ostiguy distinctively Argentine soccer style in sports, and Peronism in politics. Each, in its own way, should be understood as a distinctively syncretic product. Moreover, these three syncretic arrabaleo products stood for transgression, or lack of respect for the standard institutionalized prac- tices of “proper” modemity: marriage (as transgressed or bypassed in tango), professionalism in sports (as transgressed in, or opposed by, the Argentine soccer style), and institutional party politics (as transgressed ot bypassed in Peronism). In all three instances, the arabal cultural product, would move to literally invade and seemingly aggress the respectable center, later becoming among Argentina’s best-known creations. Prieto (1988), much after Lugones and Rojas, highlighted the impor- tance of gauchesca literature, especially Martin Fiero, in the molding of Argentines’ self-imaginary. Sarlo (1993: 37) notes that Martin Fierro was “quoted frequently, not only by members of the criollo population, but also by immigrants who took the gaucho as a symbol of the nationality they were trying to understand and assimilate into.” But at the same time, there was still a hegemonic rejection of the Federal caudillos, and most particularly of “the tyrant” Rosas. This rejection was going to change—and even become inverted, militantly so—with the rise of the highly significant, intellectual opposi- tional movement called “historical revisionism.” Historical revisionism, although it could be traced to an earlier date, acquired its name and blos- somed in the climate of the 1930s. In many ways, the reemergence, in ‘mass politics, of Sarmiento’s old myths and antimonies is a product of the reaction of historical revisionism. Bor outside of the university, it claimed that the official, liberal historiography of the country was a ‘falsified history” consisting of politically-motivated lies. Challenging the hegemonic version of Argentine history then conveyed in every school textbook, the revisionists focused on, reclaimed, and worshiped the caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas, a tyrant according to the official history. Revisionists praised Rosas for defending the country against— undoubtedly real—imperialist British and French designs. Revisionists also presented him as a truly autochthonous figure who bridged the gap between elite and masses, despite the hostility of the foreignizing intelli- gentsia and their European supporters. Historical revisionism then spread to the defense of the later montoneras, and also sympathized with Argentina's earlier colonial Hispanic Catholic heritage, But the histori- cal revisionists had neither mass support nor political party backing. Revisionism contributed significantly to Argentina’s political devel- opment in several respects. First, revisionism as a militant intellectual movement made it easier to adopt “novel” (or forgotten) models of SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA’S Party SysTEM 99 Political action, institutional behavior, and modes of legi as pointed out by Halperin (1970) and Svampa (1994), revisionism succeeded in recasting the Argentine liberal elite as the grand historia adversary of efforts to create a “truly national,” native project of politi- cal, economic, and cultural development. Finally, their reframing of Argentine history dramatically resurrected Sarmiento's old dichotomy of civilization and barbarism, The respected intellectual Manuel Calves, oo fandomly name one revisionist, fully adopted Sarmiento’s dichotomy ut inverted its normative polarity, Referring to the nineteenth ceneary hhe wrote in 1940, "The forty years of our barbarism was nothing ele bet the rebellion of the American spirit against the European spirit. The for, ‘mer was represented by the Federals and was spontaneous, democeec popular, and barbaric.” In contrast, he added, “the e Frenchified, artificial, shetorical, aristocratic, and civilized.” The militant historical revisionists agreed—but from the other side of the fence. vith Sarmiento's characterzations of Argentina: there were apparently indeed “two Argentinas,” each irreconcilable wit ate! re pean ncilable with the other. But their evaluation of his two poles. Initarios were 1940s was to reverse Sarmiento’s normative The Great Transformation: The Rise of Peronison as a Political ‘Movement and the New Party System, 1943-55 Despite the vast resources that Perén and his state intervention, mr eta even ne symbols, and attempt to shape people's thinking, Peron, his party, and his regime did very little to promote a syncretic understanding of his leadership or form of rule as cauliler. In contrast to the instrumenclin, who view symbols as a resource manipulated by state ruler for power Purposes, the syncretic process and outcome described here was a ri marily a