Both the rise and fall of the modern Socialist Party of Chile from 1932 to 1946 took place through participation in socially-mixed political coalitions.1 The party’s combination of socialism and populism made it the largest single party of the lower classes in the 1930s and an integral part of the Chilean political system by the 1940s. During this process of institutionalization, however, the electoral tactics that won the Socialists popular support failed to secure many of their programmatic goals. By the end of World War II, internal contradictions and hostilities had torn the party apart. Its electoral popularity plummeted. The Socialists’ successes and failures both were partly attributable to their involvement in traditional politics.

Most Socialist writers blamed their party’s decay in the 1940s on its obedience to Chilean political culture and traditions instead of to Marxist principles. These Socialist analysts argued that electoral victories achieved through populist coalitions and charismatic leadership were counterproductive. Such victories allegedly distracted the party from revolutionary social struggles and converted it into just another political machine. Socialist critics thought that alliances with centrist governments discredited the party in the eyes of the workers. To the extent that elections measured working-class reactions, however, it is not clear that the workers turned away from the Socialist Party because of its devotion to moderate coalitions and to personalism over socialism. Indeed, the Socialists’ electoral decline occurred after they had left the Popular Front coalition with the Radical and Communist Parties and ousted their charismatic leader. Ideological failures alone did not produce worker alienation and party decline.2

The complex issue of participation in traditional politics affected the Socialists’ downfall in three distinct ways. First, the restrictions and compromises intrinsic to coalition electoral politics accounted in large part for the Socialists’ inability to meet their substantive goals for the workers. Second, the debate over the efficacy of participation was a major cause of splits among party leaders. Third, the failure to meet worker needs was less important than party divisions as an explanation for Socialist loss of mass support at the polls. The issues of ideological fidelity and coalition participation were major causes of Socialist decline but must be understood within the Chilean social and political context.

The Socialist Party’s heterogeneous, populist origins and early career reflected the dilemmas of a socialist movement in a late industrializing country which needed economic growth as well as social reform. The Chilean Socialists tried to harmonize conflicting objectives and groups. They advocated the simultaneous expansion of industry and social welfare programs. They promised benefits to both the middle and lower classes.3 Immersed in Chile’s traditional electoral bargaining system, the Socialists pursued their goals through multiparty coalitions. These alliances were led by centrist forces more devoted to economic than social change. There was an inherent tension between the ability of coalitions to capture high national offices and the tendency of those coalitions to inhibit the enactment of the very programs for which the Socialists had sought office. This failure to realize programmatic objectives, in conjunction with other disruptive factors, such as personalism and the heterogeneity of the Socialist Party itself, fragmented the party’s leadership in the 1940s. In turn, the leadership divisions cost the party electoral popularity.

Origins of the Socialist Party of Chile, 1932-1933

The Chilean Socialist Party arose out of the Great Depression with both a “revolutionary” and an evolutionary orientation towards the means of reaching its goals. In terms of tactics, its more radical heritage came from the twelve-day Socialist Republic of Chile in June, 1932. The leader of that junta, imposed by a coup d’état, was the colorful commander of the Air Force, Marmaduke Grove Vallejo. Yet after the rapid ejection of the Socialist Republic by the military, Grove himself turned to peaceful means and finished second to Arturo Alessandri Palma in the presidential election that October. Encouraged by his surprising electoral showing, Grove vowed to build a massive Socialist Party. In November, 1932, he denied any further designs on power through force of arms. Instead, Grove stressed that the nascent Socialists would now employ gradual, legal, electoral means.4

The Chilean Socialist Party, founded in April, 1933, was more heterogeneous and populist than its European name implied. The party was mixed socially, blending the middle and lower classes. It was mixed ideologically, combining evolutionary and revolutionary ingredients. Perhaps a majority of the prominent founders were former anarchists. Other leaders were disillusioned liberal reformers. Some were former Communists, most notably the Trotskyists. Nationalism and personalism, however, overshadowed ideology. The non-Marxist Grove fused and held together the Socialist amalgam in the 1930s.5

As a mixed group, the Socialists interpreted national problems from a Marxist perspective only as adapted to Chilean conditions. They rejected any adherence to strict Marxism-Leninism.6 Their economic thinking reflected the demands of underdevelopment as well as socialism. They believed that nationalistic industrialization under state auspices was necessary before Chile could entertain European-style labor politics. But Grove and other party leaders also envisioned simultaneous economic growth and social welfare for the workers. The party founders hoped to strike a balance between redistributing income and boosting import-substituting industrialization so as to have more income to redistribute. They collided, however, with the hard choices between economic and social development, and, in some instances, between the interests of the middle and lower classes.7

Although the Socialists were a worker-based movement, there was an important admixture from the middle class, especially at the leadership level. Compared to a sample of the centrist Radical Party’s leaders, the Socialists were more likely to be workers and less likely to own land or to belong to the clubs and organizations associated with the upper class. But compared to the Communists, the Socialists had fewer leaders from the working sectors. Sampling the primary occupations of 54 Socialist leaders in 1932-33 revealed 6% with large landholdings, 11% in business and commerce, 20% employees, and 57% professionals. Only 7% were workers or artisans. These leaders from outside the laboring class facilitated coalitions with other parties. They also fostered intra-party disputes over policy and leadership.8

The middle groups not only led the Socialists but were also prominent in the party’s membership. Data on the 447 original, official members of the Socialist Party in Santiago in 1933 showed that they were primarily from other than working-class occupational strata. Of 440 statements of occupation by members, only some 35% fell in worker or artisan categories. A majority belonged to the middle strata, especially the lower middle class or petite bourgeoisie.9

The 1932 voting pattern for Grove also pointed to some significant middle sector components added to the worker base of the Socialists. Within the urban communities of Santiago province, Grove tended to run well above his national percentage in heavily middle-to upper-class districts, such as Providencia and Nuñoa, as well as in heavily working class districts, such as San Miguel, Renca, and Quinta Normal.10

While expecting the proletariat to be the core and vanguard of the party, the Socialists reached out to the middle class as well.11 In view of Chile’s socioeconomic underdevelopment and the political setting, the Socialists adapted to the limits of their likely constituency. Like most socialist parties committed to electoral competition, the Chileans tried to attract social sectors beyond urban labor. This was particularly mandatory in a country in the incipient stages of industrialization. Chile was deeply dependent on exports of raw materials, mainly copper, and imports of manufactured goods. It had an archaic social structure dominated by a landed upper class. The middle classes were ascending politically, but they were small in number, stronger in the service sectors than in production, and dependent upon the state. The middle groups had to rely on support from above or below to take power. With few organized lower-class groups participating in politics, labor usually resorted to following political movements captained by the higher social elements. Outside the mines, Chile lacked an extensive, classic proletariat. Though Chile’s urban population came to account for slightly over 50% of the total population in the 1930s, a majority of the working population was still in the countryside. These rural workers were barely literate, subordinate to the landowners, and largely apolitical. Socialist and Communist attempts to mobilize the peasants electorally met with little success. Unable to unite rural and urban labor, the Socialists sought to pull the middle sectors away from coalitions with the Right and into alliances with urban workers, both within the party and through multiparty combinations.12

A leading Socialist intellectual, also from the middle sectors, passed a severe but perceptive judgment on the role of the middle groups in the party:

