A New Stage in Chile: The Need For a New Anti-Capitalist Left

By Mariano Rosa

The political process in the country is entering a new moment. The pact signed or endorsed by the entire parliamentary opposition and the ruling right wing shifts contradictions to the electoral level. The role of the parliamentary left: a historical ratification of its position. The enormous activism that carried out the revolutionary process and its perspectives. On what basis to build a new project of the Chilean left.

Revolutions put politics to the test. In 1970-73, in Chile, the Socialist Party (PS) and the Communist Party (PC) acted as the firefighters of the industrial cordones and the popular self-organization of the Supply Boards. They opposed the Congress and conciliation with the bourgeoisie to the independent self-determination of the masses. The MIR (Revolutionary Left Movement), from an ultra-left perspective, did not contribute either: against the genuine organizations of the working class, they opposed their artificial “communal commandos”, diluting workers within “popular” spaces at the service of the accumulation of their own apparatus. In the ’90 transition, the PS and the PC again activated a global agreement with the bourgeoisie and Pinochetism to guarantee impunity for the fascists and sustain neoliberal capitalism. That is how we got here.

Today, in 2019, faced with an impressive mass action that questions everything, that raises Piñera must go and Constituent Assembly as a way to change the bases of capitalist Chile, it is the Broad Front (FA) and again the PC, that save the lives of the Chilean political regime and bourgeoisie. But there is a gigantic reserve in the base of the process: in the youth for sure, and in the feminist movement, in the neighborhoods, and also in the working class. All the aspirations that mobilized that social bloc will be disappointed by a limited process of reforms carried out in collaboration with the right and the army.

Our forecast shows that, in Chile, we have to prepare for more class struggle, processes of political rupture and crises. In fact, a few hours after signing the agreement “for peace”, the FA is splitting and there are debates in the rank-and-file of the PC youth. The reformist and bureaucratic apparatuses creak, because Chile has changed and embarks on a new history.

Breaking With “Carabinero” Democracy and Neoliberal Capitalism

Beyond the pacts, the vitality of the process of struggle and the demands that caused it are still there, intact. Our hypothesis is that the agreement signed by all the traditional parties, which includes the Pinochetist right, will prevent the changes required to respond to the social demands that triggered the revolution from taking place. These are:
• No more AFP (private social security companies), and their replacement by a solidarity based social security system. This implies declaring the funds of the AFP companies of public utility and subject to expropriation without compensation.
• Free, universal and quality public education. Guaranteeing this means forgiving debts, expropriating banks that commercialize education and eliminating all state subsidies to the capitalist business of private education.
• No more job precariousness, distribution of work hours to ensure full employment and reduce the workday to 6 hours, with salaries equal to the real cost of living and automatically adjusted to real inflation. To ensure these rights, capitalist profitability, the parasitic appropriation of labor, must be abolished.
• The integral agenda of the feminist movement: legal abortion, gender violence law and budget, Integral Sex Education with a gender perspective. That is, to eradicate all economic and political privileges of the clerical-patriarchal lobby.
• Trial and punishment of the assassins of yesterday and today. Dismantling of the entire Pinochetist apparatus of repression and espionage. This requires creating a truly independent investigative commission, with organizations of families of the victims, human rights organizations and public figures independent of the old regime; as well as declassifying the archives of the dictatorship and contributing to ending all impunity.
• For a new model economic development, independent of corporations and their rapine and dispossession; free of logging and mega-mining, compatible with nature. This implies a profound change: expropriating big capital and planning production with the intervention of the working class.
• For the right to self-determination of native peoples. Demilitarization of their territories and recognition of their historical demands. This implies a plurinational Chile, and the expropriation of loggers and landowners.

• Dismantling of “carabinero” democracy, of privileges and repression. Abolition of the Senate, replacing it with a unicameral system with elective, recallable posts and salaries equivalent to that of a skilled worker. Mandatory use of public services by all elected representatives.
• Cancellation of all Free Trade Agreements ​​and other agreements of submission to imperialism. For an internationalist policy of solidarity cooperation with the peoples of the region and the world.

As you can see, the set of demands that the revolution raised in Chile has an answer, it has a way out. However, it necessarily implies an anti-capitalist confrontation and a transition to a different, socialist, economy and a different political model: a real democracy of the working class and the people.

