Monday, October 15, 2012

The power of WE in Chile

This post is a contribution to the Blog Action Day, centered in the topic "the power of WE". 

It looks to me that Chileans have only realize about the power of WE after two decades of the return of the democracy in our country. Maybe I was too young, but I could see that at the beginning the hopes and expectations were all concentrated in the possibility to elect our president, MPs and other authorities. The spell was short lasting, given soon we realized about the pitfalls of democracy. Most of us, and in particular the youth, quickly understood that most politicians were rent-seekers and puppets of obscure  influence groups, including many directly related to the former dictator.

System disappointment is a karma for most new democracies, as have been seen in the countries that succeeded in change regime after the fall of the Berlin wall and, recently, the Arab spring. The lost of hopes produces alienated and nihilistic citizens, that forget the power of WE. In economically successful Chile of the last years, many of the energies were concentrated in consumerist compulsion and empty nationalism, arrogance and arrivism.

While I have been living outside Chile for almost 8 years, every time I was back I was shocked by these symptoms.  What happened with the free society for which so many have fought, even with their lives? What happened with all the illusions of my generation, the first to live in democracy after so many years of tyranny?  Was all lost in the shopping center?

But in the last couple of years a ray of hope has struck Chilean society. Maybe the earthquake in 2010 shacked also our conscience.

It was something I discovered in my years as student at Universidad de Chile, when we denied to be involved in the elections of the students center and instead used the power of WE to independently create our institutions: the students' radio, the social action group, the cinema group, the futbol club... this was something called civil society!!! You don't need to wait for politicians and other authorities to do the actions, you have to do it yourself, in association with people that share your motivations and interests.

And looks like many in Chile discovered the power of WE through civil society. While we had economic growth, the system promoted a deepening of inequalities that eventually exploded. Indebted and marginalized students, impoverished workers and pensioners, environmentalists, ethnic and social minorities, isolated regions, they all started the movement that seems to be taking place now with the participation of the Chilean 99%. Sometimes it takes the form of massive pacific rallies and actions, sometimes, unfortunately, violence and  destruction, particularly when confronted with the brutal repression of the police forces that follows the command of politicians that have  lost the track of what is happening in society.

This movements is not just in the streets. It is getting institutionalized in many groups that represent the interests of groups of citizens that try to organize themselves to fight for what they think is right, sometimes at the community-level, sometimes at a national or international level. This is the real democracy.

I may be naive, and my analysis can be overconfident given I live abroad, but I have the hope that in Chile we are going to be capable to harness the power of WE for a better society.

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