. . . the Socialist Party, in spite of its apparent revolutionary vigor, exhibited vacillating attitudes and . . . inclinations toward compromises and transactions; in its directing nuclei one noted a marked electoralism and a strong appetite for the positions of popular representation. It had not yet succeeded in assimilating its Marxist conception and outlining for itself a consistently socialist policy. Finally, the socioeconomic conditions of the country did not show themselves favorable for a costly revolutionary activity. There existed a reduced working class, immature and with scant consciousness; an immense peasantry, removed from any restlessness; and a vast middle class, or petite bourgeoisie, with an evident predominance in the political action of the working masses. The petite bourgeoisie tendencies prevailed over the proletarian and through the Popular Front encountered their natural channel.13

Superimposed on Chile’s social structure was a Europeanized, multiparty democracy with roots in the nineteenth century.14 With military abstinence from overt political intervention before 1924 and after 1932, this limited democratic system provided significant openings for the Marxist-labeled Left. The masses to whom the Left could appeal electorally, however, did not compose a large part of the population. As only literate males over 21 could vote, slightly less than 20% of the population was eligible for the franchise in the 1930s. In practice less than 10% of the population voted. In the 1932 presidential election, nearly 8% of the population exercised the franchise; in 1938 only 9%. Operating within Chile’s flexible, permissive party system, the Socialists competed with the other contenders for a slice of the existing electorate more than mobilizing new groups.15

The Popular Front, 1936-1938

The Communists, the least powerful electorally of the three major members of the Popular Front, began knitting the coalition together. Conditions within Chile were ripe for the Popular Front strategy promulgated by the Soviet Union in 1935. The Communists exceeded the Socialists in the proportion of leaders and followers that were workers, but they failed to compete effectively with their rivals in the early 1930s. Prior to 1935, the isolated, dogmatic Communists boasted a more radical ideology than the Socialists. In the mid-1930s, however, the Communists joined many Socialists in postulating that the worker revolution had to await the modernization of the Chilean society and economy. The Communist abandonment of doctrinaire demands for immediate revolution in favor of participation in gradualist, traditional politics soon increased their electoral support.16

The Communists commenced construction of the Popular Front by appealing to the idealism and ambitions of the left wing of the Radical Party. Even more conservative Radicals listened to Communist overtures as the Alessandri government (1932-38) awarded the best patronage to the Conservatives and Liberals. Moreover, the Communists insisted that the next president should be a Radical. By preferring a Radical over a Socialist as the Front’s presidential candidate, the Communists increased the coalition’s prospects for electoral success; they could also in this way gain access to power without fearing that the president would be so reformist as to undercut them with the workers.17

The centrist Radicals were ideally suited to serve as the axis of political compromises and coalitions. Although rooted in the middle sectors, the party gave the Popular Front a thin link with the upper class through its landed right wing. Rather than one mammoth populist party stretching from the urban workers to the rural elites, a multiparty coalition wove these disparate segments together in Chilean politics.18

The coalition’s nomination of Pedro Aguirre Cerda, a right-wing Radical with scant public following, sealed the loyalty of the Radicals to the Popular Front. Aguirre Cerda was a mild reformer from the middle class who had become a wealthy landowner and proponent of industrialization. He had opposed his party’s joining the Popular Front. His candidacy signified the entrusting of the Front’s leadership to the coalition’s most moderate members.19

The Socialists were wary of the Popular Front because of their rivalry with the Communists and because of the likely preponderance of the Radicals. The Socialists’ 1936 declaration of adherence to the Front contained the cautionary statement that elections did not lead to real power. Despite ideological inhibitions, the Socialists thought that the Left should take advantage of opportunities to unite the middle and lower classes against the Right through electoral strategies. The Socialists entered the Popular Front because they were incapable of defeating the Right single-handedly.20

In addition to some minor parties, another member of the Popular Front was the new Confederation of Chilean Workers (C.T.Ch.). Coalition politics boosted labor unity but diminished labor militance. Instead of revolution, the Confederation’s 1936 declaration called for industrialization, a more just regime, and coalitions with the middle strata to curb fascism. Since fascism was not a paramount threat in Chile, these coalitions were actually more important for the electoral growth of the Left against the traditional Right.21

The growth of the Marxist-labeled electorate, more than any doctrinal convictions, hardened the commitment of the member parties to the Popular Front. In the 1937 general congressional elections, both the Socialists, who soared to 11% of the national vote after four years in existence, and the Communists (4%) made striking gains. Meanwhile, the Radicals (19%) dropped to their lowest percentage of votes since 1912. In the face of polarization and the aloofness of the victorious Right, the Radicals decided that staying with the Left offered the best hope of revival and triumph.22

Before the Popular Front nominated Aguirre Cerda, the Socialists suffered some minor defections over the issue of presidential candidates. A former dictatorial president from the military, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (1927-1931), was being touted as a third candidate, between the Right and the Left. This effort was led by the small Chilean Nazi party (National Socialist Movement) and some independent, personalistic groups. The Socialists were heterogeneous enough to harbor a handful of renegades who called themselves the Socialist Union and slivered from the mother party to join Ibáñez’s populist, authoritarian campaign.23

At the 1938 Convention of the Left, Grove and Aguirre Cerda deadlocked for the Popular Front presidential nomination. With some bitterness, Grove learned that the Communists would not support him for the nomination. He also discovered that many Radicals would never back him even if he became the candidate. To preserve Popular Front unity, Grove electrified the stalemated convention by suddenly withdrawing in favor of his rival.24 The more leftist elements within the Socialist Party, who wanted to use Grove’s popularity to build a more radical, independent constituency, regretted his withdrawal.25

Following the convention, Grove accompanied Aguirre Cerda the length of Chile to deliver his fervent mass following to the mild-mannered Radical. The lower classes were really voting for Grove and his brand of socialism in 1938, persuaded that Aguirre Cerda and the Popular Front were valid surrogates.26 While the Marxists rallied the workers, Aguirre Cerda appealed to both the middle and lower classes without unduly frightening the upper strata. The nomination of Aguirre Cerda illustrated the inescapable quandary in electoral coalitions, especially for the weaker members of the Front, the Marxists. The broadness of Aguirre Cerda’s appeal mellowed the reformist content of the Popular Front at the same time that it enhanced its electoral chances.27

A few days before the election, the Popular Front gained the margin of victory by securing the backing of the small forces behind Ibáñez and the Nazis. The delivery of this support to the Front is largely explained by the Alessandri government’s massacre of youthful Nazis who tried to topple the regime by force in the month prior to the balloting. Ibáñez’s opportunism also played a part in the decision to back Aguirre Cerda. Although the Chilean Nazis were more reformist than their European counterparts, their inclusion in the antifascist Front was still incongruous. The solicitation and welcoming of support from the Ibáñez-Nazi forces by the Popular Front, with the grudging concurrence of the Socialists, was another example of the Left’s willingness to subordinate ideological to electoral considerations.28

While the revival of the international market made it possible for the Chilean economy to rebuild in the 1930s, that economic reconstruction did not satisfy a majority of voting Chileans. The upper sectors benefited most from recovery and the workers least. Alessandri’s restricted State action, curtailed by the decline of exports and his financial orthodoxy, left the middle elements dissatisfied. Prices began to climb again in 1936-37. New mining legislation failed to dislodge the dominant foreign interests, mainly the United States. The discontent stemming from the Great Depression persisted.29

The Popular Front won the 1938 election with 50.3% of the vote, having risen from slightly under 40% in the 1937 congressional contests. Within the urban zone of Santiago province, Aguirre Cerda carried the more prosperous communities of Providencia and Nuñoa as well as the more working-class districts of San Miguel, Renca, and Quinta Normal.30 The Front’s victory sanctified the tradition that the Left, including the Socialists and Communists, could enter government through electoral coalitions.

