The Chilean Road to Socialism


Classes and Social Strata

The Popular Unity represents a coalition of parties that have their political base in certain classes of a rather complex Chilean social structure. To achieve socialist transformation, the Popular Unity attempts to build a firm strategic alliance between the working classes of the cities, agricultural workers, and the lesser sectors of the bourgeoisie to confront the dominant classes of Chilean society: the monopolistic bourgeoisie and their foreign capitalist allies, and the agrarian bourgeoisie and traditional landowners. One of the constituent political organizations of the Popular Unity, the Popular Action Unity Movement (MAPU), here provides a rather comprehensive descriptive analysis of Chilean social classes and strata. The utility of Marxist theory employed by MAPU is revealed in the way in which the descriptive class categories are used to analyze questions of alliances between different classes in relation to problems of revolutionary strategy and tactics.


Taken from Popular Action Unity Movement (MAPU),
El carácter de la revolución chilena (Santiago, 1971).

In order to be able to conduct successfully the revolutionary struggle of the Chilean people, we must know what the classes and class sectors are in today's Chile and why their interests differ. What follows is only an outline of an investigation we must constantly conduct.


All those owning capital are called bourgeoisie, or capitalists. "Capital" is not the same as money, a miser who keeps his money in a safe and does nothing with it except hoard it is not a capitalist; his wealth does not constitute capital. . . .

For someone to be a capitalist, or bourgeois, it is necessary that he purchase a labor force, use this labor force in activities that themselves produce products or that are necessary for production, and at the end of all this, increase the original invested value and invest a part of the new value in purchasing new means of production and labor.

Capitalists can be classified in various ways—for example: a) by the property connections existing among them, b) by the type of capital or means of production they possess, and c) by the amount of capital they own. According to the first criterion, we are able to distinguish between monopolistic and non-monopolistic bourgeoisie; according to the second criterion, among agrarian bourgeoisie, mining bourgeoisie, commercial bourgeoisie, manufacturing bourgeoisie, banking bourgeoisie, etc. (These latter distinctions often have little reality, because the capitalist is often at the same time the owner of banks, factories, and industries.) According to the criterion of the amount of capital, we can speak of large, medium, or small bourgeoisie.

It would appear suitable at present to distinguish at least the following sectors of the bourgeoisie in Chile.

1. The Monopolistic Bourgeoisie.

It consists of large owners of finance capital (finance capital is the union of industry and banking capital under the direction of the latter) grouped into economic clans and closely linked to the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries. These capitalists are a very small minority of the bourgeoisie, but they are the owners of the most important sectors of the country, including factories, insurance companies, banks, and large commercial companies. Many of them are also large landowners, and all of them are closely dependent in their business operations on the foreign bourgeoisie, especially the North American, which is still the owner of the large-scale copper-nuriing enterprises and many important industries in our country. For this reason, the monopolistic bourgeoisie have absolutely no national Chilean interests, but instead their interests are those of the anti-national imperialist bourgeoisie; in order to deceive the proletariat, however, they have named the chief party to which they belong (which is not their only instrument) the "National Party." Together with imperialism, the monopolistic bourgeoisie is the chief enemy of the proletariat, the revolution, and the Chilean people, and the principal beneficiary of the capitalist regime still ruling our country. The Popular Unity has declared that the industries, banks, etc. of this bourgeoisie should pass into the hands of all Chileans through the people's state.

2. The Large Agrarian Bourgeoisie (Modern).

This sector of the bourgeoisie consists of agrarian capitalists who cultivate their farms intensively with the use of machinery and other modern means of production and pay cash salaries to their laborers. Their farms are highly profitable and generally well exploited. They also usually have urban industrial properties, and their interests coincide with those of the traditional landowners and the monopolistic bourgeoisie. The political expression of this sector tends to be the National Party or the Radical Democrats, and it is also an enemy of the people to be expropriated by the people's government.

3. The Large Landowners (Traditional).

This is the oldest branch of the oligarchy, whose traditional political expression was the old Conservative Party and today is integrated with the Liberal Party (which at first included businessmen and bankers) in the National Party. They are the owners of the large estates that are being expropriated by the Ministry of Agriculture, directed by Compañero Chonchol. These landowners have always been characterized by their aristocratic delirium, which has led them to live a grand life of leisure in the cities while their estates were being run by administrators or foremen who worked the land by means of a pitiless exploitation of rural labor, to whom not money but a hut and a small piece of land were paid—with almost no capital investment. The program of the Popular Unity is directed to the total disappearance as a class of both the large agrarian bourgeoisie (modern) and the traditional landowners by means of the serious carrying out of agrarian reform. Together with the monopolistic bourgeoisie and imperialism, these classes constitute one of the three fundamental enemies of the Chilean people.

4. The Large Urban Non-monopolistic Bourgeoisie.

They are the owners of the large and/or modern industrial and commercial concerns that do not belong to the monopolistic sector and generally are located in the branches producing or distributing consumer items. This bourgeois sector has also borne the weight of the monopolies on its shoulders. Not infrequently, however, it joined up with them and with foreign capital, so that it would be difficult to ally this sector with the proletariat (although it could be neutralized by certain measures such as mixed enterprise, for example). . . . This sector is a potential if undeclared enemy of the proletariat, and it will be necessary to be on guard against it. Many of these capitalists express themselves politically through the Christian Democratic Right, the Radical Democrats, or the National Party.

