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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #284 - Chile: Neoliberalism, democracy and the new left (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]
Mon, 18 Jun 2018 07:44:12 +0300
Following a powerful student movement in 2011, Chile has seen the emergence of a radical
left-wing coalition that has achieved some electoral success and in which part of the
libertarian movement is participating. Where does this amazing combination come from and
what criticisms can be made of it from a class and self-management point of view ? ---- In
recent decades, Chile has attracted the attention of the world's left. In addition to a
dose of exoticism, this interest can be explained by the political impact and the media
impact of the 1973 coup d'état, the bloody dictatorship that followed, and the
installation of a democracy " pactée "in 1989 where the fallen dictator Pinochet has
served in Parliament alongside torturé.es, widows, widowers and orphans du.es his regime.
The alliance between dictatorship and neoliberal politics
More recently, this interest was linked to having been - and still being - a sort of
laboratory of neoliberal policies, which has made it possible both to better describe this
system and to think possible resistances, such as 2011 student movement. Where are we now
? A brief historical analysis is necessary.
The 1973 coup d'état, orchestrated by the bourgeoisie and executed by the Chilean army and
police with the financial and logistical support of the United States government, led not
only to the persecution, disappearance and loss of life. exile of most Chilean left
activists but also the implementation of an economic policy inspired by the neoliberal
ideas of the " Chicago School " ". These economic policies have been accompanied by a huge
retreat of social gains and a real destruction of the existing social fabric: the
privatization of almost all public enterprises and social security, the
ultra-liberalization of the labor market and the Reduction of the public service were
accompanied by the drafting of a constitution marked by authoritarianism, the
commodification of education and health and the prohibition of abortion. This is a warning
to the working classes all over the world: the conflict between the free market and the
intervention of the state is only superficial. When the time comes, the ruling class has,
and will never have,
The arrival of democracy in 1990 promised the end of the model imposed by the dictatorship
and the political, economic and social reconstruction of the country. However, while it is
undeniable that during these almost thirty years of democracy the state of affairs is not
the same as in 1989, neoliberalism still reigns and neo-conservatism is still present.
Funny show to see the huge shopping centers in Santiago while Chile is the 14 th most
unequal country in the world, where concerts Rihanna sell at 350 euros instead of the SMIC
is 370 euros. At university, things are not so different: average tuition fees are 4,500
euros per year, even in public universities.
The same is true for authoritarianism. How can a people do nothing when it is clear that
their rights are being confiscated and forced to endure the social and economic policies
they have been fighting for so many years ? Throughout the years 1990-2000, several days
of mobilization were organized but it was not until 2011 that the social movement managed
to make visible what was obvious: this democracy was a joke. That year, thousands of high
school and university students took to the streets to end the education system set up by
Pinochet and maintained by the Concertación, the coalition of center and left parties that
dominated since the end of the dictatorship.
Renewal through student struggles
The population gave him strong support for the struggles: 70% declared themselves in favor
of student demands, such as free higher education and the strengthening of public
education. Although the mobilizations failed to transform the education system, some
important but still insufficient reforms were put in place. In addition to these reforms,
the wave of mobilizations brought new forms of organization within the social movement and
the appearance of a new political subject.
It is in this context of mobilization that the " new left " managed to get organized and
get noticed by the media and the population. The young student directorates, now public
figures, have taken the lead in political renewal, creating or reinforcing the " new civic
left " movements that we know today. In 2016, a good part of these movements converged on
the Frente Amplio (FA) which, according to its declaration of principles, fights for " a
Chile for all, respectful of the environment, where the social rights are the basis of a
full democracy ", to which they add that" a society of rights will be possible only by
going beyond the neoliberal economic model ". It is the thesis of the " democratic break "
which, roughly speaking, denounces an insurmountable contradiction between democracy and
neoliberalism. In this sense, they recognize the impossibility of changing the neoliberal
system from the inside but they think that a democracy will not be possible unless the "
authoritarian enclaves " installed by the dictatorship are removed.