The Popular Front in Power, 1938-1941

The Communists and Radicals gained more than the Socialists during the Popular Front regime. The Communists outmaneuvered the Socialists by supporting the government but staying out of the administration. Relations between the Communists and Socialists were worst during the Stalin-Hitler pact from 1939-41. The Communists gained on the Socialists in union leadership but also cooperated with them to keep the workers behind the government, which allowed urban unionization to advance. Both Marxist parties in this period believed that developing the workers’ parties was worth some sacrifices by labor. They argued that cooperation with the government was, in the long run, more in the best interests of the workers than disruptive demands for immediate benefits. Compared to the Socialists, the Communists suffered fewer complaints from their more eager revolutionaries over these policies. The Communists were more homogeneous and disciplined than the Socialists and not directly responsible for government actions.31

In response to complaints about middle class dominance, the Communists replied that they remained within the multiclass Front to argue for the special interests of the workers. The most glaring deviation from that principle came, however, when the government avoided grave problems with the Right by ordering the Marxists to stop unionizing peasants. Both the Socialists and Communists accepted this moratorium on peasant mobilization.32 Not unlike disgruntled Socialists, some Communist leaders later scored these years as a period of self-serving collaboration that benefited the middle and upper strata at the expense of the workers:

Then we did not struggle with sufficient energy for the hegemony of the proletariat and we committed an aberration of the Right; we accepted . . . the truce in the countryside . . . the compromise of not forming unions of agricultural workers, with the false idea of “not creating difficulties for the government.”33

Thus by cooperating with the Center at the cost of leaving the lower sectors largely unorganized, the Left remained dependent on segments of the middle groups. The dilemmas and compromises encountered by the Left in coalition politics contributed to the perpetuation of those same problems. By failing to challenge the structure of underdevelopment, particularly in the countryside, the Marxists failed to transcend partial dependence on the middle sectors for political support.

The Radicals, as the dominant member of the Popular Front administration, and the middle groups reaped the greatest benefits from coalition government. The Radicals took a majority of government posts and used their influence in these positions to mediate state policies for the economic elites, especially the industrialists. Although passing some reforms and bickering internally between their right and left wings, the prospering Radicals moved away from the Left toward the Right and the propertied upper class in the wake of World War II.34

The Socialists found themselves moderating through inclusion in the government, more than shifting policies and cabinet appointments to the left as some had hoped. The entrenched party leadership became bureaucratized and institutionalized. Leading Socialists turned further away from radical inclinations and more toward electoral concerns and the perquisites of victory. The Socialists fought with the Communists even more than with the Radicals, over both domestic and international issues.35

Within the Socialist Party, the leaders’ submersion in the coalition government exacerbated the festering conflict between the dominant reformers and the more revolutionary elements. The more leftist Socialists argued that the government’s moderation and their complicity through participation meant that the party should leave the Popular Front. This intra-party rift in 1939 was a quarrel over tactics and personal power as well as strategy and ideology.36

César Godoy Urrutia, after failing to defeat long-time personal rival Grove for Secretary General of the Socialist Party in 1939, seceded with some of the younger, more leftist (mainly Trotskyist and anarchist) members. The insurgents, dubbed “nonconformists,” claimed to speak more for the party’s working-class elements. These rebel leaders formed the Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Socialista de Trabajadores, or PST) in 1940. The voters in by-elections, however, rejected Godoy’s PST and its appeal to class loyalties and ideology. By 1941, fearful of electoral annihilation, the PST shed its principles, cooperated with the Popular Front government, and entered elections in league with the Radicals and Communists. In 1944, the unsuccessful PST surrendered independent existence for absorption into the Communist Party, though some of the rebels returned to the Socialist fold.37

Ironically, the regular Socialists quit the Popular Front party coalition shortly after the secession of the PST, but they withdrew because of the continued inclusion of the Communists, not the tepid reformism of the Radicals. Although remaining with the government, the Socialists said that alliance with the Communists was unacceptable because they were anti-national and totalitarian. The Socialists hoped to isolate the Communists and reduce their surging influence with the workers.38

Losing the PST dissidents and leaving the formal Popular Front party coalition while continuing to work with the government did little apparent damage to the Socialists electorally. Some Socialists contended that their showing in the 1941 Congressional elections was not what might have been indicated by impressive Socialist victories in recent (1938-40) by-elections before the PST split and the breakup of the Popular Front. Nevertheless, the Socialists reached a career electoral peak in those 1941 elections, which they entered alone. They won 18% of the votes, finishing second only to the Radicals (21%) nationally. If the votes for the PST (3%) and other socialist-leaning microparties were added, the socialist total came to over 20%, making the Socialist Party potentially the largest in Chile. Collaboration with a reformist government may have sown the seeds of internal disintegration, but it had not discredited the Socialist Party in the eyes of many voters. With all the former Front parties gaining and sweeping to control of parliament in 1941, the Communists’ percentage rise was the most spectacular, from 4% of the electorate in 1937 to 12% in 1941. Many Socialists argued that those Communist voters would have been theirs if they had chosen the same enviable combination of participation with relative independence as the Communists had in the Popular Front. Other Socialists stressed their failure to win over more labor unions from the Communists.39

As the Popular Front came to a close with the premature death of Aguirre Cerda toward the end of 1941, clearly the coalition had been an electoral success, in varying degrees, for the parties included in it. But had it been a substantive success for the social sectors included in it? In one of his last cabinet meetings in 1941, Aguirre Cerda commented on this issue:

We promised the people to pull them out of misery, to raise their social, economic, and moral level. Apart from the intelligent and constructive action of some of my ministers, we have wasted time here with long debates and discussions, without ever arriving at practical and effective solutions for the great problems. It burdens my soul with profound sorrow, because I imagine that the people, whom I love so much, could think that I have deceived them.40

The administration lived up to neither the hopes of the Left nor the fears of the Right. Spurred by World War II, industrialization took precedence over social reform. The haggling and bargaining inherent in coalition politics hindered the Popular Front’s performance, compounding domestic and international obstacles to rapid reform that were outside the coalition.41

The major political impact of the Popular Front was to institutionalize class-based politics in Chile. It integrated the Marxist parties, unions, and their followers into the political system through class cooperation more than conflict. The populist elements were largely institutionalized in the Socialist Party and in the governing apparatus. The established leftist leaders and their worker followers developed ties with the bureaucracy. Now all participated, in some measure, and social issues were aired, though not necessarily resolved, through established democratic and administrative processes accepted by all sides. However, the inclusion of the Marxist parties not only held out the promise of stability and perhaps co-optation, but also the possibility of Marxist growth and eventual takeover.42 The Popular Front, while incorporating the organized urban masses and their parties, also allowed those forces to propagate.43

The workers paid for the Popular Front’s expansion of industry and the bureaucracy through inflation and indirect taxes. Import-substituting industrialization failed to provide the employment necessary to keep pace with urbanization, which really took off in the 1940s. From 1940 to 1952 Chile moved from roughly 53% urban to over 60%, more than twice the rate of urbanization of the 1930s. Industrial expansion also failed to curtail dependence on foreign capital or to hoist wages along with production. The workers gained little from economic trends during the Popular Front and even less under the Radical coalition governments which succeeded Aguirre Cerda.44

