My View of Marxism
From press conference, May 25, 1971
In his response to a reporter's question about his First Annual Message to the National Congress, Allende expresses his view of Marxism as "a method for interpreting history" and not a dogma. He also distinguishes Chile's democratic path to socialism from the notion of "a dictatorship of the proletariat."
Question (EFE Agency): Mr. President, in the Message to Congress on May 21 you had the opportunity to give the most complete definition yet of the political process that the country is going through. If I am not mistaken, you stated that it is the second model for a transition toward socialism. For some Marxist theorists your words could seem, from what I understand, somewhat heterodox. For others they are really a manifestation of the richness of the doctrine, that allows for this other manifestation. Given this, I would like to ask you to elaborate in relation to these two interpretations.
Salvador Allende: Your question, without a doubt, is very important. I must make it clear that I am not a theorist of Marxism. I am a man who has read some theorists of Marxism. However I do not have the arrogance to think that I am an authority on this matter. I am, however, pleased that what I have said has at least provoked some reflection. Not wanting to make wild or pedantic statements — but as a man who is not a theorist — I will say that Marxism is not a static thing; I believe it is a method to interpret history. It is not a recipe to be applied by a government. I intentionally said that some countries have gone through the so-called transition stage, what is termed as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Within this, there are two aspects: one political and one social. The political one is the dictatorship and the social one is the proletariat. We have changed here the dimension of dictatorship for a different tactic; but the other factor, the social one, is present. I have spoken, and I believe that it is difficult to use such terms in a bourgeois parliament, about the proletariat. I have spoken about the workers and I have said that this is a government of the workers. And, if you speak of workers, the most important factor, without argument, is the proletariat. Thus, I believe that orthodox Marxists will allow me this incursion, which does not pretend to theoretically set a doctrinal position, but rather shows what we believe to be a tactical application in accordance with Chilean reality. And if we broke with the virginity of the orthodox but got things done, then I would choose the latter.