The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Egalitarian Rift Which Doomed The New Chilean Constitution

So, Chile wound up rejecting a new left wing constitution, and by a significant margin: about 2:1. This is interesting, because Chileans also wanted the old constitution replaced at about the same ratio.

Apparently a big issue was that indigenous people were given rights and status and that struck many as wrong.

It’s easy to see this as simple racism and colonialism, and no doubt that motivated many, but there’s something important here that should be teased apart because it’s important far beyond Chile.

Egalitarianism is defined by Oxford as:

relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

This leads to the first principle of egalitarianism:

No one should be treated differently in ways that matter based on who their parents are.

Notice that I’ve changed this around a bit. Slavery, while not always based on birth, is a violation of egalitarianism in essentially the same way that aristocracy is: someone being treated differently in an important way based on something they had no control over: who their parents are.

This leads to the second principle of egalitarianism:

No one should be treated better or worse than anyone else unless they’ve earned that treatment in a legitimate fashion.

So, the ideal is that no one should lose rights unless they’ve committed a crime. No one should be treated better unless they’ve earned that better treatment.

In democracy, you earn power by being chosen by your fellows for it. In capitalism you earn power and thus better treatment by having money, since it’s assumed that if you have money you or someone else did something people were willing to pay for, and if they were willing to pay it provided them utility. Utility is assumed to identical to “good”, so you’ve done lots of good and deserve better treatment. (This is obvious bullshit, but it’s how the system is justified.)

Let’s bring this back to Chile: indigenous people’s have been badly treated and deserve restitution, but to give them permanent rights that others in Chile don’t have based on their ancestry means that some people have rights that they didn’t earn legitimately from an egalitarian point of view.

Now, egalitarianism isn’t the only value, and more societies post-agriculture (and possible pre-agriculture) have been based on in-egalitarianism than on egalitarianism. Some of them have run relatively well. But there’s no question that creating status-anything based on birth is not egalitarian.

For this to work it would have to be a legitimate way for people without the ancestry to gain the status, and a legitimate way for people wit the status to lose it.

If it was based on ancestry combined with “you’ve been treated badly”, then the harm would have to be quantified, and the status lost when the harm has been rectified. “The harm has been made substantially whole.” People could join the status by proving similar harm had been done to their ancestors and/or them and was still effecting them.

If, on the other hand, the status is justified by “indigenous people are better stewards of the land” then a duty would have to be set up to take better care of the land, and those who did not do so would lose the status, while those who are willing to do so (and to learn indigenous methods) would be allowed to gain the status.

There are more rules to egalitarianism than the two mentioned, but these two, though not one person in a million could state them clearly, are, I suspect at the heart of some legitimate opposition to “rights” for various groups. They are also why the rich always like to claim they earned their money legitimately and why the 2008 bailouts damaged capitalist legitimacy so badly (because going bankrupt is how the rich are supposed to lose their special treatment in capitalism.)

Most of history has been about different status groups, with different legal rights, whether those rights were positive (nobles, charter city townsmen) or negative (serfs and slaves, women in many places and times.) The revolution against older forms was about getting rid of explicit status groups, and there is often resistance to creating new ones.

But ultimately it’s about legitimacy, and legitimacy of status rests on “you got it thru approved means and there are ways for you to lose it.”

Deal with those two issues in a way which seems fair and opposition to indigenous status is likely to diminish significantly. Base it on ancestry, and not current and future behavior or welfare, and many will object.



The Delusional Dishonesty of the G7 Russian Oil Price Cap


When Is the Next Oil Driven Inflation Spike In the US? December to March.


  1. BlizzardOfOzzz

    If the commies that Ian so loves ever get the power he wants for them, he will be one of the first to the Gulag. Too independent, and too honest.

  2. Willy

    These days, a primary tool for many mediocres is cheating by whatever means necessary. Maybe it’s how people always operate, at whatever levels are tolerated by a given society.

    Mediocres may have less ability than the talented but as far as I can tell, have all the same drive for power and status as anybody. When leaders like Obama promise “hope and change” and then get away with excuses to not fight hard for such, it’s easy to see how many mediocres will notice and be tempted to do the same.

    Elon Musk moving towards the GOP is no different from the recent movement of some Latinos towards the GOP to vote for Trump. The GOP elite class will tell you it’s because they became woke to their ‘beneficial democratic republican capitalist Christian moral principles’, when it’s obvious that most of these elites have no principles.

    Those folks moved towards the GOP because of self-interest. Musk socialized his costs better with team D and now that’s drying up he believes the GOP will help him privatize his profits better. IOW, pay the GOP to try and close the door behind him for his competition. Same idea with Trump voting Latinos. We got here first so fuck the rest of you illegals.

    Chileans aren’t Americans, but it’s easy to see how non-native Chileans would assume natives would use their new privileges against them.

