On Monday, August 29, one day after the scandal caused by a trans group at an act for the Approval in Valparaiso —a member of the group pretended to pull a Chilean flag out of her anus while shouting “abort Chile, abort the male inside, abort the police”—, the writer Rafael Gumucio wrote: “Even suicides kill themselves only when it suits them. For this left, the radical, the dissident, the performative, losing is more useful than winning.”
A week later, on Monday, September 5, after the overwhelming defeat of the Approval in the plebiscite for the new Chilean constitution, Gumucio wrote: “The Chileans, like the Abyssinians, the Peruvians, the Belgians, will never adhere to the delusions of a small intellectual elite bent on neoliberalizing protest. The left has only won when it has engaged in politics and will always lose when it engages in performance”.
In that post-plebiscite text, the renowned 52-year-old Chilean writer, author of more than a dozen books —stories, novels, essays, biography— and director of the Institute for Humorous Studies at Diego Portales University, said that what he had lost with the result of the election was an outside look at Chile: that of the film festivals, that of the foreign correspondents, that of the world’s intellectuals who congratulated the country for the avant-garde Constitution that it was forging. A solipsistic look, said Gumucio, who prefers to erase from reality the parts that he does not like, to deny the other. “We are not, as Nicanor Parra thought, only a landscape, but also a country.”
And he also lost, of course, who had voted for the Approval, despite his differences with the dynamics of the constituent process and the most radical groups on the left. “My problem is not with feminism, nor with ecology, nor with any of these demands,” he explains now, a day after the vote. “My problem is that the way they demand it shows that they are asking for the opposite. That is to say: if you want peace in the world and you use a bazooka to ask for it, then you do not want peace in the world”. The problem, he argues, is the fundamentalist way of seeing the world: it doesn’t matter if it is Islamic, far-right or animalist, because the cause is nothing more than an excuse to impose a vision of the world.
Ask. In a column he published before the plebiscite, he speaks of an individualistic, “parasitic and egocentric” left, which is not interested in living together, but rather in transforming from scratch what it sees as “a shitty country.” How much real responsibility do you think that sector has in the defeat of the Approval?
Response. I think he has a huge responsibility. The identitarian left saw in October, in Octobrism, an incredible political opportunity. It was his glorious moment. And the more traditional left bought this speech. The Convention was largely the outcome of that discourse: in it there was a fight not between the left and the right, because the right did not exist, but between the more traditional left —the one that has to do with the history of the Coalition, but also with the history of the Popular Unity—and this new left. I think the traditional left committed the sin of permissive dads, of the cool dad. If your son arrives, I don’t know, with his hair painted blue, it’s one thing not to repress him and not grab him and cut his hair, or do that kind of stupid thing that is useless. But it’s another thing to play to be excited about your son’s blue hair and live as if this is wonderful and as if this is really something that seems good to you. This way you lose the respect of your children, because the children know that they are lying, and you don’t get any interesting debate either. So I think that the traditional left, the political left, let’s say, missed a huge opportunity to tell this new left, which also has fundamentalist elements… to stop it. And it is evident that, in all the items where the identitarian left wanted to put a point forward, it lost.
P. What would be the equivalent of painting your hair blue or getting a tattoo in terms of the new Constitution, in political terms?
R. There is a new culture and it is undeniable, in the new generations, that it has to do with sexuality, that it has to do with culture, that it has to do with a way of thinking about the world. To think from the place of the victim, to build a rhetoric of weakness. A vision of identity that thinks that it is impossible for someone who does not suffer the consequences of the one who suffers to be able to speak: that one cannot speak of blacks without being black, of Indians without being an Indian… All this vision is present and true , but was evidently thought to be underrepresented and is overrepresented. It is a minority. And furthermore, being completely mandatory, this election made it clear that there is a large population about which we know nothing and that would explain why all the governments in Chile —of the center, of the right and now of the left— end up being a minority, without being one. politically. In other words, it seems that neither Pinera, nor Bachelet, nor Boric really were majority governments, even if they won the election. There is a huge continent of people who are obviously conservative —not always from the right, but conservative—, who have not been consulted, who have not been part of the political game. So, the Convention said that it was going to give a voice to those who had not been part of it and it was enormously wrong, because it precisely gave a voice to a small university elite and left, insulted and offended that majority that does not speak. And that still remains to be consulted, to investigate, to know.
