The Spaniard who knows most about Latin America analyzes the novelty of the Frente de Todos and why its campaign ended in a triumph against macrismo.
By Martín Granovsky
Founder of Podemos and Professor of Political Science, this 56-year-old from Madrid is one of Spain’s most sensitive to the reality of Latin America and Argentina. Monedero visited social organizations and held interviews with leaders and candidates.
- Victory of the Front of All – he said to Pagina 12 in a bar in San Telmo– provides lessons. It reveals that the chances of triumph increase when popular forces focus on the social (employment, price of electricity and gas, deterioration of education, health, retirement), when the unity of the whole progressive field is achieved, when it creates community by listening more to people than to marketing and when they don’t lie. When you listen more to marketing and are more attentive to the construction of your story, it goes for you as it does for unfaithful husbands. You have to coordinate so many lies that in the end you get tired and fail. Because you are not able to coordinate them. Marketing makes you engage in contradictions that weaken ideology and generate a lot of distrust among people. On the other hand, if you focus on the social, you have a clear ideological line. You have a corpus.
– Is the agenda specific to you?
- We live in capitalist societies, which are class societies, where at the same time you cannot be in favor of the International Monetary Fund and the “cartoneros”. Reality forces you to say who you are with. The moment you clarify who you are with, you set the criteria of the popular front. The most clarifying thing is to think about the concrete decisions you must make about public policies. There is not much discussion there.
– Whenever there is realism, right?
–Look, it’s a mixture of intelligence and humility. You can buy the services of a very expensive consultant and buy surveys and advertising spaces, or you can listen to people. Ride in a car and go 160 thousand kilometers. There are two great styles. There are the campaigns of people who have no popular base, such as Mauricio Macri, Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump. They are based on money. And there are Lula, Mandela, Evo, who visit town to town and let themselves be touched by the people. Here is a very important element. In Spain, there is great dependency on communication and marketing experts. We all know the Macri spin doctor, the Macri public relations advisor, but nobody knows who is responsible for the ideology of macrism. It seems that ideas are less quoted than communication skills. In the end Rosa Luxemburg was right. First the party replaces society. The central committee replaces the party. The secretary general, to the central committee. And now the spin doctor replaces the secretary general.
– In Argentina until before the “PASO” (primary elections) it seemed that the owner of big data, of information on the life and work of each voter, would win only for that.
- Big data works if you can send segmented messages to the population. It exists and is expensive. But it is not as easy as they say to reach each person and send a particular message. In Spain, in fact, Facebook and WhatsApp block political parties for doing so. And Facebook is always going to treat progressive parties worse than right-wing parties. But they don’t always win. In Argentina the white walkers were defeated. As in Game of Thrones, they seemed invincible.
–Why were they not invincible?
- We are in a cycle change, more favorable to the right than to the left. The new generations have no memory of labor rights. Their socialization has been in a very inclement world, very competitive, very wild. The effects of the 2008 crisis have been devastating for the old labor rights. And things that were commonplace for previous generations, such as agreements and the existence of unions, fixed working hours, living wages, suddenly disappeared. But there is a nuance, which is more important in Latin America than in Europe: the governments of change left more of a mark than we have sometimes recognized. It is true that Macri won, that Sebastián Piñera won, that Bolsonaro won, that Lenin Moreno won, but the experience of rights under change governments is there. It is also what explains that, despite all his mistakes, there is still a broad popular sector that supports Nicolás Maduro. In Spain, the desert of 40 years of dictatorship and 40 years of convalescence explain that a new generation, that of the indignant, had to come to pose things differently. That also explains why neoliberalism gets along so badly with memory.
–Because memory lets us know who anticipated our anger, fought for rights and marked the way of dignity. That is why neoliberalism misbehaves with unions. Unions express the memory of struggles and teach you to claim rights. It is curious that there is also a memory linked to the nation. When I see what happened today with the manipulation of change, my idea that Macri has no homeland is reinforced. And that there is a global entrepreneurship closely linked to the financial world and speculative markets that has no homeland. People like Macri put together huge class contempt on one side and huge impunity on the other, which leads them to live de-territorialized, as if they were not affected by anything. As if they were out of that world that they build, manipulate and define. That’s why there is a risk, a high one, that in these two months Macri will prefer to set Argentina on fire rather than accept that he has no way out. Macrismo is a wounded beast willing to die by killing. That is why it is urgent today in Argentina that the current moral president of Argentina, who is Alberto Fernández, speaks as he is already doing with patriotic businessmen and with the international leaders who are managing economic interests in Argentina. Macri is a new Nero. Alberto must avoid that new Nero set the country on fire while watching Argentina burn from his mansion.
– What can happen to the IMF, which came to lend money that hit and ran?
- I do not rule out that the International Monetary Fund has to be held accountable for the illegitimate and almost certainly illegal use it has made of the loan for electoral purposes. In the same way that the financial sectors that are speculating on the peso should be held accountable in the corresponding bodies. The devaluation of the peso on Monday 12, the day after PASO, is a work of financial terrorism understandable for vulture funds but not for the president of a country.
– You were with leaders and candidates of the Frente de Todos. What did you find that was new?
- In Argentina there is a meeting between the sensitivity to the enormous inequalities of those who suffer them and the sensitivity of those who do not suffer so much in their own flesh but care about collective interests. There is a meeting between people sensitive to global warming and feminist sensitivity. These elements together are reinventing politics in Argentina. I was very surprised to see this broad front built in the candidacy of the Front of All. Peronism is the mothership but there are more parties, forces and social and union movements. Everyone realized that you cannot manage reality with the tools of the past.
–And in Spain?
- The absolute majority in the Congress of Deputies are 176 seats. The right has 147. The PSOE, 123. We Can (Podemos), 42. To build a stable government we must add the 165 of Podemos and the PSOE. In addition, the other eleven and an agreement with Basque nationalism and Catalan nationalism that allow a solution of the territorial conflict in Spain should be achieved. But the PSOE wants to rule alone. It has a third of Parliament and wants to have 100 percent of the government. It tried to make a government agreement in 48 hours, which is a frivolity, and presented a hollow offer to Podemos. A vice-presidency without competences, a ministry that had previously split in two and an address to which it had become a ministry but whose powers were transferred to the autonomous communities. 40 days to go. We’ll see what happens.
Translated by JRE/EF