5. The Small and Medium Urban Bourgeoisie.

These are the owners of small industrial and commercial concerns or industries of somewhat backward technology and low income return. This sector of the bourgeoisie is the one that bears the entire weight of the monopolies, being subordinate to and exploited by them, credit is not granted to them, they are heavily taxed, their production costs are high, their markets are restricted, and attempts are made to eliminate them from the bourgeois class. These medium and small capitalists thus have interests opposed to those of imperialism, the monopolistic bourgeoisie, the large agrarian bourgeoisie (modern) and the traditional landowners. They can therefore be allies of the proletariat in its struggle against the principal enemies, and the people's government should aid them by granting them credit, tax exemptions, production agreements, etc. Many of these industrialists express themselves politically in the Christian Democrats, Radicals, Radical Democrats, Social Democrats, and the Popular Independent Action Party. However, these small and middle-size concerns fundamentally depend on the monopolies in order to function, and the people's government will not be able to aid them effectively and thereby strengthen its alliance with them as long as it does not control monopolistic and large companies. In the current situation, it is known that these small and medium capitalists are the ones suffering the most anxieties within their class, reaching the border of bankruptcy, which seriously threatens their alliance with the proletariat and makes joint and rapid action against the monopolistic bourgeoisie, imperialism, and the landowners an urgent necessity.

6. The Middle and Small Agrarian Bourgeoisie.

These are owners of farms containing less than eighty basic hectares, representing a sector that could be gained by the proletariat as a tactical ally or at least neutralized. Like the middle and small urban bourgeoisie, this division is exploited by the large agrarian bourgeoisie, the landowners and fundamentally the monopolistic bourgeoisie, on whom they depend for products, credit, and the marketing of their products.


The petty bourgeoisie is the social class consisting of all owners of means directly or indirectly used in production and who work independently. The petty bourgeoisie is neither bourgeois nor proletarian, and it is very important not to confuse it with the small bourgeoisie. The latter, as has already been stated, are the capitalists possessing small companies in which outside labor power is purchased and the capital is reproduced and increased, so that they form part of the bourgeoisie. On the other hand, the petty bourgeoisie does not possess its own capital; it is possible that some workers may contract to work for a salary along with their families, but a value greater than that invested in means of production, wages, and their own consumption is not obtained thereby. Since it is an intermediate class between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie has contradictory interests; on the one hand, it aspires to become wealthy and thus acquire capital, making it possible to convert into bourgeoisie, and on the other hand it finds itself constantly more oppressed and enslaved by the bourgeoisie, which tries to convert it into the proletariat. The outlook of the petty bourgeoisie thus fluctuates between capitalist and proletarian viewpoints, which can be decided in one direction or the other according to circumstances. The petty bourgeoisie is therefore always unstable, and it is never possible to entrust revolutionary leadership to it. The stability and strength of an alliance with the petty bourgeoisie depends on leadership by the proletariat. Nevertheless the proletariat should consider the petty bourgeoisie its principal and natural ally. Due to its inherent ambiguity, the petty bourgeoisie can be found in any party. At present, however, it is found mostly in the leftist parties. . . . This is not a fortuitous situation but instead demonstrates a phenomenon affecting it as a class: its enslavement by the bourgeoisie drives it more and more to proletarization. . . .

1. The Urban Petty Bourgeoisie.

These are the owners or tenants of small artisan industries, stores, or businesses that yield only what is necessary for life, and who themselves work with their families and friends or by contracting with a few workers or employees. . . . They constitute a mass of independent workers whose poorest strata frequently convert into semi-proletarians, since their very poor living conditions oblige them to work part time as salaried labor. They are an important ally, which the proletariat should attempt to win over completely.

2. The Agrarian Petty Bourgeoisie.

This consists of sharecroppers, tenant farmers, reservation Mapuche Indians, farmers of tiny plots, etc., who cultivate the land with their families or with some hired person. The petty agrarian bourgeoisie has been exploited by the landlords and the monopolistic bourgeoisie; its poorest strata are sometimes converted into semi-proletarians, since they work part time as laborers or sharecroppers on the large estates. . . .

3. The Professional Petty Bourgeoisie.

These are professionals, especially university graduates, who practice their professions "liberally" without being employees or salaried workers. These professionals are the owners of certain work instruments and offices which serve as direct or indirect means of production; they defend their property through trade organizations called "professional associations." They constitute a sector of the petty bourgeoisie, and they include most attorneys, some physicians and architects, a considerable sector of the engineers, artists, writers, etc.; in fact, a considerable portion of the intelligentsia. This section of the petty bourgeoisie is very important, since on the one hand it tends to coincide in values with the bourgeoisie due to its privileged status, and on the other hand the knowledge it possesses puts it in a better position to assimilate revolutionary theory and join the proletariat, some of its members even becoming leaders of proletarian parties. It should not be forgotten that Marx, Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, and many other proletarian leaders came from this sector of the petty bourgeoisie.


