The Dictatorship of the Proletariat
Interview with the foreign press
Santiago, 25 May 1971
Questioner: Mr President, in your speech to Congress on 21 May, you precisely defined the nature of the political experience which the country is undergoing. If I am not mistaken, your words were that it was the second model of transition to a socialist society. For some Marxist theoreticians your words might seem, as far as I have understood, a little heterodox. For others it is indeed proof of the viability of the doctrine, that it may take another form. Therefore, in this context, I should like to ask you to elaborate these two possible interpretations.
Allende : Your question is undoubtedly rather important. I must state quite plainly that I am no theorist of Marxism. I am a man who has read some Marxist theory. However, I do not presume to think that I could speak with great authority on these matters. I am content if what I have said at least arouses a little disquiet. I cannot put this in a complicated way, nor yet in words of one syllable, but only as a man who is not a theorist. Marxism is not a static thing. I believe it is a method for interpreting history. It is not a formula for a government to apply. I have said quite deliberately that in some countries this period, described as transitional, was carried out hi a form known as 'the dictatorship of the proletariat'. There are two sides to this: one political, the other social. The political is the dictatorship, and the social is the proletariat. Here we have substituted the notion of dictatorship for a different device, but the other aspect, the social, is very much present.
I have mentioned the proletariat, but I think it is difficult to speak in these terms in a bourgeois parliament. I have spoken of workers, and I have said that this is a government of workers. And among workers, the most important element is certainly the proletariat. So I think that orthodox thinkers will allow me a variation, in that I do not claim to set out a doctrinaire position. For us, I suggest, there is a practical application that suits the reality of Chile. If by chance we were to mar the virginity of orthodox theoreticians and yet accomplish something, I would be content with the latter.
(EFE News Agency)