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In Chile, a new bankruptcy of petty bourgeois democratic illusions
Yesterday the so-called "Chilean way to socialism" of the Allende government of the "Popular Unity" (gathering mainly the PS and the PC) was praised by the whole international left and extreme left.
Today the Chilean path to the reform of capitalism is praised by the entire Latin American left and far left; it has just suffered a resounding defeat in the constitutional referendum of early September.
In 1973, after the elections had brought the PU to power three years earlier in a situation of great social tension, the Chilean path finally led to a proletarian bloodbath with the coup d'état of general Pinochet: the left-wing parties and the collaborationist trade union organizations had led the unarmed proletarians to the slaughterhouse by calling on them to trust the army and the bourgeois state in the face of the threats of the extreme right and the so-called "golpist sectors". Didn't Allende name Pinochet Minister of the Interior because he was a "democrat"?
But, "democrats" or not, the function of the military and the army is to defend the bourgeois order; and when the reformists have exhausted their role of paralyzing the proletariat, they are swept away without hesitation by the bourgeois armed forces to let the iron heel crush the proletarians. The dictatorship not only caused thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of arrests and the generalization of torture by imposing a real regime of terror, but it also aggravated capitalist exploitation and pursued a policy of economic liberalization that caused a sharp increase in misery and inequality. Hundreds of thousands of Chileans were forced to emigrate for political reasons or for economic survival. However, this overexploitation of the labor force led after a few years to an undeniable economic growth; this allowed a return to democracy after 17 years of dictatorship. This smooth transition demonstrates once again that democracy and dictatorship are two forms of the bourgeois order that are interchangeable depending on the social situation, the power relations between the classes and the needs of the bourgeoisie's domination.
The new democracy inherited its economic and social policies from the dictatorship, which means that Chile remains the most unequal country in the OECD and one of the least endowed with social protection measures. This does not prevent, on the contrary, the economists to praise its economic successes and award it the palm of "economic stability"of Latin America.
However, in 2019 the economic crisis caught up with the country, causing a real social explosion. Triggered by an increase in transport fares in October of that year, it saw huge demonstrations violently repressed by the police. It culminated in a well-attended general strike on 12 November – but this was also the beginning of the end. Worried about the risk of the working class entering into a struggle on its own behalf, the opposition and government parties signed an "agreement for social peace and the new constitution" on the 15th.
Although it took the imposition of social control measures against the pandemic to put an end to the agitation, the democratic mirage, responding to the interclassism of the movement and fed by the political and trade union organizations of class collaboration, had its effect. A myriad of professional sectors, a long list of professors of private universities, notables, judges, lawyers, etc., along with the leaders of the movement, signed this pact, a pact that promised social peace and national unity.
There followed a veritable orgy of electoral opium: referendum on the principle of a new constitution to replace that of Pinochet (25/10/2020); elections to the Constituent Assembly (15-16/5/2021); presidential and parliamentary elections which saw the victory of the socialist Gabriel Boric supported in particular by the CP; constitutional referendum (4/9/2022)
This last referendum failed miserably: more than 60 per cent of voters (voting was compulsory) voted no, and the negative vote was particularly strong in working-class neighbourhoods and areas where the Mapuche indigenous population predominates. Yet the project provided for social measures and granted special rights to the indigenous population, according to the principle of "indianism," which places ethnic identity above social position and class membership.
The supporters of the project blame their defeat on powerful propaganda from the right-wing media. But this propaganda is anything but new; the reality is that this project, drafted by a petty-bourgeois assembly dominated by lawyers and professors, which wanted to establish a "social and democratic state of law," was not aimed at the proletarian masses, whose situation has continued to worsen under the new "left-wing" government (which includes right-wing ministers), which did not hesitate to send riot police against the strikers at a refinery last May. The statement of a Mapuche representative could be applied to proletarians in general: « What good do quotas do when many Mapuches don’t know how they’re going to put food on the table tomorrow? » (New York Times, 2/9/2022)
The result is largely explained by disillusionment with the left-wing government: instinctively, many proletarians felt that this referendum was window-dressing, while their difficulties are increasing with inflation officially above 14% in August and the increase in poverty that this brings.
If it was a defeat for the petty bourgeois dreams, this electoral overdose was however a success for the bourgeoisie which succeeded thanks to it to maintain the social peace.
But in the face of petty bourgeois illusions of reforming capitalism through elections and a good constitution, reality will remind us that capitalism cannot be reformed, it must be fought.
And for this fight, the history of Chile has shown that the most dangerous forces are the false friends of the "left", the false workers' and petty bourgeois parties, the organizations supporting class collaboration that are nothing more than the henchmen of the bourgeoisie. The Chilean proletariat paid a high price 50 years ago for having trusted them. It must remember this terrible lesson in order to prepare itself for future struggles by committing itself to the path of struggle and class organization.
This is the condition for it to be able not only to truly defend itself, but to avenge its martyrs tomorrow by ending not just a constitution, but capitalism and the bourgeois state in close union with the proletarians of all countries!
International Communist Party (Proletarian)
October, 10th 2022
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