A brief analysis of the categorical triumph of the Rejection

Having believed exactly the opposite of what the electoral result showed, I thought that it would be the “approval” that would be around 60%, I want to reflect on this error of appreciation of the current moment. This result of the plebiscite shows me that I was not looking correctly; I want to take advantage of my disappointment to reflect and adjust my perspective on the social process.

Where are we going as a society in Chile, having gone through the outbreak of 2019, the pandemic and the constitutional convention of 2020, the election of Boric in 2021 and the Rejection of the new constitution in 2022. It seemed that we were riding the wave of change social, driven by a new generation and the leading role of women and the feminine; forces that were attuned towards a new social agreement, which could overcome extreme individualism.

What were my analysis premises:

1. The general (worldwide) process is moving towards the destructuring of national states and the institutions related to them; This is because they are unable to provide answers to conflicts that are global, regional or global in nature. This destructuring of institutions causes social outbursts, puts in check formal democracy, solidarity and cohesion of populations and the very psyche of people.
2. The process of transformations in Chilean society gives rise to a new generation and the leading role of women and the sensitivity of the feminine. It could be brewing thanks to these new forces, a response to the conflict that is occurring in the global process.
3. These social actors, young people and women, would be achieving a new social and interpersonal agreement, which enables the convergence of diversity, around the common good, decentralization, the appreciation of cultural diversity, education and public health, and care for the environment.
4. This renewal impulse would be expressed in a new constitution from the constitutional convention.

More than 60% of the rejection, with the unprecedented participation of 80% of the electorate, questions these premises. The economic and political elites and some intellectuals rejected this proposal; They considered that the treatment of diversity proposed by the new constitution would produce insurmountable social divisions, which would end up destructuring the state.

The Rejection campaign managed to make the process of change perceived as being responsible for the institutional and social destructuring; and not as Chile’s response to a process that is not only national but global. This was achieved with a great campaign in which the most aggressive or disruptive factors of the convention were highlighted. The campaign to reject the proposal was permanent, millionaire and shameless, but… it makes a dent in a state of the soul. I do not believe that the communication campaign, although immodest and millionaire, is the main factor that explains the Rejection. But if it is necessary to understand the state of the soul in which it penetrated.

Some analyzes of Approval say “fear won”, and I think they may be right. But that fear was not instilled by the Rejection campaign, rather it is already installed in an important part of the population. Rather, we all live in a state of fear consciousness, in which we are susceptible to a campaign of fear taking effect. If during the outbreak of 2019, for a moment we lost our fear and recognized each other, it is likely that during the pandemic we recovered it and we did not know each other.

The assumption that it was the 1980 constitution that created individualism leads to the assumption that the convention’s constitutional project would be capable of overcoming it. But this I think was my main analysis error. Individualism is not created by laws, nor is it possible to overcome it by decree. Individualism at the end of the day is a confinement in oneself, to protect oneself from a world that I perceive as aggressive. Individualism is a response to fear, and fear is an expression of the meaninglessness of my existence. The constitutional project gave us meaning, but it did not transform our own individualism. And that weighed us down at every step.

The rejection of the constitutional proposal returns the leading role to the economic and political elites. At least for a time. There are more daring times when many are willing to take risks to open up the future and explore new paths, and others when that produces fear and we choose to try to stop time. But the attempt at change and humanity will not stop and each step is a precedent for the next moment of collective inspiration.

Photo by Enzo Blondel

Now we are experiencing the failure of the attempt at change and the gestation of a new social agreement that put human, social, and ecological rights, diversity, and multiplicity as the axis.

This attempt failed, which was expressed in the social explosion and was channeled in the constitutional convention. It must be said: it was great, with sublime moments. But also with errors. We should try to understand the root of these errors. I don’t think our mistakes are the ones that were exaggerated in the propaganda of the Rejection: the shrillness of the conventionalists, the political inexperience of the youth, or the leading role of the native peoples. Not even maximalisms. All of this, on the contrary, is highly valuable as it is a process of many and popular and necessary for joint learning. All this was also surfed during the same constituent process and that rather shows a Convention of great flight and value. They managed to prioritize the constructive and not the retarded.

I find the attempt sublime, but it wasn’t until I received the overwhelming Reject vote that I realized it was much more difficult than it was supposed to be. Millions of people voted Approve, millions of us overcame our fears, betting on the future of a joint project, it’s admirable. We have come a long way, but something was missing to produce a revolutionary conversion of society and of ourselves.

What was missing? What we did and what we didn’t do.

What do we have to change so that the next attempt has a better chance?

These questions deserve many conversations.

Surely our mistakes are more important than those that afflict us in the Rejection propaganda. For example:

-not having understood in depth and with empathy the state of fear of the population;

-not having understood the level of resentment and revenge that accompanies fear and that those of us who wanted this change also suffer from it. Resentment violates and weakens us.

-Not having dimensioned the personal crisis that each individual and social group is experiencing; crisis of anguish, when falling the political and religious references; panic attacks when the most intimate beliefs lose validity, helplessness when suffering family discord; depression and nonsense that are hidden in the frenzy of consumption.

Above all, not having understood that these issues would not be resolved if he won approval, because they are mental and not just social. All issues that we will have to face within our own communities.

Now the elites will try to redirect the social process and hopefully they will do well. That they do well is what serves everyone the most. However, it is very difficult for them to achieve this because they believe that they can stop this social disintegration with formal or peripheral changes. And neither have they understood the root of fear in people’s hearts, even though they know how to manipulate it, nor have they overcome the disease of resentment and revenge.

We see the need for profound social changes, many of which are reflected in the failed constitutional proposal. We see the need for a meaning that transcends us, that at times moved us in this fight for a new constitution.

But I have to recognize that this will not be possible without human change within ourselves and in our communities; an internal change that helps us overcome accumulated resentment, individualism itself and violence. The communities that seek to change society need to incorporate these more spiritual practices together with social action.

It is time to talk, meet, integrate together, and see how we rediscover the intent; how we build the next step, with more friendship, more solidarity, and networks of trust that protect the community.

The constitutional proposal is an achievement, which, although it could not be made effective, is an agreement reached by the people, a construction that gives a common direction and can be transformed into a political project. A revolutionary project in which the forces of change are already in agreement. It can be very powerful, the convergence of the diversity of social and political movements around that proposal.

But we already know that it will not be enough if we do not make an effort for a simultaneous change personally, in our deep reconciliation, in our internal faith, in an action that eradicates violence to achieve the desired changes.

Photo by Enzo Blondel

A brief analysis of the categorical triumph of the Rejection