product of manipulation from above. But the inverse perspec tive of popular adapration from below, of “popular briclage,” is also equally erroneous here. Competition for power, particularly in the heated electoral contest of 1945-46, the first free election in almoce 20 years in Argentina, played an important role in triggering the sys, cretic process on a large scale and in the political realm. Privs to 19s syncretism along the lines described here had already occurred on a meee level, but outside of the political realm. A significant reassessment ofecl. lective myths had also happened in the realm of idess, bur withort oy mass support or party backing ° Mass 100 Pierre Ostiguy ‘An essential fist task is to discard the easy and always tempting thesis of “manipulation from above.” The historical reference points of Perén for himself were most certainly not the Federal caudillos. When Pern nationalized the railroads, removing them from British control, he renamed the main lines General Sarmiento, General Mitre, General Belgrano, and General Roca. These founding figures of Argentina are cleat icons of the canonic liberal history of Argentina. They are all on the same pro-“‘civilization” side of the Sarmientinian divide'® and all were abhorred by the historical revisionists. Pern cared very litte, if at all, about the historiographic debate about _nineteenth-century ‘Argentina. He was unquestionably a modernist and a modernizer who sought to urgently address the social question and who found inspiration in corporatist schemes, social planning, and nationalist ideologies. ‘The reintroduction of the nineteenth-century Sarmientinian antinomy of civilization and barbarism into public political debate, with the pro- found impact it was going to have, was clearly the product of the anti- Peron forces. Anti-Peronism, to a large extent, created Peronism, at least in terms of what it came to stand for politically. Anti-Peronism named and labeled Argentina’s central political cleavage, but without successfully ‘mastering the normative dimension of this labeling operation. During the electoral campaign of 1945-46 and thereafter, the figure of the gaucho was used, positively, by each side against its adversary. ‘Where they parted was with respect to the Federal caudillos, and especially Rosas. While the enemies of Perén had called him “nazi-fiscist by the 1950s this invective had died a natural death, However, invectives rooted in caudillo imagery would prove an unexpected—and eventually undesired—success. The wide anti-Pern opposition (the Radicales, Socialists, Progressive Democrats, Conservatives, and Communists) not only claimed to represent the republican-progressive tradition (e.g., the gigantic pictures of Rivadavia, Sarmiento, Alberdi, and Moreno in the immense “March for the constitution and liberty”). They also equated Perén to the antithesis of the Founding Fathers, the Federal caudillo Rosas. In the heat of the electoral campaign, the opposition equated Perén, on the anniversary day of Rosas’ military defeat at Caseros and in the heat of the electrol campaign, the opposition equated Perén with Rosas, in order to bring back into the public arena the nineteenth century notion of “tyranny” (Svampa 1994: 256). A Socialist p stated: “We come here to celebrate the anniversary of Caseros with the conviction that Rosas, defeated on the 3rd of February of 1852, has reappeared in Argentina on the 3rd of February of 1946” (ibid). This, perspective was not limited to the left. The conservative newspaper SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA’S Party SYSTEM 101 La Prensa wrote, “The two fronts of this struggle that we have to wage today are the same as those [of] 1852; they are the two divergent lines that started [back in] 1810... the first [is] democratic, progressive, orienting . . . the other one is... reactionary, demagogical” (ibid: 256). For the anti-Perén liberal-democratic forces, “barbarism” and Rosismo were not only matters of political tyranny, or authoritarian rule. The opposition, throughout the heated electoral campaign, its defeat, and the subsequent plebiscitarian authoritarian state, was fully aware that Perén enjoyed the support of the lower sectors. “Barbarism from above, as in tyranny, was therefore joined by a “barbarism from below,” in a now fully Sarmientinian way. The (authoritarian, “Federal”, Rosista) “tyrant” Perén was now followed, it was described, by “drunken hordes of lumpen-proletarians.” Perén, through his social policies beneficial to the working class, had indeed gained substantial working-class and lower- class support. Many workers had defected from the socialist, Comm and Radical parties, while other younger workers had had little opportunity to previously develop a partisan political identity. Peron himself, however, remained