The proletariat, or working class, is formed by all those exhibiting the following characteristics: a) They are not owners of anything used to produce anything else; i.e., they are not de facto owners, renters, or occupants of any means of production, b) For this reason, they are compelled to sell their physical of intellectual energy to others in exchange for a remuneration making it possible for them to live, i.e., they sell their labor power for money. c) They participate in some phase of the production process of the entire society either as direct producers (who convert a raw material into a product) or as indirect producers (who collaborate in the planning and organizing of work, in publicity, in the transportation and distribution or goods, in sales and purchases, in the communications necessary for production, in payments and loans of money, etc.).

Since it does not have means of production, the proletariat is always obliged to work for the bourgeoisie, and its class interests are therefore completely opposed to those of the bourgeoisie. At the same time, since it is the only social class that does not own any means of production, the proletariat is the only class that does not have any type of interests finking it to private property of the means of production and is therefore the only one in a position to direct a revolutionary process precisely oriented to the destruction of all private control over those means. The proletariat is therefore the only class capable of carrying out a revolution leading to the collective appropriation of the means of production on the part of all the workers. It is convenient to distinguish the following strata of the proletariat in Chile at this time.

1. The Workers in Large and Monopolistic Industries.

This is the oldest, best organized, and most class-conscious sector of the proletariat, at this time clearly constituting the vanguard of the class. The copper, sodium nitrate, coal, and dock workers' unions were the ones who began the struggle of the working class with the large-scale strikes at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, and they had to endure the massacres ordered by the bourgeoisie one after the other. They predominated the most intense chapters of our class struggle, and for that reason they have the most developed knowledge, experience, and traditions of the working class; they consequently represent the vanguard. To this old historical trunk it is now necessary to add the workers in the new large monopolistic and state industries who have also succeeded in building up strong union organizations through hard struggles. Due to the characteristics cited, this sector of the proletariat, which makes up the fundamental nucleus of the Central Workers' Union, the Communist Party, and in part the Socialist Party, is in the best position to press forward on behalf of its interests and has therefore obtained salary levels higher than those of less organized workers. As the current vanguard of the proletariat, it has all the good qualities derived from its combative history, its class consciousness, and its organic solidity; however, if its political vanguard does not struggle against tendencies toward bureaucracy and the maintenance of certain privileges in comparison with the other manual laborers, serious distortions may occur in the future. It is the duty of MAPU to conquer positions in this sector of the proletariat.

2. The Workers in Small and Medium Industries.

This sector represents one of the largest divisions of the working class, including many more workers than those in the large industries. It consists of workers in medium and small industries, which have higher costs and where unions are relatively small or do not even exist; it is thus in a bad position for pressing struggles for better wages and working conditions. For the same reason, their work stability is not very great, reaching an extreme case in the construction field, where layoffs are a constant threat. Due to their lack of organization, these workers also have a low political-consciousness level, and their class consciousness is not very high. The bourgeoisie has made every effort to prevent this sector of the proletariat from acquiring strength; it has opposed the formation of unions by industry sector instead of by plant and has tried to place these unions in opposition to those of the large industries. This fraction of the proletariat has few ties with political parties, but recently the Socialist Party, MAPU, and some small groups have conquered positions there. In the present setup, the workers of this sector are those who suffer most from the production boycott imposed by the monopolies, which causes layoffs and social conflicts at the level of small and medium industries and sharpens the contradictions between the workers and their employers, putting difficulties in the way of the alliance possibilities put forward by the popular government. The basic situation has no apparent solution except for a rapid and frontal struggle against the monopolistic bourgeoisie. MAPU should pay particular attention to working with this faction of the proletariat, organizing it and raising its political and class consciousness.

3. Farm Workers.

They are the hired hands and other field workers hired for wages particularly to work the lands of the agrarian bourgeoisie. Until recently, they had almost no unions, and their living conditions were miserable in comparison with those in the city. The incentive for organizing farm workers and for agrarian reform started from the time of Frei's government and considerably changed matters. Agricultural unions are now multiplying, and many of these workers are finding political expression in the Christian Democratic Party, MAPU, the CP, the SP, and MIR. Since these farm workers have always been treated as workers, they are the ones most identified with the general interests of their class. Their struggle is not for private ownership of the land, and therefore they do not aspire to convert into agrarian petty bourgeoisie. For these reasons, they are the vanguard of the proletariat in the fields.

4. Sharecroppers. [1]

These workers receive only a part of their wages in money, the remainder consisting of products, certain privileges, and the possibility of using some piece of land. Due to these characteristics, and in spite of being the most exploited rural sector, sharecroppers feel themselves to be personally connected with the owners. When they acquire class consciousness and are not yet unionized, their struggle is not so much for the destruction of all private property of the means of production as for obtaining private ownership of some piece of land. The Christian Democrats, dedicated to developing a new bourgeoisie and agrarian petty bourgeoisie, skillfully exploit these class characteristics of the sharecroppers. The development of capitalism in the country has produced the transformation of many traditional landlords into modern agrarian capitalists and the progressive proletarization of the sharecroppers.

