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Why Is Jacobin Ignoring Socialists in Argentina?

Revolutionary Socialists in Argentina got 1.3 million votes and elected four representatives to congress. The most popular leftist publication in the United States is ignoring them. This can’t be an oversight.

Nathaniel Flakin

December 15, 2021
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Jacobin Magazine is one of the most important publications on the U.S. Left. They publish articles about socialists all over the world.

Back in September, the Left Party in Germany got their worst-ever electoral results, losing almost half their voters. Jacobin dedicated at least two articles to analyzing DIE LINKE’s defeat. (Which we commented on.)

The same month, the Left Front in Argentina got their best-ever electoral results in primary elections. At the main elections in November, they got 1.3 million votes. These votes did not come from middle-class areas — they were concentrated in the most proletarian districts in Argentina. This means there are now four socialists in the Argentinian congress, including the Indigenous sanitation worker Alejandro Vilca.

Jacobin has written numerous articles about Rødt in Norway, which got 4.6 percent of votes in a country of five million people. The magazine has covered leftists in Belgium, Sweden, and Denmark. But it’s as if they’ve never heard of the Frente de Izquierda — Unidad (FIT-U), which got 6 percent in a country of 45 million. The last time Jacobin engaged with socialists in Argentina was back in 2015.

This isn’t just a question of success or relevance — the FIT-U got more votes than DIE LINKE and many other parties that the magazine has profiled. It would be nice to think this was a simple oversight, or an unconscious bias for European over Latin American socialists, but Jacobin has written extensively about Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Bolivia’s former president Evo Morales. If Jacobin’s editors are looking for Argentinian contacts to do interviews, we’d love to help out!

But this is political. Jacobin touts socialists who are part of the Democratic Party — “Socialists” like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jamaal Bowman who vote to support the U.S. military, imperialist coup attempts in Venezuela, and Israeli Apartheid. Jacobin even explicitly defended Bowman against calls to expel him for his pro-Zionist stance (and refused to publish a piece arguing that this was crossing a line). This rupture with all socialist principles is justified, we are told, because being part of an imperialist party is the only way that socialists can be relevant in the United States.

The Left Front in Argentina shows this simply isn’t true. The FIT-U is a front of workers’ organizations. It is independent of all capitalist parties — it gives no support to the left wing of the bourgeoisie, whose politicians promise social reforms and then deliver austerity packages. Revolutionary socialists do not seek to win power through the institutions of capitalist democracy. Instead, they use their seats in parliaments to mobilize the working class and the oppressed as part of a struggle for a workers’ government. Politicians from the Left Front are at every demonstration by workers, women, and the LGBTQ+ movement, often facing down police repression.

The FIT-U did not fall from the sky — it’s not like Argentina always had a strong socialist Left. The Left Front is the product of a long struggle for class independence — a struggle against socialists who wanted to support Argentina’s “progressive” bourgeois government of Cristina Kirchner and Alberto Fernández. This government, with the support of social democrats like Jacobin, is cutting pensions and wages to pay off the International Monetary Fund. Revolutionary socialists, in contrast, are mobilizing tens of thousands of people against the IMF.

Here at Left Voice, write about the FIT-U a lot because it’s an exciting example for socialists around the world. For Jacobin, it seems slightly uncomfortable to acknowledge that class independence can be so successful. They write about the socialist feminist movement in Argentina without ever mentioning the forces that organize it. They write about the occupied factory Madygraf without naming the Trotskyist groups that played a leading role in the struggle.

In Argentina, more than a million people support socialists who call for a radical break with imperialism, while Jacobin supports DSA members who vote to give further billions to the U.S. military. Myriam Bregman and other representatives of the FIT-U are attacked for their clear opposition to Zionism, while Jamal Bowman is meeting with far-right Israeli politicians.

It would seem that Jacobin is deliberately ignoring the example of the FIT-U, because it goes against their claim that real socialists can never win mass support. Jacobin editors, if you’re reading this, please prove us wrong — let’s hear what you think of the Left Front in Argentina!

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Nathaniel Flakin

Nathaniel is a freelance journalist and historian from Berlin. He is on the editorial board of Left Voice and our German sister site Klasse Gegen Klasse. Nathaniel, also known by the nickname Wladek, has written a biography of Martin Monath, a Trotskyist resistance fighter in France during World War II, which has appeared in German, in English, and in French. He is on the autism spectrum.

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