largely impervious to this interpre- tation and adversarial labeling. He instead adopted a straightforward nationalist discourse. During the electoral campaign of 1946, for exam- ple, he denounced the liberal-democratic opposition as being in league with the U.S. ambassador, and the intellectual elite as being in league swith, or belonging to, the oligarchy." In fact, it was only afier the fll of Peron in 1955, that the Peronist side of the party system would adope this adversarial labeling, reversing in a militant way its normative valuation, Certainly, both sides of the party system made use of the gaucho imagery. However, the same cannot be said with regard to manners, mode of behavior, and speech. During the electoral campaign of 1946, the socialist newspaper La Vanguardia ran a cartoon of a gaucho facing a small Juan Perén with a swastika and telling him that [on the day of the election] “We'll settle scores.”"” But neither Tamborini or Mosca, the presidential and vice-presidential opposition candidates who ran against Peron, came close with their stiff manner and formal discourse to the gaucho demeanor ot mode of speaking. In contrast, Jazmin Hortensio Quijano, one of the very few Radicales who defected to Perén and who ran as Perén's vice- presidential candidate, is described by Luna (1969: 170-71) as “somebody who could have been a jordanista caudillo, on horseback, fa] ‘lover of creole imaids’ (“chinitero”) ... with large a moustache giving him an anachronistic aspect,” someone given to “coughing and spitting on the nearest carpet.” T have dealt at length elsewhere (1998; see also James 1988: 21-24) with Perén’s specific class-cultural mode of relating to his popular-sector 102 Pierre Ostiguy electorate through his language (e.g. the use of slang in public political dis- course), demeanor (e.g. the now famous removing of his coat), display of cultural tastes (c.g. his fondness of boxing), relation with the then soap- opera actress Eva Duarte, and so on. I focus here on the complementary dimension of his use of gaucho manners and self-presentation in public. Pern knew how to adapt culturally and in public to the creole traditions of the hinterland. In Salta, he talked about Giiemes, the inde~ pendence hero of the Northwest frontier and agrarian populist (as well as anti-Buenos Aires) caudillo with gaucho support, and of crialla tradi~ tion, while men on horseback dressed as gauchos took part in the rally. In another rally, he denounced the oligarchy for buying arms, but declared that the purchase “would be of no use to them, because in order to handle arms, you have to be a real man, and the oligarchs are not men.” In Tandil, Perén and Evita arrived at the rally in a barouche pulled by four horses and surrounded by horsemen dressed in the gaucho way.!” He also made abundant usage of criollo sayings. ‘A major, fandamental innovation of Perénism was to incorporate and ppolitiize, over time, the syncretic popular culture described above, which hhad emerged during the 1920s and 1930s and which was certainly not rural. Although over the years the two main political parties would often change positions on the left-right axis, the anchoring of the Peronism in local popular culture would remain unparalleled up to the present. This process, however, was not only an instrumentalist manipulation from above. A stronger argument, yet, is that this popular culture also strongly affected the inner workings and the type of political appeal of the Peronist party itself. That is, a political cultural process occurred in which a very par- ticularly popular culture, itself linked to a set of symbols and attributes already discussed above, influenced the party institution (understood as a mode of informally institutionalized behavior), both internally and at the interface between the party institution and the voters. ‘Thus, first, a cultural syncretic process occurted in the early to mid- twentieth century, where the Latin and the creole merged as a product of their structurally similar cultural opposition to the English. Second, this novel popular culture then subsumed the newly-formed, uninstitu- tionalized, not very ideological, but very class-based Peronist “party. Or rather, syncretism occurred between the two. The concrete attributes of this mélange were combined with the “regular,” “normal,” European model of how mass political parties (and the state) should function as institutions. The process had an impact on both what Peronism meant and on its institutional and organization workings that can be described as informal, culturally popular, nonprocedural, and more macho (daring) or caudillista. The outcome of this process has made SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA'S PARTY SYSTEM 103 the Peronist party somewhat disturbing to European eyes and attractive