Ian Birchall & Chris Harman


End of the parliamentary road

(September 1973)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.62, September 1973, pp.9-14.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

‘Allende can no longer hope to satisfy the owners of industry and the working class. He will have to choose to side with one or the other.

‘But one side is armed, the other not. And Allende shows no inclination at all to break his pledges to the middle class of a year ago not to “interfere” with the state machine.

‘Instead he will probably use his influence, and that of the bureaucrats within Chile’s working-class based parties and trade unions, to persuade workers to put up with harsh conditions and an erosion of last year’s reforms.

‘Such a course will tend to create confusion and a lack of direction among many workers. But it is not likely to lead to any great loss in the spontaneous militancy in the factories and mines. Because of that it will not satisfy those who continue to hold real power in Chile. In the past we have seen a number of examples of regimes in some ways similar to Allende’s.

‘After a period their mass support became demoralised and the government themselves were easily overthrown by right-wing military coups.’

Socialist Worker, 20 November 1971

The Chilean experience is exciting the British people, because their own perspective of achieving socialism is only possible within the constitutional framework, following a path similar to that taken by Chile.

(El Siglo, the Chilean Communist paper, 25 March 1972)

The Chilean experiment with the ‘parliamentary road to socialism’ has come to an abrupt end. A military coup has overthrown the Popular Unity government and President Allende is dead. As we write, reports from Chile indicate that thousands of people have been killed and many more injured. Factories and offices from which snipers have been holding out have been reduced to rubble. Workers have been summarily executed. Armed forces have closed down the headquarters of the Communist Party and Socialist Party – each as big, in relation to the size of the population, as the French Communist Party.

It is not certain yet how strong the resistance to the military is. Some reports speak of continuing struggle outside Santiago. But one thing is clear. The theory of the ‘parliamentary road to socialism’ had been put to a decisive test and found to be fundamentally mistaken. Thousands of workers are paying for that mistake with their lives.

The talk about a ‘Chilean road to socialism’ began three years ago when Allende, candidate of the Popular Unity coalition, topped the poll in the presidential election. He did not get an absolute majority over the other two candidates combined. But the other parties were in too great a state of disarray to block his way to the presidency. When the American multi-national company, ITT, tried to organise a coup, it found that few sectors of the Chilean establishment had enough nerve to join in.

The reason for the disarray lay in the failure of previous, conventional capitalist governments, to solve the country’s basic problems.

The right-wing Christian Democrat, Frei, had beaten Allende in the election of 1964 by promising a ‘revolution in liberty’, which would alleviate the worst of Chile’s poverty, give the land of the great landowners to the peasants, and establish Chile’s economic independence by taking control over the American owned mines.

But by 1970 the reforms had ground to a halt. The land reform left vast tracts of land in the hands of less than one per cent of the population, while a third of the rural population remained unemployed. The American copper companies were making bigger profits after the Chilean state had bought up 51 per cent of their shares than before. The economy was stagnating, with a growth rate of less than two per cent a year. Much of industry was working at only two-thirds or even a half of capacity. Real wages were falling as prices rose by 40 per cent a year. And 28 per cent of the population continued to share between them less than five per cent of the national income, which gave each of them less than half the subsistence wage.

Even Frei’s own party was compelled to put forward a presidential candidate, Tomic, with an apparently left-wing line.

Despite the talk of Allende as ‘the world’s first democratically elected marxist president’, the programme of the Popular Unity coalition itself was not all that extreme.

Certainly, it promised attacks on the power of the American mining companies and the Chilean oligarchy. But in itself it posed no threat to the mass of medium sized Chilean capitalists.

‘Enterprises where private ownership of the means of production will remain in force,’ it said, ‘in terms of numbers they will remain the majority.’ [1] Overall it was planned to nationalise only 150 out of the 3,500 firms, which would leave outside the public sector between 50 and 60 per cent of industrial production and the vast majority of the industrial work force. [2]

Finally, Allende willingly accepted constitutional amendments which prevented him interfering with the power of the officers in the armed forces. In doing so he agreed that these would always be a powerful watch-dog standing over him – a watch-dog which would safeguard the interests of the Chilean bourgeoisie and, in time, wreak a vicious vengeance for the reforms of the Allende period.