5. The White-Collar Proletariat.

These are the so-called "employees" who work in the administrative sector of private or state industries, in banks, stores, etc. Since they sell labor power that is more intellectual than manual, the bourgeoisie has attempted and in part succeeded in convincing them that they are a separate class superior to that of the workers, and has even brought about a legal difference between workers and employees. This is clearly a simple deception on the part of the bourgeoisie, whereby an attempt is made to divide the proletariat and turn some against others in the different sectors. The bourgeois ideology has succeeded in its aim to the extent that it has not only imbued attitudes of superiority in these employees, but certain manual laborers who until yesterday were "workers" have also attempted to change their designation in favor of being called "employees." The power of this deceit reaches such a degree that even some revolutionary parties have classified these employees as "petty bourgeoisie." The truth is that they are not petty bourgeoisie by any means, although in their way of life and thought they frequently appear to be assimilated to the petty bourgeoisie. They are proletarians; they are people who can live only by selling their intellectual power. This white-collar proletariat is at present enormously influenced by the bourgeois ideology and still tends to despise union organization and politics, but they too are gradually beginning to realize their actual class situation. Some have become active in the Christian Democratic, Radical, Socialist, Communist, and MAPU parties. It is the duty of the most advanced sectors of the proletariat and their political vanguards to assist the employees in this process of acquiring consciousness. Abolition of the legal discrimination between workers and employees would be a step forward in this direction.

6. The Professional Proletariat.

This group consists of salaried persons selling a relatively scarce labor power; i.e., they are highly qualified and are therefore in a position to obtain quite high remuneration. Examples include the engineers and technicians working as common employees (not as managers or highly placed supervisors) in major industry and private or state economic institutions, computer programmers, hospital nurses, teachers, etc. All these professionals have in common with the professional petty bourgeoisie the possession of certain special knowledge or abilities, but they differ in that they use this knowledge not as their own means of production but as an integral part of a qualified labor force selling it in exchange for a salary. Sectors are involved who "normally" would have belonged to the petty bourgeoisie but found themselves obliged to be converted into proletariat because the development of productive forces organizes offices and professions in constantly more socialized ways; this same development (including education) has caused them to be constantly less scarce and more competitive. Consequently, the "professional proletariat" tends to coincide ideologically with the petty bourgeoisie from which it comes or into which it cannot yet be incorporated. However, it is progressively becoming aware of its actual class position and is even organizing itself in unions, realizing the ineffectiveness of the professional associations. Since this is the most intellectualized stratum of the proletariat, it is the duty of the more advanced strata to help it acquire consciousness and win it over to the common struggle of the entire class. For this reason, it is necessary to take care in applying certain salary levels or consumer orientation standards which could arouse resistance in this sector of the proletariat. The professional proletariat today finds its political outlets mostly in the National Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Radical Party rather than in the Socialist, Communist, and MAPU parties; it is necessary to win this sector for Popular Unity.

7. The Subproletariat.

This is formed by the mass of people in the large cities and also in the country who are temporarily unemployed or semi-unemployed as a result of Chile's dependence on imperialist capital, which restricts and distorts the development of our productive force. They make up a large part of the so-called "settlers" of the marginal zones of Santiago and other cities. They do not make stable contributions to production, since they have only occasional jobs. They are actually the "reserve army" of the proletariat, participating in production only when it attains a rapid growth rate. The sector is at the limit of what a social class is and is not. It is the duty of the proletarian vanguard to organize the subproletariat, offer it concrete and objective solutions for struggle, and prevent it from being won over by the bourgeoisie due to its instability.


Social classes are groupings of people according to their relation to the means of production. There are some sectors of the population that do not participate in production directly or indirectly; i.e., they do not convert a certain raw material into a product or conduct other activities necessary for doing so. Among the social strata that are not classes, it is possible to distinguish the following in Chile.

1. The Upper Management Bureaucrats.

These are the high-category employees who carry out co-ordinating functions in the protection of the interests of the ruling class. Managers, high-level supervisors, in general the upper stratum of private business and state hierarchies, are involved. It is believed by some that the management bureaucrats could be classified as a proletarian stratum due to the fact that their income, although very high, is in the form of a salary, i.e., remuneration for work and not income from capital. In reality, however, such "workers" are quite special, since they contract precisely for rationally and efficiently organizing the exploitation of the other workers. They hold the delegated authority of capital, the mandate of the capitalists, over them. This gives them the power to decide the life and death of each exploited person, which no proletarian could have, by definition. They frequently play a technical part in production, for example by planning, controlling, co-ordinating, supervising, etc. However, it is their social function as "guardians" of capital that essentially defines them as a social layer whose interests are absolutely identified with the bourgeoisie even though they are not strictly bourgeois. Now that there is a popular government and the class nature of the state and consequently of the state enterprises begins to change, the features of the upper management bureaucrats also begin to change. The administrators of the state enterprises in fact no longer have a mandate from the capitalists but from the popular government and through it from the people itself. This mandate cannot be executed autocratically against the workers but should be executed with the workers, who collaborate with it and control it. The fact that the upper management bureaucrats constitute not a social class with its own interests but a social layer that can put itself at the service of one class or another makes it possible for some of its members, who used to serve the bourgeoisie, now to serve the proletariat. Everything depends on their adaptability, since by themselves they are not objectively connected to any class.