to its own popular-sector electorate. During the Peronist regime of 1945-55, paradoxically, the intellectual movement of historical revisionism, with few exceptions within it, became almost extinct. Although it would be easy to blame the anti- intellectualism of the Perén era for this dwarfing of revisionism, the reasons for this quasi-death are more complex. Some revisionists, like Palacio, became Peronist deputies; others, like the more traditionalist Irazusta, felt uneasy with this eruption of the masses and moved to a dis- creet opposition (Halperin 1970: 34-5). It seemed that the political rai- son d’étre of this historiographic intellectual movement—it opposition to liberal, “foreignizing” dominance—had died with the appearance and triumph of Perén. But after the violent coup that overthrew Perén in 1955, forced him into exile, and sought to eradicate every single trace of his regime, historical revisionism rose from its ashes and, for the very first time, acquired a mass audience—even achieving the status of a certain popular common sense. The Syneretic Outcome, 1955-76: Peronist Latins as Gauchos; Peronist Leadership as Caudillismo; and the Montoneros Peronist Guenillas During the more than two decades that followed the fall and exile of Perén, all the threads that have been mentioned so far and that have already come to form a discernable pattern, acquired, as an ensemble, a solidity and explicit—that is ideological—formulation. Patadoxicalh Sarmientian “barbarism” became appealing ideologically among the middle-class, protesting students in the late 1960s. In 1955, Perén lost power and was forced into exile, while the military that overthrew him, with widespread middle-class support, embarked on a massive de-Peronization of the country. For many Argentine intellectuals on the side of “civilization” anid republican lib- erty, post-1955 meant the end of tyranny and the eventual return of Argentina to the “normalcy” of civilized nations. However, the coun try was more than ever divided along class lines—even more so than in 1945. The combination of these two aspects made for a dangerous situation, particularly in terms of identity formation and struggle over ng. While Perén himself, in exile, remained silent as always on this historiographic dispute, the revisionist interpretation of both Argentine 104 Pierre Ostiguy history and present found an increasing prominence in local Peronist publications. Thus, “the effort of historical revision found for the first time the... support of a vast political movement” (Halperin 1970: 41-2). The terms of Sarmiento’s orthodoxy were therefore adopted by both sides of the political cleavage, but with violently opposed norma~ tive connotations. Second, while “civilization,” since after Rosas, had always had the upper hand in Argentine history, now, at a time when universal suffrage had become the norm, the “barbaric” side enjoyed a numerically-based political advantage. The forces of “civilization” had clearly identified in 1945 with the liberal democratic opposition to Pern, ‘under the mistaken assumption of numerical superiority and in line with their view of what they considered the somewhat normal evolution of ‘Argentina since 1880. Now the “civilized” pole was forced to rely on the political prohibition of Peronism, in order to “normalize” the country. ‘Therefore, it soon found itself in an uneasy and somewhat cooperative relation with the increasingly assertive military, which was in charge of ‘enacting the ban on Peronism. In the meantime, the popular and so-to- speak autochthonizing Peronist forces increasingly resorted to violence to assert their right to participate, vote, and take over governmental power. In this context, in the late 1950s—and not at the foundation of Perén’s movement—an important ideological crisis occurred within the political eff. Many leftist scholars and intellectuals decided, with this tum of ‘events, to side with the working class on class grounds; they thus moved toward the proscribed Peronism, and more specifically toward historical revisionism. In fact, the prolific nature of the second wave of historical revisionism was largely a product of these newly converted leftist intel- lectuals, the founders of what became known as “the national left.” ‘Their attention spread much beyond the figure of Rosas and now covered the whole span of Argentine history. The rebellious federal montoneras of gauchos and caudillos were al rediscovered and praised. Pro-Buenos Aires intellectuals dependent on fashionable European ideas were vehemently condemned. National lib ‘ration was on the agenda, and this liberation could only be achieved by relying on the popular sectors, which were seen as authentically national, aiollo, and inheritors of the gauchos. Rootedness in the specifically ‘Argentine, in the