Neither capitalism with a human face nor “radicalizing democracy”: a new system, a new political force

The dynamic that we explained above, between the demands of the struggle and the measures needed to satisfy them, leads to a necessary conclusion: there is no possible margin in this stage of capitalism – in Chile or anywhere – for positive reforms to ensure durable rights. Capital seeks to overcome its crisis by exploiting the working class and nature ever more: it is an intrinsic law. And far from expanding democracy, it restricts it, repressing the masses that defend their rights in order to ensure its profits. That is why capital, more than ever, tends towards dispossession, depredation and authoritarianism.

The pact consummated in Chile by all the traditional forces is based on the false illusions that the FA and the PC hold, according to which a “social capitalism with a human face” is possible, and we must “radicalize democracy to better fight against neo-liberalism.” They are justifying ideologies that uphold a strategy: to be left-wing political forces within the framework of capitalism and its institutions. This conception leads them to reconcile with the right, make pacts with the bourgeoisie and finally betray processes of mobilization like the current one. That is why the most right-wing forces that operate in defense of the regime do not lightly accept the most democratic plebiscite: the strength of the streets. Therefore, there is no possible reconciliation with them. They must be ousted from power through planned mass struggle, with the self-determination of the base and its coordination to concentrate energy in a single blow, in support of a program and a strategy: a new power, based on the democratic organizations of the working class and the people. To drive this strategy, we need a left wing project very different to the FA or the PC.

21st Century Internationalism

Capital and its political forces operate on the international field with a conclusive policy: to divide, wear down, obstruct. All at the service of avoiding what would be a fatal blow to the forces of capital: the unity of the working class and its struggles with an anti-capitalist and socialist strategy across all borders. That objective is more valid than ever. The whole “progressive” cycle of 2000-2008 in Latin America was a huge missed opportunity. There were favorable economic conditions and a massive social force to guide on a revolutionary path, but it was decided to pact with corporations and their local associates.

The current social and political polarization, the weakening of US imperialism and the correlation of force that corroborate the vitality of the masses throughout the world, offer a new cycle of opportunity to cut the link in the chain of rapine and dispossession. The key is a simultaneous movement to fight to build a political force with mass influence and achieve power in a country; and at the same time, to build a dynamic international organization that collaborates with a political framework, militant solidarity and effective material support, so that a revolutionary triumph that is achieved in one country, far from being isolated, can plan a determined orientation of “infecting” the region and the world.

The International Socialist League (ISL), composed of revolutionary forces from four continents, is built out of the living process of the class struggle through its national parties, organizations and groups. It contributes, advises, guides and supports the activity of each national organization with militant campaigns, in a democratic and enriching reciprocal process. In Chile, the teamwork carried out by the ISL and the Anticapitalist Movement, through its Argentine party, the MST (Socialist Workers Party), is proof of the validity and imperative need of militant internationalism. The project of a new left in Chile must include an active internationalism in the training of its cadres and militants, and in aiming to influence the best of the vanguard with that conception.

A Task For the Many: Turning Everything Around

The activity of these weeks has been intense, dizzying. Our group, the young Anticapitalist Movement, was forged in the streets, in assemblies, cabildos (town halls) and the powerful general strikes that cornered the regime. We met many outstanding fighters. We agree on crucial issues. Now, along with continuing the process of struggle, which has entered a new stage in the country, we want to frankly pose the need to build a new revolutionary, feminist, anti-capitalist, eco-socialist and internationalist force.

We speak especially to the hundreds who do not accept the pact from above engendered by the culprits of the “30 years” and their new accomplices. To the hundreds of activists who sympathized with the FA, and the revolution ended up revealing to them that this front offers nothing more than a new parliamentary frustration and has no higher aspiration than to occupy a seat in Congress and rub shoulders with the representatives of traditional politics. We do not want to renew the regime: we fight to dismantle it. We know that a lot of honest leftist activists with revolutionary aspirations trusted the FA and now ponder how to continue. Our proposal to them: let’s build a new political instrument together, taking the discussion of the causes and proposals that we develop above as a starting point. But staying open on our side to the clash of ideas, to the exchange of opinions, to synthesize positions to move forward without bureaucracy or personality cults, betting on the free debate of ideas.

We say the same to the young and critical rank-and-file PC militants that we have met, who do not share the perspective of a leadership that, in the end, always ends up caving in. Let’s build a new political reference together. And of course, the same goes to all the groups and forces that vindicate the same causes on the left. For our part, we intend to continue building with passion, with much renewed optimism in our class, in the youth, in our people, and in the ideas of a socialism with real democracy that guarantees rights and emancipation. We are aiming for a different story for our Chile, one written by the working class, the irreverent youth, the feminist movement, the people who fight. Let´s aim for the sky. The skies are taken by storm, without asking for permission. For a government of those who have never governed: the working class and the people.

