We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, September 25, 2011

‘Our future is not for sale’: The Chilean Student Movement Against Neoliberalism

Click here to access article by Manuel Larrabure and Carlos Torchia from Socialist Project (Canada).

As student-led uprisings have been occurring in the streets and squares of London, Madrid, Belfast, Athens and Barcelona, Chilean students are having a major impact in their country and on many activists in other countries in Latin America.
It is clear...that the Chilean student movement has become a major development for the left not only in Chile, but in Latin America as a whole. The students are presenting one of the leading neoliberal administrations in the region with a major political challenge. Crucially, they have managed to do so by building their own power outside of pre-established political institutions. Importantly, the movement has done so without simply avoiding the state, but rather through direct confrontation with it, and with a demand for its transformation and democratization. At a time when the electoral road to social transformation in the region appears blocked, this development holds much potential.
In highly class stratified societies, it is often much easier to see how ruling classes function to keep their power, wealth, and privileges. The writers of this article touch on many of these methods: placate the dissenters by advocacy of ineffective reforms and change of personnel, use of co-optation, infiltration, agent provocateurs, intimidation in the forms of cuts to education, threats of state violence, and finally, direct police violence.

It appears that this student lead movement is countering with some of the most creative and advanced forms of political actions and organization.