local, in the criollo and/or local working class was an important leitmotiv for this new and younger left. It was said that, historically, the Argentine popular sectors had only been willing to fol- low key caudillos, “as seen” in the Federal struggles; therefore, in the present context (1955-73), the clearly caudillista leadership of Peron (in exile) was the only practical political option and, in fact, the most ‘SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA'S PARTY SYSTEM 105 “Argentine” form of “institutional” rule. And besides, the workers were with Peron! This political-normative militancy and the links made between the past and the present were not limited to narrow, intellectual circles. Because the Peronist movement was already deeply anchored among the popular sectors, because Peronism was most popular in the remote provinces of the north and least popular in the capital, because this (above) discourse had been made plausible by the crollista attitudes of Perén while in power, and because this discourse was symmetrically equivalent to what Peronism was accused of being (a teembodiment of Federalist tyranny), this historical-revisionist linking of past and present (in terms of causes, actors, style, forms of leadership, and social sectors) sank in deeply at the popular level. Many of those ideas, for example, were popularized in the wnidades basicas (or local base units, established mostly in underprivileged neighborhoods) of the Peronist party or movement. Political identities developed out of the conflict, each side taking the gaze of the other as a reference point. During 1966-73 under the military dictatorship, parts of the Peronist youth organized a powerfill revolutionary guerrilla movement, whose first aim was to force the military to allow for the return of the General Not surprisingly, this urban youth Peronist guerrilla organization chose for itself the name of Montoneros. Per6n, once allowed back in Argentina, would, as the caudillo of the montoneras, lead his “troops” toward national liberation. Many chants of the Peronist youth were replete with Federal imagery; ‘hacho, Facundo; Perén for everybody!” or “The mother loves her sons; the gaucho loves his knife; the oligarch loves money; and the people love Pern.” Argentine politics (including its party system), culture, and society became “mythically” or politically structured by a series of interchange- able antinomies, recalling Laclau and Mouffe’s chains of equivalence. Such superimposed simple structuring dichotomies, which can all be empirically documented and with which I assume the reader is now familiar, may be listed as follows: nationalist/liberal; Peronist/ anti-Peronist; working class/middle-class or oligarchy; hinterland/capital; Southem Europe/North-western Europe (Britain and France); barbarism/civilization; Federal/Unitarios, gaucho/Europe. To these, we can easily continue with: dirty/clean; hot/cold; passion/coldness: guts/brain; instinct/reason; pueblo/law; generous/calculating; local/ foreign;,close/far; and, perhaps overall, low/high. ‘This politically-created set of simple dichotomies (in part an ideolog- ical construct) allowed the concrete fusion of styles, genres and even 106 Pierre Ostiguy identities of ethnic groups, on one pole of the divide, Urban workers of Mediterrnean origins became descendents of ninetenth-century gauchos: and a centralizing leadership ispited by dhe mobilizations techniques and the so-called “national” type of “socialism” of Mussolini was transformed—first by his enemies and then by his own backers— Jno the “second [Federal] tyranny” bringing the national barbarian of extinct hinterland caudilos back to dhe apex of state power, In the proces, the Argentine working cls, whether migrants from Southern Europe or from the provinces of the hinterland, became fully national, in part through the use of nineteenth-century templates and elements o "CW the above syeretic phenomenon and is prise limited tothe fashion of historical revisionism or to the turbulent 1960s? Was it caused by the peculiar situation created by the absence of the leader or, msn, the ban on Peronism? In fc, the maximum, expresion of 2 clety np century Federal caudillismo at the head of a modern Se es recently as the 1980s and 1990s. That is, the peak of neo-caudillismo came at a time when historical revisionism had died as an intellectual movement; Peronism was fully legal; the party had made significant effors to conform organizaionally and instutionally to global standards of “party-ness”; and when its leader was very mucl present in the country. Peronist President Carlos Menem: The Retum of Facundo, ‘ederalism and Liberation,” and the Federal Jusicalist Front After the death of the incontestable leader of the Peronist movement in 1974, the long repression suffered by many factions