The ex Nueva Mayoría (PC-PS) and the Frente Amplio

The Defenders of the Capitalist Institutional Order

The revolution that the youth, workers and the people of our country are carrying out does not stop and has managed to put 30 years of the regime inherited from the bloody dictatorship in check. Millions in the streets, assemblies, confrontation with repressive forces and clarity in the demands: Piñera must go and Constituent Assembly to end the regime. But not all the forces involved in the process seek to develop and strengthen the mechanisms for direct participation and mobilization. Some forces, consistent with their history, sought to divert the political initiative towards the regime´s outdated institutions from day one. Others, which had emerged as renovators, repeat the script of previous ones, ignoring the voice of the majorities. They are content with their role as “representatives” seeking at all costs to close the crisis with an agreement between leaderships and “manage” the voice of the streets from their parliamentary seats.
Against old and new reformists, in the revolutionary left, we defend the initiative of the working masses who have decided to end this regime of misery, repression and rapine and dive into the fight for a country of the 99%.

The PC Does Not Surprise

The Communist Party of Chile is as communist as Piñera is sensitive. It was one of the devices that guaranteed the Pinochet-led transition that gave rise to the current political regime. Forming part of capitalist governments such as that of the ex Nueva Mayoría, it dedicated itself to managing the state from the point of view of the bourgeoisie, supporting the handing over of all that was public to corporations.
In the current mobilization process, from the unions and organization that it leads and also from its own political leaders, its main orientation is to dismantle the mobilization and divert it into state institutions. It first avoided calling the general strike of Monday October 21, saying that the “conditions are not right.” Then it called the strike the following Wednesday and Thursday to recover the initiative from the popular outpouring in the streets.
They never left the Parliament and, after presenting a constitutional accusation against Piñera for the repression, they ended up leaving it aside to launch, right when social mobilization was peaking and assemblies were emerging throughout the country, a call for a plebiscite on a constitutional reform for December 15.

The Frente Amplio: Light Progressives in Times of Revolution

An expression of the discontent with the regime’s parties build up over many years, the Frente Amplio emerged in our country promising “new politics.” Mounted on the student struggles of 2011 and the beginning of the social upheaval of recent years, a series of diverse parties and groups, especially from the student movement and some splits from the PC, set up an electoral front that served as a channel of expression for a sector of the mass movement.
But the FA quickly made itself at home in the bourgeois institutions, refusing to incorporate sectors of the radical left or adopt mobilization as a method of political action. For example, they voted for the pro-imperialist Free Trade Agreements proposed by the Piñera government in Parliament.
When the insurrection began, the FA and the PC pronounced themselves against “violence”, pointing out that “Chile will not be changed with looting and fires”, when street fighting and mass mobilizations were precisely the methods that have paved the way.

To reposition themselves, Social Unity (FA-PC front) promoted the general strike of October 23 and 24, but trying to demobilize the second day and prioritizing parliamentary action to vote superficial laws in an attempt to calm the situation.
In the midst of the repression, while hundreds of cases of rape, forced disappearances, torture and thousands of arrests came to light, they proposed a “dialogue” with the new minister Blumel, in fact endorsing the farce of ministerial exchange with which Piñera tried to close the process. Similarly, Giorgio Jackson, one of the FA leaders, holds that “the accusation against the president is something that can, at least, make them understand that they have to be measured and controlled.” That is, at the height of the mobilization, with the majority demanding Piñera to resign, the FA understands that, at most, the government should be “measured and controlled,” as if the accumulation of human rights violations were not enough.
The intention to have a “dialogue” quickly materialized in a pact to save Piñera from falling when he was at his worst political moment, right when the general strike had cornered him and forced him to accept the need to change the Constitution. At that moment, the FA signed its capitulation to the promise of a process that would not begin until the first months of next year! A complete scam of the will of the mass struggle expressed in the streets and also an internal bomb, not even consulted with its own members.
A resounding sign that reformist and electoralist projects have very specific limits that they are not willing to overstep. We call on all the honest militants of these organizations to break with that project that proved to be profoundly conservative and undemocratic, and to build an authentic revolutionary force of the left in our country.

1. eldinamo.cl, 11/5/19.

2. “Frente Amplio y PC refuerzan condena a la violencia, pero critican al Ejecutivo”, latercera.com/política, 10/29/19.

3. “Frente Amplio llama a Blumel  conversar y adelantan propuesta de plabiscito ´que permita a la ciudadanía decidir los caminos´”, eldesconcierto.cl, 10/29/19.