Chile (translation)

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky nestor at SPAMsisurb.filo.uba.ar
Thu Sep 9 17:51:13 MDT 1999



List,

Julio's posting on Chile is so good that I will translate
it.

El  9 Sep 99 a las 18:22, Julio Fernandez Baraibar nos
dice(n):

James Blaut has had an excellent idea when he sent this
message by Andy Daitsman.

I fully agree with his:

> > I've never really liked the characterization of the
> > Pinochet regime as fascist,
>

The way I see it, the Pinochet regime was a civic-military
dictatorship, ideologically liberal, expression of the
great exporting bourgeoisie, the financial capital and
imperialism. But it was not Fascist.

[...]

In this sense, the Argentinian civic-military dictatorship
wasn't Fascist either. The Latin American Left, IMHO,
discovered that the word exerted a strong impact on the
European Left, and resorted to it liberally and with purely
propagandistic intentions. But the characterization lacks
any theoretical validity.

I do also agree with Daitsman's
>
> >  Still, fascism to me implies a prominent role for the
> >  state in mediating
> > labor-capital relations, particularly in the classic
> > cases of Italy and Spain (to which we could easily add
> > Brazil),
>
On Brazil, and if the author is referring to the Getulio
Vargas regime I am sorry not to agree with him. But this is
something to be discussed on a different opportunity.
>
> > where unions, albeit
> > state-controlled ones, were able to place
> > representatives in critical positions in the Ministry of
> > Labor and other organisms of state power.  In Chile,
> > that level of worker representation and state mediation
> > did not and does not exist.
>

>From the ideological viewpoint, Pinochet's regime was
liberal and conservative. These two ideologies, in fact,
were the ones that the Latin American ruling classes used
to build up their National States during the last decades
of the 19th. Century. The regime's ideas were basically
similar to those of Thatcherism in the United Kingdom. It
lacked any formal attribute of Fascism and of its content.
There was no demagogic or populist boiling over.

His provincian nationalism was the characteristic and
peculiar of the Chilean exporting bourgeoisie, that
transformed Chile into an enclave, producing for the world
market, deprived of domestic market, completely isolated of
the rest of Latin America. And that cut Bolivia off the
sea, and waged the war against Peru, serving exclusively
British interests.

Daitsman knows what he is saying when affirms that
>
> > In ideological terms, neoliberalism's emphasis on
> > individual equality taps into longstanding traditions in
> > Chilean political discourse.  This is an intensely
> > hierarchical society, with fairly rigid distinctions
> > between
> rich
> > and poor, yet from the time of independence that
> > hierarchy has been called into question.
>

We Argentinians find the Chilean society strange even
today. It lacks any form of democratization of everyday
life, it is intensely machista, patriarchal and
hyerarchical.  The distance between rich and poor, the
degree of subjection and the humbleness of the poor as
regards the rich in Chile calls our attention every time we
visit the country. Nestor, me, and some comrades use to say
that Chile lacks Peronism. With this we try to point to the
absence of a process of deep modernization of social
relations, of participation of the worker's syndicates in
politics, of integration of women to economic and political
activities, etc. We Argentinians find paradigmatic the kind
of relationships that take place, for example, with
servants at home. In fact, what one sees is a
pre-capitalist kind of relations, where the personal relation
has much more weight than the objective and impersonal
relations of capitalism.

[An aside by Nestor: this is strikingly clear in many
novels by Jose Donoso, for example]

> For much of the twentieth century, the egalitarian project
> > belonged to the left, at least on the level of
> discourse, but leftist > parties in their political
> practice reproduced hierarchical relations > between
> leadership and base.  In effect, leftist discourse put off
> the > implementation of egalitarian social relations until
> the achievement of a > mythical future utopia, creating
> immediate (if often unconscious) > dissatisfaction in its
> own working class base.
>

This I also find interesting. I have had an opportunity to
be a guest to the Chilean Left. There exists in Chile a
Leftist aristocracy; they can be Socialists, Communists or
Mirists, they carry high sounding Castilian and Basque
family names that belong to the class of the large
landowners, and who talk on "Pablo" [for Neruda],
"Salvador" [for Allende], or on the founder of the MIR
whose name I cannot remember now, in the same way that Gore
Vidal's heroins talk on Adams, Vanderbilt or Theodore Roosevelt.

