Hip hop artist Lowkey asks Victor Figueroa Clark, Alborada contributing editor and author of Salvador Allende: Revolutionary Democrat, about the lessons the Left has learnt from Allende’s socialist government in Chile.
@ The Spirit of ’70: Lessons from Salvador Allende’s Chile 25 June 2019 (Chair: Natasha Josette, Level Ground)
Full video of event coming soon.
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Hip Hop Artist & Activist
Just to lead on to the question about Corbyn if possible because I am interested in this and it’s a point you make in the book as well, is that successful examples that we’ve had since then have been based on analysing where things went wrong with Allende.
Can you give us an example of the way those things have manifested in other situations so potentially Venezuela with the military in the way it’s designed that the people that are able to reach say colonel or lieutenant are not all from a particular strata of society. What are some of those kind of lessons that have been learnt and then applied?
Victor Figueroa Clark
Author, Salvador Allende: Revolutionary Democrat
I think the overthrow of Allende led to a very long period of analysis by leftwingers across the world and definitely in Latin America. I think one of the lessons that we see for example in Nicaragua running up to the revolution there and ever since, was really about unity. We may disagree on what we mean by socialism but let’s agree on the need to achieve this step first and then that step and then the next step. So to an extent the issue of unity and I think we can see that in Venezuela as well where they create a unified Socialist Party of Venezuela, rather than the kind of coalition, and that I would argue is actually a lesson that was learnt here in the UK a long time ago which is why the Labour Party is such a broad church. So one of them is unity of, at least, short term goals. The later unity can be decided upon later. The other I think is actually less to do with the military because in Venezuela the military was already just drawn from more popular sectors of the population, unlike Chile where it’s more of a caste system in the officer corps at least. It’s to do with the integration of social movements, a more dynamic coordination between social movement and institutions, political parties and government because probably that’s one of the weaknesses that we can see in Allende’s government: the over-reliance on the institutional, on parliamentary fighting, on agreements between political parties and not thinking about the power that the street has, the power that the masses have to influence that context which I think we can see very powerfully in Venezuela recently with the tours that Maduro did of the country with the military, but also where they just held these mass demonstrations. That was also done in Chile but I would argue that it was done in order to support a political party rather than to express support for the process as a whole. And I think you know that’s a difficult one. But I would argue those are the two main lessons that were drawn in in Latin America.