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Will the proposed Chilean Constitution be rejected?

2022-08-27 | Chile
Will the proposed Chilean Constitution be rejected?

The political crisis reopens

Boric's electoral triumph in the presidential elections of last December came to consecrate that of the "yes" in the referendum on the elaboration of a new constitution in October 2020. The new political expressions of the Chilean petty bourgeoisie were preparing to leave a lasting institutional imprint by leading the reform of the political apparatus of the Chilean bourgeoisie and the relegitimization of the state. Their strength: the banners of transversality with which they had managed to contain the class mobilization that broke out under the massive protests initiated by the contradictions of the petty bourgeoisie itself in October 2019.

Para una panorámica rápida de la crisis política y social chilena hasta el triunfo de Boric, lee también: Boric presidente de Chile: ¿Algo que celebrar?, 20/12/2021

Eight months later and only a week before the referendum, the proposed Constitution submitted by the Constitutional Convention is on the way to being rejected at the ballot box, the Pinochetist right wing -which only had 17 out of 154 representatives in the Convention- has recomposed itself around the rejection, and the Boric government is not making headway in polls that make the low 36% approval rating of last April look like a real honeymoon.

An "innovative" constitutional proposal

Elisa Loncón, president of the Chilean Constitutional Convention

Elisa Loncón, president of the Chilean Constitutional Convention

The constitutional proposal coming out of the Convention is a true monument to the political impotence of the petty bourgeoisie and the dysfunctionality of its ideologues. What they call "innovative" in the approved text is in reality the expression of the incompetence of the fractal identitarianism of intersectionality as an ideology capable of articulating the state in a coherent way.

The people becomes "made up of diverse nations" and defined by particular categories - "women, men, sexual and gender diversities and dissidences"-, granting rights to "natural persons", "nations" and "Nature", which thus goes from being an object of protection to being a constituent subject. But the list of political subjects does not end in the first articles, but rather is developed throughout the text. The nation would no longer be that union of abstract subjects (individuals) under common values and a common destiny (the direction of the bourgeoisie), but a conglomerate of particularisms struggling to survive as such under the care of a specialized petty bourgeoisie.

Chilean progressivism has attempted to convert the intersectional ideology of the third wave of Anglo-Saxon university feminism into the constitution of the state. Had they limited themselves to [South American indigenism] (https://es.communia.blog/bolivia-y-el-indigenismo-preguntas-de-los-lectores) the result would have been, at most, a distribution of power by ethnic quotas and with guaranteed chiefdoms, in the style of the constitution of Lebanon or Bolivia. But the bet is a fractalizing one and goes much further. For example, men and women are considered distinct political bodies that must be represented separately, not as a temporary corrective measure (positive discrimination), but as a balanced representation of an essential division prior to the state.

The logic of human rights which represented the universalist aspirations of the revolutionary bourgeoisie -and which played a radically progressive role in sweeping away feudal particularisms and privileges- is inverted: we are not before an abstract citizen with inalienable rights whom the state undertakes to defend in different situations, we are before subjects who are defined by those situations -from their sex or "sexual dissidence" to their age, being a student or suffering some eventual disability- and who thanks to these particularities are considered part of the body politic.

The result is a romantic, essentialist constitution, which leaves aside the definition of classical bourgeois individual rights, multiplies the constituent subjects, and treats sociological categories as substantive subjects of rights, which it considers essential, explicitly listing constitutional rights on the basis of them. It is therefore fundamentally reactionary: it restores particularisms to place them this time not under the feudal care but under the chieftainship of different factions of the petty bourgeoisie and their ideologues. The class interest is evident, as it is in all identitarian movements which, obviously, declare themselves transversal in order to frame downwards.

However, the bourgeoisie all over the planet today continues to maintain the universal character of legal rights in the organization of the state not only because of mere rhetoric. When articulating the discourses which legitimize the state, the ruling class does not forget that the ideological is subordinated to something very material: the distribution of power within its own ranks and its automated exercise through the judicial and bureaucratic machinery.

Something that apparently the poly-identitarianist petty bourgeoisie does not seem to be able to grasp. And which, in the Chilean case, is going to cost it, at least, the constitutional referendum. Because the very difficult workability of a legal text based on constituent intersectional identities has been demonstrated even before the text comes into force.