England has had on this Left an influence as deep as the
one she had on the parties of the Right. Chilean Socialism
has had a British and Masonic tradition. Chicho Allende
himself was degree 33 in the pro-British Chilean Masonry,
and he shared the admiration for the "British way of
living" with his killer Pinochet.

This by Daitsman is, as I understand it, much richer than
the monotonous repetition of the senseless chatter on
Fascism:
>
> > In Chile, we've got the construction of a mass-based,
> > though highly
> brutal,
> > dictatorship on the multiple ruins of a failed leftist
> > project.  It's conceptually and organizationally
> > distinct from European fascism, and it provided the base
> > upon which the neoliberal revolution was built in the
> > first world.
>

On the other hand, Sam Pawlett told us that
>
> >   The Pinochet regime was Fascist pure and simple.Even a
> >   cursory glance
> > at the "thought" of Pinochet reveals someone who is a
> > militarist pure and simple. In Pinochet's little mind
> > everything is a war. "We are at war with Marxism", "we
> > are at war with communism", "We are at war with women
> > who wear long pants", "We are going to eliminate class
> > struggle" etc. etc. Pinochet does not believe in
> > parliamentry democracy, civil rights or civil liberties.
> > He says as much. He believes in military dictatorship
> > and nothing else.
>

This is exactly the kind of definition that turns the word
Fascism into an insult. Not every military regime is
Fascist, and Fascism was not _exactly_ a military regime.

>
> > Huh? Pinochet immmediately set up a new labor code, that
> > contained open shops, no right to strike, sectors
> > forbidden to unionize. Basically, workers had no legal
> > rights. This was enforced by the state. Chile is still
> > under a lot of the Pinochet labor laws. It wasn't until
> > 1979 with decree-laws no.2756&no. 2758 that miners,
> > after several bitter strikes,were allowed once again to
> > bargain collectively and to strike (with a 60 day
> > limit).
>

This is exactly why Daitsman is right. The Pinochet regime
did not generate forms of union presence at the core of
power, as it happened in classic Fascist regimes.
>
> > That's because the Chilean state forbid even that much
> > meagre representation. Too dangerous.
>

Sam, this is not an argument. We are discussing about if
the regime of Pinochet was or not fascist. If it forbid
even that much meager representation by the considerations
that you want, it was no fascist. It was another thing.

>
> > Nonsense. Chile had a strong socialist tradition and
> > culture which culminated in a revolutionary situation in
> > the 1970's. It had the largest Communist Party in Latin
> > America, the strongest unions,
>
This is nonsense. The largest Communist Party in Latin
America was the one that best heeded Moscow's orders in all
of Latin America (the Argentinian one excepted, but this is
a Guinness record case).  They ignored (and still ignore)
the whole issue of tha Latin American national question.
They consider Chile to be a nation in equal standing with
France or Germany. They display an overwhelming abstract
and sterile internationalism. And they suspect any
Argentinian who looks sympathetically on Peronism or does
not endlessly admire Borges.

[Some gossip: Julio not only does not "endlessly admire"
Borges, he has mockingly impersonated him in a satyrical
film]

During the 70s, the strongest worker unions of Latin
America were not the Chilean ones. The Argentinian were,
the Argentinian ones buttressed during the 40s and 50s by
Peronism. And I am not being a victim of provincian
chauvinism. I state this because the assertion implies a
deformation of the real power relation.

I have an anecdote here:

In 1991 I went to Santiago, invited by an University linked
with the Communist Party, already in crisis. One evening,
we were sitting in a bar, debating with some high officials
of the Communist Party's Youth the issue of demanding that
the new democratic government established relationships
with Cuba. I modestly exposed my point of view.
I said that it was a mistake to center the issue of
restablishing relations in the Socialist character of Cuba.
I believe that this implied a sterile ideologization of the
issue. I proposed them that the center would have to be the
re-establishment of diplomatic relations with EVERY
Latin American country, in the name of unity or of the
communality of interests, and that they would have to
propose the simultaneous restablishment of diplomatic
relations with Cuba and with BOLIVIA, a country with which
Chile does not keep relations since the Guano war (1880s),
when Chile took from Bolivia the outlet to the Pacific.
These Communists, who would eat a child if need be, stared
at me as if I was a Martian. One of them answered to me, as
when one explains something to a semi-moron: No, this is
not something we can propose. It would amount to go against
the interests of Chile!!!!

This is what a great part of the Chilean Left is like.

Julio F.B.









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