There is far too much to asses regarding the 1973 coup d’etat for the scope of this single article, however we feel that in a sea of 911 memorial posts around the fascist take over and bombing of La Moneda in 1973, much of the most vital criticisms fall to the wayside. While Salvador Allende was the closest thing to a socialist president Chile has ever seen, and was genuinely attempting to keep the interests of the Chilean people at heart, the internal contradictions were the principle actors over the external conditions. The coup first and foremost stands as a stark and mournful warning against the sort of revisionism which we refer to as the parliamentary road. Allende won presidency in a close race and was elected in a run-off by congress as no candidate had gained a majority. This was the start of a doomed project that can best be understood in its dual aspects. On one hand this left wing president is an icon to many and is correctly upheld as a martyr and fighter against US imperialism. On the other hand his parliamentary, electoral road to socialism led to a fascist military Junta. The principle lesson to be gained here is summed up by Mao Zedong who teaches,
“…every communist must grasp the truth; political power grows out of the barrel of a gun…” and “…without a peoples army the people have nothing.”
Are these two statements by Mao correct? Yes, they are correct as well as universal and we must understand these truths when summing up the fall of Allende. Marx, in assessing the failures and successes of the Paris Commune had already laid out such truth which was reverberated by Lenin when theorizing the nature of the state, that; the proletariat cannot assume control of the ready made state apparatus that there necessarily has to be a smashing of the state. Failure to smash the state has inevitable and tragic results. From the genocide of 1 to 3 million communists in Indonesia, to the murder of Thomas Sankara, to the Coup in Chile; the parliamentary road is one doomed to the worst kind of defeat, it is soaked in more blood than armed revolution could ever be accused of. The revisionist reading of history diverts from both historical materialism and dialectical materialism by its insistence that the negative turn of events is due materially to the CIA operations, this outright places all focus on the external factors and not the internal class struggle- worst of all it fails utterly to learn from its own mistakes. The revisionists long for an Allende of their own and they present us with even less revolutionary versions in the form of “socialist” candidates that they still ask us to vote for.
Much more work and research should be done on the contradictions between the revisionist Moscow aligned Communist Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Chile which would require volumes. What is important here is class stance and a true understanding of how fascism comes to power. Latin American Marxist leader Jose Carlos Mariategui taught that fascism is what emerges for capitalism in order to sustain itself when it is in decay and thrown into a state of crisis, when the bourgeois ruling class can no longer rule in the old way (in the absence of a communist vanguard party). Allende by virtue of his high office was the embodiment of such a crisis, any socialist who took seriously the project of collectivization and nationalization would also create such a crisis, and the bourgeois would do as they have done, respond with its heavy shock troops- fascism. Revolution and reaction are antagonistic opposites, one must do the other in, there can be no coexistence between them. Allende even in the most charitable understanding did not provide the people with either a peoples army or establish the dictatorship of the proletariat- which is an absolute necessity in protecting the gains of the working class by the suppression of the bourgeoisie and its reactionary fascist defenders. Furthermore the working class in spite of the nationalization and collectivization of certain industries never became the ruling class, or the leaders of revolution. On one hand you had a progressive national bourgeoisie represented by Allende who sought social welfare and on the other a reactionary comprador fascist bourgeoisie represented by the Junta, these two forces came into such contradiction that it could only be solved through means of war, a war that the progressive forces could not win.
Allende himself weaved the rope that would be used hang him by appointing Augusto Pinochet to be the commander and chief of the Chilean army on august 23rd 1973, less than one month later Pinochet would lead the fascist US backed coup. The masses themselves remained unarmed, without militias or a red army of any sort which could safeguard against this inevitable reaction. Every socialist revolution or step toward socialism is met with reaction. From Chang Kai-shek, to the Czarist white army we can see the bourgeois react violently to social change. Two things are required to stamp this threat out, a peoples army and mass support, neither of which were secured or created by Allende. Peaceful transition to socialism is not only revisionism but the most dangerous kind of idealistic dreaming that has very real consequences. The Fascist’s wasted no time in torturing and persecuting communists, socialists, artists, intellectuals and workers who they were at all suspicious of, their reign of terror lasted for decades and their economic reforms placed the poor on the receiving end of prolonged violence.
The CIA took advantage of an internal contradiction to topple an anti-imperialist leader, to rob the Chilean people of hope for a more egalitarian society and prop up a sympathetic reactionary puppet government as they have done the world over, however, the CIA is not invincible. In reality the CIA and all American imperialism is a paper tiger. It has been crushed the world over by revolutions and national liberation struggles, in Korea and Vietnam we have seen the US beaten back and sent running by the masses of people, we have seen it resisted and allowed no victory for the past 15 years in Afghanistan. We will continue to see it get its teeth knocked out everywhere it goes until we see it toppled here at home in its very heart.
So what do these harsh lessons of the Chilean tragedy offer us in 2016? Fist and foremost it offers us a cautionary tale that revisionism in spite of even its better intentions cannot and will not serve the people, that no matter how sincere a socialist candidate might be they will still find the end which met Allende. Voting socialist and participating in the bourgeois elections can be met with such a fate. Even before they could accomplish such a spectacular end revisionism and the electoral road results in nothing but defeat. A persistent march down this road has been the course of the majority of the US left which still orients itself to a minority of the population in appeals to voting. They are content enough with the way things are to continue dancing with the existing system. This year we will not be asking for anyone to vote in this charade of capitalist politics, not for Jill Stein who pales in comparison to Allende and stands far less of a chance at either being elected or actually standing up to imperialism, nor for either of the two mainstream candidates who are both so right wing that either represent a hopeless continuum of the general trajectory of this system. Secondly we can take hope from the situation by a clearheaded view of its shortcomings, we can surmise that while the CIA can make use of reactionary forces that it cannot be triumphant and that it will be dashed on the rocks of revolution, provided we apply the lessons we take from the history of class struggle. We can proceed with honestly as we abandon the parliamentary road, when we build for revolution and when we construct the Party and the peoples army, when we establish a united front of all progressive forces led by the party. To do this revisionism must not be given ground and it must not be allowed to take root among the people. When say remember Chile, we must also say never again!