By Ernesto Laclau

As the days go by, the country increasingly understand the true dimensions of the tragedy it represents to the sudden disappearance of Argentine President Nestor Kirchner. With him we have lost the larger statesman our country has produced in the last fifty years. He will always be linked profound transformation of the state that Argentina experienced since 2003.

Mentally must be placed on the threshold of that year to warn all that has changed. The 2003 is not so distant in time, however, which preceded it clearly seems to belong to another era. The country had a series of traumatic experiences: the military dictatorship which, because of a series of laws and amnesties, the rupture had been only partial, the neoliberal Menem, through its privatization and deregulation, there Argentina put on the brink of bankruptcy, the resounding failure of the Alliance government, which led to outbreaks of 2001. There was a widespread disillusionment and cynicism towards politics, which find expression in the notorious slogan "throw them all"

Social mobilization and subsequent to the crisis-the factories, the extension of the picket movement and other concomitant phenomena, was foretelling that neoliberalism cycle was nearing its conclusion. But what few expected was that these demonstrations were to resonate and sympathy to the national state level. It was against all the expectations that occurred in 2003. At first, the new type of speech was received with a considerable degree of skepticism. It was, in the assessment of many, mere rhetoric, after which they would hide the usual backroom compromise. But soon had to admit the obvious: the new government was committed to a total program of restructuring the company of Argentina in its different levels. Program could not but arouse popular support, while hurting vested interests that had been consolidated over decades. Soon we could verify the support provided by the government to grassroots organizations, the decision to operate through the trials of the oppressors, the dismantling of the ESMA and other similar measures, the most radical rupture with the past dictatorial there taken place in the Latin American continent, the national reorientation of the economy in the process from the de facto break with the IMF to the strengthening of Mercosur and the FTAA rejection of Bush's plan in the Mar del Plata, 2005 , the democratization of the Supreme Court and the military leadership, etc. As we know, this whole undercurrent of continuous and radical change was through a series of legislative measures under the government of President Cristina Fernandez, who has represented one of the most ambitious and systematic effort on our continent to restructure the state and redefine their relationships with civil society. All this has been done in the context of increasing integration of Argentina to the spectrum of progressive governments in Latin America. The country is less alone than ever before.

I will not get to discuss the minutiae of this legislative program. In recent days, other-Mario Wainfeld and Horacio Verbitsky between them, they have done excellent articles. But I would like to refer to a key aspect that reveals the nature of the legacy of Néstor Kirchner, while their particular style of leadership. I refer to the resistance that any attempt to raise profound change and the chorus of lies with which he intended to fight the reactionary forces. A few days ago, the hacks of the Nation characterized the Kirchner as "authoritarian populism." The same formula and is, of course, problematic and ambiguous, but when used to characterize the situation in Argentina is doubly absurd. Authoritarian populism could only be one in which the masses were entirely passive and submit to leadership to take decisions without sharing with anyone the deliberative process. This can happen in some societies-think, for example, in Mugabe's Zimbabwe, "but when this happens, the authoritarian is becoming less popular because the masses are replaced by small groups of thugs recruited and organized from power. Under such conditions, what prevails is the authoritarianism, while populism merely an empty shell, a rhetorical questioning, without any active participation of the masses.

Now, anyone who knows what is happening minimally in Argentina, is well aware that it will have the situation exactly the opposite. All legislative measures have been taken on the basis of the autonomous mobilization of one or another sector of society. How then to explain this insistence on the dangers kirchnerismo authoritarian? The answer is obvious. It's about creating a smoke screen by which the alleged "defense of the institutions" against the "authoritarian development" is nothing but a crude attempt to defend a status quo in which corporations thrive, against the attempt to democratize these institutions from within. Do you remember the recent meeting of Mr. Magnetto with opposition leaders to plan something not clearly specified but in any case involving clear lights organize the confrontation with the government? And do you remember that another meeting, more sinister, which is forced to resign Lidia Papaleo Newsprint control under threat of death? The same story about the sordid action of corporate power against popular will be repeated in all institutions. The great dilemma to be settled in the coming years, beginning with the 2011 elections, is who will prevail: the corporate Argentina Argentina past or people that began to emerge in the mobilizations of 2001, which was consolidated in 2003 and has since won battle after battle.

Is on the threshold of this confrontation that the name of Nestor Kirchner will remain forever as a preliminary point and leading sign. It will not be a flag for the fights, but has become much more important: a symbol for consciousness. I remember three aspects of his work and his message. The first is that it was one of the most radical Democrats that Argentina has produced in recent years. Never tried to impose a bureaucratic will, but always looked in the spontaneous mobilization of grassroots natural allies through which to think, rethink and refine their project. The second is that he never made an interpellation unstructured easy to mass, but realized that, in complex contemporary societies, any proposed changes must go through the internal transformation of institutions. I do not know if you have read Nestor Gramsci, but in any case his political action shows something that is deeply Gramsci: the realization that, in contemporary societies, there is no easy populism, which, without institutional mediation, there is no coherent political project . In this respect he showed, through their political action, something I always thought that between institutional and popular there is always a complex negotiation, the results of which present different nuances in different societies.

There is, finally, a third dimension that is critical to understand the legacy of Kirchner: firmness of steel, its total commitment to the causes they embrace. He was a fighter, not transactions. This is what angered his critics and what they called his tendency to "double down." I think it was more important than that. He was well aware of the nature of the forces with which he faced, and knew that only an unshakable will be able to confront.

What remains to be done now, forward, after Nestor? The answer is clear: to continue his work and complete their task. The goals that we have inherited are more vast than his life and ours and include the entire continent. Latin America will take his place in the general progress of the peoples that will lead from the neoliberal barbarism, the establishment of a fair, free and rational men. We've heard these last days, viscous honeyed voices of those who, rubbing his hands with satisfaction, saying that now Cristina is single and will have to compromise with the opposition. Those who think that they will find a surprise. First, seem not to know the temper of our President, whose determination militant has been shown in all tests, many hard-that should happen during his administration. In all circumstances showed a clarity of purpose and determination in its execution that puts them at full parity with its predecessor.

Second, Cristina is not alone. Lost, it is true, the companion of her life and followed all their pain. But also accompanied by an entire people, which has appeared in recent days in one of the largest collective expressions of regret, perhaps the most immense immensely in Argentina's history. We ask Nestor, in the words of Antonio Machado, "a work of mourning and hope." Every factory, every school, every home must be constructed as an expression of the collective will of the flame that was kindled in 2003 are never extinguished. That all Argentines identify with those words uttered José Gervasio Artigas on his deathbed: "Sunrise, ensíllenme the horse."