Chile – how to build a victory

John Dugger, Banner of Chile Will Win in Trafalgar Square, London.


The current Chilean victory is actually the victory of popular insurrections and the strength of historical repetitions

Those who believe that Chile, on the 19th of December, had a simple electoral victory are mistaken, that we are only seeing the so-called “democratic alternation” allegedly so rare among us. The open sequence in Chile preserves the unpredictability of real events. Because, at a time when the whole world is witnessing the rise of the extreme right, the Chilean victory shows a story that many tried to lead us to believe was definitely over: that of the victories of popular insurrections and the strength of historical repetitions.

We know of situations in which governments are elected and seek to use their electoral legitimacy to modify institutions and structures that have proven incapable of realizing popular aspirations for justice. But we had not yet seen the reverse process: namely, popular insurrections that begin by modifying institutions and laws to, in the midst of this process, boost the electoral rise of new governments. This change in the order of factors creates an unusual political dynamic. In these cases, the government does not exactly appear as the architect and conductor of the transformations. In fact, he will be something like the actor who will guarantee and enhance it.

Leftist Gabriel Boric's victory was not exactly due to the strength of his party's roots, but to its ability to allow the multiple forces in revolt to articulate and unify. To this end, the fact that the Chilean party left did not turn its back on the people when they defended themselves from police forces, counted their dozens of dead and burned the streets of Santiago in the outbreak of 2019. it goes without saying.

When it came to constituting an electoral front for the presidential elections, it did not try to endlessly repeat the mantra of “governability” that made Chile the governed country of an eternal alliance of the center-left and the center-right, the concertation. An alliance that served only to naturalize the neoliberal model as the only possible alternative, as if it were the case of eternally showing that all roads led to the same place.

Before, the party bases of the I appreciate the dignity of Gabriel Boric are the Frente Ampla, a group of parties ranging from autonomists to the libertarian left, and the Chilean Communist Party, the only traditional party that was not decimated at the polls – on the contrary, it grew. Their economic positions can be summarized in the idea, central to the presidential campaign, of transforming into rights what until now was treated as a commodity. As if it were a case of remembering the words of a sign on the streets of Santiago: “They made our needs their best business”.

Once again, the difference with Brazil could not be greater. Here, the discourse is sold that the model that Chileans rejected and buried would be the greatest political “cunning” for victory next year and the subsequent government. A bit like someone who believes that tying your own legs is the best way to go on long hikes. You forget that this was the same model that prevailed throughout the New Republic. It was not for lack of “broad fronts” that we got here. More likely it was because of his excess.

When he finished his victory speech, Boric said: "Go home with the healthy joy of the clean victory achieved". That sentence had ended another presidential victory speech, 50 years ago, proclaimed by Salvador Allende. Repeating those words was like saying: “We've been here before, with other bodies, other voices, but we've been here before”. Knowing that people have been here before, with the same enthusiasm, means remembering the desires that formed us and that, now, may return. We give this a specific name: history.

*Vladimir Safatle He is a professor of philosophy at USP. Author, among other books, of Ways of transforming worlds: Lacan, politics and emancipation (Authentic).

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul, on December 26, 2019.



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