Everything seemed to go like a dream for the first 12 months or more of the Popular Unity government. The copper mines were nationalised by a unanimous vote of congress; the power of the giant landowners in the countryside was drastically weakened, with almost as much land being redistributed in six months as the Christian Democrats had redistributed in six years; the gross national product shot upwards by 8 per cent; unemployment fell; the share of wages in the national income rose; average wages increased 50 per cent; the rate of inflation fell to less than half the figure for the year before.

Electorally, the position of the Popular Unity coalition improved dramatically. In the local elections of April 1971 it got more than half the votes cast – an increase of 14 per cent of the total vote on its performance in the presidential election. [3] The Financial Times correspondent could report, that after 12 months of Allende’s government ‘the opposition is in disarray. The right-wing Nacionales are leaderless and the Christian Democrats have suffered two splits in the last 18 months and may well split again.’ [4]

However, Allende’s early successes were not the result of socialist measures, but of orthodox Keynesian techniques for turning a recession into a boom. These enabled the living standards of workers to be raised, without prices being pushed up at once. [5] But they left intact the capitalist structure of the economy and did not even bite into the massive incomes of the very rich.

The nationalisation measures which were carried through were certainly not enough to change the overall character of the economy. The government refused compensation to the American owners of the copper mines, but elsewhere it took over banks or monopolies by buying their shares on the market at their current value. It nationalised only 38 of the 284 enterprises that controlled most of Chilean economic life in the first 18 months of its existence (although it was forced to administer 263 factories which had been occupied by their own workers).

The nationalised enterprises were run by bureaucrats – in some cases army officers – very much as capitalist firms are run. Between 50 and 60 per cent of the Public Works budget went to private contractors. The workers were denied real control in the factories. ‘The administrative councils are made up of 11 members – five of them to be elected by the workers and five are appointed by the government, with the administrator or director of the firm being appointed directly by the President of the Republic.’ Two of the ‘workers’ representatives’ were elected, not from the shop floor, but by the administrative and professional employees. Even the land reform was not as radical as it seemed. It benefited only seven per cent of the rural population, who were transformed into a class of medium sized capitalist farmers, with a third of the land between them. [6]

By the end of 1972, Allende had exhausted all the reforms that could be accomplished without antagonising the middle classes and their parties. Shortages of certain foodstuffs and commodities began to arise because of the increasing consumption of these by the working class. There was no spare capacity left to meet this growing demand and prices began to increase more quickly. Imports also began to rise, while the foreign currency earnings to pay for them declined due to a considerable drop in the world price of copper.

Two possible paths opened up before the government. One would have involved carrying the social transformation through further, cutting into the living standards of the wealthy, and using the nationalised sector of the economy to increase investment. This alternative was certainly available to the governmental parties, given the massive support their policies had won them among workers and peasants. But it would inevitably have brought them into conflict with the opposition parties, with the middle class Radical Party within the. Popular Unity coalition, and above all, with the armed forces whose power they had been bolstering for the previous year.

The other alternative was to try to provide incentives for private industry to invest – by urging wage restraint upon workers, by giving guarantees that nationalisation would not spread further and by effectively ending the transformation of society.

But there were obstacles in the way of this path as well. The class struggle is not a tap that political leaders can turn on and off at will. A year with ‘their government’ in power had increased the fighting spirit of workers enormously. In the towns there were a growing number of strikes and workers had taken over factories when the owners tried to close them.

The struggle in the countryside also spread spontaneously beyond confines laid down by the law. Peasants began taking over medium sized farms and their owners organised armed squads to seize them back.

