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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, Santiago – worker self-managed industrial districtsSedamor & 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?