The relative gains of social sectors in the 1940s under the series of Radical coalition governments, which the Socialists and Communists helped elect and worked with most of the time, can also be gauged by income distribution. Real national income rose 40% from 1940 to 1.953. However, the workers (nearly 57% of the active population) saw their real income rise only 7%. Meanwhile, the real income of white-collar employees soared 46%, and the upper-class property owners, financiers, and entrepreneurs gained the most of all, with their real income ascending more than 60%. Income distribution was made even more unequal when the expansion of the social security system brought benefits to middle-sector employees at the expense of the workers.45

The growing gap between middle-class employees and lower-class workers was a hallmark of Radical rule in the 1940s. The Popular Front formula gave the middle sectors greater assistance in their socioeconomic aspirations and greater protection from inflation. As a consequence, the middle groups became less interested in alliances with labor and the Left. Therefore, the Left found itself weakened by the end of World War II. Coalition politics finally left the Marxists with less middle-class support than before and not much more organized lower-class support as compensation. When the Radical presidents did divert benefits to the lower groups, it was mainly to the most organized working sectors. Since the Marxists, especially the Communists, were tied primarily to organized labor, they rarely complained about the neglect of the other, larger segments of the underprivileged majority.46

Disintegration of the Socialist Party, 1942-1946

The right and left wings of the Socialists crippled each other and the party in the 1940s. The period of Socialist decline coincided with the administration of a conservative Radical, Juan Antonio Ríos Morales. His government was consecrated to national unity and social stability in the face of World War II and the accelerated drive for industrialization. The economic issues of the Great Depression which had nurtured the Socialists faded before relative prosperity and new concerns.47 After reaching nearly 20% of the electorate in 1941 and wielding an influence far beyond that number, the Socialists fell to 13% of the electorate in 1945. In the 1949 congressional elections, the Socialists, even counting all their splinter groups, got less than 10% of the vote. Meanwhile, the Communists, who maintained party discipline, gained on the Socialists, especially among union members.48

In the 1942 presidential election of Ríos to succeed Aguirre Cerda, Grove again led the Socialists in backing a Radical and joining his cabinet. The younger, more leftist, intellectual Socialist forces protested Grove’s collaboration with the increasingly conservative government and the Communists.49 The dissidents were led by Salvador Allende Gossens and Raúl Ampuero Díaz. Allende, a physician from the middle strata and a relative of Grove’s, had been a party founder in Valparaíso, a deputy in Parliament in 1937, and Minister of Health in the Popular Front. Ampuero, a student leader and lawyer, had become leader of the Socialist Youth. At the 1943 party conclave, they won this conflict over principles and party leadership when Allende defeated Grove for Secretary General. As a result, Grove, the “Maximum Leader,” departed to form the Authentic Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Auténtico, or PSA) in 1944. While the regular Socialists denounced formal collaboration with either the Ríos government or the Communists, Grove was willing to collaborate with both. The old Socialist caudillo contended that industrial production had to be raised still further and World War II concluded before more drastic reforms for the workers could be adopted. Many Socialists now condemned these economic and international arguments as rationalizations for the deprivation of the working man. The divided Socialists now entered their worst period of electoral decline. Between the two party groupings, the regular Socialists held the bulk of the party faithful and the party’s union leadership, while Grove and his Authentic Socialists withered away.50 The Socialists had expanded so rapidly in the 1930s largely because of the magnetic leadership of Grove. The fortuitous combination of grovismo and socialismo had achieved a momentum that was never recaptured by the man or the party alone.51

Ampuero and the younger Socialists unsuccessfully tried to unite the party against indiscriminate coalitions with the Communists and Radicals in 1945-46. With the unexpected illness and death of President Ríos, however, several Socialist leaders participated in a Radical caretaker government noted for violent reactions against labor demonstrations.52 In a vain effort to hold the rupturing party together, the Socialists shunned party electoral alliances in the presidential election of 1946 to replace Ríos. Instead, they ran one of their own labor leaders who had joined the caretaker administration. Vast numbers of defections left the Socialists’ official candidate with barely 2.5% of the national electorate. The Communists entered government with the victorious Radical candidate, Gabriel González Videla. The labor movement split into Socialist and Communist confederations, with the latter taking the majority of the unions. The older Socialist leaders were discredited, and the Radicals and Communists were siphoning away the party’s supporters. In every way, 1946 marked the nadir of the Socialist Party.53

Reconstruction of the Socialist Party, 1946

The end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War altered the economic and political context in which the Socialist Party began the long process of rebuilding. Copper prices, imports, and foreign investments started to revive. The middle elements defended their gains, supporting industrial and copper development based on close ties with the United States more than socioeconomic reforms based on coalitions with the workers. Economic slowdowns prompted by international market fluctuations were paid for mainly by the workers, through inflation, rising indirect taxes, and government austerity measures. President González Videla scuttled the coalition strategies fashioned from the Popular Front. He outlawed his Communist allies in 1948.54 With the unions weakened and the Marxist parties waning, the workers were unable to defend their interests effectively. The lean years of recuperation for the Socialist Party, much more than the years of disintegration, coincided with a general turn against the Marxist forces in the Western world.55

A new Socialist generation, led by Ampuero and Allende, took full control of the party in 1946. With the end of World War II the period of unity among the reform forces terminated, and the new Socialist leaders promised to escalate labor and inter-party conflicts. They vowed to cooperate with other reformist parties only if coalitions were not broad, permanent, or compromising. For the latter half of the 1940s, the Ampuero-Allende Socialists insisted that they would only join governments that were more socialist than reformist and that ranked the workers’ needs as the top priority. They spumed González Videla’s invitation to join the government. Even at this moment of renewal, however, there was no strong Marxian rejection of transactions with reformist forces maintaining links with the “bourgeoisie.” The Socialists were still more willing to coalesce with middle-class, centrist parties than with the Communists. In 1946, the Socialists specifically ruled out coalitions of any nature only with the Right (Conservatives and Liberals) and the Communists. More than opposing the Radical government, even as it turned more toward the Right, the Socialists were concerned with rebuilding by taking the working sectors back from the Communists.56 Recovery did not come quickly or smoothly, for the Socialists suffered further divisions. The renovation begun by Ampuero did not bring major political dividends until the late 1950s.57


The social and economic constraints of a developing country, in conjunction with multiparty democracy, helped mold the character and trajectory of the Chilean Socialist Party. Leftist parties and coalitions were socially as well as ideologically diverse. Reform movements included the middle strata, especially the lower middle class, not only because of the middle groups’ own grievances and electoral strength but also because of the political debilities of the lower classes. Although underdeveloped by European and North American industrial standards, Chile was relatively developed on the Latin American scale. Chile’s worker movement was frail and highly dependent on alliances with the middle groups and centrist forces. Nonetheless, it had a more militant tradition and independent muscle than in many Latin American countries. In Chile’s intermediate situation of socioeconomic development, the lower classes were mobilized enough to be important partners in intra-party and inter-party coalitions but not enough to claim a role commensurate with their numbers or with the ideologies of the leftist parties. The major stumbling block was Marxist ineffectiveness in mobilizing the peasants together with urban labor. Consequently, the workers were ushered into the ongoing system of Chilean politics in a subordinate position, behind middle-class leaders committed to import-substituting industrialization.58

The Socialists were bound to encounter conflicts between their higher programmatic expectations for the workers and their pursuit of goals through traditional political avenues. However, alternatives to the path of electoral coalitions were seldom entertained, despite fond memories of having taken power through force of arms in 1932. The likelihood of implementing a socialist program was reduced by other forces in addition to domestic systemic factors. International economic and political influences, such as trade and war, were often further impediments to radical change. Particularistic factors, such as leadership and the tactics of the opposition, also restricted the Socialists’ ability to fulfill their promises to the workers. By the mid-1940s, some Socialists were criticizing past coalition strategies as the cause of the party’s programmatic frustrations and political decline. Participation in coalitions which failed to meet the needs of the lower classes, however, does not fully explain the fracturing of the Socialist party or its loss of electoral popularity.

