By Manuel Cabieses Donoso
Another Chile is possible.
Photo: Shirley Choenen
The founders of the revolutionary doctrine have laid the groundwork for the objective and subjective conditions. The ideal situation for a step forward is the conjunction of both. But no revolutionary – from Lenin to Fidel Castro – waited for that equinox of conditions to initiate the struggle. Instead, these rules became the bible of social-democratic reformism, the tutelary shadow of capitalism.
In Chile we are in the presence of the rubble of the oligarchic state. The objective conditions for the insurgence of a socialist Left have never been better. The clamor for a leadership to organize and orient the social and political struggle has not found an echo in bodies that could take initiatives. Parties – large, medium and small – and social organizations – large, medium and small – are turning a blind eye to reality, immersed in a crass electioneering that promotes a carnival of candidacies, which is a burden to the citizens.
The country’s situation was comparable to the 1930s. Oligarchic institutions were in crisis. An Air Force commodore, Marmaduke Grove Vallejo, led a coup d’état that proclaimed the Socialist Republic on June 4, 1932. One push was enough to overthrow President Juan Esteban Montero, whose role was limited to administering the crisis. An army general, Arturo Puga Osorio, headed the revolutionary government junta. Even El Mercurio declared itself socialist and the Edwards family shared ownership of the paper with its workers. The first Socialist Republic in Latin America lasted barely three months. But in that brief period it realized important demands of the people who were in debt up to their eyeballs. The leaders of the movement were persecuted, but from this daring group was born the Socialist Party and initiatives that in 1936 resulted in the Popular Front. Two years later, this coalition won the presidential elections, defeating the right-wing candidate, Gustavo Ross, a former finance minister. Pedro Aguirre Cerda, leader of the right-wing of the Radical Party, was the winner, supported by the Communist, Socialist, Democratic and Radical Socialist parties. Don Tinto, as the people called him (Aguirre Cerda owned the Ochagavía vineyard), was defeated by tuberculosis three years later. However, his government fulfilled its promise to promote the industrialization of the country. He created the Corporación de Fomento de la Producción (Corfo), the parent company of numerous national industries -privatized by the dictatorship 35 years later. He also made his slogan “to govern is to educate” a reality, which rescued millions of Chileans from the darkness of illiteracy.
Of course, other waters are flowing in the river of history today. Nevertheless, the recounting of our troubled string of civil wars, coups d’état, massacres, military mutinies, political assassinations, etc., should serve to teach us lessons. The crisis of Chile’s oligarchic institutionality, that is now without repair, has parallels in the past. In the 1930s Chile faced a period of political and social instability exacerbated by the world capitalist crisis. Just like today. Italian Fascism and German National Socialism threatened Europe’s liberal democracy and Soviet socialism. In Chile, a Nazi party emerged and brown militias assaulted trade unions and attacked demonstrations of socialists and communists. Today threats of a fascist nature are re-emerging. In the United States almost 75 million votes backed a violent, racist choice. Armed brigades terrorize immigrants and Black people. In Chile, an extreme right is being reborn and aspires to become the bulwark of a dictatorship. José Antonio Kast’s Republican Party has historical roots in the National Socialist Movement of Jorge González von Marées in the 1930s; in Jorge Prat’s National Action Party and Estanquero magazine in the 1960s; and in Pablo Rodríguez’s Nationalist Front Patria y Libertad in the 1970s. Its aim is to displace the liberal right as outdated and incapable of containing socialism. It seeks to seize power – by reason or force – and to turn the state into a sanctuary for the values of Homeland, Family and Property, a hotbed of political delusions of hate.
Today’s political crisis is accentuated by the dispersion of candidacies for the Constitutional Convention that threatens to hand over the future Constitution on a plate to a disciplined minority united in defense of its class interests. Almost 80 candidates demonstrate the dramatic absence of the guiding axis of a popular and democratic alternative.
The non-existence of a Left with a socialist and anti-capitalist horizon has left a space that is being filled by social-democratic sectors. But their links with neo-liberalism are so obvious that they arouse enormous public rejection and disgust.
Beneath the surface, however, there is a latent Left. A vast sector longs for a participatory democracy that respects people’s dignity. This dormant Left needs fighting orientation and organization. The combative and broad-based spirit of October-November 2019 must be recaptured. That would allow the socialist, Latin Americanist, feminist and ecologist Left of these times to stand up.
The Penelope complex of those who live waiting for “all conditions to be met” must be defeated. The conditions are ripe and will begin to rot if we do not act now.
Source: Punto Final (https://www.puntofinalblog.cl/), translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau, LASNET.