Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chile Today Part 3 - The Radical Left

I have already written about the Chilean anarchist movement and will say no more about it here, other than to say it is an important part of the opposition to neoliberalism and the corporate state.

The Communist Party. Like other Communist Parties I have observed, the Chilean party seems to have benefitted in the long run, ideologically and in practice, from the collapse of the USSR. Freed from having to give support to the policies of an ever-more conservative Soviet bureaucracy, these parties now adapt to their own national situations. (It must be remembered that during the Unidad Popular days, the CP was a conservative force in that alliance.) These reformed CP's now attempt to become a voice for the trade unions and social movements and do not seem to engage in the sectarian practices of yore. They are now willing to unite with other forces more radical than themselves. Their actual politics are left-social democratic, making them far more radical than the contemporary socialist and social democratic parties, which, as we have seen, have been corrupted by neoliberalism. However, while more militant than before, the CP is still on the "moderate" wing of the radical left.

While visiting Chile the only large circulation newspaper I could find that was worth reading was El Siglo, the CP weekly. There may have been other socialist weeklies but I never found any, and El Siglo was sold at most kiosks.

The party plays a major role in the CUT, the main trade union federation. (There is much criticism of the CUT by anarchists and other radicals. For an example of a more militant labour federation see CGT Mosicam.) Graffitti evidence of the Young Communists abounds. The CP gets about 5% of the vote and due to the restrictive nature of the voting system has no seats in either the Senate or Chamber of Deputies. They do have a fairly large number of municipal councellors, however.

The MIR. During the UP years the MIR was the most promising revolutionary force. It had thousands of members and was involved in land and factory occupations as well as the occasional armed action. For this it won the implacable hatred of the Pinochetistas and many members were tortured and murdered. The party broke apart in the 1980's and more or less dissolved by 1989. It reformed in 1990 and gave up armed struggle in 1997. Its original policies were supposedly Castroist, however, from what I read now the group seems to have adopted a Bolivarian approach. (See below.) I think the group is rather small and only saw one MIR graffitti. MIR has united with a host of other parties and groups in a broad anti-neo-liberal front called Junto PODEMOS Mas .

Junto PODEMOS Mas unites most of the non-anarchist left – including the Communist Party. Its policies are Bolivarian or left-wing populist i.e., broadly anti-neoliberal, favoring direct democracy, return of national resources, social reforms, trade union rights, Latin American unity, and opposition to racism and sexism. (I should add that I find this desire for unity a very positive direction.) PODEMOS got about 7% in the election to the Chamber of Deputies, but as in the case of the CP did not get any seats. The following groups belong to this front:

Partido Humanista

Partido Comunista de Chile

Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR)

Movimiento Patriótico Manuel Rodríguez

Izquierda Socialista

Movimiento Por el Socialismo

Identidad Rodriguista

Movimiento Fuerza Ciudadana

Partido Comunista Chileno Acción Proletaria

Izquierda Cristiana

Partido Alternativa Socialista

Cambio Democrático

Comité de Defensa y Recuperación del Cobre

Frente Amplio de Profesionales de Izquierda

Asambleas Populares

Comité de Defensa de Derechos Humanos y Sindicales

Coordinadora Metropolitana de Usuarios de la Salud Publica

Corporación Urracas de Emaus, and 36 other social, trade union and environmental groups.

Partido Ecologista. In the early 1980's there was a reasonably strong Green tendency in Chile. I don't know what happened to it, but there are a number of ecological groups. And judging by the millions of plastic bags polluting the countryside, the air pollution and the clear cuts, they cannot be all that effective. Just recently, Chilean Greens came together to form the Partido Ecologista and will be running in the up-coming election.

Trotskyists. I saw no overt evidence of Trotskyism in Chile. I know that a Trotskyist party, the PRT does belong to PODEMOS. But it is not one of the major groupings of the tendency, and is a split-off from the horrible Healyite WRP! Indeed, there does not seem to be any Mandelist, ISO or IMT organizations in Chile. Of course, compared with Argentina, Peru or Bolivia, Trotskyism has been weak here. I think it might be due to the fact that strong movements to the left of the Communist Party have always existed in Chile and people who would otherwise become Trotskyists join these organizations instead.


Blogger Daniel Owen said...

Would you agree that anarchists and syndicalists are not on "the Left"? I certainly consider myself antipathetic to "leftism." The way I like to think of it is neither right nor left -- Forward!

4:19 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I don't like the term "left" either. But the only alternative that I can come up with is "progressive" which isn't what I mean exactly as it connotes a kind of vague liberalism. If you can find a general term to describe folks who are anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberalism, for putting the needs of the people ahead of profits and at the same time encompasses anarchists, socialists, old-time social democrats and left-populists, let me know and I will use it!

4:36 PM  
Blogger mollymew said...

I hope I am reading what you wrote wrongly. If the Partido Communista gets 5% of the vote and Podemos, of which it is part, gets 7% (in one election) then it suggests that the PC is the VASTLY dominant force in Podemos. Of course one could imagine that "5%" is an exaggeration. In EVERY election or just in one or a few ? If this vote is actually consistant I would give the proverbial snowball's chance in hell to the other groups in Podemos. If there is ONE thing the commies are good at it is persistance and bureaucratic manouevre. Take the case of Spain where the PCE has pretty well totally collapsed but still manages to control the CCOO. Or the French CGT and the PCF for that matter.
I'll agree with you that the commies (the "real commies" as I like to call them to differentiate them from left wing sects) can actually play a 'progressive" role in some situations. But is the Chilean PCC more like the Italians (and their present splinters) or more like the French and Spanish parties in their history and ways of acting ?
It's nice to see such parties "tamed" by the fall of their empire, but the best role I can see for them in our present world is as left-wing social democrats. Not a bad role I guess, but I certainly wouldn't try to outguess them in coalitions.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

These are figures for different situations. I am not sure how the coalition works electorally as the CP runs as an independent force in elections as well as being a member of PODEMOS. 7% is the average that PODEMOS got in the 2005 election to the chamber of deputies.

11:55 PM  
Blogger blackstone said...

I saw no overt evidence of Trotskyism in Chile.

That's always good news

6:34 AM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

The Lambert group in Brazil, had a split, and part went over to our group. It is because of the occupied factory movement in Venezuela, where we are a leading force.

We are starting in Chile.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Daniel: I identify with the Trotskyist movement, not the left in abstact.

I was at an antiwar demo last Saturday. No way do I support "leftist" currents as 9/11 conspiracies, impeach Cheney, Maoism or Iranian theocracy.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

"No way do I support "leftist" currents as 9/11 conspiracies, impeach Cheney, Maoism or Iranian theocracy."


I will have to go to the IMT site and read up about your Venezuelan group and the factory occupations...

3:12 PM  
Blogger Werner said...

Hello Larry,

I reposted the three parts of your Chile report in two posts. I asked about this before so I'm assuming that was okay.

3:18 PM  

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