These two subsidiary questions of why the Socialist Party divided and why it declined electorally must be answered separately. Socialist leaders split the party not only because of ideological dissatisfaction with the fruits of coalition politics for the workers, but also because of other reasons such as personal conflicts over power and position. Moreover, the intra-party conflict over the efficacy of moderate means to declared radical ends was rarely a debate between participation in and abstention from traditional politics. Rather, the dispute concerned types of participation. The party divided over the issue of participating with the Communists as much as over the issue of participating with the Radicals. The inadequacy of solely ideological explanations for party divisions is revealed by the shifting positions of various leaders and party factions on the participation issue over time. The failure of Godoy’s PST to sustain a challenge to reformist coalition politics shows the difficulty of independence. The PST experience also raises doubts about the ideological determination of many Socialist dissidents to reject standard political competition and temptations.59

In part, the fractioning of the Socialist Party was an especially acute case of the disease endemic to Chile’s multiparty system. Proportional representation particularly encouraged party fragmentation. Given their ideological and social ambivalence, the Socialists were more susceptible than the Radicals and Communists to serious divisions. In the 1940s, the Radicals were less ideological than the Socialists and more satisfied with their gains from government participation. The Communists were more moderate, disciplined, and organized than the Socialists. For an ideological party, the Communists’ social position was more orthodox. The Communists were also more pleased with their gains among labor unions. Both Radicals and Communists were less reliant than the Socialists on personalism to hold their ranks together. Consequently, both the Radicals and Communists were able to move with the political tides without disintegrating like the Socialists.

Personal conflicts over power, perquisites, and patronage divided the Socialists as much as ideology. Opposition to Grove’s personal domination was held in check during the party’s construction in the 1930s. Success unleashed ambitions and animosities in the 1940s. Grove, Godoy, Ampuero, and Allende, without being eminent ideologists, played enormous personalistic roles in the party’s destiny. Resentment of domination by the rather privileged group ensconced at the top of the party ruptured Socialist unity. In an economy of relative scarcity and limited opportunities, politics was a critical avenue for social advancement. Election to public positions through leadership of the party or its offspring tended to improve the socioeconomic status of individual Socialist leaders. Middle-class Socialists, or those with middle-class aspirations, divided the party through competition for electoral and appointive posts because of desires for social mobility as well as for ideological purity.60

The motivations of leaders in dividing the party and the motivations of voters in deserting the party cannot be equated automatically. The failure of traditional political approaches to meet lower-class needs probably alienated some Socialist supporters as well as leaders. The best evidence is, however, that other factors were more important in the party’s loss of popular support among the middle and lower classes, who mainly switched to other reformist camps in the mid-1940s. For the workers, reform movements from the 1920s to the 1970s have fallen short of their promises, yet the workers have continued to participate in traditional political processes. In some cases, they have continued to back the same reform parties, mainly the Marxists. The workers, like their political leaders, have not resolved the dilemma of means and ends.

Lower-class political behavior did not correspond to the expectations of many Socialist leaders. At the beginning of the 1940s, the Socialist Party reached an electoral pinnacle while participating in conventional political arrangements which were not keeping faith with working class supporters. The renegade PST, denouncing collaboration for not meeting the problems of the lower classes, was rejected at the polls, partly by working-class voters. The Communists were at least as eager as the Socialists to take part in most aspects of traditional politics and less publicly critical of the results. Nevertheless, the Communists gained more with the workers than did the Socialists. For example, in the 1947 municipal elections, the Socialists denounced participation in opportunistic political associations but received only 9% of the votes; meanwhile, the Communists participated fully in the Radical government and received 17% of the votes. Ultimately, participation in establishment politics cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for the difference in worker support for the Communists and Socialists. Instead, party unity best explains the difference. The Socialist Party’s electoral decline can be traced to the loss of unity and of Grove more than to mass rejection of Socialist participation in traditional politics.61

In sum, the inescapable perplexities of pursuing socialist goals within the Chilean system provide a major explanation for the party’s failure to achieve more radical reforms. However, the Socialist Party did not lose worker support primarily because of ideological dissatisfaction with its failure to meet worker needs through conventional methods, but rather because it disintegrated at the top. In turn, the failure to meet mass needs through coalition politics was only one reason the party divided; other causes were important, too. It might be argued that the Socialists and the workers should have rejected participation in the existing political system after the disappointments of the early 1940s, but there is scant evidence that they did.

The vast majority of lower-class voters and Socialist Party leaders remained loyal to Chile’s resilient political institutions, traditions, and culture. Like most political actors, neither the Socialists nor their constituents conformed to any idealized model of ideological behavior. Therefore, the failure to change radically the lot of the workers through standard political mechanisms did not force a resolution of the conflict between electoral success and ideological purity. On the contrary, the dilemma persisted. The Socialists had the greatest success at winning middle- and lower-class support in the period when they engaged in populistic modes of participation in traditional politics. Those electoral achievements, however, neither produced great substantive accomplishments for the underprivileged groups nor guaranteed party unity or popularity.

Although inhibiting socialism in some ways, Chile’s relatively high level of political and socioeconomic development, by Latin American standards, may have made the institutionalization of the Marxist movement more feasible. The partial institutionalization of the Socialist Party in the political system drew the criticism of some Socialists but also gave the party certain opportunities. A largely reformist movement with both socialist and populist tendencies became institutionalized as part of the accommodative governing system of Chile. The Socialists achieved some continuity and durability, despite great setbacks.62 Even when dissidents departed with the party trademark or the founding leader, the parent body prevailed. By channeling the populist drive of the lower sectors into a Marxist framework but also into the existing system, the Chilean Socialists may have given “mass politics” the potential to be a more hardy agent of change, however gradual and limited, than in many Latin American countries. Whether that process of political change could also produce fundamental socioeconomic reforms remained a question for the future.


It should be noted at the outset that Chilean socialism had roots in the nineteenth century, but this article is only concerned with the early years of the contemporary Socialist Party, which began its official existence in 1933.


These notions of how an idealized socialist party (based on lofty ideological models that were seldom adhered to by socialist parties in any country) “should” have behaved are introduced because many Chilean Socialists cast the issue in these terms. It is not argued here that the Chileans should have replicated European examples or were, in any sense, inferior to their European counterparts. The implied comparison merely points out that the Chileans faced different national conditions and so made somewhat different adaptations. For major critiques of their own past by Chilean Socialists, see Julio César Jobet, El partido socialista de Chile, (2 vols., Santiago, 1971), Alejandro Chelén Rojas, Trayectoria del socialismo (Buenos Aires, 1967), and Oscar Waiss, El drama socialista (n.p., 1948).


Terms such as “middle sectors” and “middle classes” are used interchangeably throughout this article with no intention of connoting any group behavior patterns associated with those terms but merely to set off a social layer distinct from the upper and lower strata. By the middle strata in Chile, I am referring to neither blue-collar workers nor the real financial, industrial, landed, familial, racial, cultural upper class. Rather, I am using the category “middle” to apply primarily to white-collar employees, petty bourgeoisie, and many professors, accountants, students, doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, military officers, and lesser agriculturalists and industrialists. The category is used in the article, with some attempt at measurement, because this group’s role within the Socialist Party was a live issue.


La Opinión, November 12, 1932, pp. 1, 5.


