The Chilean Road to Socialism


Socialism or State Capitalism?

This chapter contains an energetic attack from a MIRist perspective on the "reformism" of the Communist Party of Chile. The virulence of Fernandez's polemic (and the CP's response to "ultra-leftist" MIR critiques—see Chapter 18) should not be allowed to obscure the fundamental issues. Bringing Chile's natural resources under Chilean control, state control of banking and the largest industries, and other measures so far undertaken by the PU government have substantially enlarged the state sector of the economy but do not in themselves constitute what Marxists mean by socialism. The social inequalities of the previous capitalist society, though somewhat ameliorated, are still present, and the market principle governs the behavior of state enterprises just as surely as it does those in the private sector. Fernandez argues that the growth of the state and co-operative sectors of the economy relative to the private sector is no guarantee of further transition to socialism, and can in fact be frozen as a system of state capitalism. State capitalism can be transformed into socialism only if political forces are committed to a revolutionary political practice aimed at destruction of the bourgeois state. The CP, Fernandez argues, is not so committed. It has lost its revolutionary vision, has adopted a conciliatory attitude toward class enemies of the revolution, and seeks alliances with middle- and small-bourgeois elements which convert the Party's politics into bourgeois reformism.

Translated and abridged from Punto Final Nº. 91, November 11, 1969.


The Communist Party's program defines the revolution as anti-imperialist and anti-oligarchic. The oligarchs are the monopolists who control various sectors of the economy in agriculture, industry, mining, etc. These are the enemies. As for the non-monopolistic bourgeoisie, the middle and small bourgeoisie, they are seen as potential revolutionary allies.

The authors of the program have obviously ignored the fundamental changes that, since the War, have completely modified the structure of the world's capitalist system. Under the hegemonic rule of the United States, the world's capitalist system has seen the growth and concentration of monopoly capital and the extension of its tentacles into the very heart of dependent countries, thus increasing the original dependency at all levels of dependent economies and preventing any possibility of autonomous capitalist development. This growing penetration of international monopoly capital into national dependent economies over the past fifty or sixty years has confronted the national bourgeoisies with a clear ultimatum: to disappear or to accept their integration into the world's capitalist monopolistic structure. This satellitization of the peripheral national bourgeoisies was made possible by the complex process of gradual hegemonic control of the technological means of production by the center. We shall not here analyze this process itself but will rather focus on its historical political consequences.

It is utterly senseless to propose an anti-imperialist struggle that is not at the same time anti-capitalist, when Latin America as a whole (and especially Chile, where this integration process has reached incredible levels during the past four years) faces such a conjuncture.

A viable anti-capitalist strategy cannot count on the petty bourgeoisie as a class ally. A correct Marxist strategy should rather attempt to neutralize it in order to insure a favorable transition to socialism. Indiscriminately to select the petty bourgeoisie as a class ally in the present conjuncture, and to limit the revolutionary struggle to bourgeois democratic objectives such as a mixed regime of state capitalism (the "non-capitalist" way proposed by the CP's program) is to cultivate a dangerous illusion that does not correspond in any way to the reality of our class structure. It is to transform the proletarian struggle into the Utopian vision of the petty bourgeoisie.

One cannot hope to solve the basic problems that the failures of former policies of dependent development have brought upon us without putting forth a courageous program of transformations that would fundamentally restructure the productive sector, utilize the idle capacity of industries in order better to attend to the people's needs, pave the way for the production of durable goods and heavy industry, relocate in the countryside the majority of urban unemployed or underemployed, eliminate a vast sector of the useless bureaucratic apparatus that the state has supported with its fiscal revenues from the copper industry, and transform the latifundios into collective farms or co-operatives of production and consumption uniting the small and middle producers. In short, our objective must be to raise the working class of Chile to a position of responsibility and command in the making of a modern country, fully utilizing its resources toward the construction of a socialist society of abundance. Bits and pieces, state favors, will not do! We must also generate a revolutionary international political strategy. We must plant the seed for Latin American and Andean integration, thus paving the way for a socialist Latin America, joining socialist Cuba and the revolutionary struggles that are bursting forth on the continent.

To choose any other road would be for the Communist Party to adopt the vision of the least progressive and most ^significant segment of the bourgeoisie: the so-called non-monopolistic bourgeoisie. Already lagging behind the more dynamic segment of its own class, which controls the means of scientific and technological progress, what development strategy could the non-monopolist bourgeoisie produce?

