On 11 September 1973, Chilean army general Augusto Pinochet seized power, unleashing a tidal wave of violence against trade unionists, activists and the left, and establishing a dictatorship that lasted almost two decades. The coup was a tragic defeat for Chile’s working class and oppressed, which since the election of reformist socialist Salvador Allende in 1970, had fought an increasingly radical battle against the country’s bosses for control over factories, land and the streets. It was a battle that exposed the limits of Allende’s strategy of gradual change and constitutionalism, and demonstrated the enduring relevance of the question of reform or revolution.
The Chilean revolution offers a remarkable insight into the potential for workers to challenge for control over society’s wealth, and its defeat demands investigation if we are to avoid repetition. This session will uncover the inspiring history of the Chilean struggle, and draw out strategic lessons for socialists today.