of Peronism during the harsh military regime of 1976-83, and the first defeat of Peronism in an open and free national election (at the hands of the Radicales) in 1983, Peronism suffered an important leadership crisis. The low point of this crisis was in 1985, when Peronism basically split, with no clear lead- ership. The a-procedural methods and physical intimidation of the Orthodox leadership threatened fo transform caillsmo into thuggery. Even Carlos Menem left the particularly thuggish party congress o! December 1984, where gangs of ruffians threatened him, tried to hit hhim, and spat on him. Menem told the press: “This type of barbarism ‘was triggered by those who use force as the only reason. They are the me who promote violence in soccer. SMfacing the Orthodox wing, a new fiction emerged, calling itself Renewalist. By 1987, the Renewalists had basically taken control of the SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA'S PaRTY SysTEM 107 Justicialist Party. The Renewalists wanted to transform the Justicialist Party into a so-called normal, reasonably procedural political party, tune with global models of party management (thus “de-syncretizing’ Peronism) and ensure that the party and p stead of union leaders," would lead the Peronist movement. Considering the fact that the Renewalists were able to take control of all the commanding positions within the party and to subordinate the unions to the parey with regard to political affairs, chis effort apparently had every chance of becoming institutionalized. It failed After the resounding Renewalist victory of 1987 under Cafiero in the national congressional elections, to the great astonishment of the edu- cated sectors of Argentine society, the mass media, and expert analysts, an organizationally weak caudillo leader from the “backward” hinter_ land challenged Cafiero in an open Peronist primary for the presidential elections of 1989. With the clear support of the popular sectors, both rural and urban, Carlos Menem, who with his huge sideburns was the spitting image of Facundo Quiroga, defeated Cafiero in 1988, and became the Justicialist Party presidential candidate for 1989 as well as the leader of the Peronist movement. Menem very intentionally combined the political style and personal attributes of the “barbaric” and unrestrained Federal nineteenth-century caudillos with the popular-sector class-cultural practices of the 1980s, An intriguing consequence of such situation is that this institutional and ide ological syncretism politically helped Menem carry out a high-modernist economic project, in line with the contemporary global economic pre- cepts of the 1990s, Menem’s neoliberal policies were certainly always much less popular among the popular sectors than his political leadership Gee Ostiguy 1998: 464-79). At the same time, he was consistently opposed electorally by most of the urban middle and upper-middle classes (ibid)—classes which benefited most from, and were also more supportive of his privatizing, free-market policies, As stated at the beginning, Menem’s federal caudillismo must not be understood as a consequence of rational, instrumental, political calcula~ tion. Menem was obsessed with the figure of Facundo long before entering politics in the 1970s, and certainly long before becoming neoliberal in late 1989. In fact, as most Peronist militants and voters cor- rectly understood, it was Menem’s adoption of a neoliberal, privatizing, slobalization credo that was opportunistic, instrumental, and politically calculated (i.c., to “save the country” from the 1989 severe hyper inflation crisis). Most Peronists of the lower sectors were confident, dur_ ing the fist four years of Menem’s presidency, that, to use exprewions gathered in interviews, once he had “used the oligarchy,” he would 108 Pierre Ostiguy “return” to a more “truly Peronist” orientation. His highly personalistic form of rule within the Peronist party and movement, by contrast, was of course never questioned as being non-Peronist. In fact, it was under- stood by many, both Peronists and anti-Peronists, as a retum to real Peronism after the so-called “social-democratic” deviation of Cafiero and the Renewalists ‘Akey point of this chapter, in contrast to the prevailing scholarly wis- dom but in line with the observations of one of the main journalistic experts on Menem, Gabriela Cerruti, is that Menem’s main referent on most fronts—political, cultural, identity-wise, and so on—was not Perdn, nor even Peronism, but Facundo Quiroga and nineteenth—century Federalism. Biographers of Menem and people close to him highlight his ense personal identification with the figure of the Riojano caudillo.? ‘What is more, Menem tried to copy the physical appearance of the nineteenth-century caudillo as closely as possible. His very long and