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The following motion, edited for publication, was adopted by the ICL’s Eighth International Conference.

The 1982 Malvinas/Falklands War occurred in the context of a U.S. imperialist offensive throughout Latin America. Back in the 1960s, the Argentine working class had exploded in struggle in response to the intensification of imperialist exploitation. The Argentine bourgeoisie, seeking various ways to control the working class, even returned Juan Perón to power (which did not work out for them). Finally, in 1976 it resorted to a military junta under Lieutenant General Galtieri, which, as an integral part of the U.S.-led anti-Communist alliance, repressed the militant workers movement and implemented neoliberal reforms with the support of the imperialists.

In 1982, at a time of growing discontent and workers’ protests, the junta invaded the British-controlled Falkland Islands, effectively diverting the struggle against Galtieri’s rule. The junta was able to place itself at the head of the anti-imperialist sentiment motivating the protests. At the same time, the invasion coincided with the Argentine bourgeoisie’s interest in reducing British presence in the region.

Margaret Thatcher’s government sought to prop up British imperialism’s declining position by tightening its alliance with the U.S. and crushing the labor movement. Thatcher’s regime became the spearhead for neoliberal reforms in Britain and around the world, destroying British industry and thoroughly subordinating the economy to the City of London based on the export of finance capital. For the British imperialists, the war was intended to defend their colonial possession as part of maintaining their role as a plundering power.

Argentina’s victory would have been in the interests of the working class. In Argentina, it would have been a step in the direction of national emancipation and would have weakened the world imperialist yoke. Moreover, a blow against the imperialists, who were pushing neoliberal austerity, would have encouraged working-class and social struggle, including against the junta that had implemented such attacks. Britain’s defeat would have opened the possibility for the working class and the oppressed to overthrow Thatcher and British imperialism. The defeat of Argentina, as it happened, intensified the looting of the country and in Britain strengthened the Thatcher government in its offensive against the working class.

This conference rejects our reactionary position, which was for the defeat of both sides. Regarding Argentina, we argued:

“A victory for the Argentine junta in this war would have been contrary to the interests of the Argentine working masses, heightening the chauvinist sentiments Galtieri had excited and manipulated in order to defuse a burgeoning class struggle.”

—“Britain and Argentina: Between Some Rocks and Losing Face,” Workers Hammer No. 220, Autumn 2012

By denying that the anti-imperialist struggle was central, our line could only reinforce the influence of the nationalists instead of breaking illusions in them. By rejecting the need to give revolutionary leadership to the anti-imperialist struggle, we left it in the hands of the nationalists, who were bound to betray it. The way to win the masses away from nationalism is to compete for the leadership of the national struggle.

Successful struggle against imperialism requires communist leadership. The only way to overthrow British imperialism in that war was through an alliance of Argentine and British workers in struggle against their common enemy, imperialism. Nationalism is an obstacle to that struggle because it divides the international working class. The national bourgeoisie limits the struggle against imperialism to its own aims and methods, which do not fundamentally threaten private property, rejecting measures that would deal the greatest blows against imperialism. Argentina’s liberation was not going to be achieved by expelling Britain from the islands. Its liberation requires canceling the imperialist debt, rolling back privatizations, ending austerity, etc.

Everything that raises the proletariat in struggle drives the national bourgeoisie toward the imperialists, since the proletariat represents a threat to the bourgeoisie’s class rule. The struggles for national and social liberation can only go forward together. The decisive question in the war was to use the anti-imperialist struggle as a lever to advance socialist revolution internationally.