The middle classes began to protest vociferously. Even Tomic, the reputed ‘left wing’ Christian Democrat, complained of ‘the illegal occupations of farms, small holdings, shanty towns, rented land, commercial offices, factories, mines, schools, colleges, public buildings, roads and bridges. Illegal occupations are not only the work of the ultra-left; they are also the spontaneous action of groups of peasants, workers and miners ...’ [7]

Allende soon showed that he was not prepared to go towards a socialist solution to the growing crisis. The programme of immediate nationalisation was cut back; Vuskovic, the economic minister most associated with the redistribution of income to the advantage of the workers, was replaced; attempts were made to make another agreement with the Christian Democrats; and a right wing split away from the middle class Radical Party was given two seats in the government.

The President begged workers to behave with moderation, asking them to ‘limit wage claims’ and criticising those who had occupied an American bank. He resisted a strike by copper workers for a 50 per cent increase in wages in November 1971 and he repeatedly warned the organisations of the revolutionary left that ‘they must end their illegal seizures of land and property’. [8]

However, words of admonition from the government to the extreme left and the workers were not enough for the enraged middle classes. They demanded physical action as well. They began to argue that if the government did not engage in vicious repressive measures, it was behaving ‘unconstitutionally’ and should be replaced.

In the last weeks of 1971, Santiago was swept by demonstrations and riots, triggered off by a march of well-to-do housewives, protesting at food shortages. This was the first of a series of such incidents which were to break out every two or three months for the next year and a half.

Further life was given to the right wing, when the opposition parties found that the support which had been flowing from them to the government earlier, was now moving the other way. In by-elections in 1972 the government parties found that their vote was less than in 1971. Some of their supporters, fed up with sharp rises in prices and the exhortation to wage restraint, were falling for the easy promises of the right.

The Communist Party reacted by taking the policy of appeasing the right to its logical conclusion. If the middle classes were frightened of the continuing militancy of workers and peasants, the way to prevent a swing behind the right wing parties was to be as good at keeping ‘order’ as the right. A leading Communist, Volodia Teitelboim, equated the activities of the socialist left with those of the fascists.

‘There is an extreme right that traffics in arms and is aiming at civil war,’ he said. ‘But there are also “ultra” groups that call themselves “left” who are following the same course, playing the role of partner in a mad waltz with their political opposites.’

And his party did not restrict itself to words alone in its condemnation of the revolutionaries.

‘Forty eight hours after Senator Teitelboim’s speach, the governor of Concepcion, Vladimir Chavez, a member of the central committee of the Communist Party, authorised the Grupo Movil of the Carabineros to use force to break up a demonstration called by the workers and students of the city of Concepcion. The action of the Grupo Movil cost the life of a 17-year-old student and left 40 wounded, some of them seriously. Many people were arrested, all of them activists in the left parties.’ [9]

But the turn by the government to repressive measures did not placate the right. The very wealthy had had the fright of their lives at the time of Allende’s election and many had gone into exile. Now they regained their confidence. Each concession by the government made them feel more powerful and they upped their demands still more. The demonstrations and provocations grew more intense, not less so.

The growth of the right could not leave the working class movement itself unperturbed. A significant proportion of workers now began to see the correctness of the revolutionary left’s warnings that armed struggle was inevitable. In the southern Chilean city of Concepcion, the local sections of the Popular Unity coalition, with the exception of the Communist Party, began to work with the revolutionary group, the MIR. And in the union elections of 1973 the MIR showed, for the first time, that it was gaining a real base among industrial workers. All this made it more difficult for the government to accede to the right wing’s demands to impose ‘discipline’. Its commitment to ‘constitutional’ methods prevented a socialist solution to the growing social and economic crisis. And its dependence on working class support prevented it carrying through the full range of repressive measures demanded by a capitalist solution.

As the crisis became more heated, Allende and the Communist Party turned increasingly to the military to bolster up their position. The courting of army officers was backed up with bribes, in the form of raising their pay (while workers were being urged to exercise restraint ‘in the national interest’) and increasing the level of military expenditure, so as to allow the forces to be equipped with more modern arms – the arms today being used to murder workers.