brushy sideburns that surprised many foreigners in the 1980s and appeared incomprehensible from a modern fashion standpoint, are simply the reproduction of Quiroga’s equally long and brushy sideburns, that were (Somewhat) in fashion in the first half of the nineteenth century among men in positions of authority. ‘According to many of Menem’s friends, he always had a version of Sarmiento’s book Facundo with him. For Cerruti (1993: 16), “Menem created himself in the image of the Facundo depicted by Sarmiento. ‘Menem learned from [this] Facundo, not from Juan Domingo Perén.” ‘According to his ex-wife, Menem also believed in reincarnation and practiced rites to convert himself in the “abode” of the spirit of the caudillo Facundo (ibid). This syncretism, both institutional (from the standpoint of political culture, the combination of caudillismo with modern party organiza- tion) and about identity (the combination of nineteenth-century myths with a very different twentieth-century context) was not only genuine for the leader, but also advantageous politically. On political culture, Levitsky has highlighted how “informal institutionalization” proved very practical for adapting the Justicialist Party to the drastic change of economic orientation of the party under Menem (1998b, 1999), Peronist rule, both as an institution or mode of political leadership and in the cultural-symbolic realm, has also proven highly effective with regard to popularity in and of itself, that is to capture popular-sector votes in Argentina In the Argentine race for the presidency in 1989, faced with criticism from the Radical president Alfonsin, Menem answered in public: “I prefer SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA’S Party SvSTEM 109 to be a Peronist and Riojano caudillo, and not a social-democratic intellectual!” At the largest rally of Menem’s presidential campaign in 1989, attended by close to half million people and located in the popular- sector municipality of La Matanza in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Carlos ‘Menem thus opened his bid for the presidency: Here ends the federal march, which for 7,000 kilometers has united the villages of the fatherland in a message of justice, liberty, peace, progress, and work. And as a man of this federal land, of La Rioja, feel proud to share this tribune with the Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires, remembering previous eras. We are putting in operation an historic friendship between those two great caudillos Juan Facundo Quiroga and Juan Manuel Rosas, who have fought without rest for the federal country and for the liberation of our peaple!! ‘These appeals, together with the established Peronist identity Gee Ostiguy 1998), proved consequential electorally. Despite the fact that, as one might have expected, neoliberal policies received higher rates of approval as one climbed on the social ladder, throughout his two terms Menem, unquestionably the progenitor of those policies, received a much higher rate of electoral support among the subordinate social strata and in the provinces of the less ““Westernized” hinterland, than from the urban middle and upper-middle classes (bid: 464-79) Conclusion In new and not so new polyarchies, there may be a wide gap between formal rules and actual behavior. Political behavior may be at odds with the “legal and normative distinction between a public and a private sphere” (O'Donnell 1996:181). From the dominant perspective in advanced industrial democracies, such patterns are basically synonymous with corruption, nepotism, and lack of public ethics. Without condon- ing such a gap, it may be said that in the case of popularly-legitimate forms of political leadership, many of these normatively negative aspects may—or may not (the question remains open)—be a derivative of a particularly popular and effective form or style (and even ethos) of polit ical rule. For lack of a better term, one could use the native label caudillismo. Certainly, effective caudillismo is and has been a central (and much appreciated) trait of Argentine Peronism. This label, how- ever, actually fully misses the specifically m 110 Pierre Ostiguy and syncretic side of the institutional pattern. It is pethaps a sign of the value of the historical-mythical component that modem local actors have not attempted to rename the twentieth-century syncretic institutional product more appropriately. We provided an account of the origin of this type of public self-definition and political authority, one that has proven surprisingly lasting and important in the context of modem party politics, But perhaps more importantly, this chapter has sought to contribute to existing understandings of what Sartori and many others call the party systeri, as it developed in the noncenter society of Argentina, Representation