The State and the Making of Capitalist Modernity in Chile
Clark, Timothy David
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This dissertation provides a reinterpretation of Chilean history via an analysis of the processes of state and class formation in the construction of capitalist modernity. Coventional periodizations divide Chilean history into alternating models of externally-oriented and market-led development, on the one hand, and internally-oriented and state-led development, on the other. What this pendular reading of history overlooks, however, is the question of capitalism as a historically-unique social order: it origins and expansion, how state and class actors respond to the revolutionary pressures emanating from capitalist transformation, and how these responses shape the trajectory of economic development. The first part of this dissertation will contend that the decades from 1870 to 1970 are more fruitfully considered as part of the long and frustrated transition to capitalist hegemony. The second part of this dissertation will examine the decades from 1970 to the present. In a great historical irony, it was the socialist revolution of Allende that made possible the depth of the subsequent capitalist reforms of the military regime by enervating the chief obstacle to capitalist hegemony: Chilean capitalists themselves. And far from initiating a neoliberal ‘withdrawal’ of the state, Pinochet deployed the enormous state power inherited from Allende to carry out a state-led capitalist revolution from above. The military regime actively reconstructed Chilean capitalists as the dominant social force while simultaneously demobilizing organized labour and individualizing and marketizing subjectivities and social reproduction in civil society via the ‘social modernizations’ that comprise the subsidiary state. The particular manner in which capitalist hegemony was instituted in Chile, however, with its powerful capitalist class, institutionally-constrained and subsidiary state, and disarticulated and individualized civil society, has rendered the political system chronically unable to address pressing challenges and now represents the primary obstacle to the deepening of socio-economic development. As a result, capitalist modernity in Chile has taken the forms of deep inequalities of power, income, and opportunity and an increasingly stagnant economic structure dependent upon the exploitation of natural resources, on the one hand, and a rigid and exclusionary political system plagued by a series of structural and institutional obstacles to change, on the other.