Both Allende and the Communist Party reiterated time and again that the army would be loyal to the regime and that fears of a coup were misplaced. The Communist general secretary, Corvalan, insisted that

‘the army is not invulnerable to the new winds blowing in Latin America and penetrating everywhere. It is not a body alien to the nation, in the service of anti-national interests. It must be won to the cause of progress in Chile and not pushed to the other side of the barricades.’ [10]

Allende also made it clear that he had no intention of permitting the formation of any form of workers’ militia.

‘There will be no armed forces here other than those stipulated by the constitution, that is to say, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. I shall eliminate any others if they appear.’ [11]

One of the jobs given the army was special responsibility in Southern frontier regions ‘... in order to control the arms traffic conducted by the extreme right or the revolutionary left.’ [12]

The first great threat to the Allende regime was in October of last year. The lorry owners took their vehicles off the road, in a bosses’ strike. Nominally this was in protest at plans for an integrated state transport system, but the real motive was very much opposition to the government as such. Other sections of the middle class began to join in, with factory owners trying to shut down their premises. The government’s working class supporters responded by occupying factories to prevent their closure and taking measures themselves to keep supplies moving.

Allende, however, put more faith in the military than in the organised working class. The army was brought out to maintain law and order and to keep supplies running. Finally, as an assurance to the Christian Democrats that the government did not intend to take extreme actions, three generals were brought into the Popular Unity government (two of them are in the counter-revolutionary government today!). Allende then launched a campaign for ‘social peace’ together with the commander in chief of the army, who was given control over internal security.

What ‘social peace’ meant was soon clear to some workers at least. Where they had occupied factories, for instance in the town of Arica in Northern Chile, they were told to allow the old bosses to take over again. As the bosses did so, they sacked militant workers. [13] This was what Allende and the Communist Party meant by a ‘dialogue’ with the middle class.

Yet it is difficult to see any justification for the faith put in the armed forces and the police by the Popular Unity government. At least one observer, friendly to the government, could note early in 1972 that:

‘On the whole, the officers’ attitude to the government reflects the same reticence as that from the entire upper-class to which they belong ... All of the younger officers ... have been partially trained in the United States. Collectively they [the officers] remain ensconced behind their purely professional principles, individually they adhere closely to the standard pattern of their class of origin and to moderate options of the right or centre. There is, of course, a good deal of anti-Communism. The officer corps therefore constitutes a breeding ground for military conspiracies.’ [14]

There was no objection from Allende when the US, which cut back its civilian aid to Chile, increased its military ‘aid’. The adherents of the ‘parliamentary road to socialism’ were so blinded by their own misconceptions that they ignored the obvious. Their response to the growing antagonism between classes was to build up the power and prestige of an instrument that was bound to side with the employing class when the chips were down. Such was the logic of ‘constitutionalism’.

In March 1973 the Popular Unity was relatively successful in obtaining 43.9 per cent of the vote in the legislative elections. But Allende’s strategy of conciliation with the right suffered a sharp setback three weeks later when the representatives of the Army resigned from the government, apparently after making deliberately unacceptable demands. From this point on the right wing offensive against the Allende government was intensified.

The main theme of the attack on Allende was that he had reduced the country to economic chaos. Inflation was running at between three and four hundred per cent a year; the shops were empty and black marketeers were advertising openly in the press. Clearly some of the factors responsible. for this situation were outside Chilean control; but it is important to stress that to a large extent the chaos was the direct result of conscious economic sabotage by the Chilean bourgeoisie. This was done by various means: the withdrawal of bank deposits and the flight of capital abroad; a stop to investment in industry and agriculture; and hoarding designed to produce artificial scarcity.

