Magdalena Moncada explains why Chile rejected the world’s worst constitutional proposal
Magdalena Moncada served as chief of staff to José Antonio Kast’s 2021 presidential campaign on the Partido Republicano ticket. She writes from Santiago specially for Postliberal Order.
Fifty-two years after the Marxist Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile, the Chilean people decisively shut the door on a program of ideological radicalization that would have left them victim of one of the most radical constitutions in the world.
In the single largest electoral turnout in Chilean history comprising 85 percent of the Chilean people, Rechazo claimed 62 percent of the votes to reject the ultra-progressive constitution. Support for the constitution (Apruebo) garnered a meager 38 percent of the vote.
American readers can hardly imagine the insanity that has gripped my country in the last three years. Unreported in the media, unnoticed even by right-wing media, Chile has been wracked by violent terrorist attacks and an unflinching effort, supported by global media, to install a crippling, radical constitution that would have wrecked our country once and for all.
Let me tell you the story.
Chile was once the Latin American example. . . .
Chileans celebrate the decisive rejection of an ultra-progressive constitution on the night of September 4, 2022.
The “Chilean miracle,” as Milton Friedman called it, led to an unprecedented economic evolution for our country: in 1970 85 percent of Chileans lived in poverty; by 1990, at the end of General Augusto Pinochet’s seventeen-year rule, that figure dropped to 45 percent, and by 2018 finally to 8 percent. In 1973, GDP per capita was equivalent to $1,640; in 1990 it reached $2,490 and in 2018 it reached $15,800 USD. The poor class became a huge middle class, and the Chilean upper class prospered.
Today our country is going through a revolutionary process, which has culminated, for the moment, in a national plebiscite rejecting the proposal for a new constitution.
Chile has become an unfortunate example and warning for the countries of the world: economic prosperity will not save the West from ongoing revolution. Quite the contrary, Chile’s liberty and prosperity proved a brittle protection against the forces determined to overthrow it. The transformation of Christian societies, in Europe as well as the Americas, is a process that will not be stopped without a deep cultural work.
On September 4, 1970, in the middle of the Cold War, the socialist Salvador Allende won the elections, proposing profound reforms and a transition to Communism through socialism. His proposal was to make a revolution different from the Soviet one, one that did not require the uprising of the proletariat in revolution, but rather a change of the institutions—the law, the justice system and the Congress—so that they would adapt to the reforms that the presidency wanted to promote.
The three years of Allende’s government were marked by several elements: a single national educational program, which would restrict the freedom of education; the expropriation of large rural property, seeking to put an end to agricultural economic concentrations; the nationalization of copper mining, the main economic activity of the country; and the extensive visit of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, icon of the Communist revolution. By 1973, the economic and social situation in Chile was unsustainable, with uncontrolled inflation and food shortages that produced malnutrition and hunger. The political division reached the point of institutional breakdown, the president broke the law to carry out reforms not approved by the Congress and in contempt of the Chilean Supreme Court rulings that condemned his illegitimacy.
Chilean revolutionary cells—called MIR, MAPU and FPMR—sought to achieve by armed means what President Allende could not achieve with his reforms. Rumors of a civil war increased, which led the president to appoint a cabinet made up of members of the Armed Forces. Finally, on September 11, 1973, the presidential palace was bombed and President Allende took his own life, initiating a military government of General Pinochet that came to the rescue of a country that was on the verge of civil war. Pinochet’s government that would finally last till March 11, 1990.
The revolutionary cells that had been actively functioning in Chile during the Allende government, and that threatened civil war, were quashed, and during the military government the country grew economically. The Chilean right wing thought it had left behind the socialist dreams of revolutionary transformation of the state, given what seemed to be the empirical evidence of the superiority of the free market model against the centrally planned one.
The seeds of the coming problem, however, lay exactly in this liberal way of thinking: the view that economic welfare was a sufficiently forceful answer at the cultural and civilizational level. It never was. Many left-wing theorists had already concluded that, in the midst of economic wealth and the welfare of a country, a revolution could arise in a new revolutionary subject—no longer in the proletarian class, which had since become accommodated to the middle class with access to goods and services. The new revolutionary subject found the reason for its dissatisfaction on the psychological plane, as oppressed and relegated minorities, who find the impetus for their desire for social transformation in a much deeper root than the economic one: the cultural one.
Ideology entered our country in torrents. Well-known public figures pushed the study of homosexuality as well as trans and queer lifestyles. Anarchist groups inserted themselves in vulnerable neighborhoods; self-determination found a new place in radical indigenist thought, and the oppression of indigenous populations became a pretext for developing terrorism in the south of the country. Decolonization came on the scene to abolish the European model of nationhood that founded Chile, and feminism sought to radicalize Chilean women toward a society without family and even without gender.
