Go, Chile, go and win

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By VLADIMIR SAFATLE*

For nearly 50 years we have waited for this moment, knowing it would return. He's back, and this time there will be no more bombs that can stop us.

I ask permission to write for the first time in the first person singular, I apologize without knowing very well why this procedure was imposed on the subject in question. But there comes a time in life when you start to trust what you are not clear about, a bit like someone who accepts that spirit that Pascal once described as a mixture of inability to, at the same time, fully prove and completely abandon something.

I was born in Chile, months before the coup d'état that would overthrow Salvador Allende and establish not only one of the most bloodthirsty dictatorships in a continent where there was never a lack of blood flowing in the streets, but the world's first laboratory for a set of economic policies known as neoliberalism. , which would bring income concentration and economic death to populations across the globe. This mode of social management, which sells itself as a defender of freedom and individual autonomy, began with a coup d'état, disappearance of corpses, cut off hands and rape. Which says something about his true authoritarian essence.

My mother used to say that in the months when she was beginning to discover herself as a young 24-year-old mother, it was common to hear bombs exploding and gunshots in the streets. It was the last months of Salvador Allende's government. My father, who was the same age, had participated in the armed struggle against the Brazilian dictatorship in Marighella's group and had preferred to try to help, in whatever way it was, Allende's socialist experiment to accept his family's proposal and finish his studies in England. Powerless, like Boy Scouts watching a burning forest, they began their adult lives with a child and a catastrophe.

Salvador Allende's government was being stabbed from all sides. victim of lockouts financed by Richard Nixon and his macabre right-hand man Henry Kissinger, later lauded as a “great strategist” for achieving a handshake between his president and Mao-Tse Tung while sending the Chilean people to hell for 25 years. Allende looked like a Greek tragic figure. If Chile succeeded, the only country in history where a Marxist program of social transformation had been implemented by voting and respecting the rules of liberal democracy would show an irresistible path in a historical moment in which students and workers led insurrections in several central countries of global capitalism. Chile was the weak point of the Cold War, as it rehearsed a future that had been denied on several other occasions. There, for the first time, a radical socialism was attempted, which rejected the path of militarization of the political process.

In August 1973 the streets of Chile saw the first rehearsal of the coup that would come on 11/1973. Allende asks Congress for special powers to overcome the crisis. Congress refuses. They wanted the hit. In the March 2 elections, when it was expected that the right would have 3/44 to overthrow the president, the opposite happened, the Popular Unit grew and reached XNUMX% of the votes. The only way out would be the coup and my mother would continue to hear bombs and shots coming from the streets until the last day she was in Chile.

Then came the coup and we fled the country. For thirty years I didn't have the courage to go back. At home, there was a book with a picture of La Moneda Palace on fire. I grew up with that photo accompanying me, as if it announced that, try as we might, the bombs would return. As if our future were to beat us against a brutal force, with the age of the fire that burned colonized indigenous villages and that ends in speeches by presidents about to die that still find the strength to remind us that one day there would be great avenues in which we would see women and men at last breaking the chains of their own plunder. So, when in Brazil, the same ones we had fought against came back, none of that really surprised me.

As I said, I ended up going back thirty years later. The first thing I did was go to our old house in street Monseñor Eyzaguirre. When I arrived, the house had been demolished three months earlier. There were only ruins. For two hours I stood looking at the ruins. I no longer remember what I thought, nor do I remember if I actually thought of anything. I could now say some nonsense about Walter Benjamin, ruins, history, but it would be intellectually dishonest and I would like, at least for the moment, even as a professor of philosophy, to have a certain decency of thought. All I remember is the paralysis, the silence and the wind.

But after that moment, I found a way to make friends at Universities and start getting invited back. In one of those rounds, the year was 2006, I remember asking if they believed that something could happen in Chile. The answer was a categorical: no. The dictatorship had so naturalized the principles of entrepreneurship, individualism and competition that that generation did not even remember what “Chile” had once represented to the rest of the world. The murder had been perfect and the explanations made sense.

Well, two months later 500.000 students were on the streets in what became known as “The Penguin Revolt”. The students fought bravely against thepackages” for the end of neoliberalism and its hypocritical discourse of meritocracy, of freedom as the right to choose the best way to be despoiled and demanded the return of universal and free education. As always, what really counts catches us by surprise.

Years later, in 2011, a Tunisian immolated himself in a small town in Tunisia and triggered a series of revolts that went down in history as The Arab Spring. For me it was clear. Something started again and it wasn't the fire of the bombs that fell on La Moneda. It was the fire of someone who would rather see his body burn than submit to servitude again. I went to Tunisia, to Egypt and I came back understanding that it would be extinguished and lit many times. Which wouldn't make any difference. We would no longer demobilize in the face of its first extinction, because our time is not composed of instants, but of durations.

Then, in 2019, he started burning Chile again. While the government was shooting at its own population, killing more than 40 people, and blinding more than 300 from at least one sight, while the carabineros tried to stop the rage of a people that had been the object of the world's worst economic and political experiences, the fire burned, the statues of former conquerors burned.