  3. different clue

    Perhaps what the Mapuche Indiginationals want is their own Sovereign Mapuchestan on some portion of their own land back. To state it that baldly would certainly offend the EuroChilean conquering-settler-descended population of Chile. Perhaps the Mapuchestanis were afraid of stating it that baldly?

    How would a Two State Solution affect the quest for Egalitarianism? Would Chileans be permitted to live as second class citizens in a Lesser Mapuchestan in return for Mapuchestanis being permitted to live as second class citizens in a Lesser Chile?

    And if that is not an accepted solution, how would Chile address Mapuche desires to be de-conquered and de-occupied and de-settlerized in their own ancestral lands? Defeat them the rest of the way all the way down to Melian Zero, so they learn to shut up and take it and like it?

  4. Harry Haller

    This is exactly why a left that revolves around identity politics will never have mass appeal.

  5. bruce wilder

    As Ian implies, the language of egalitarian equity competes always and everywhere with the claims and defense of privilege. Privilege has a deep psychological appeal to human narcissism as well as simple selfishness. Capitalism historically relied on the twin supports of liberal idealism on the one hand, which spoke in high-flying phrases of an equality of persons, and on the other hand, the private privileges of property ownership, which licensed the domination of Adam Smith’s improving landlord and the exalted figure of the “job-creating” entrepreneur building the vast power of private enterprise.

    I am not acquainted with the details of the points of controversy that brought disapproval of the proposed constitution. (I did know a bit more about Pinochet’s reactionary constitution and its design for sclerosis.) Still, I do know something about the 21st century’s leftish taste for privilege.

    The attempt to legitimate privilege will always be made and, imho, will almost always carry elements of fraud alongside the motivating will to power. Because privilege is about power over others.

    Egalitarian equity is about respecting the right in equal power and dignity of other persons — not in trumping their interests or slandering their achievements or aspirations.

    Privilege, to my mind cannot be legitimately earned; it would not be privilege if it could be. The idea that the rich capitalist is naturally boss as a privilege of property ownership is repellent if it extends to the exclusion of a worker’s right to negotiate collectively or individually the terms of cooperation.

    Drawing of a just world mythology over a purely imaginary “market” economy is part of rhetorical equipment of propertarians, but I am not sure they believe it. They say it, based on what they think egalitarians believe. But, what propertarians really believe is more nearly feudal: that workers must obey the capitalist owners (or the owners’ PMC educationally credentialed hirelings) because the workers are dependent. Precarity imposed is leverage to force that obedience; it isn’t “earned” exactly but it is practical. That precarity might be relieved for a few by the virtue of luck — being lucky is the ultimate practical virtue! — is a moral relief for the conscience: think Barbara Bush commenting on how the very poor dispossessed of little “never had it so good” or words to that general effect.

  6. capelin

    The egalitarian angle would require egalitarian contexts or backgrounds to the various parties; or adjustments, to make the overall context actually egalitarian.

    It seems to me that the context of Chile’s situation is not egalitarian (ie even debating what “rights” people who’s land the debaters have stolen should get), and that “giving them permanent rights that others don’t have based on their ancestry” ideally is an adjustment to “egalitarianize the playing field”.

    “The law, in it’s majestic equality, forbids both the rich and poor from sleeping under bridges”, that sort of thing.

  7. Trinity

    What Bruce said, and said very well.

    Also want to note that some Indigenous peoples did try to hold to egalitarian principles within their family-group-tribe. And the Inuit did, too, where the ice-floe treatment was applied to tribe members who did NOT hold to egalitarian principles. The egalitarian’s privilege (which includes rape, murder, theft, general mayhem, and more!) puts the entire tribe at risk. Because we the West don’t utilize ice floes, our entire tribe is also now at great risk.

    It’s about culture, and the values held by that culture. And we the West have been dealing with what Bruce and Ian described for thousands (?) of years. It may take the equivalent of a nuke (such as climate change) to ever end it. It needs to end, permanently. The lesson needs to be learned, and never forgotten.

  8. Martín

    There is a rather significant flaw in this article, in that it asumes the narrative that the indigenous people of Chile voted “for” the proposal, and that the non-indigenous voted “against”. This is simply not true. The proposal was rejected first and foremost by indigenous groups. On some localities where most everyone identify as indigenous, the against vote reached ~85% .

    This was very unexpected. When asked about what to make of it, the Director for the National Corporation for Indigenous Development answered that the indigenous population “didn’t understand the text”, implying that the indigenous people can’t read or are stupid somehow. And this is the approach that nearly everyone on the left has taken: not questioning their views (the proposed text is a gathering of sometimes moderate, and many times quite radical leftist ideology) but instead believing that people are stupid, or were duped. Which is a shame, because this could be a moment for growth for the left, acknowledging mistakes, listening and understanding what Chileans are asking for (and what they are NOT asking for).

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