The situation in Chile after the earthquake

Self-organization of the proletarians against the disaster, the lumpen-capitalists and state failure

By an anonymous comrade

It would be great, having this means of dissemination, if you could take into account what is happening in Concepción and its surrounding areas and other areas affected by the earthquake. Everyone knows that from the outset many people applied common sense and went to the places where supplies are stored, without appropriating more than what they needed. That is logical, rational, necessary and inevitable, it seems absurd to even put it under discussion. Not only was there spontaneous organisation (especially in Conception) of people, who distributed milk, diapers and water according to the needs of each individual, according to the number of children per family in particular. The need to take the products available was so obvious, so powerful was the determination of the people to exercise their right to survive, even the police ended up helping people to get the food from the Leader supermarket in Concepción, for example. And when they tried to prevent people from doing what they had to do, the facilities in question were simply burned, as it is also logical that if you have tons of food to rot instead of being properly consumed, that food is better burnt, avoiding dangerous sources of infection. These "raids" have enabled thousands of people to survive for several hours in the dark, without water and without the slightest hope that someone else to come to their aid. However, in the course of a few hours the situation has changed dramatically.

Across the conurbation penquista[1] bands have begun to act, well armed and mobilised in good vehicles, not only looting small establishments, but private homes and groups of homes. They aim to take the scarce goods that people could recover from supermarkets household goods, money or whatever they can. In some areas of Concepcion these bands have looted the houses and then set them alight and fled. The neighbors, who originally found themselves completely defenseless, have begun to organize for self-defense, carrying out patrols, setting up barricades to protect their movement, and in some neighbourhoods collectivising the food to ensure food for all neighbours. With this brief account of the events of recent hours I do not mean "to complete" the information gathered by other means. I want to draw attention to the substance that this critical situation contains, and its meaning from an anti-capitalist standpoint. The spontaneous urge of people to take ownership of what is necessary for their livelihood, their tendency to talk, share, agree and act together, has been evident since the beginning of this catastrophe. We have all seen this natural communal tendency expressed in one way or another in our environment. Amid the horror experienced by millions of workers and their families, the impulse to live in community has emerged as a light in the darkness, reminding us that it is never too late to begin again, to be ourselves again.

Given this organic, natural, communist trend which has encouraged the people during these times of terror, the State has paled, revealing itself for what it is: a cold and powerless monster. Also, the abrupt interruption of the insane cycle of production and consumption, left the business class at the mercy of events, forced to wait crouched for order to be restored. In short, a real gap opened up in society, from which could emerge glimpses of the new world that dwells in the hearts of ordinary people. It was therefore necessary, urgent, at all costs to restore the old order of robbery, abuse and hoarding. But not from the highest levels, but from the very soil of class society: those in charge of putting things back into their place, i.e. imposing relationships of terror that allow capitalist private ownership have been the entrenched drug trafficking mafias in the towns, the most ambitious of the ambitious, the children of the working class in alliance with bourgeois elements for self promotion at the expense of the poisoning of their brothers, the sexual trading of their sisters, the greedy consumption of their own children. Mafia: i.e. pure capitalists, predators of the people lounging in 4x4 trucks and armed with automatic pistols, ready to intimidate and rob their own neighbours or people in other neighbourhoods, to monopolise the black market and make easy money, i.e. power. These mafia elements are natural allies of the state and the capitalist class, evidenced by the fact that their despicable crimes are being used by the mass media to panic and demoralise the population, thus justifying the militarisation of the country. What other scenario could be more conducive to our political and business owners who see this catastrophic crisis as nothing more than another good opportunity to do good business with profits redoubled by squeezing a workforce bowed down by fear and despair?

On behalf of the opponents of this social order, it makes no sense to sing the praises of looting without specifying the social content of such actions. A mass of people more or less organised, or at least with a common purpose, taking and distributing commodities they need to survive is not the same as armed gangs looting the people for their own profit.

The truth is that the earthquake on Saturday, 27 has not only terribly beaten the working class and destroyed the existing infrastructure. It has also seriously disturbed social relations in this country. Within hours, the class struggle has emerged in the raw before our eyes, perhaps too accustomed to televised images to capture the essence of current events. The class struggle is here, in the neighborhoods reduced to rubble and darkness, sputtering and crackling in the very soil of society, facing a deadly shock to two kinds of human beings finally meet face to face: on the one hand social men and women look to one another for help and sharing, and on the other the antisocial loot them and shoot them to start their own primitive accumulation of capital. Here we are, the same opaque and anonymous people stuck in our grey lives of exploitation, neighbours and relatives, but willing to strengthen ties with those who share the same dispossession. There they are, few, but willing to take by force the little and nothing that we can share. On the one hand the proletariat, the other capital. It’s that simple. In many districts of this devastated land, at this hour of the morning people are beginning to organise self-defense against armed gangs. The class consciousness of those who have been forced, brutally and in the blink of an eye, to understand that their lives belong to themselves and nobody will come to their aid, is beginning to take a material form.

[1] Person or inhabitant from Concepción.