2. The High-ranking State Bureaucrats.

These are the highest-ranking employees, who direct the state apparatus. They include ministers and undersecretaries, department heads, magistrates in the higher courts, high commands of the Armed Forces, etc. This stratum, like the foregoing one, receives its mandate directly from the ruling class and is absolutely identified with its interests. They are extremely sensitive to the smallest incidents in the struggle for power. For example, the conflict among different divisions of the ruling class was traditionally reflected both in the almost permanent rotation of the high-ranking state bureaucrats and in the government changes. In a transition period such as presently exists in Chile, in which classes are openly struggling for hegemony, the contradictions are much more marked in the high-ranking state bureaucrats—for example, in conflict between the Executive and the Supreme Court.

3. The State Civil Bureaucrats.

These are employees in the public administration who maintain the state apparatus in its properly political functions without direct or indirect relation to production. The development of capitalism has required a constantly more extensive intervention in the productive expansion of the bourgeoisie up to the point that now the state apparatus units connected with production (trust funds, the Development Corporation, ministries of Economy, Agriculture, Public Works, etc.) are much more extensive than actual political units (Foreign Office, ministries of the Interior, Justice, Defense, etc.). In the former, the penetration of capitalism proletarianized the "functionaries," since it made them direct or indirect producers of capital (see white-collar proletariat). On the other hand, employees performing non-productive functions continue being a non-proletarian salaried stratum. By means of political influence in all parties, the bureaucrats have secured privileged positions in comparison with other workers, which generally tend to protect them from the extreme instability of the high-ranking state bureaucrats, e.g., non-removability in position, automatic promotion due to years of service, etc. Consequently, they can be allied with the proletariat or with the bourgeoisie according to which gives them the more security. In this sense, they have an ideology similar to that of the petty bourgeoisie, which has led some parties to classify them as a stratum of the petty bourgeoisie. The proletariat must consider this social stratum as an ally which should gradually be incorporated into the proletariat. It is therefore very important to make this sector understand that the destruction of the bourgeois state will not necessarily endanger its social situation. The state civil bureaucrats form the bulk of the Radical and Christian Democratic parties and part of the Socialist Party, although they are also represented in the National and the Communist parties.

4. The Armed Forces.

Soldiers were historically the first group to receive wages; the Spanish word sueldo (salary) comes precisely from this source. However, in spite of being salaried, the members of the Armed Forces are not proletarians. In fact, with few exceptions (traffic police, etc.), they do not participate in the productive process. The state does not purchase their labor power to obtain financial gain; rather it purchases from the Armed Forces their professional services. The Armed Forces do not sell their services to any private individual but to the ruling class as a whole, and their interests therefore tend to coincide with those of that ruling class; they are the material basis of the power of that class. In Chile's present critical political period, however, it is not clear which is the ruling class, or who will finally control the state. The Popular Unity parties have constitutionally attained Executive power, but they do not control Legislative or Judicial power. If we consider their interests only as a body, the Armed Forces should tend to coincide with the government, but on the other hand there are small groups of officers who could be inclined to defend the interests of the bourgeoisie, to which they are connected by family and social ties. In Chile, the troops, who have connections with the proletariat, have not had access to political discussion and do not even have the right to vote. This prevents them from actually participating in the national development process. The right to vote is an important right to obtain for all soldiers, not only for the officers.

5. The Students.

Students do not belong to any social class, since they do not participate in production but are preparing for it. However, belonging to a class is one thing, and the class position adhered to, i.e., the class of ideological attachment, is another. Class position in this case depends on a) family connections, i.e., the class to which the family belongs; b) the activity or profession to be followed upon concluding studies, i.e., what class the graduate wants to join; and c) the ideological influence the proletariat and the bourgeoisie can exert through teachers, compaheros, etc.

If we limit ourselves to university students, we see that generally their connections are bourgeois, petty bourgeois, or belonging to the higher layers of the proletariat or bureaucracy. On the other hand, the professions they study for belong to the petty bourgeoisie and professional proletariat. It is therefore not strange that many students assume bourgeois and petty-bourgeois positions on finishing their studies. Others, however, identify with proletarian positions through their ideological development. These characteristics make students an unstable element when they have not been educated politically. It is the duty of the proletarian vanguard to win the students to their cause and to seek a contact between students and workers to facilitate their proletarization.

6. Domestic Servants.

These include cooks, nurses, companions, housekeepers, private chauffeurs, stewards, and other salaried personnel working in the houses of the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, and even some well-off strata of the proletariat. These workers receive a salary in exchange for a service that directly contributes to the consumption of their employers and not any production phase. ... It is a very different matter when, for example, a restaurant contracts for a cook; in this case, the labor power of the cook is used to produce a dish that is not to be eaten by the owner but sold at a good price, and the cook then becomes a proletarian. Domestic help tend to coincide ideologically with their employers, and they can therefore be used to defend the interests of the dominant classes, joining their "retinue." However, to the extent that domestic workers are exploited, the working class can find allies in this social stratum, particularly among those with family connections with the proletariat.