Julio César Jobet, El socialismo chileno a través de sus congresos (Santiago, 1965), pp. 9-18. Partido Socialista, 4 de junio (Santiago, 1933), pp. 1-4. Partido Socialista, 33 años por el socialismo (Santiago, 1966), pp. 6-7. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 77-78. Wilfredo Mayorga, “Todos bailamos el año veinte,” Ercilla, No. 1561 (April 21, 1965), pp. 4-5. A Chilean scholar in the 1960s noted some populist tendencies of the socialist Left in Chile: “There is no such thing as an accepted definition of populism, but this political phenomenon has a number of well-recognized characteristics. It is generally supported by the urban masses and sometimes also by the peasantry; it lacks a clearly defined ideological structure, although their programmes and pronouncements make free use of socialist terminology; it usually follows a charismatic leader who bases his appeal on simple, almost irrational, promises of immediate redistributive changes; it is always nationalistic.” Osvaldo Sunkel, “Change and Frustration in Chile,” in Claudio Véliz, editor, Obstacles to Change in Latin America (London, 1965), pp. 131-132. On populism in Latin America also see Alistair Hennessy, “Latin America,” in Ghita Ionescu and Ernest Gellner, Populism: Its Meanings and National Characteristics (London, 1969), pp. 28-61. Torcuata di Telia, “Populism and Reform in Latin America,” in Véliz, pp. 47-74. Octavio Ianni, Crisis in Brazil (New York and London, 1970). Francisco C. Weffort, “El populismo en la política brasileña,” in Celso Furtado et al., Brazil: hoy (2nd ed., México, 1970), pp. 54-84.


Partido Socialista, 4 de junio, pp. 1-4. Marmaduke Grove, Manifiesto socialista (Santiago, 1934), pp. 5-6. Consigna, 1934-1937. Jobet, El socialismo chileno, pp. 32-33, 127-134.


“Our economic solutions . . . are directed to create Chilean industry, Chilean commerce, Chilean agriculture at the service, not of the capitalist utilities, but of the needs of the urban and rural workers.” Partido Socialista, 4 de junio, pp. 2-4. Grove, Manifiesto, pp. 5-22. Gregorio Guerra, “Revolución y crisis de la racionalización,” Cuadernos de la economía mundial, No. 6 (1932), pp. 1-32. Julio César Jobet, “Orígenes y primeros congresos del partido socialista,” Arauco, No. 12 (October, 1960), pp. 5-19.


The leaders and the data on them were culled from a wide variety of sources, including interviews. The percentages may exceed 100% because some leaders fit in more than one major occupational category. For further information on these leaders and their backgrounds, see Paul W. Drake, “Socialism and Populism in Chile: The Origins of the Leftward Movement of the Chilean Electorate, 1931-1933” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1971). The most helpful single source was Empresa Periodística “Chile,” editors, Diccionario biográfico de Chile (1st-9th eds., Santiago, 1936-1955).


Of the 447 members inscribed in the party founders’ registry, 433 noted clearly their occupations. Seven of these 433 original members listed two occupations of apparently equal importance; therefore, a total of 440 occupations are used in the membership sample to indicate the occupational propensities of the Socialist membership. These seven dual occupations caused no significant distortion in the overall pattern. The most common occupations self-designated by the party members were employees (121), carpenters (30), mechanics (22), professors and teachers (22), accountants (21), electricians (19), merchants (17), students (13), and chauffeurs (11). There was also a significant sprinkling of professionals, such as physicians and lawyers. Partido Socialista, Registro de fundadores (Santiago, 1933). Interviews with Carlos Charlín Ojeda and Manuel Mandujano Navarro, both signers of the founding members’ registry in 1933. Julio César Jobet, El socialismo en Chile (Santiago, 1956), pp. 5-7.


Grove received only 18% of the national vote, but 33% in Santiago province. In the heavily urbanized communities of Santiago, he ran well in Providencia (30%) and Nuñoa (24%) as well as San Miguel (47%), Renca (49%), and Quinta Normal (46%). Outside Santiago, in the wealthy seaside community of Viña del Mar, Grove garnered 41% of the votes. Chile, Dirección del Registro Electoral, Elección extraordinaria de Presidente de la República (Santiago, 1932), La Nación, October 31, 1932, pp. 9-10. El Mercurio, October 31, 1932, pp. 1, 9-11; November 1, 1932, p. 12. El Diario Ilustrado, October 31, 1932, pp. 1-5. Karl H. Brunner, Santiago de Chile (Santiago, 1932), pp. 9-17, 85, 109-119. Chile, Dirección General de Estadística, Resultados del X censo de la población (Santiago, 1931), I, 40-47, 51-55.


The Socialists hoped to claim a majority of Chileans as their natural constituency by appealing to the “manual and intellectual workers,” broadly defining the “workers” as all those who were paid for their work and did not own the means of production. Jorge Barría S., El movimiento obrero en Chile (Santiago, 1971), pp. 7, 84-85. Jobet, El socialismo chileno, p. 19. Partido Socialista, 4 de junio. The leader of the Socialist youth in the 1930s gave this explanation of his party’s ascendancy over the Communists: “Without sufficient ideological clarity, victim in many cases of theoretical eclecticism derived from the equilibrium among disparate tendencies—Marxists, anarchosyndicalists, reformist socialists —[the Socialist Party] was, nevertheless, sufficiently lucid to comprehend the necessity of supporting the revolutionary party on a social base wider than only the rural and urban proletariat.” Raúl Ampuero Díaz, La izquierda en punto muerto (Santiago, 1969), pp. 34-35.


Hennessy, pp. 28-61. Aníbal Pinto Santa Cruz, Chile, un caso de desarrollo frustrado (Santiago, 1962), especially pp. 132-136. A future Christian Democrat President noted in the mid-1930s: “this middle class formed itself in the past century in the ranks of the most advanced doctrinaire liberalism, and afterward in the Radical Party. . . . Today . . . following a universal process, it is joining the ranks of socialism.” Eduardo Frei Montalva, Chile desconocido (Santiago, 1937), p. 93. Partido Comunista, Congreso Nacional, En defensa de la revolución (Santiago, 1933), pp. 48, 59, 81. James Petras, Politics and Social Forces in Chilean Development (Berkeley, 1970), p. 161. Chile, Resultados, I, 40-47, 51-55. Wilhelm Mann, Chile luchando por nuevas formas de vida (2 vols., Santiago, 1935), I, 149-150. Jobet, El socialismo chileno, p. 19. Chelén, Trayectoria, p. 81. Oscar Waiss, Nacionalismo y socialismo en América latina (Santiago, 1954), pp. 120-121. Wilfredo Mayorga, “Todos fuimos anarquistas,” Ercilla, No. 1676 (July 19, 1967), p. 15. Marmaduke Grove, Reforma agraria (Santiago, 1939).


Julio César Jobet, “Trayectoria del partido socialista de Chile,” Arauco, No. 63 (April, 1965), 9.


Joan E. Garcés, 1970. La pugna política por la presidencia en Chile (Santiago, 1971). John J. Johnson, Political Change in Latín America (Stanford, 1958), pp. 68-79.