The next major setback for the Allende regime was the strike at the El Teniente copper-mine, which lasted from mid-April to early July. The miners were fighting in defence of the sliding scale of wages, clearly a crucial safeguard in a period of galloping inflation. It is of course true that the copper miners, despite tough working conditions, have a level of pay far higher than most Chilean workers; it is also true that the unskilled workers returned to work first, while the supervisory staff stayed out longest.

But the copper miners are part of the working class, exploited like the rest, and with a long tradition of militant struggle. In March they had voted 70 per cent for the Popular Unity.

The rhetoric that high-paid workers should moderate their demands in the interests of the lower paid is well-known to British workers. In Chile the government’s rhetoric went so far as to label the miners ‘fascists’ and ‘traitors’; and the miners got not only rhetoric, but tear gas and water cannon. As a result, the copper miners, who could have been a powerful ally of the left, were adopted by the right. It denounced the government for challenging the right to strike; and right-wing inspired doctors, teachers and students struck in support of the miners. In the prosperous suburbs of Santiago ladies in fur-coats were collecting for the miners. [15]

Even more tragically, the forces to the left of Allende failed to back the miners. The MIR criticised the use of force, but attacked the miners for ‘economism’ even though they were fighting to maintain their living standards in an economy that remained capitalist.

Just as the strike was coming to an end, Allende faced yet another challenge from the right, with an attempted military putsch on 29 June. Though this was the most direct confrontation yet, it was not a serious threat as it was supported by only a small section of the army. Events made it clear that Allende still maintained a considerable popular base and the national trade union federation called for occupation of the factories. Yet Allende was cautious not to allow working-class activity to go too far; in a radio appeal during the fighting he said: ‘People must remain calm for I have complete confidence that loyal forces will normalise the situation.’ [16]

By now the Popular Unity was losing whatever support it had previously had among the middle classes; and groupings of the extreme right, notably the ‘Fatherland and Freedom’ organisation, were gaining ground and urging direct sabotage of the regime. This became clear at the end of July with the outbreak of the second lorry-owners’ strike.

The strike succeeded in aggravating the already serious economic disorder and further spreading demoralisation. At the same time it raised the issue of the workers themselves creating an alternative distribution system. Allende, however, preferred to rely on the army rather than the workers, and attempted to use the army to break the strike. But the army somehow never got round to seizing the immobilised lorries.

Allende’s policy now involved a consistent strategy of concessions to the right and attacks on the left. For the working class Allende’s main advice was to work harder. In his May Day speech he said: ‘Only the devastating force of the people can detain this fascist threat by producing more, working harder, and showing greater total effort.’ [17] He continued to attack the extreme left for breaches of ‘legality’, and when, in August, the leaders of the CUT offered him assistance in dealing with the lorry-drivers, he refused it, preferring to rely exclusively on the army. [18]

But for the right he had ever more offers. Before the cabinet reshuffle in July he approached two distinguished university rectors, both leading members of the Christian Democratic Party, and invited them to enter the government. Both were instructed to refuse by their party, anxious not to compromise itself by backing up a government so near the brink. [19]

In all this Allende was backed up, and indeed inspired, by the Communist Party. In face of the right-wing threat the CP launched the slogan: ‘Collect signatures against civil war’. [20] Even after the failed putsch in June, the CP continued to stress its respect of legality. In a speech on 8 July general secretary Corvalan made this clear. [21] Denouncing the right-wing National Party for its calls for civil disobedience, Corvalan said: ‘Such declarations expose this party, and we must let the Military Office of Prosecutions unroll the entire skein and the state security organs take corresponding action.’ At the same time he denounced those trying to ‘drive a wedge between the people and the armed forces’, and stated: ‘We continue to support the absolutely professional character of the armed institutions. Their enemies are not amongst the ranks of the people but in the reactionary camp.’