This is why the evolutionary stages of the revolution envisaged in the Communist program are misleading. For instance, we read: "We Communists fight to unite the country's majority, victim of the capitalist regime, in this first anti-imperialist and anti-oligarchic stage of the revolutionary struggle." With such statements, the Chilean Communist Party foments the illusion that it is possible to advance gradually without first attacking the capitalist system, which is the very basis and condition of existence of imperialism itself. The program overemphasizes the contradictions that oppose the national bourgeoisie to imperialism. Such contradictions do indeed exist, but they are non-antagonistic: they will disappear when the bourgeoisie finally confronts the popular movement. By presenting to the masses such historically exhausted and vacillating forces as allies, the Communist Party does not develop popular combativeness. Even when it organizes its festive, carnivalesque marches against capitalism, the Communist Party does not prepare the people finally to resolve the question of power, which is fundamental if one is to build and live socialism. Capitalism is made to appear as a valid system so long as it is divested of its most glaring defects. So long as the basic socioeconomic structure is not questioned, the Communist Party's program does not differ much from that of the Christian Democratic Party. The reforms proposed may be slightly more progressive. Yet the system itself is not challenged at the base, so the Communist Party's critique of reformism is nothing more than a posture. The Communist Party's leaders have no clear understanding of the nature of the transition from capitalism to socialism. This is quite obvious in the gradualist analysis they propose. They state, for example, that the anti-imperialist, anti-oligarchic revolution "will produce transformations that will pave the way for new relations of production toward socialism." They also propose that "the achievement of these revolutionary objectives, the growth of state and co-operative sectors, will permit a smooth and continuous process of transition from this first stage on to socialism" (emphasis ours).

But it is a well-established fact that the "growth of the state and co-operative sectors" is by itself no guarantee of a further transition to socialism.

State capitalism is today the greatest ally of monopoly capital. How then could one expect the creation of a vast sector of state capitalism to lead automatically and mechanically to socialism? State capitalism can be progressive and lead to socialism only if it is committed to a revolutionary political program aiming at the destruction of the bourgeois state itself, in its military and civilian garb, and the construction of socialist society on radically different grounds. Today's Communist parties have lost the clear revolutionary vision that sprang forth from the Third International. Remember that it was then the question of the state that divided Communists from social democrats. The latter forgot the dictatorship of the proletariat, while the former upheld firmly at the very core of their constitution the strategic primacy of the destruction of the state.

Is the thesis that a popular government will reach power electoraliy a truly Communist one? And is the proposal to maintain a regular "professional" army, thus reinforcing the state bureaucratic apparatus and guaranteeing it the greatest privileges? Is it truly communistic to maintain party pluralism without first demanding the exclusion of all bourgeois parties and their allies? Can those who affirm that such a government can pass to socialism "within a continuous and smooth process" call themselves Communists?

Were all the theoretical efforts of Marx, Engels, and Lenin in vain? Should the historical lessons of social democracy and labor governments be repressed from our memories? Should all the failures of populist/nationalist governments in Central America, the Perdns, the Vargases, the MNRs, the Cardenases, the Arévalos, the Goularts, simply be forgotten? . . .

The True Character of the Communist Party's Program

What are the practical results of a non-Marxist analysis of Chilean reality?

a) It is clear that the Communist Party's leaders envision a popular government that would resemble not pre-Stalinist Russia or China or Cuba, but rather the Western European democratic style. This accounts for their respect for private property and opposition parties: a pluralistic vision that negates the necessity of a dictatorship of the proletariat. They write, for example: "We Communists uphold that under popular government or socialist rule, all popular currents should maintain their own identity, all religious beliefs should be respected, and there should therefore be ideological and political pluralism without hindering the pursuit by each and every one of his own personal ideals. The government for which we fight shall be the most democratic ever seen in Chile, since it will be generated by the people constituted in popular parties."

b) In spite of its "socialist vision," this proposed strategy toward a "popular government" will implant a modernization process most unlikely to succeed, since the Right always shows itself much stronger than hoped for by the Communists. Such a strategy would only result in the consolidation of the bourgeoisie, an increased governmental repression of the people, and long-lasting economic stagnation in these days of the ever-deepening crisis of Latin American and Chilean dependent capitalism.

c) The "democratism" of the program is illusory. Democracy is not liberalism. It does not merely consist of "formal" liberties but is made of real mass participation and power. As Marx and Engels pointed out in their analysis The Paris Commune, as Lenin argued in State and Revolution, democracy can be realized only if the masses take the most direct possible control of the state into their own hands with the least possible interference from a bureaucracy, which must be limited and restricted as much as possible. Democracy is insured by authentic popular participation in the direction of industries, communes, the state, planning, etc.

