Statement on Chile: Incomplete Promises of Development

Photo: Julien Vanhulst ( CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 )

Photo: Julien Vanhulst (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Statement by the Alternautas editorial board

The protests of October 2019 in Chile (and other Latin American countries) are bringing to light the long shadows of the capitalist development model and mass consumer society. These movements demonstrate the incapacity of capitalist democracies and modern consumption to fulfil their promises of peace, prosperity and liberty. On the contrary, these demonstrations show the multiple injustices perpetuated by capitalism: inequalities, exclusions, centralisms, concentration of power, repression, subalternisations, dehumanisation, alienation, extractivisms etc. They also reveal the disfunction of the institutions ostensibly designed to maintain “order” and “democracy”. Today, a multitude of people have arisen and marched to denounce this abusive system and injustice; the same system that we question at Alternautas under the name of “(re-)thinking development”.

In Chile, the marches strip the country of its veneer as the development success story, revealing the limits of the neoliberal development model. The Chilean people left their isolation in the private space to reclaim the public space, to realise a necessary transformation of the societal model and to begin to construct a (better) future for all. As with many countries of the South, the Chilean neoliberal model is functional for (and dependent upon) the global economy. It has sold the idea of progress contained by a Eurocentric and capital-centric iron cage. The technocratic “politics” has neutralised the political [lo politico], spaces for popular debate, in every domain (including work, education, health, the environment, energy, pensions); everything has become a question of calculations and the rational application of protocols, of positivist engineering, all of which permits the consolidation of the status quo.

Currently, the dark side of this world is being discovered: the reproduction of inequalities, of power asymmetries, the multiple dependencies and subalternisations, the corruption and the lack of legitimate representatives from the political classes, and the generalised deficit of democracy. All these situations have been neutralised by mechanisms of contemporary colonialism, well documented by the Latin American modernity/coloniality group, such as the “coloniality of power, of being, of knowledge”. The popular protests of this October challenge this naturalisation and the government has responded with criminalisation and repression in the name of the natural (naturalised) order, asking for the return of “normality”. The normality of whom? For whom? If messages have emerged speaking of the need for transformation, until now they have not translated into concrete changes.

From the start, Alternautas has been a platform to amplify and extend discussions on transition, propositions that seek to explore the possibilities for another “development”. The current protests resonate with these fundamentals insofar as they are not understood as a demand for further means of consumption and extended participation in a society of mass consumption, but rather as the construction of new utopias, or simply as the demand for the right to recuperate the capacity to dream of utopias, to think of the future outside of (neo)liberal capitalism, for everyone to have the possibility of living well [buen vivir].

In order to open up spaces and routes to think, construct and display practices of buen vivir we at Alternautas demand the following:

We strongly condemn:

  • The brutal repression perpetrated by the state against its citizens

  • The violation of human rights and its legitimation by the government and the military

  • The criminalisation of social movements that demand change

  • The passive attitude and silence of the representatives of the people in front of legitimate demands

We support:

  • The demand for a new Constitution written through a Constituent Assembly process

  • The profound transformation of the mechanisms of social solidarity, of socio-economic justice and the redistribution of wealth

  • The necessary critical reflection about the societal and cultural model that destroys human lives and our planet

  • The search for alternatives to development constructed by people, for people, from below

  • The demands for the deepening of democracy

To deepen this reflection, you can consult the following documents: