Argentina in the Tunnel

Courtesy Reuters

THE political régime which now rules Argentina cannot accurately be called Communist, Nazi or Fascist. It is not an exclusively military dictatorship, nor is it one of the tyrannical civilian variety which has frequently occurred in American countries. What is important, however, is not the label given to a government by itself or its opponents, but an understanding of its essential characteristics. Let us look, then, behind the labels.

The government headed by Perón has characteristics which coincide in certain respects with those of Fascism, and in others with those of Communism and Nazism, as is natural enough since those three forms themselves have much in common. Like them, the Peronista régime is of course dictatorial and totalitarian, arbitrary and all-embracing, and it seeks and gains support by constantly exacerbating morbid nationalism and by creating xenophobia. Its most salient characteristic, however, the one that really distinguishes it from more or less similar governments, is the fiction that it is democratic. Perón counts heavily on this camouflage in his campaign of deception; he draws from it a large part of his capacity for survival; and in it, as we shall see, resides the principal danger which his régime creates. Sometimes this régime calls itself Peronismo, sometimes justicialismo, and originally laborismo. Within the terms of the unceasing camouflage, change of name is a tactical detail. Each is a phase of the "democratic fiction."

Nazism and Fascism shared a hatred for everything Anglo-Saxon and especially, of course, for the democratic institutions exemplified in Great Britain and the United States. That hatred provided the slogans of Mussolini and Hitler, and their wrathful voices found responsive echoes in distant communities which felt that they had accounts pending with the two Powers in question, or which harbored grudges against them. Among the areas or nations thus affected were the Asian and African colonies, Japan, Spain and parts of Latin America. The sympathetic responses there did not represent true adherences in principle

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