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Towards a Revolutionary Subject?. Textile Workers in the Cordones Industriales in Chile, 1972-1973. Industrialisation in Chile and Argentina between 1930s and 1970s Focus on comparison of metalworking and automobile industry in Argentina and textile industry in Chile

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towards a revolutionary subject

Towards a Revolutionary Subject?

Textile Workers in the Cordones Industriales in Chile, 1972-1973

context of the paper

Industrialisation in Chile and Argentina between 1930s and 1970s

  • Focus on comparison of metalworking and automobile industry in Argentina and textile industry in Chile
  • Role of the workers in shaping the world around them by contesting changes in the workplace
  • Impact and influence of these conflicts over the trajectory of industrialisation and the formation of the working class
Context of the Paper
what were the cordones

Organisations of and around factory occupations, mainly in Santiago – worker self-managed industrial districts

  • Linked to, but not limited, to large nationalised firms in the Area of Social Property (APS)
  • Role of political and trade union activists in the context of widespread mobilisation and organisation
  • Relationship with other forms of organisation, e.g. ComandosComunales
What were the Cordones?
role of textile workers

Large firms, e.g. Sumar, Yarur, Sedamor & Hirmas, were amongst the first to be nationalised

  • Peter Winn (1989) details the role of Yarur workers in the earliest days of Allende government
  • Large textile plants were at the heart of many of the most active Cordones
  • Organic relationship between workers at large and small firms – assistance in occupation & new supply and production relations
  • Workers in small firms beyond apolitical and “rightist” tendencies
Role of textile workers
establishing autonomy

Origins of Chilean working class in the mining sectors of the North – ideological and material dissemination

  • Failed incorporation between 1940s and 1950s limited the formation of trade unions
  • Role of Communist Party in textile industry – important in politicising grievances, but limited control
  • Persistent mobilisations in 1950s, changing production relations in 1960s, and resurgence of working class
Establishing autonomy
formation of radicalism

Radical ideas disseminated from earliest formation of the textile industry in Chile – silk workers strikes of 1930s

  • 1930s and 1940s see political legitimisation of ‘socialism’ and prominence of radical political activists
  • Three pillars of Chilean socialism in textile workers’ press : anti-imperialism, nationalism, and democracy
  • New meaning applied to tensions of the 1970s – participation, politicisation, and “popular power”
Formation of radicalism
towards revolution

New relations in and of production, explicitly aimed to extend beyond the limits imposed by the state

  • Mobilisation and resistance against the strategies of firms and the Right galvanises workers
  • Lack of political control and the Battle for Production
  • Radicalism and autonomy permits the formation of a distinctive revolutionary political subject
  • Limitations in overcoming the constraints of capitalist industrialisation derive from institutional constraints
Towards revolution?