Chile, Dirección General de Estadística, Sinopsis geográfico—estadística de la República de Chile (Santiago, 1933), pp. 32-33, 41, 89. Less than 10% of the population voted in Chilean elections in the twentieth century until the 1950s. For the figures, see the regular publications of Chile’s Oficina Central de Estadística, Dirección General de Estadística, and Dirección del Registro Electoral. Without citing sources for all the separate elections in this century, it should be noted that Ricardo Cruz-Coke, Geografía electoral de Chile (Santiago, 1952), Operations and Policy Research, Inc., Chile: Election Factbook (Washington, D.C., 1963), and Atilio Roron, “Mobilización política y crisis política en Chile,” Aportes, No. 20 (April, 1971), pp. 41-69 are especially useful references. Norbert Lechner, La democracia en Chile (Buenos Aires, 1970), pp. 80-81. Chile, Resultados, I, p. 40. Chile, Dirección del Registro Electoral, Poder electoral de la república (Santiago, 1932). Chile, Tribunal Calificador, Elecciones extraordinarias generales (Santiago, 1933), pp. 15-25. Luis Valdés Larraín, El sufragio (Santiago, 1940), pp. 370-381, 471-472.


Juan F. Fernández C., Pedro Aguirre Cerda y el frente popular chileno (Santiago, 1938), pp. 46-74. Bureau Sudamericano de la Internacional Comunista, Las grandes luchas revolucionarias del proletariado chileno (Santiago, 1932), pp. 33-38. Hernán Ramírez Necochea, Origen y formación del partido comunista de Chile (Santiago, 1965), pp. 12-14. Galo González Díaz, La lucha por la formación del partido comunista de Chile (Santiago, 1958), pp. 9-10, 28-34. Frente único, 1934-1936. Eudocio Ravines, La gran estafa (Havana, Cuba, 1960), pp. 133-199. Barría, pp. 82-83. Chelén, Trayectoria, p. 95.


Chelén, Trayectoria, p. 87. John Reese Stevenson, The Chilean Popular Front (Philadelphia, 1942), pp. 64-75. Ernst Halperin, Nationalism and Communism in Chile (Cambridge, 1965), pp. 47-49. Jack Ray Thomas, “Marmaduke Grove: A Political Biography” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1962), pp. 279-280. Carlos Contreras Labarca, El programa del frente popular debe ser realizado (Santiago, 1940 [?]), pp. 35-37.


The Radicals’ middle-to upper-class leadership and their socioeconomic composition was researched in the same way as that of the Socialists, as discussed in footnote 8 above. Also see Germán Urzúa Valenzuela, Los partidos políticos chilenos (Santiago, 1968), pp. 152-153, 164-165. Luis Palma Zúñiga, Historia del partido radical (Santiago, 1967), pp. 173-178.


“Aguirre Cerda has no popular appeal and being a rich man himself is, of course, unable to preach the gospel of Socialism in a very convincing way.” Mr. Bogdan (of the J. Henry Schroeder Banking Corp.), “Chile,” (June 23, 1938), p. 2, included in U.S. Department of State Archives, 825.00/1035-1/2. Pedro Aguirre Cerda, El problema industrial (Santiago, 1933). Ricardo Boizard, Historia de una derrota (Santiago, 1941), pp. 35-36, 143-149. Alberto Cabero, Recuerdos de don Pedro Aguirre Cerda (Santiago, 1948), pp. 141-143. Ravines, pp. 171-175.


Thomas, pp. 237-280. Jobet, El socialismo chileno, pp. 33-37. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 92-95. Fernández, pp. 47-73.


James O. Morris, Elites, Intellectuals, and Consensus (Ithaca, New York, 1966), pp. 236-263. Stevenson, pp. 71-75. Barría, pp. 88-89. Luis Vitale, Historia del movimiento obrero (Santiago, 1962), pp. 18-20, 73. Julio César Jobet, Recabarren (Santiago, 1955), pp. 162-164.


Chile, Dirección General de Estadística, Política, administración, justicia y educación (Santiago, 1938), pp. 1-5. Stevenson, pp. 71-75. The Socialists’ 1937 tally was about double its 1932 congressional percentage.


Jobet, El socialismo chileno, pp. 33-38.


Partido Socialista, Grove a la presidencia (Santiago, 1937), pp. 2-31. Thomas, pp. 276-282. Boizard, Historia, pp. 148-151. Fernández, pp. 69-72. Claridad, 1937-1938.


Humberto Mendoza, Y ahora? (Santiago, 1942), pp. 179-182. Chelén, Trayectoria, p. 88.


Thomas, pp. 276-282. Boizard, Historia, pp. 148-151.


Stevenson, pp. 81-85. Fernández, pp. 11-36. Federico G. Gil, The Political System of Chile (Boston, 1966), pp. 68-69.


Interview with Carlos Keller, Nazi leader. Fernández, pp. 81-87. Jorge González von Marees, La concepción nacista del estado (Santiago, 1934).


Johnson, pp. 81-82. Aníbal Pinto Santa Cruz, “Desarrollo económico y relaciones sociales,” in Aníbal Pinto Santa Cruz et al., Chile: hoy (México, 1970), pp. 19-20. P. T. Ellsworth, Chile: an Economy in Transition (New York, 1945), pp. vii, 1-52, 96-100, 128-165.


Aguirre Cerda carried both Providencia and Nuñoa by slightly over 50% and San Miguel by 74%, Renca 58%, and Quinta Normal 70%. Out of 442,964 total valid votes cast, the Popular Front won 222,720 to 218,609 for the Right. Chile, Dirección General de Estadística, Política, administración, justicia y educación (Santiago, 1939), pp. 4-7.


The Communist minority in the C.T.Ch. was more conservative and cooperative with Aguirre Cerda than the Socialist majority. Wesley Frost, Santiago, to Secretary of State, October 11, 1939, pp. 4-5, Department of State Archives, 825.00/1177. Halperin, pp. 52-53. Ravines, pp. 185-189, 375-377. Contreras Labarca, El programa, pp. 44-71, 82. Stevenson, pp. 94-97.


González Díaz, pp. 28-42. Contreras Labarca, El programa, pp. 40-80. Interview with Alejandro Chelén Rojas, Socialist leader.


Volodia Teitelboim, “Algunas experiencias chilenas sobre el problema de la burguesía nacional,” Principios, No. 59 (July, 1959), pp. 20-30. For a scholarly exploration of the political role of peasants, see Almino Alfonso et al., Movimiento campesino chileno, (2 vols., Santiago, 1970), especially the historical treatment in the first volume.


Fredrick B. Pike, Chile and the United States, 1880-1962 (South Bend, Indiana, 1963), pp. 244-245. Armand Mattelart, Carmen Castillo, and Leonard Castillo, La ideología de la dominación en una sociedad dependiente (Buenos Aires, 1970), pp. 117-119. Pinto, “Desarrollo,” pp. 19-27. Cabero, pp. 247-258. Contreras Labarca, El programa, pp. 36-38.


Wesley Frost, Santiago, to Secretary of State, August 30, 1939, pp. 2-4, Department of State Archives, 825.00/1172. Norman Armour, Santiago, to Secretary of State, March 14, 1939, pp. 3-4, Department of State Archives, 825.00/568. Jobet, El partido socialista, I, 133-161. Stevenson, pp. 99-100. Ravines, pp. 374-375. Partido Socialista, Concepción económica del partido socialista (Santiago, 1941), pp. 3-32.


Vitale, p. 82. Halperin, pp. 127-128. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 76-87. Waiss, El drama, pp. 16-33. Pinto, “Desarrollo,” pp. 28-29.