7. The Lumpenproletariat.

These are the permanent unemployed, who do not participate in production and therefore do not constitute a social class. A part of the lumpenproletariat live as "settlers" in the suburbs of the large cities, but habitual delinquents, prostitutes, vagabonds, beggars, etc. also belong to this marginal sector. In general, this entire social stratum is extremely unstable with respect to its ideological position; it can as easily be won over by the National Party, the MIR, the Christian Democrats, or by any demagogue. Everything depends on who is offering more means for satisfying their immediate needs.


In all the above, we have not referred to two groups frequently mentioned, the peasants (campesinos) and the middle class. The truth is that these groups are not social classes but rather various parts of classes. The peasants consist of sharecroppers, farm workers, the agrarian sub-proletariat, and the agrarian petty bourgeoisie, all of which, as we have seen, are quite different.

The "middle class," as the term is generally used today, would be formed by the middle and small urban bourgeoisie, the entire petty bourgeoisie, the professional proletariat, the white-collar proletariat, higher domestic help, the state civil bureaucrats, the Armed Forces, and the students. The expression "middle class" therefore basically does not mean anything; it is a hollow phrase, since it includes in its current use classes and strata with interests so different that they cannot be grouped under the same name. "Middle class" and "middle strata," as the terms are used today, are actually harmful concepts invented by the bourgeoisie and serving only to confuse the proletariat, making it believe that there is a "bridge," a way of passing from one class to the other. MAPU should struggle to destroy these myths and use a language of real content.


The task of taking power from the capitalist class to destroy its domination and begin the construction of socialism is in principle a task of the working class. This is in fact the only social class that does not have any means of production available, has nothing more than its bodies and its consumer goods, and therefore has no particular interest in maintaining private ownership over the means of production.

The working class is at the same time a product and a producer of capitalism. It sustains the latter with its work. Without its co-operation, purchased by the exploiters, capitalism could not subsist or develop; in this sense, it is possible to say that the life and death of capitalism depend on the productive work developed by the working class.

However, the development of capitalism within certain historical conditions has created other social strata and classes, including class segments that, since they are generally variations of the basic classes, become capable of developing autonomous policies and even policies contradictory to those of the basic class from which they are derived—for example, the middle and small bourgeoisie with respect to the large and monopolistic bourgeoisie, or the white-collar workers in comparison with the workers. This segmentation of the basic classes converts the struggle for power into a complex question that the working class should solve with intelligence and flexibility.

The first problem to arise clearly is that the conquest of power is a task the proletariat cannot fulfill by itself. To the extent that this task is to be accomplished, its vanguard should seek and permanently assure the co-operation of other social forces or classes until socialism is constructed.

This policy of alliances is oriented to obtaining essential objectives. The first task is to liberate worker strata with a lower level of class consciousness and with less proletarian political development—strata that can become powerful class allies—from the ideological influence of the adversary. The second task is to attract into combat against the chief enemies those factions of the dominant classes whose situation has deteriorated due to their actions.

A really proletarian political direction is measured, among other factors, by the capacity it has to add forces to its positions, systematically seeking the isolation of the enemy to make his defeat possible, or, similarly, preventing the systematic attempt by the enemy to isolate the working class from its potential allies.


In military language, "strategy" relates to the rules for conducting warfare on the whole, and "tactics" to the laws regulating combat. This is the origin of the terms "strategy" and "tactics," used by extension in political language as well.

The proletariat has acquired considerable strategic and tactical experience in its many class wars and struggles with the bourgeoisie.

Lenin, the great leader of the Bolshevik Party, the October Revolution, and the first proletarian revolution of the world (USSR), is one of those who has contributed most to the scientific development of the strategy and tactics of the proletariat, i.e., the science of proletarian management of the class struggle.

In political language, strategy is concerned with the basic forces of the revolution and its chief and secondary allies. It changes when the revolution passes from one stage to another, but it remains basically unchanged with each of these stages.

Each historical stage of the struggle of the proletariat is characterized by the objectives it proposes. These objectives seek to isolate and destroy the principal enemies to create conditions for the advances of the following stage. These objectives are called strategic objectives, and the alliance of forces necessary to obtain them is called a strategic alliance.

Within the forces participating in the alliance it is necessary to distinguish the basic and the allied forces, and within the allied forces the chief forces and the secondary ones. The following pertain to the concrete case of the Popular Unity government of Chile.

Strategic Objectives:

1. To complete national independence (nationalization of foreign monopolies, truly independent foreign policy)
2. To deepen democracy (people's state, equal opportunities for all)
3. To prepare the material base for socialism (social-property area, planning system).

Fundamental Strategic Enemies:

—the imperialist bourgeoisie
—the large and monopolistic Chilean bourgeoisie (industrial, agrarian, commercial, financial)
—the landowners (traditional) and agrarian bourgeoisie (modern).

Strategic Alliance:

All classes not connected with the chief enemies:
—the proletariat
—the petty bourgeoisie
—the middle and small bourgeoisie.

