Chilean Elite Mount a Show at the Constitution Convention

Photo: El Mostrador

By Alex Ibarra Peña (El Mostrador)

HAVANA TIMES – Chilean class privilege is an ill as extensive as racism. These days it’s inspired defeated intellectual politicians to serve the privileged elite via a new invention they call “Yellows for Chile”, a movement opposed to the constitutional process. They defend their position with a classist antidemocratic view that seeks to hijack the space for populist representation. The conventional media will be giving a lot of space to this discourse attacking a new Chile. Hence, we need to be very alert in our defense of democracy.

The campaign of terror now being mounted by the privileged elite who were happy and comfortable in the Chile of the neoliberal transition [from the dictatorship] is a desperate attempt to take advantage of the power that’s still left them. Their concern, without a doubt, has to do with the emerging possibility for a historic leadership of the popular classes.

For a while now, various intellectual movements have been posting articles aimed at recovering our historic memory. They testify to the political force of the popular underclasses, who’ve been the victims of injustice at the hands of an unscrupulous elite that defends the existence of privilege for the few.

The most genuinely democratic Constitutional processes seek to overcome that unjust social and political structure, as is occurring with some of the changes we’re beginning to glimpse in Chile, changes that should be more solid under the government that Gabriel Boric will be initiating in just over two weeks. This being true, I can understand why that privileged class finds itself terrified, confused and desperate.

Now we have the words of the “professor emeritus” and former dean of the university that served as the cradle of neoliberalism, one of the universities in the country that profits most. An “emeritus” is a person who has distinguished themselves within an institution – someone who has stood out for their service to the mission said institution represents. The ideas former rector Rosso expresses must be understood in this context.

His rhetoric alleges a feeling of “resentment” among some of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. However, his words themselves sound resentful, since his discourse reflects the excessive value he places on formal education. In Chile, such an education has been very exclusive, given its high cost. The allegations he raises can also be read as “resentful”, and his arguments become circular ones that don’t stand up to a logical evaluation. From his standpoint of resentment, he denounces the resentment of others.

Here, a critical reading of Jose Enrique Rodo’s essay “Ariel” is pertinent. Written in 1900, the essay champions the cause of the classical western tradition[SH1] . In the tradition of Latin American thought, the book should be viewed as a classic. The discussions of class that favor privilege seek to extol a nationalism that defends the inherited values of what are considered “superior cultures”, that is, those imposed during the colonialization process. This is what we should understand as “Arielism”. In contrast, there’s an opposing vision of culture that seeks to instill a more genuine process of nationalism, one capable of recognizing the value of the popular cultures that have been subjugated, but remain in the underground that we’re part of.

Multinationalism, when well understood, involves a dialogue between these two cultural worlds that don’t normally intermix. The creation of a context in which these ideas and subjects hold real interchange could lead to social and political conciliation. The desperate speeches of the privileged elite who are attempting to condemn the current historic dynamic reflect an arrogance that doesn’t advance democracy.

Read more from Chile here on Havana Times