The rise of terrorism in Chile has been underreported in Western media. The first terrorist attack by the “CAM” terrorist cell took place in 1990, in the Alaskan ranch. Since then the number has not stopped rising: in 2016, 20 attacks; in 2017, 64; in 2018, 157; in 2019, 415; and in 2020, 808 attacks and rising every year, with more than 50 murders.
Regarding religious faith and family, in 1996 80 percent of the Chilean population declared themselves Catholic; by 2017, that figure dropped to 37 percent. This decline was cemented in law, which in turn exacerbated the underlying problems: the divorce law was approved in 2004, in 2017 the abortion law with restrictions, and finally this year, same-sex marriage.
Marijuana consumption went from 4.6 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2016 among adults. Regarding alcohol consumption, we have the highest in Latin America. 23 percent of Chileans have or are thought to have some mental health problem. The average age of first sexual activity is 16/17 years old. In 2019, 75 percent of children were born out of wedlock, and our birth rate is at 1.6 children per woman.
For decades, from 1990 through today, an intense revolutionary ferment has been under way: anger and class hatred have been stoked, incentivized in economic inequality; the Church and morality were attacked, in a pretension to modify that which was always considered good and true; mockery of the homeland and its symbols was encouraged, toward the rejection of tradition and culture; and violent behavior began to emerge among youth, indications of a future uprising that would become real on October 18, 2019.
The insurrection of 2019 was the manifestation of what had been simmering for decades. The saturation of social space with radical ideological slogans suddenly encouraged rapid social collapse. This discontent was promoted in universities, schools, workers’ unions, vulnerable neighborhoods, among minorities of all kinds as well as among feminist collectives. A widespread uprising, they thought, would demonstrate to the right-wing political class, so oblivious to this revolutionary reality, that Chile was a very different country from the one they imagined.
The widespread chaos lasted for months. Between October 2019 and March 2020, 34 people died as a result of the protests, 25 subway stations were set on fire, more than 2,000 crime reports were filed, carabineros reported 544 attacks on their barracks, 73 percent of the shops in the affected areas had to close during those months, 600 businesses closed permanently, and 57 churches were vandalized in two months—51 of them Catholic.
Rioters destroy St. Francis Borgia Church in Santiago, October 2020.
In an attempt to calm this widespread lawlessness, President Sebastián Piñera made an agreement with almost the entire political spectrum—except for the right-wing Partido Republicano or Republican Party—to change the Constitution. The proposal, however, was a misreading of our reality all too typical for right-wing liberals.
In the first place, the newly proposed constitution, now thankfully rejected, would have involved something much deeper than a constitutional change. Secondly, the social needs that need to be improved in Chile do not require constitutional modifications. And finally, opening the possibility of consecrating new constitutional rights to the radicalized Left, and of investing new ideological concepts with supralegal authority, opened a new political scenario that our country will hardly be able to revert in the medium term.
The constitutional proposal now rejected was born of a process that despised our country. The text of constitutional change presented to the people was, sadly, a faithful reflection of this process of cultural and philosophical collapse.
The proposed new constitution would have removed all mention of the family as the nucleus of society, while consecrating diverse families as legitimate. It proposed, as constitutional rights, abortion without limits and for any reason; the right to euthanasia; the right to trans identity which cannot be questioned or denied by others, not even in private virtual spaces. The new constitution demanded gender parity, with quotas, in all state bodies and in all elections at national and local level.
A plural nationality was also envisioned by the new constitution, putting an end to Chilean unity and presenting divisions and racial discrimination in favor of indigenous peoples. It would have limited the action of the Armed Forces to stop the rampant Chilean terrorism. It would have ended the freedom of educational projects, subordinating all schools and universities to mandatory ideological principles. It gave the right to vote to all prisoners in Chile, regardless of the crime committed or the time they must spend in jail. In short, it intended to consecrate a truly insane, divisive and ideological constitution, representative of the culturally revolutionary process that Chile has been living.
Nonetheless, the task that remains is gigantic. Four million eight hundred thousand people approved a project that intended to end religious liberty and educational liberty, limit private property and ended the right to life. A third of Chile proposes and wishes to make profound changes to our democracy—and are ashamed of our history.
In spite of the resounding defeat of this constitution, the vote is not an electoral process that will alone be able to change Chile towards a better future. Rejection of the new constitution is not the triumph of a right-wing president, or a turn to the right in Congress. The need we have today is to be able to confront the radical Left that has taken over the new generations. We need a return to our traditions and customs, a strengthening of the family and life, the defense of religion, parental educational freedom and shared economic success, among other values.
The share of hope that remains for Chile is to change course. Chile needs new leadership, with enough education to face today’s problem at a philosophical as well as practical level, with a sense of reality and true social concern—a generation of courageous people that will raise our country that once was a country of opportunities and meritocracy. We need in Chile, and throughout the world, a generation that rescues the value principles that founded our society—a generation that is full of pride in our history and our faith—a generation that can lead with confidence, humility, and full knowledge of the catastrophic consequences of the rejection of human nature.