Basic Force: the proletariat.
Principal Ally: the petty bourgeoisie (urban and rural).
Secondary Ally: the middle and small bourgeoisie.


Whereas the purpose of strategy is to win the "war," tactics pursue less essential objectives, since they are not proposed to win the "war" taken as a whole but to win this or that battle, to carry out successfully this or that campaign or action corresponding to the concrete situation of the period in accordance with an exacerbation or relaxation of the class struggle.

Starting from a given stage of the revolution, tactics can change many times according to these ups and downs and the different currents of the struggle. . . .

In a tactical situation, the objectives proposed by the proletariat are partial and limited; the attempt is to strike at an enemy but not to annihilate him, to win a battle but not the war. The proletariat can find many allies for these partial and limited objectives. Many of them can be unstable, transient, etc., but they serve to isolate and strike at what in the given situation appears to be the chief enemy. These objectives are called tactical objectives and the corresponding alliances tactical alliances.

The more limited the tactical objective is, the more extensive (and therefore heterogeneous) the alliance can and should be. Tactical alliances therefore have a very broad multiclass base, since the basic classes attempt to exploit the most insignificant contradictions of the enemy forces and thus gain tactical allies in the opposing camp.

An example of a tactical alliance was the ratification of the election of Allende by the Plenary Congress. The tactical ally there was the Christian Democratic Party and the chief enemy the National Party (Alessandrism).

Another example of a tactical alliance was the negotiation of the copper-nationalization project. Principal tactical ally: the Christian Democratic Party; secondary tactical ally: the National Party; chief enemy: the copper companies and the U. S. Government.

Another example of a tactical alliance, in this case with the landowners, is the agrarian production plan for 1970-71. The landowners, who will not be expropriated during this year, will receive guarantees and facilities for producing the maximum. Similar tactical alliances are made with the monopolies not as yet expropriated or with those with which mixed companies are made. The main enemies in these cases are the landowners and monopolists who are expropriated in this phase. . . .


Tactics is a part of strategy and is subordinate to and serves the latter.

Tactical direction is thus a part of strategic direction, to whose objectives and requirements it is subordinate.

If the tactical objective does not seek more than creating conditions for the strategic objective, this strict subordination of tactics to strategy is absolutely logical. From the standpoint of the proletariat, consequently, any tactical alliance is also subordinate to the strategic objective. It should approach it and not depart from it. It should strengthen the strategic alliance and not weaken it.

Without this condition, the policy of alliances gives way to opportunism and seriously retards the battle of the proletariat when the class objectives of the allies prevail over those proper to the proletariat. . . .

In a tactical alliance there are two components: the basic force, consisting of the strategic allies, and the allied force, which is in effect the tactical allies.

We distinguish in a tactical alliance a basic force, principal and secondary strategic allies, and principal and secondary tactical allies.

Let us return to the example of the agrarian production plan for 1970-71.

Basic Force: agricultural proletariat.

Principal Strategic Ally: agrarian petty bourgeoisie (small landowners, joint tenants, small farmers).

Secondary Strategic Ally: middle and small agrarian bourgeoisie (less than eighty basic hectares).

Tactical Ally: landowners not to be expropriated this year (in this case it is not possible to distinguish between principal and secondary tactical allies).


We have already seen that each type of alliance has its specific objectives, or, stated in another way, that each objective has a suitable alliance. Objectives and alliances should correspond perfectly.

The group of measures necessary to attain the objectives of an alliance is its program. The program can have a single point or many, may be written or not; in any case, there is never an alliance without a program.

The program of tactical alliances is also called the minimum program. For example, in the tactical alliance of the Popular Unity with the Christian Democratic Party for ratifying Allende in the Plenary Congress, the (minimum) program was the so-called "statute of democratic guarantees."

The program of strategic alliances is called the maximum program, since it gathers the objectives of an entire historical stage. For example, in the strategic alliance of the Popular Unity, the maximum program is the Popular Unity Basic Program.

The essential condition of every program is that of reflecting the interests and objectives of all the allied forces. A perfect coincidence between the program and the alliance should also exist in this sense. The consistency of the alliance depends to a great extent on the degree to which the program meets the demands of each component.


Alliances can have various ways of manifesting themselves politically. The most elementary is a simple coincidence between the allies. . . . Agreement on a series of actions or a number of objectives is a political pact. . . .

The most institutional form of alliance is a front. Here the allies draw up not only an explicit program but also a common hierarchy and structure that while respecting the autonomy of each ally, nevertheless makes it possible for the allies to make collective decisions and in general to have a permanent formal relation. An example of this is Popular Unity. . . .

Strategic alliances are not automatically and directly manifested in a front. On the contrary, the classes objectively called to a strategic alliance take a long time to develop themselves, accumulate fighting experience, and create their own parties; in their turn, these parties should pass through a long period of divisions, agreements, joint actions, and progressive regroupings before constituting a front. For example, the PU in Chile was preceded by a long history of the working class and the people, by the existence of three old parties (Socialist Party, thirty-eight years; Communist Party, forty-nine years; Radical Party more than a hundred), by the Popular Front, by a front including Communists and Socialists for fourteen years (FRAP, which also included social-democratic sectors), and recently by a process of joint actions with the RP and to a lesser extent with MAPU in the course of a prolonged rise of the mass struggle.

