This book is one of the few historical analyses of the most recent period in Argentine history. The text covers the years 1985 to 1993 (though the reason for the periodization is unclear), and will surely contribute to the debate about the present state of the Argentine working class.

For the authors, the axis of discussion is whether the Argentine working class is still the fundamental pole of contradiction with the bourgeoisie. The answer is rather obvious, because the authors consider the working class still to have revolutionary potential, although currently such potential seems defeated. This is a great paradox: the working class is always active and constantly resisting, although its members recognize that the present crisis has imposed a mandatory recomposition of their practices and traditions.

The book is divided into three parts: the “democratic” decade, the workers’ protests, and workers’ resistance and consciousness. Part 1 describes working conditions and the nation’s macroeconomic policy as the product of continuity with the period of the last dictatorship. Although the second part is again divided into three sections—the “initial advance,” “the advance stops,” and “crisis and backwardness”— it treats only the protest movements, enumerating them as composed strictly of laborers (industrial workers); professionals, such as doctors from hospitals and public health agencies, employees in public administration at the national or provincial level, or primary, secondary, and university teachers; and neighbors’ movements. The third section analyzes the proletarian consciousness, resistance, and culture. For the authors, the workers have always had a political consciousness; the problem is how to characterize its content. It is only natural for the authors to conclude by saying that in spite of the existing fragmentation in the workers’ movement, they see a strengthening of the class’s consciousness.

The book tries to deal with a period of Argentine history that has scarcely been studied, for different and complex reasons, and the topics it explores exceed the boundaries of these notes. It presents various sides of the issues for discussion, from the theoretical point of view as well as from methodological and political perspectives. An essentialist vision of the history of the working class colors the analysis, but at the same time limits its insights about the economic and social crisis and its cultural and political expression. How does unemployment affect working-class traditions? In what way has it affected the member bases and power of the labor unions? Is it enough to mention the machismo and racism of Argentine laborers without taking into account their implications? These are some of the questions that remain unanswered.

In a study of the period beginning in 1985, the construction of a representative (if based on liberal tradition) or participative democracy (if from a Marxist root) cannot be left out. The transformation of the state, its consequences, and its reformulation are an intellectual challenge for left-wing forces, including those that uphold the authors of this book. The task undoubtedly is not easy; but complacency is not enough to make workers elaborate their politics the way these authors say they do. This is even truer if, as here, only the outline of their protest is drawn.