Their strategy is therefore to create the conditions for a democratic overflow of
neoliberal institutions by the combination of government actions and social mobilizations.
Behind this idea, there is the substitution of the class of social class by the concepts
of citizens and citizenship. Admittedly, the two libertarian communist movements that are
part of the coalition, Socialismo y libertad and Izquierda libertaria, continue to talk
about social classes, but for most of the FA the model of political subject remains the
student movement, a true modern myth of this new left . They see in the mobilized youths
the crystallization of the contradictions of the system, which is doubtful to say the
least. Even if in 2011 radical positions were expressed,
The thesis of the " democratic break "
Legitimate claims sought to make life harder under neoliberalism, to provide young people
with the tools they needed to succeed in the world of work. Access to quality public
education, free and unselected university would have enormously contributed to the
democratization of the country, but does this question capitalism as a mode of production
and neoliberalism as a mode of governance ? The idea that neoliberalism is a social
project - likely to oppose others, such as the democratic project - is itself a neoliberal
idea. With the FA, we are well within the limits of democratic neoliberalism, which indeed
exists, despite its theses.
The electoral aspect of this strategy has borne fruit: FA candidate in the presidential
election, Beatriz Sánchez, made a significant score of 20%. They also won 20 MPs, 1
senator, 4 mayors and 65 regional elected representatives. On the other hand, although the
social movement has succeeded in restoring some rights, including the partial
decriminalization of abortion and a scholarship system for students, it is not clear that
its transformative power can become revolutionary. It is not more obvious that this
corresponds to the strategy of the FA. The question that arises is not the possibility of
reforming the political system by electoral means, but the limits of this policy.
Unfortunately, only history can answer it.
Felipe (AL Paris Nord-Est)
Chilean libertarians and elections
It may surprise to see the movement Izquierda libertaria (IL, Left libertarian) to be part
of Frente Amplio (FA). How could a libertarian movement not only call for electoral
participation and subscribe to a government program, but also introduce candidates to
parliament ? How could he go so far as to use " For a free and sovereign Chile " as a
slogan while remaining a libertarian communist organization ? How are they arrived at this
policy, apparently far removed from libertarian ideas ?
According to Lucas Cifuentes, general secretary of IL and spokesman of the FA, during the
2011 movements, they " realized that, given the institutional construction of the
political system and the current state of the social movement, it was almost it is
impossible to produce an effective breakthrough that would enable Chileans to achieve not
only the goal of a more dignified life but also to pave the way for broader political
transformations . "
They declare having decided to " break into the electoral field and integrate it as a
front of struggle.[...]very aware that if we remain isolated, we will not be able to
produce a break and that it is therefore necessary not only to form an alliance with the
revolutionary left, socialist but also with some sectors of the progressive left with whom
we can have important agreements on the tasks of the present moment ". Everything is said,
if they did not give up the horizon of a libertarian communist society, they joined the FA
in its progressive and civic policy embodied in the thesis of " democratic rupture ".
Admittedly, they have exceeded the threshold of historical marginality of the libertarian
movement, but at what price ? Is this a simple mistake of appreciation or a conversion in
social democracy ? It is difficult to know, and it is only in the coming years that we can
There is Socialismo y libertad (MP-SOL), a split of IL, which has just published its "
political line " (see their website Mpsol.cl). In general, his position is not too far
from that of IL: they adhere to the thesis of democratic rupture and they too have
integrated the " electoral front " to their activities, but their position, much more
nuanced, makes it possible to reach an agreement with more radicalized sectors.
All the libertarians of Chile are not in the FA, notably Solidariad, close to Black Rose
Anarchist Federation (American organization close to Anarkismo.net). Despite the
predictable difficulties to lead a libertarian communist policy in a country like Chile
and also errors, they managed to settle down little by little like a reference classist of
self-management. The task is heavy, everything has to be built. It is a misfortune but
also a chance.
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