The more formal and more permanent an alliance is, the greater the importance of the program.


Alliances bring certain classes and class factions together in the struggle against other classes to obtain certain objectives. These classes and allied class factions have different and contradictory interests. . . .

From a proletarian standpoint, unity and struggle are equally important in the politics of alliances. Right opportunism tends to unity without struggle and ends in conciliation with the bourgeoisie. Left opportunism tends to struggle without unity and ends in sectarian isolation of the proletariat. Only unity with struggle makes an advance of the people and its proletarian direction possible at the same time.


The existence of contradictions and struggle among the allies presents the problem of who orders whom in the alliance.

It is true that all the allies gain objectively from this alliance. However, hegemony by definition belongs to some and not to all.

The quantitative force of a class can contribute to its hegemony but is never its chief determinant. More than the quantitative predominance, what is important is which class succeeds in imposing its interests and basic political positions within the alliance. . . . For example, in the cases of Chile and Vietnam, the chief force (quantitatively) was not the proletariat but the rural population, which did not prevent the proletariat from being the directing force. On the other hand, there have been alliances, as was generally the case with popular fronts, in which the proletariat was the chief force without being the directing force.

The political direction within an alliance is decided by the capacity each class shows at every moment to manifest, defend, and impose its basic interests.

The working class develops its controlling role if it is capable of creating a consensus around its positions. This objective is attained to the extent that it appreciates the deepest aspirations of its allies, expresses them in ways capable of involving the entire front, and works together with them on basic tasks corresponding to its own deepest class interests. . . .


The united and class-conscious proletariat is nevertheless capable of completely exercising its directive function only when a proletarian political direction is given.

This management can exist in a single proletarian party or in several united by the common class imperative of developing proletarian positions in the front and making them dominant.

The important point is that this single- or multiparty political direction is actually capable of representing and historically achieving the cardinal objectives and interests of the proletariat. It must therefore be armed with proletarian theory, possess a revolutionary tactical and strategic line, and have an organization available capable of mobilizing the masses in the most varied critical situations in the struggle for power.

In Chile we have various workers' parties of different history, scope, limitations, and effectiveness (CP, SP, MAPU). We believe that the basic alliance is what unites these parties, since it restores proletarian unity at a political level. We also believe that this basic alliance can develop from the standpoint of a single party of the proletariat, a natural and necessary product for common combat. However, the present conditions, the state of development of the political forces representing the proletariat, the differences that still exist among them, the lack of experience and development of other proletarian detachments (ours, for example) do not permit the conversion of this basic objective into an immediate objective.

In order for this to be possible, it is necessary to strengthen the unity and joint practice of these parties.

This joint practice and unity will not be attained except on the basis of an intense ideological struggle among these detachments, making it possible to overcome the Right and Left deviations that frequently threaten the working-class movement and to develop a firm proletarian political line within these parties.

The strengthening of the working class, the increasing of the power of its union organizations, and the practical and theoretical uniting of its parties are the tasks we must undertake today to satisfy the objective of imparting a proletarian guidance to the alliance that will bring the people to the conquest of power. . . .


We have seen in an example at the beginning of this paper that the Popular Unity attempts to be a strategic alliance grouping the proletariat, the petty bourgeoisie and the middle and small bourgeoisie to confront imperialism, the monopolistic bourgeoisie, the landowners (traditional), and the agrarian bourgeoisie (modern) and to accomplish tasks that, while they begin a socialist transition, democratize the country and assure its independent development.

What we wish to underscore here is that the enemies of the people also attempt to develop a front to impart a mass character to their counterrevolutionary aims. In their attempt to overcome their minority character, the chief enemies of the Chilean people seek support in the middle bourgeoisie (urban and agrarian), in sectors of the wealthy small urban bourgeoisie, in sectors of the professional petty bourgeoisie, in the professional proletariat, in the white-collar proletariat, in the domestic help, in sectors of the state civil bureaucracy and the Armed Forces, and in a great part of the subproletariat and the lumpenproletariat. In addition, although with less success, they attempt to control the urban petty bourgeoisie and the agrarian petty bourgeoisie and even to deceive the proletariat of small and middle industry.

The battle to conquer the sectors cited is of decisive importance in the power struggle we are conducting in our country.

Consequently, when the Popular Unity declares itself the enemy only of imperialism, the monopolistic bourgeoisie, the landowners, and the large agrarian bourgeoisie at this stage, it is attempting to express the interests and objectives of all the rest of the classes and social strata as a political front.

The actual forces of the PU do not yet include all the proletariat, petty bourgeoisie, and small and middle bourgeoisie, so it is therefore a fundamental task for the program of the PU to be converted into the banner waved by the working class and effectively to gain as allies all the sectors and social strata whose common interests are expressed in the alliance.


1. Sharecroppers formed as a class in the eighteenth century together with the traditional landlords. Until several decades ago, they did not have any organization, and the chief feature characterizing them was access to the use of a means of production (the land) through work for the landowner

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