Socialist democracy can exist only when the revolutionary party (or parties) truly represents an organized political coalition of the proletariat and its class allies, so as to promote popular mobilization and the democratic rule of its dictatorship. Only the parties that support the dictatorship of the proletariat can have a right to participate actively in the shaping of a socialist democracy. . . .

The positive role that a popular government could play in the transitional process to a socialism is far from clear. It is absurd to propose that a popular government could be constituted peacefully, and even more absurd to foresee the transition to socialism as a smooth evolutionary process. We know upon what vague class analysis such a foggy conception rests. We have seen how unclear is its definition of the objective character of the transition to socialism. Such opacity only reflects the empiricism of its proponents.

d) The Party's program is thus reduced to a platform for the 1970 elections. Even if the Party insists that popular participation in the electoral process is only one of many possible strategies, it has not bothered to define any alternatives. The Communist Party's program is thus reduced to the old electoral populist rhetoric borrowed from the nationalist bourgeoisie.

The CP of Chile can now be seen waving high the rotten banners of bourgeois development at the very moment when bourgeois oligarchs and imperialists attempt to bring to final completion the process of dependent development that has brought to Chile and Latin America only stagnation and frustration, strong governments, and popular repression.

e) The CP of Chile has emphasized the need for re distribution. Such a program could not allow for the tremendous growth of productive forces, which alone could secure our economic development. As it reflects the reformist demands of the petty bourgeoisie seeking to pro tect its interests threatened by the necessary process of capital accumulation, as it proposes to grant some concessions to the middle class and to some privileged sectors of labor, the Communist program is not even a viable economic development program.

With so many allies and so few enemies, with such vague objectives, the basic interests of real revolutionary classes are veiled and transformed into such grand generalities as "the interests of Chile" or "the unity and common action of all the forces that oppose the fundamental enemies of the country," etc. In the name of "the interests of Chile," the Communist Party leaders openly support a "modern, patriotic, and popular conception of the defense of our national sovereignty that guarantees to all sectors of the Armed Forces the material and technical means necessary to fulfill their specific mission, which requires guaranteed economic security, professional training, and rank mobility to all officers and troops by means of adequate remuneration compatible with their qualifications and needs during service as well as in retirement. We support the professional character of the Armed Forces . . ." (emphasis ours).

As for the "professional character" or the "specific function" of the Armed Forces, only petty bourgeois reason is unable to understand that there can be no apolitical "professionalism," that the bourgeois's notion cannot be that of the proletariat, and that bourgeois domination rests securely behind such mystifying veils. . . .

f) Finally we must discuss the Party's conception of popular unity. While it is true that unity must be achieved and that sectarianism opposing allies must be curbed, it is also true that there can be no true unity without a common goal. Only a truly revolutionary unity that refuses to make any concessions on matters of principle, only a unity that seeks not to reform but rather to deepen the system's contradictions, must be sought. Popular unity for its own sake can be of the gravest consequences. Blind enthusiasm for abstract unity or the politics of extensive coalition, which, for instance, seeks an alliance with the so-called non-monopolistic bourgeoisie, middle bourgeoisie, or small bourgeoisie, casts aside along the road the very foundations of true revolutionary working-class politics. To insist on the "decisiveness of unity" always leads to the complacent adoption of bourgeois reformism, to concessions to the Right, and to the exclusion of those whom the Party then chooses to call "leftists."

But how does the Party define these "leftist" elements? Are they not part of the people? Why then does the Party not seek to persuade them to adopt its platform and join its politics of unity? Simply because one cannot mix Greeks and Trojans. One cannot unite bourgeois reformists with revolutionaries. For this reason broad unity turns into its opposite: division. What matters is not unity for its own sake, but rather unity of whom and for what. The Party's popular coalition politics excludes many segments of the Left that in spite of previous errors (and who has not committed any?) are truly revolutionary forces. By condemning as "anti-Communist agents of imperialism" all those who favor popular insurrection without allowing any discussion of their position, the Party has clearly adopted a Stalinist posture. Such a stance clearly betrays the weakness of its position and its fear of confronting any opposition from the Left. The militants of the CP well realize that a workers' party is not necessarily a party of the working class, as European social democracy and the British Labour Party rule have already amply demonstrated. To be a Communist does not mean to agree with a party that calls itself Communist.

Especially since the Cuban Revolution, the Communist Parties' monopoly of the Left has been called into question. Since Marx and Lenin, to be a Communist has always meant to act as a revolutionary. Today in Latin America, to be a Communist is to form a vanguard in order to prepare and organize the masses militarily and politically for the revolutionary conquest of power by the people and the victory of socialism. This is what defines a Communist. Not a Party membership card.

Edición digital del Centro Documental Blest el 07feb02
Capitulo Anterior Proximo Capitulo Sube