P. After the plebiscite, you said that the hypotheses of the blockade of the right-wing media and the bombing of fake news they cannot stand a day without being wrong. But, from the outside, many of the arguments that were heard from people who were going for the Rejection had to do with misinformation, such as that they were going to take away their second home or that there were going to be two flags. Do you think that did not have a real weight in the result?
R. Yes, of course he had. Because there is the rhetoric that this is the Constitution of the dictatorship and then between the eighties and today nothing happened. No, this is the Constitution of the dictatorship but we accepted: first reluctantly, because we had no other, and then not so reluctantly. The neoliberal system, which was imposed with blood, was also accepted, and was lived and enjoyed by great generations of Chileans. So, of course, it is clear that part of the Rejection vote comes from a neoliberal vote, let’s say popular, that thinks of the second house, there is no doubt about that. But I think that what was transcendental was the issue of plurinationality and abortion, which were the two great issues that cost the left the election. Because they were two issues in which it was not taken into account that the political and ideological advances of the Chileans were not such. The second house thing, the housing thing, of course it worked. The Constitution was very clumsy in that.
P. We have heard a lot, with the disinformation before and with the election now, that one of the big problems with the new Constitution was that many people had not read it. Do you think that the vast majority who voted for the Rejection did so because they did not read it, or because they knew its content well and were opposed to it?
R. The Constitution is not easy to read even for people who have knowledge. In fact, there were several controversies of interpretation between constitutional lawyers in which even the editors intervened saying that they did not understand very well either. It wasn’t easy to read, it wasn’t easy to understand. One of the shortcomings of the Constitution was the excessive use of terminology from different disciplines. Let’s say that if you were an anthropologist you put all the terms of anthropology today. Or, if you were a sociologist, you put what the professor had just taught you. So claiming that people didn’t read itif it wasn’t written for people to read. In other words, it was not intended for people to read it, but for the Cambridge or Oxford professor to read it. It is a very student constitution, because most of the constitutionalists belonged to the student class: law students, professors, people from the academic proletariat. And so it was written in that language. Of course, it is a language that is revulsive for Chileans and for anyone. To me, words like territory, like normalization, are always repugnant to me, because they are also words that do not say what they say. When they put “substantive equality”, they are saying something that is not equality. It’s like “democratic Germany”, let’s say, that what he meant was that it was not democratic…
P. You say that we have to see how long the ruling left will have the heart of a grandmother, and you also say that you continue to believe that President Gabriel Boric is capable of surprising us, although you fear that these surprises are not always happy ones. What is he referring to?
R. Look, from what I know of Boric, I have the best impression and I think he fully understands the problem. What happens is that he has tried to navigate —and it is going to be impossible for him to continue doing so— between the forces that tell him “now is when, and if not, why did we do all this”, and the forces that tell him that has to navigate these new waters. I think in this case he should have taken a much more determined attitude and grabbed the text, gone with a pair of scissors and an eraser and said: no, we’re going to modify this and this and this. It was not like that and, of course, a very great weakness remained. Now, it is also true that the problems that the country and the world are experiencing are of such a magnitude that even a seasoned teacher of politics and economics does not know very well what to do. In other words, we have Joe Biden, who is perhaps the exact opposite of Boric, in the sense that he is an old man who has been involved in politics all his life, who cannot be blamed for a lack of experience, and he does not manage to grab either The bull by the horns. In other words, it seems that everything we are experiencing is sovereignly complex. So I don’t know, I don’t expect happy surprises from anyone anymore, but not from Boric either.
P. In spite of everything, one of his texts published after the plebiscite ends in a hopeful way: he breaks a spear for the republican vocation of the Chilean people, for settling differences at the polls.
R. Yes, I think in a way that was quite virtuous. It was virtuous because we went from burning things to burning ideas. It does not mean that tomorrow we will not burn things too, because it is also part of what still exists. But it is virtuous to have entered this debate and it is virtuous that the exit plebiscite has shown a people that is demanding, that is complex, that reads. The exit plebiscites in all the Constituent Assemblies are a formality. They almost always win. And here a fairly high and quite complex debate was mounted. Of course, with all the fake news and the flags and the shouts. What worries me is that I believe that the only more or less rational alternative is the one that everyone has already ruled out, which is the idea of having six or seven experts who take this Constitution, make another one and write what needs to be written. And then, well, it gets advertised. But of course, that is not going to be done, that is clear. If the Rejection had offered that I would have enthusiastically voted Rejection. But since he offered another constituent process and it is most likely that the next process will be the revenge of this one, I have no interest in seeing this revenge.
Source: EL PAIS