Boric goes to the war of the Arauco

Attack by a Mapuche group which derailed and burned a train in the Araucanía

Attack in November 2021 against a train in Araucaría, derailed and subsequently burned by a polarized Mapuche group

From the beginning it was clear that the process of relegitimization and reform of the political apparatus of the Chilean state was going to have its own graduation exam in the so-called Mapuche conflict. If poly-identitarianism was to be of any use, it was to frame the Mapuche sovereignty claims -which extended over not only Chilean but also Argentine territory- in forms and ways that would place them in relation to the state.

In the constituent Convention the original peoples had 17 reserved seats and it was a Mapuche representative who held the presidency. The final text not only considered the tribal chiefdoms as representatives of constituent subjects of the state, it gave them veto power over large productive investments, thus establishing a source of income for them on behalf of the multinationals. In addition, it based international relations on the defense of the right of self-determination of peoples and committed the state to "facilitate contact and cross-border cooperation between indigenous peoples".

But not all Mapuche nationalist groups recognized themselves in their supposedly conventional representatives, nor did they accept to stake the resolution of the conflict and their incomes on the outcome of the referendum. By the end of 2021 the situation had already gotten out of control. Piñera's last big measure as president, back in October of that year was to militarize the macro-South region... which did nothing but fuel the mobilizations of the so-called polarized and the violence of their actions.

When Boric formed government, the nods to Mapuche nationalism multiplied, the Minister of Interior and the official twitter accounts spoke of the "Wallmapu" imagined by indigenist nationalism and insinuated its future autonomy, in spite of generating inevitable conflict with Argentina which would house most of the supposed Mapuche "ancestral home". The Minister of the Interior, Siskia Siches, speaks openly of a future renationalization and handing over of the lands to the chiefdoms.

But the Mapuche groups settle their internal struggles by hitting the invader with more force than their competitors, and they know that the Chilean state rarely complies with mere declarations. The main Mapuche organization sends an ultimatum to Boric to which its competitors respond with arson attacks starting a spiral that leads in a few weeks to a 400% increase in violent actions.

With the machinery burnings in full swing generating the image of a failed state throughout the South, Boric finally makes up his mind and in mid-May militarizes the conflict zone again despite the tensions it generates within the Council of Ministers... which also fails to stop the violent actions, which escalate every month.

Last Wednesday carabinero forces detained Héctor Llaitul, top leader of the Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM). Although the organization is one of the champions of arson attacks and Llaitul had been calling all year for "armed resistance", he is only accused of timber theft and of violating the state security law... which allows the judicial outcome to swing freely according to political balances.

The scandal is served in the conservative media when word leaks out that an advisor to one of the cabinet ministers has contacted the detainee, something unimaginable without the President's approval, and the minister is immediately removed from the Moneda palace, who orders her to resign. Boric denies the major issue and puts all the blame on the shoulders of the outgoing minister.

But new leaks of the case against Llaitul appear with recordings of political conversations of the leader. In them it is clear that a good part of the Mapuche leadership does not believe that Boric will stand firm against the logging companies and the multinationals - and they are right - because "he is going to hang out with the economic groups". The hope that the constitutional process would placate and eventually bury the conflict in the South by itself, is definitely fading away. The German press calls it "the end of naivety".

The Chilean bourgeoisie, already from the beginning very reticent to Boric's identitarian display, and the part, in principle the majority, of the petty bourgeoisie which at first was in favor of the project of the new Constitution, begin to fear the disintegrating effect that the recognition of the Mapuche sovereignty could have on the state. The opinion polls show a further drop in support for the government, and with them the expectations of a favorable vote in the constitutional referendum.

What is coming

Boric at the closing of the campaign for the presidential elections

Next September 4 the state will place the ballot boxes. "Rejection" has all the chances of winning. With it the Chilean political crisis will enter a new stage in which, in all probability, the bourgeoisie will take into its own hands the reorganization of the state and the political apparatus.

It will do it with or without Boric as figurehead; placing him under the tutelage of the old popes of the Concertación or sending him to the sidelines until further notice; revamping in passing the right wing or inventing a regrouping that will reoccupy the historical place of the Christian Democracy. It does not matter.

International capital is sending a strong message: stability or the closure of the faucet of foreign investment. And the Chilean bourgeoisie, undisputed owner of a semi-colonial country which is not knowing how to take advantage of the turbulent global imperialist moment, cannot but listen to this message.