Godoy’s group scorned the regular Socialists as “profiteers from socialism.” Chelén, Trayectoria, p. 100; also see pp. 7-8, 76-103. Cut off from patronage jobs, the Godoy faction did not exceed 10% of the regular party’s membership. Claude G. Bowers, Santiago, to Secretary of State, May 29, 1940, p. 4, Department of State Archives, 825.00/1214. Bowers, Santiago, to Secretary of State, April 23, 1940, pp. 1-2, Department of State Archives, 825.00/1208. Waiss, El drama, pp. 20-24. Jobet, El partido socialista, I, 143-144. César Godoy Urrutia, A dónde va el socialismo? (2nd ed., Santiago, 1939). Partido Socialista de Trabajadores, Construyendo el partido único (Santiago, 1944).


Partido Socialista, El libro negro del partido comunista (Santiago, 1941). Julio César Jobet, Socialismo y comunismo (Santiago, 1952). Jobet, El socialismo chileno, p. 47. Gil, p. 284. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 91-92. Stevenson, pp. 110-117.


Urzúa Valenzuela, pp. 54-75. Chile, Política. (1938), p. 5. Cruz-Coke, pp. 10-13, 83-85. Claude G. Bowers, Santiago, to Secretary of State, March 23, 1942, pp. 1-2, Department of State Archives, 825.00/1629. Bowers, Santiago, to Secretary of State, March 5, 1941, Department of State Archives, 825.00/1316.


Arturo Olavarría Bravo, Chile entre dos Alessandri, (4 vols., Santiago, 1962 and 1965), I, 555.


Stevenson, pp. 122-136. Barría, pp. 70-72. Sunkel, pp. 130-134.


Lechner, pp. 17, 22, 65-66, 80-81. Petras, pp. 123-135.


Stevenson, pp. 136-146.


Ellsworth, pp. 86-158. Employees were favored over workers in such allocations as minimum wages and annual readjustments for the cost of living. Barría, pp. 90-91. Cabero, pp. 293-320. As one example of government allocation of its resources to industrialization rather than the social needs of the workers, the housing shortage was worse in 1946 than in 1939. Arturo Aldunate Phillips, Un pueblo en busca de su destino (Santiago, 1947), pp. 107-109. Other Latin American countries, with very different political regimes, experienced economic changes similar to Chile in the period, so external factors probably explain more than internal politics. Pinto, “Desarrollo,” pp. 23-25, 106-122. Jobet, El partido socialista, II, 53, 68. José Cademártori, La economía chilena (Santiago, 1968), pp. 118-273. Petras, pp. 10-17. Gil, pp. 168-169. Johnson, pp. 81-84.


Pinto, Chile, un caso, pp. 136-139, 185-198. Jorge Ivan Tapia-Videla, “Bureaucratic Power in a Developing Country: The Case of the Chilean Social Security Administration” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1969).


Pinto, “Desarroflo,” pp. 21-27. Cabero, pp. 247-258,


Olavarría Bravo, II, 10-30. Johnson, pp. 84-86,


Urzúa Valenzuela, pp. 54-75. Petras, pp. 28-32, 120-157. Waiss, El drama, pp. 21-24. Pinto, “Desarrollo,” pp. 28-30. Cruz-Coke, pp. 81-109.


Jobet, El socialismo chileno, pp. 48-55.


Thomas, pp. 257-262, 330-336. Jobet, El partido socialista, I, 173-184. Salvador Allende, “Trayectoria del partido socialista,” in Partido Socialista, Boletín Interno del Partido Socialista (October, 1943), pp. 3-7. Georgina Durand, Mis entrevistas, (2 vols., Santiago, 1943), II, 245-249. In contrast to his position in the moderate wing of the Socialist Party in the 1970s, Allende was seen by many as one of the more radical, uncompromising Socialists in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Wesley Frost, Santiago, to Secretary of State, September 30, 1939, pp. 2-3, Department of State Archives, 825.00/1176. Partido Socialista, IV congreso extraordinario del partido socialista (n.p., 1943), pp. 9-57. Baltazar Castro, ¿Me permite una interrupción? (Santiago, 1962), pp. 137-140, 162.


Thomas, p. 366.


Waiss, El drama, pp. 46-52. Ampuero, p. 21. Chelén Trayectoria, pp. 106-111.


Cruz-Coke, pp. 83-85, 106-109. Waiss, El drama, pp. 46-52. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 103-111. Jobet, El partido socialista, I, 190-198. Carleton Beals, Lands of the Dawning Morrow (Indianapolis-New York, 1948), pp. 253-254.


Johnson, pp. 86-90. Petras, pp. 128-139. Indirect taxes rose from a general level of about 55% of all taxes from 1940-45 to a general level of over 60% of all taxes from 1946-52. Pinto, Chile, un caso, pp. 136-139, 195-197. Comisión Económica para América Latina de las Naciones Unidas, Antecedentes sobre el desarrollo de la economía chilena, 1925-1952 (Santiago, 1954), pp. 29-35, 78-97.


Halperin, pp. 53-54. Petras, pp. 136-137.


Halperin, pp. 127-129. Gil, pp. 285-290. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 111-113. Waiss, El drama, pp. 53-98. Jobet, El socialismo chileno, pp. 58-60.


Waiss, El drama, pp. 46-95. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 110-129. Alejandro Chelén Rojas, Flujo y reflujo del socialismo chileno (Santiago, 1961).


Boizard, Historia, pp. 147-149. Jobet, El partido socialista, II, 183. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 188-192.


The shifting personalities on various sides of issues and divisions within the Socialist Party can be followed, without discovering many ideological continuities, in Jobet, El partido socialista. Halperin, pp. 135-144, 229.


A majority of the elected Socialists from the party’s founding through the mid-1960s improved their social standing. Moreover, from 1932 to 1953, only 21% of the Socialists elected to congress continued to support the party after leaving office. Many turned to the Right or withdrew from politics. Petras, p. 161. The vast majority of Socialists chosen by the party to run for elected offices came from the higher social sectors. Neither working class origins or ideological credentials weighed very heavily in party selections of leaders and candidates. A relatively advantaged group tended to perpetuate itself in the party’s upper echelons. Chelén, Trayectoria, pp. 184-192. The classic analysis of the tendency for democratic socialist parties to be ruled by a small internal clique can be found in Robert Michels, Political Parties (New York, 1962). Looking back over the years of rancor and schisms, some Socialists concluded that only greater intra-party democracy would have averted problems and divisions. Waiss, El drama, pp. 3-7, 16-43. Merle Kling argues that political instability in Latin America is largely a result of politics in an underdeveloped, dependent economy being a major vehicle for socioeconomic ascent. Merle Kling, “Toward a Theory of Power and Political Instability in Latin America,” in James Petras and Maurice Zeitlin, editors, Latin America: Reform or Revolution? (Greenwich, Connecticut, 1968), pp. 76-93. Halperin, pp. 135-144, 229.


Sunkel, especially pp. 130-134. Halperin, pp. 59-61, 117-162. Waiss, El drama, pp. 143-146, 166-184. Francisco Méndez (ed.), Chile: tierra y destino (Santiago, 1947 [?]), pp. 472-473.


In the terms of Samuel P. Huntington, apparently institutionalization was keeping close pace with mobilization and participation; the number of voters was still less than 10% of the population at the end of the 1940s. Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, 1968). See the discussion of political mobilization and institutionalization in Brazil by Joseph L. Love, “Political Participation in Brazil, 1881-1969,” Luso-Brazilian Review, 7:2 (December 1970), 3-24. Operations and Policy Research, Chile, p. 15. Hennessy, pp. 28-61.

Author notes


The author is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana. This article is a revised version of a paper presented at the 1972 American Historical Association meeting. The author wishes to thank Joseph L. Love for his comments on the original version.