and articulation of differences, both socially real and ide- logically constructed, are the essence of party systems, particularly as understood from a cleavage perspective. Understanding socially, politi- cally, and ideologically the cleavage at the core of the party system has proven possible only through an analysis with an important historical and thus, cultural dimension, We have discussed the genesis and nature of an original party system, one side of which is a singularly syncretic product that is enduring and is not structured along the globally widespread left-right divide, however broadly conceived or defined ‘What appears as a locally specific, idiosyncratic, sociopolitical divide may correspond, in the last instance, to a highly schematized, abstractly simple series of basically interchangeable dichotomies, with an internal logic of their own. These dichotomies have potential relevance and application in the analysis of other sociopolitical cleavages and party systems elsewhere in the world, most particularly in the South. Notes 1. Tse the term Peronist “party” to rofer not exclusively to the Partido Justicia (P.J), but co the lager insrtional polities! grouping self dentied and recognized by others in Argentina a Peronist. Technically, the Peronise party would be (unl 2003) che Jusicat Party, The pany, however, has always played a minor and nonmonopolitic role Peronism. Cersinly, during the htetime of General Peron, th sens in Argentina that Pezonigm was not 2 party but a mover tutions, all responding to the General. The “movements” tradition was overwhelming u the carly year of transition to democracy, for example, until 1985. The weak PJ., within the very powerful poltal movement of Peroaism, was one such institution, cogether with the Peronist unions, the Peronist Youth, the Peronist guerilla (ia the 19708, and power, Peronism has relied much more on the executive branches ofthe sate to appeal to ‘voters than on the party. While the PJ. in the Ite 1980s and 1990 became the object of ig- rifcane scholarly analyses, in the 2000 there are nov several Peronst partes, harshly competing fgsust one another atthe national level and with diferent insttational names the Frente pars Fetora (of Kirche}; the Frente por la Lela (of Men: sdiguee Sia); the Justicialita in 2005 under Dual), and soon. The above anomalies oe. Ta 2 x 1 SYNCRETISM IN ARGENTINA’S PARTY SYSTEM 11 “This pare ofthe argument i pare of 15-year dialogue with Steve Levitsky and his research agenda ‘The very penistence dusing the curent decade—following the economic collapse of 2001-2 sind the implosion ofthe Radial ary (U.C.R.)—of he bdsmensional pola space (high-low, ight) that trcrares Argentina's pasty stem is discussed and demonstrated in Ostgny, 205, Of coun, some environ ‘the world econ Domingo Saniento (1811-88) played a conta, le formation of what became “Facundo’ ig roe in the eleral ‘Argentina, He wrote his clase hterry the rule of the calor that fllowed the indepe politcal imaginary certainly ha its own mythology, generally const repertoire made up of national heroes, political Sgures, marking evens, thas, an affect sctvely selecting) collective memory. See Barthes (1957: 194-202). (Om the Federal caudilos, see in particular the excellent works of Lynch (1992) and De la Fuente (2000), covering diferent phases ofthe sume phenomenon “The book ws writen daring Sarmiento'svoluneary exile in Chile and fst published in 1845, ‘The tide ofthe Engh edison, published in New York in 1868, i aso revealing: Lie Angntne Republic inthe Days of the Tyas; or Civilization and Basaron “The barbara ofthe eaudilo Facundo was not for Sarmiento jes lack of European cult ‘varnish: “Facundo is ape of primitive barbarism. He recognized no form of subje rage ws that of «wild ese. rele a play” (1974 88). In San Juan, “he [tobe given ca citizen noted fr his inucnce, talent, and wale, and himself the cart caring his expiring view through the ‘aula nature, “his public career was not preceded by the p twat. fond offighting... He had» great aversion t respectable men” 2 vintage cal, knew his gauchos wel ‘hich had been brought aginst him, Ina Bi of pasion he kicked out the braine of 3 man fhundeed hes nteresting comparative insight verses (fr fom standard Spanish), by the her lower clases aticulaty in te populat form, contains many words in sales, The Argentine accent i alo hythnicalyMalian-sounding, ‘One should note the fact that ple, inthe new smeretized expresion “pie ens, cons ra creole, gaucho term. uential book, ing that actors 1939, was precisely La Historie bth there position of 112 Pierre Ostiguy 18, Reproduced in Luna (1969: 439) Earlier on, the newspaper Le Epes had depicted ‘elfeminate” and "Bggos,” refusing to work manvally 1 ole de Calor Sal Monem. 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