A semi-fictional account on the fatidic September 11, 1973, when the military commanded by General Pinochet took over the power from socialist president Salvador Allende, initiating a ... See full summary »
After decades of fascist rule in Chile, Patricio Guzman returns to his country to screen his documentary, Battle of Chile, which until the time of the filming was banned by authorities. His... See full summary »
This is a tragic, moving tale of a courageous political leader who tried to make the world a better place for the most disadvantaged of his country's citizens. Ironically, it's the interviews with the US ex-ambassador to Chile which seem the most insightful. The ambassador got it exactly right: Allende never had a chance. The forces arrayed against Allende in his attempt to transform Chile into a democratic socialist regime were simply overwhelming: the US, international finance capital, the Chilean bourgeoisie, most of the Chilean middle classes, and the Chilean army. In a sense, Allende should have known better: he had before him the unsuccessful examples of republican Spain in the '30s and Guatemala in the '50s. In neither case had it been possible to introduce far-reaching social and economic reforms which aroused the unconditional hostility of the capitalist ruling class and neighboring reactionary states. And Allende would have had no more success if he had armed the workers and campesinos, since the Chilean army showed no signs of demoralization and disintegrationthe conditions under which a "people's army" has a chance to triumph over a well-armed, disciplined professional army. The people in the people's army would have been slaughtered tout court. Perhaps his only chance came with the assassination of Rene Schneider, Allende's pick as head of the Chilean armed forces. He could have used the assassination as an excuse for a thorough house-cleaning of the military high command, assuming he could have found some of Latin-America's famous "left-wing colonels" who would have been necessary to carry out the purge. But it would have been a risky proposition that just as easily could have precipitated the military coup that came 3 years later. The film should also prompt some rethinking of the concept of the "dictatorship of the proletariat"a concept that's had rather bad press in recent decades. One of Allende's closest friends tells us that Allende was a committed Marxist socialist but certainly not a Leninist, because he did not believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Allende, we're told, believed in democracy. But the problem was that the democracy Allende believed in was in reality a dictatorship of another kind: the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Despite its façade of multi-party elections, Chilean democracy was a stacked deck, inevitably manipulated in favor of the ruling classes. So Lenin was right: only by forcing the collapse of the coercive apparatus sustaining the rule of the bourgeoisie could the working classes create a state that serves their interests. What distinguishes the dictatorship of the proletariat from the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is not that one is a multi-party system and the other a single party system (there's no lack of single-party states in the history of the rule of the bourgeoisie). Rather, it's the stacking of the deck in favor of working people versus stacking it in favor of the owners of capital.
12 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?