Those who read La economía chilena. Un enfoque marxista because of its subtitle may be disappointed. The author, José Cademártori, is a Communist deputy in the Chilean parliament. He is also a trained economist and former professor in the Economics School of the University of Chile. Except for the final chapter his interpretation of the Chilean economy is a rather conventional reformist analysis with Marxist terminology superimposed. The conclusion attempts to give the book a revolutionary character, but it is not convincing.
Cademártori’s work is worth reading for its detailed description of Chile’s economic problems. The book begins with a general survey of the Chilean economy and its historical evolution. It then presents a sector-by-sector analysis of agriculture, industry, services, external commerce, and the economic role of the state. It concludes by arguing that revolution is the solution to Chile’s economic crisis. Cademártori is writing for the layman. The book is well documented, however, with most of the data coming from such sources as the Chilean government, international agencies, university studies, and even official publications of the United States government. The most annoying stylistic defect is a tendency toward repetition.
Cademártori regards Chile as a potentially rich country which has been thwarted in its drive for national development. He systematically analyzes the problems which plague its economy, exploring the chronic deficit in agricultural production and ascribing it to an archaic system of land tenure. In the industrial sector the author blames the frustratingly slow growth on limited internal markets and heavy dependence upon primary products marketed abroad. With convincing thoroughness he confirms what all Chileans already know —that the public services are extremely inefficient and ill-distributed. These and similar problems have been frequently studied in recent years. Non-Marxist, reform-oriented scholars have also traced their origins to structural defects in the Chilean economy, and the present Christian Democratic government is sponsoring programs to correct some of the defects. Even Cademártori recognizes the Christian Democratic agrarian reform program as an “important step forward” (p. 100).
Cademártori’s analysis differs from non-Marxist studies in two significant respects. First, he puts foreign investment in an entirely negative light: “Foreign capital is a formidable obstacle which paralyzes the progress of the nation” (p. 135). Clearly United States investments, both public and private, represent the greatest evil. Second, and more important, the author concludes that “the crisis of the Chilean economy can only be resolved through a social revolution” (p. 292). To him this revolution is not simply an alternative but inevitable. Fortunately he does not attempt to forecast when Chile will succumb to revolution, as his previous analysis would not lend itself to such a prediction, and he has not introduced socio-political data which might. While for him the presence of serious economic problems is self-evident proof that a revolution is imminent, the link between economic disorder and socio-political change may not be so clear to others. On the basis of Cademártori’s analysis it is impossible to decide whether Chile is moving toward revolution. A good argument could be made that the country is moving in the other direction, using as evidence the resurgence of middle-class support for the conservative parties and the current fragmentation within the Chilean left.
La economía chilena is an informative and useful economic study. It is less impressive in the realm of political analysis.