Yet while Allende and Corvalan were continuing to clutch at the crumbling edifice of legality, an alternative source of power was just beginning to emerge. The various ‘bosses’ strikes’ of the preceding year had begun to raise the question of workers’ control in a particularly concrete form. Workers who had occupied factories discovered that they could get on perfectly well without the employers and saw no reason to have them back. In Santiago new forms of workers’ self-organisation were beginning to develop in the form of the cordones. The role of these was described by the Peruvian revolutionary exiled in Chile, Hugo Blanco. [22]

‘Cordon is the term used to refer to the concentration of factories along certain avenues in Santiago ... The working class is organised into unions on a factory basis, and these unions are grouped into federations of the various industrial branches ... As in every pre-revolutionary process, the masses are beginning to create new organisations that are more responsive to their struggle, though for the moment they are not abandoning the old ones. The cordones are a partial innovation in the sense that they continue to make use of the unions, but they are linked by zone, by cordon, rather than by industrial branch. At first the top leadership of the CUT refused to recognise the cordones, and the CP called them illegal bodies. Today this is no longer tenable, and the reformists now reluctantly recognise them in view of the fact that their own rank and file has refused to heed their effort to ignore the cordones.’

And on 30 July the Guardian correspondent in Santiago reported:

‘Since 29 June many more Cordones have been organised until now they dominate all the access roads into the capital. Furthermore, in response to instructions from the labour leadership, the workers have occupied something like one hundred factories, most of which are now being administered by the unions.’

But Allende had already turned his back on the one class that could have saved Chile from military take-over. The workers were left to confusion and demoralisation.

There were revolutionary militants who could have offered an alternative leadership to workers in opposition to the policies of Allende and the Communist Party. But many were stranded inside the Socialist Party, whose would-be ‘leftist’ leadership continued to tolerate Allende as a member and put forward the notion that forms of popular power could coexist with the existing set-up. The most important independent revolutionary group was the MIR (Movement of the Revolutionary Left), and in the course of this year it attracted towards itself many of the worker militants inside the Socialist Party. It certainly put forward a programme for dealing with the Chilean crisis in a socialist manner: demanding that workers counter the economic sabotage of capitalists and bureaucrats by establishing their own control in the enterprises, the building of popular councils which would link workers and peasants, the formation of armed workers’ militias, and systematic organisation within the armed forces to turn the rank and file against the officers.

But the MIR suffered from its own previous history. It had begun life as a terrorist organisation on the lines of Uruguay’s Tupamaros – carrying out bank raids and giving the proceeds to the poor. Its energies initially were concentrated on work among the slum dwellers in the towns and the poorest peasants in the country. It was not until 1972 that it paid real attention to activity among the industrial workers who held the key to Chile’s future, and even then it seems to have been more an organisation for workers, rather than an organisation of workers.

The army, meanwhile, was beginning to act more and more independently, and to take upon itself the mission of smashing the left. Even though the 29 June coup had failed, it served as an encouragement to the extreme right. As the Financial Times reported on 9 August:

‘Availing themselves of powers given them under an army control law signed last October, the services set about searching factories and leftist enclaves. These raids, carried out with little delicacy, incurred the wrath of the left. Few arms have apparently been turned up by the searches, and while nests of weapons have been uncovered by police in the redoubts of wealthy rightists, and the present wave of violence certainly comes from the right the military’s attention has been focussed exclusively on the left.’

Even at this stage, the victory of the right could have been prevented. Although workers were faced with falling living standards, shortages of basic foods, and intimidation from the right and from the army, they still showed willingness to demonstrate behind the banners of their parties and unions. Even Christian Democrat workers were ready to back factory occupations aimed at preventing hardship to their class. And the rank and file in the armed forces were not immune to the feelings in the working class districts from which many of them had sprung. This was demonstrated dramatically when a section of the fleet rebelled against its right wing officers.

For members of the armed forces in any country to disobey orders is much more dangerous than for workers to go on strike. The penalty is invariably a long term of imprisonment, a risk which even the most militant socialist will only take if he believes there is some hope of his action enjoying success. If on the other hand, he believes the same officers will enjoy the same powers after the mutiny as before, he will hold back from action.

