Class Conflict and Economic Development in Chile, 1958-1973

Class Conflict and Economic Development in Chile, 1958-1973

Class Conflict and Economic Development in Chile, 1958-1973

Class Conflict and Economic Development in Chile, 1958-1973

Synopsis

This account of the interplay of politics and economics in Chile in three successive administrations ending with the 1973 coup suggests that social class plays a major role in determining the outcome of economic policies in Latin America. As the author demonstrates, the nature of the class alliance that controls the state apparatus in Chile, together with the actions of foreign capital, determines not only the type of economic policies followed, but their outcomes as well.

A comparison of the three regimes of Jorge Alessandri (1958- 64), Eduardo Frei (1964- 70), and Salvador Allende (1970- 73) is especially important because they represent the main approaches to economic development available to all Third World countries today. The three regimes are compared in terms of policies on property relations, government expenditure, credit, investment, wages, prices, employment, and foreign investment. The outcomes are analyzed through data on economic growth and income distribution. In a concluding chapter, the author comments on the meaning of the Chilean experience for other countries.

Excerpt

Chile is a small country of only some ten million people. It is not vitally important either economically or strategically. Yet in political and symbolic terms, the Chile of the 1970's has had a tremendous impact in all corners of the world. From Lagos to Lima, from Paris to San Francisco, the three years of the Unidad Popular brought hope to all who were interested in the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism. As a result, it also brought hope to those concerned with the question of development in the Third World. Precisely because so many pinned such great hopes on the up government, the outrage at the brutal coup that ended it, and reversed the process of change it had initiated, was both vehement and predictable. Less predictable, perhaps, was the fact that this initial outrage would turn into an international movement of solidarity against Allende's successors, a movement that is still strong after four and a half years of military dictatorship.

For those of us who lived in Chile during the 1971-73 period, the emotions generated by those years were particularly intense. For one thing, most of us recognized even then that we were participating in an experience that would mark our generation and have ramifications spilling far beyond the narrow boundaries of Chile. in addition, those years marked a personal turning point for many of us in terms of political awareness and intellectual development. in part, this was because the crisis of Chilean society laid bare the fundamental nature of political-economic relationships, so that one had to take notice of things that might have been passed over under more normal circumstances. I remember, for example, writing to a . . .

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