The terrifying hydra of global capitalism is still in charge
by Juan Carlos Chirgwin
Sadly, Chile is a good example where although people fight for new socio-political system, their struggle is thwarted time and time again.
The most important advances in favour of the common people, during the 20th century, occurred under the governments of Pedro Aguirre Cerda (1938/41), Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964 – 70) and Salvador Allende Gossens (1970 – 73). Social battles fought over those years brought positive and cumulative changes that meant better living conditions for millions of people, however life was still pretty hard for the poorer sections, and capitalists kept fighting back, now with increasing help from their international contacts.
The 1973 coup, military led by men trained under the USA “National Security” principles, staunchly supported by right-wing politicians, and big capital both national plus international, set out to transform radically the political and economic characteristics of the country.
The 1973 coup eliminated Parliament (Cámaras: Senado y Diputados), kept a docile Judiciary power, and self-appointed generals as Commanders of the Executive Power of the Nation that would rule the country for an indefinite period. It stripped the Sate of its original powers and obligations, and decreed that it would now assume a role as Subsidiary State in order to assist only when the military government thus required it, but otherwise having no political or economic role.
This was a significant blow to the social needs for education, health, social security, to name just a few areas vital to previous social welfare, because private interests would now take a prominent role in all such activities, and use them to extract profits. Furthermore, the state was to divest from its role in business activities in mines, agricultural, forestry, ocean and river ventures, and transfer possessions to private hands; similarly state-run industries, marketing ventures and transport businesses, would all be privatised.
Press, radio, television would be monitored by the executive power of the government and oriented to satisfy the needs of the new regime.
To summarise: all vital needs of individuals were under the control of the military government and remained so for 17 years.
Daily life for the majority was under the pressure of the new neo-liberal-conservative socio – economic order; the government ensured that salaries were reduced, and that jobs were insecure, thus making family income a great problem faced by all individuals, while employers could hire and fire at their discretion. Ever decreasing family salaries led to debt problems, and the capitalists took advantage even of this tragedy, by offering unrestricted access to credit.
Under such economic pressure on individuals, everyone took refuge by restricting their effort to solving only their personal problems and by focusing on optimising their individual purchasing capacity and getting ‘bargains’; on individualism and consumerism. Millions of people in Chile are now incapable of breaking away from this trap, and have accepted their condition of economic zombies. This might explain why it is so difficult now to propose alternative ideas to the people, to replace the current neo-liberal-conservative socio-economic system and start building, once again, a progressive movement that should ensure social justice.
In addition to all the miseries detailed above, once popular pressure, mainly in the last half of the military government, succeeded in rejecting Pinochet’s bid to continue as head of state in the 5 Oct. 1988 referendum. This set in motion a popular election that ended with P. Aylwin being elected president in December 1999.
The Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia began a new period that restored a system of “democratically” elected governments. Unfortunately, the strong grip of right-winged politicians, and fear of a return to military rule among the top leaders of the so called “Progressive parties” made them ignore previous agreements on key issues: One of them was to rescind the illegal 1980 Constitution and a number of other very important issues that could ensure political freedom in this democratic process.
All this led to the acceptance of running this new democracy by the rules of set by the 1980 Constitution and all its unalterable Constitutional package of laws, that included numerous Secret Laws. Thus, our long fought for democracy did not live to honour its name, and worst of all, progressive democratic parties that should have represented the interest of the people chose not to do so. This was a major blow to the traditional way of making a political career, and for the supporters of such politicians.
Chile is a good example of all the tricks used by capitalists and their imperial US allies, which they find necessary to use to keep extracting valuable surplus from all ranks among the working class of developing countries. Unfortunately, even though millions are quite aware of their scam, and their tactics – including coup d’etats like the one in Chile in 1973, the system changes whenever necessary to maintain control, like a terrifying hydra. There has not been the necessary strong world-wide opposition to liberate us from the scourge of capitalism. But we cannot give up; that long waited moment will eventually come.