The revolt of the rank and file sailors might have presented an opportunity to begin to break the hold of the right wing officer corps throughout the forces. But instead of giving encouragement to the sailors, Allende and the Communist Party stood back while they were thrown into naval dungeons. Even worse, they showed that under the Popular Unity government, the power of the officers to impose harsh sentences was in no way threatened: those who carried out the jailings were still welcomed as ministers in the ‘People’s government’.

On 9 August a new cabinet was formed, including the leaders of the three armed forces. It lasted just a fortnight. On 23 August General Prats resigned from the government and as head of the army. Prats may have been sincerely sympathetic to Allende’s policies, but he was not prepared to isolate himself completely from the army. As he said: ‘I am leaving, because I do not want to smash the institution to which I belong. Among the women who have been demonstrating outside my home there were several generals’ wives.’ [23]

By 28 August Allende had managed to scrape together yet another government, which actually contained four military leaders. But he no longer had anything to offer the workers, except an endless perspective of more and more concessions to the right. The army could now safely hope to intervene without fearing massive resistance. The water was tested with demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, while acts of terrorism proliferated. On 11 September the Army moved in, and Allende was reported to have committed suicide. In fact he had done so politically much earlier.

The lessons of the Chilean experience, are not particularly original ones. They were first drawn by Marx, at the time of the Paris Commune more than 100 years ago, and they were reiterated by Lenin writing ‘State and Revolution’ on the eve of October: there is no way of carrying through a socialist transformation of society without first destroying the old state apparatus, with its standing army, its police, its judiciary, its bureaucratic hierarchy. In its place has to be established the rule of directly elected and recallable workers’ delegates, backed up by a workers’ militia.

Many would-be marxists have claimed that under modern conditions the bourgeois state can be reformed peacefully, at least in countries with strong parliamentary traditions.

These were the arguments used by Allende and the Communist Party in Chile. They are also the arguments of the labour left and the Communist Party in Britain. The Chilean coup has proved their fallacy. The ruling class will not just sit back and accept in-roads into its privileges, however ‘constitutionally’ reforms are carried through or however deep-rooted parliamentary traditions. The state machine in even the most democratic bourgeois states is built on strictly hierarchic principles, with control over the activities of the army, the police and the civil service concentrated in the hands of the relatives and friends of those who hold economic power. And the ruling class will use this state machine to re-establish its own, untrammelled domination the moment it feels the balance of forces are favourable to it.


1. Popular Unity programme, printed in J. Ann Zammit (ed.), The Chilean Road to Socialism, Brighton 1973.

2. Allende’s advisor, Joan Garces, in Zammit, ibid., p.185.

3. Figures given in Zammit, ibid., p.245.

4. 16 November 1971.

5. For an account of this policy, see the then minister of economics, Vuskovic, in Zammit, op. cit., p.52.

6. S. Baranclough gives figures in Zammit, ibid., p.120.

7. In Zammit, ibid, p.37.

8. Quoted in the Morning Star, 7 August 1972.

9. Punto Final, 23 May 1972. The Grupo Movil were special riot police, roughly equivalent to the French CRS. The Popular Unity programme had promised that they would be dissolved.

10. Interview in the Belgian Communist paper, Drapeau Rouge, 1 January 1971.

11. Speech of 10 September 1972, quoted in Financial Times, 12 September 1972.

12. A. Joxe in Zammit, op. cit., p.234.

13. Details in Socialist Worker, 13 January 1973

14. A. Joxe, op. cit., p.232.

15. Le Monde, 19 June 1973.

16. Quoted in Intercontinental Press, 9 July 1973.

17. Quoted in Intercontinental Press, 14 May 1973.

18. Le Monde, 25 August 1973.

19. Guardian, 12 July 1973.

20. Quoted in Intercontinental Press, 11 June 1973.

21. Translated in Marxism Today, September 1973.

22. Intercontinental Press, 11 June 1973.

23. Le Monde, 25 August 1973.

Last updated on 26 April 2010