Two years after the 1973 coup, Milton Friedman visited the Valparaíso Business School, invited by his former students from the Chicago School and the manager of Banco Hipotecario de Chile. There he advocated for the supremacy of the market, the reduction of public spending and the oligopoly even though they coexisted with political terror: the program implemented by the economic prime ministers of the dictatorship, which enriched the elites and impoverished the popular sectors.
The architect of extreme liberalism, paradoxically the author of Capitalism and Freedom , was not in favor of painkillers but of amputation. Its ideology, leveraged in the Constitution of 1980, enshrined Chile as a misleading benchmark of well-being and progress for more than three decades. It mattered little that the violation of rights, the meager state welfare and the accumulation of resentment accompanied the macro stability.
Without stable majorities in Congress, the negotiation of a new social contract, redefining the role of the State in the commodification of education, health, pensions and market overflows, will have to be the priority of Gabriel Boric, who will not be able to to achieve this with social stability if the company captains and the elites who enjoyed an open bar in the collection of profits and influence do not pitch in. Agreement towards a new redistribution of power will not be easy, because the recalcitrant political, economic and military emporiums continue to be encapsulated in an unsupportive underestimation of the suffering of others and weather structural changes that reduce privileges.
But the immobility of the greedy right and the extreme left in Babia is bad business. If the inequity in the distribution of wealth is not remedied by the convergence of programs, it will end up setting fire to the vulnerable middle classes, rescued from poverty during the reasonable macroeconomic balances of the Concertación.
Back in Chicago, Friedman wrote to Pinochet thanking him for his hospitality: “They made us feel like we really were at home.” The ravages of the coronavirus, the succession of protests and a 35-year-old president certify the emergence of a sociologically different Chile, demanding, mostly contrary to continuing to be the cozy home of a neoliberalism that privatized public goods as if it were in the United States and those in need were protected by a Norwegian welfare state.
The new Constitution is welcome, but the one reformed by Ricardo Lagos in 2005 would have served to combat inequality and meet urgent demands, the solution of which will only be possible from a new Concertation between the parliamentary forces and the elites, including the cultural and, unfortunately, the charlatans, as abundant as weeds. The agreement is complicated, but it is gratifying to hear from Gabriel Boric that his commitment to democracy and human rights will be total, without endorsements of any kind for dictatorships and autocracies, annoying whoever bothers.
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