Archivos de historia del movimiento obrero y la izquierda is a scientific journal devoted to social, political, cultural, and intellectual history. It aims to promote research, and to review and update our knowledge and understanding of the labor movement and the Left, both at national and international levels.
Archivos is open to academic contributions by authors from different social disciplines, not only from a Marxist perspective but also from other approaches that will contribute to this purpose.
It is published twice a year, with an external and anonymous peer review process. All contributions must be original and must not be submitted simultaneously to any other journal for evaluation. Articles do not necessarily express the views of the Editorial Board.
The labor movement and the Left, both in Argentina and abroad, have a lengthy and diverse history. The process of their formation and development is rooted more than a century and a half ago. The exploration of their history enables us to understand a substantial part of contemporary societies, where multiple spheres of the collective human experience get intertwined. Because of the vastness and complexity they entail as subjects of enquiry —a complexity that involves their very definition— to study them implies a great challenge. Archivos de historia del movimiento obrero y la izquierda intends to take on this challenge. It does so by offering an interdisciplinary scientific journal of social, political, cultural and intellectual history, whose interests have broad conceptual, temporal, and spatial limits.
The very category of ‘labor movement’ has a long tradition in the historiographical field and, more generally, in the social sciences —and also in the arena of discourses and political practices. It implies the formation of the proletariat as a class and introduces, deliberately, the existence of a conscious, distinguishable and historically determined actor. If an old but still ongoing debate tends to evaluate the relative importance that structural determinations and subjective experiences acquire in the constitution of the working class, it is obvious that the reference to labor movement involves the assumption of a more thoughtful and matured level of analysis. It takes for granted the existence of the proletariat —as the subject of exploitation by capital—, the resistance to oppression by “those who live of their work”, and the recognition of their own interests in opposition to those who appropriate social wealth. Class struggle, class consciousness and class organization, as well as the political forms in which these are accepted, defined and channeled, are the basic raw materials that mark the formation and development of the labor movement, which can never be thought of as an indeterminate product of capital or the State. Our journal intends to focus on these dimensions, without neglecting, of course, other processes that affect the workers in their conditions as exploited producers, as citizens and as consumers, or the way gender, ethnicity and race conflicts transverse them. On the other hand, there should be no need to clarify that the labor movement, both in historiographical and theoretical terms, cannot be mistaken with the leaderships or those who speak on their behalf; or reduced to a unique unionized configuration —as it has often happened—, since we are dealing with a social movement with broad scopes and political, cultural, intellectual and ideological attributes.
There is no international political tradition more closely linked to the ups and downs of the labor movement than the political left. Perhaps we are dealing here with a more labile and imprecise concept. It can be understood as a culture of opposition that attempts to overcome the prevailing social system, that emerged historically in the process of delimitation and confrontation with modern bourgeois society, and was therefore initially defined by a socialist horizon. To interpret it as a singular category —one that possesses certain distinct and relatively homogeneous traits— does not mean to forget, on the other hand, the heterogeneity that accompanied it from its origins. To capture such richness and variety throughout history, where a large number of objects of study appear —such as ideologies, programs, strategies and tactics, discourses, debates, organizational forms, methods of intervention, socio-cultural practices, and political and intellectual leaderships and influences—, is another ambition of our journal.
Neither the labor movement nor the Left can be fully understood as differentiated historical phenomena. Doing so would mean to mutilate the understanding of both subjects. Should the former, perhaps, be seen as an objective position in which the political-ideological actor does not intervene in a decisive way? Would it be possible, at the same time, to account for the Left as if it were just ideas, identities or political structures floating disembodied from any social force? Precisely because we are inclined toward a negative answer to both these questions —which implies taking distance from objectivist determinism in the analysis of class, and from cultural or political subjectivism in that of the Left—, one of the topics that we want to scrutinize in this journal are the organic links established between the labor movement and the Left. This does not mean giving up the exploration of specific aspects that distinguish each one of them, but to bet for the enrichment of the theoretical, methodological and historiographical approach that comes as a result of developing a relational scrutiny —and this double object of study as a theoretical framework. Moreover, the proposal is to contribute to the understanding of the various ways in which both helped to each other’s constitution. As well as the means through which Socialism and Marxism, both as theories and as praxis, became mediators of such relations.
This certainly requires widening the angle of analysis with a historical perspective that runs through the different dimensions that shape the processes and phenomena under inquiry. Archivos’ call for the need of interdisciplinary exploration —combining the multiple contributions of history, sociology, political science, anthropology, philosophy as well as cultural and literary studies, gender, ethnicity, national and racial studies— is not a mere recite of intentions. Marxism is conceived as a standpoint in this journal, but any other perspective that may contribute to debate and to expand our understanding of labor movement and the Left is accepted. We do not intend to stagnate in a defensive or conservative position. We stand apart from those who condemn these matters as irrelevant or worn down, from positions that, most of the time, don’t surpass the supposed limitations that they intend to discuss with, exhuming arguments and categories devoid of originality, relevance, explanatory capacity or critical content. In some cases, such attempts to discredit this area of study are based in theoretical-political positions mounted upon hostility to the Left; in others, simply on the opportunistic and superfluous embrace of intellectual trends. This does not make us renounce to our purposes; on the contrary, it encourages us, since we believe that this is a field of study still full of potential, in search for renewal and conceptual updating.
¿Which are the spatial and temporal sidelines in which this journal focuses? The boundaries are intended to be generous, even deliberately ambitious. Argentina will be prioritized in our research and call for papers. We understand that this country is an appropriate case to address this type of studies, for it has had a rich labor movement experience and a swift development of the Left. But we intend to overcome these limits, not only to the Latin American context, an unavoidable standpoint, but also to vaster territories of the global arena. We aim to study other countries’ realities and approach the production of foreign authors, translating, discussing and re-appropriating the best contributions within our reach. The preponderance of foreign researchers in our Advisory Board, which will expand with the further inclusion of scholars from other countries and continents, is an evidence of this commitment. This global approach is motivated by several reasons. The most obvious one is the need to capture the global dynamics in the action of the subjects we explore —often with explicit “internationalist” purposes—, as well as to consider the increasingly claimed transnational and comparative analysis of different experiences and cases. But also because a narrow nationalism was one of the factors that affected historical studies of labour movement in our country. This provincialism often worshiped local exceptionalities, ignored the obvious links between native actors and the outside, or was a way to disregard theoretical and empirical improvements that historiography and social science in general were making abroad. Furthermore, the historical period that we intend to examine does not know exclusions: from the origins of labor movements and socialist currents to the present day.