And, against everything written in the books and taught to us in the newspapers, we won. Against those who seek to inoculate us with the poison of disbelief, we win. The Sebastián Piñera government had been forced to bend its knees before popular sovereignty in rage. He had to convene a new Constituent Assembly. That typically Chilean madness of breaking structures while respecting the rules had produced one of the most improbable political victories that a popular uprising had achieved in recent world history. They managed to implement a constitutional process that would go down in history as the first parity process and presided over by someone who opened the constitutional works speaking the language of those who had been historically destroyed and decimated by the colonizers, namely, the mapuches.

Well, but in these hours of enthusiasm someone should also remember the book 18th Brumaire, by Karl Marx. With his eyes on the 1848 revolution, Marx wanted to understand how a proletarian revolution ended up ending up in a restoration of the monarchy. Nearly a century on, Marx was laying the groundwork for a theory of fascism as the last handbrake of liberalism. For he insisted that every popular insurrection is accompanied by the emergence of a force of social regression. There are those who no longer feel concerned by the hitherto hegemonic forms of social reproduction of life, but there are those who will understand that the return to “peace and security” requires another form of rupture with the present, one that restores the same forces in power in its more overtly violent version. Wherever a molecular revolution is taking shape, there is a molecular counterrevolution lurking. Whoever opens the doors of indetermination must know how to deal with all the figures of denial.

And in the middle of the constitutional process there was a presidential election in which, in the first round, a fascist candidate won. This term has been so overused that we forget when it is analytically appropriate. José Antonio Kast is analytically a fascist, like Bolsonaro. Of course, there will always be those who, encouraged by an allegedly dispassionate speech, will say: “He is not a fascist, but a conservative”, “he sometimes crosses the line, but he can be controlled”, “Yes, he said some unacceptable things, but then he backs off.” Of course, because the retreat is just a way of getting society used to the “unacceptable things”, until they start to look like part of the landscape and are accepted.

In a continent where Nobel Prizes in Literature see no problem supporting daughters of dictators who, once again, conspire against elected governments, there will always be someone saying: “look, it's not like that”. Today, in Chile, every day some “analyst” appears to come out with some “technical” description about how Kast does not represent fascism. We saw the same thing with Bolsonaro. We were ridiculed by “analysts” for years when we said that technically, someone whose discourse is marked by the cult of violence, by militarism, by absolute indifference towards vulnerable groups, by a paranoid conception of the State that mobilizes immigration and identity as a phenomenon of social anguish, someone who depresses the criminal past of military dictatorships, who seeks to paralyze the process of institutionalizing popular sovereignty has only one name: fascist. And against it, societies do not have the right to temporize.

Kast's program is a war program, like Bolsonaro's. It is a question of pulling the handbrake of economic liberalism and unleashing all the forces that can modify bodies to the point of glorifying dictatorships. Kast was the first foreign leader to congratulate Bolsonaro on his victory. If Kast wins, a Latin American hub will be created, with Chile and Brazil as its poles. This axis reinforces reactionary positions as never before.

When Bolsonaro won, we could always hear those who said that power would “civilize” him, that all that was “electoral speech”, that the reality of the government was different, with its incessant negotiations. What impresses me most is how these people manage to keep their jobs. Or rather, no, none of that has really impressed me for a while. Fake news it has always been the rule. Those who complain today actually complain about the loss of a production monopoly, no more than that.

For all the history that resonates in this present moment, it is not difficult to see that what is at stake in Chile is not just an election. It is the ability to end a history of defeats and open a new sequence of struggles, with new political subjects. When, in 1780, José Gabriel Condorcanqui led the greatest indigenous revolt this continent has ever known, his intelligence made him understand that the first condition for victory was to rid the past of its melancholy.

In leading the uprising that swept through what is now Peru and Bolivia, he called himself Tupac Amaru II not out of "messianism" or anything academics like to use to discredit the popular force of the uprising. He did this because he understood that true struggles begin by reversing the defeats of the past, that it would be necessary to bring the name of the Inca king who had been killed by the Spaniards at the moment when servitude was inaugurated. Take that name out of the traumatic shadow of defeat. It would be necessary to put him back on the battlefront to silence the tears in the face of destruction. “I will come back and I will be millions”, as Tupac Amaru said. For the possibility of historical repetition is what transforms helplessness into courage. Courage to win, which it seems the left in most places has simply lost. When in the streets of Santiago, in 2019, the revolutionary songs of the 1970s returned to play, which reminded us that we must “stand up, sing, because we are going to triumph”, the same intelligence had returned to the political scene.

That's why this whole article was about saying something simple: Chile, go ahead. Go and win, this time with Gabriel Boric. This is not just an election. In real Chile, there are certain elections that are not just elections. For nearly 50 years we have waited for this moment, knowing it would return. He's back, and this time there will be no more bombs that can stop us.

*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 Country Brazil.

 

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