In the last 30 years Chile has gone from a per capita of US$8000 to almost US$25,000; we went from not beating anyone to demanding to beat (almost) all, at least in football; we went from looking with suspicion and envy at Argentina, to comparing ourselves to each more and more bombastic European country, looking with little resorptive ness on our shoulders at our neighbors; we went from being humble and fearful, to being demanding, overrated and arrogant. This change is not necessarily bad, perhaps it was just a need installed by this dynamic of life that consumes us, but despite this vast wave of accelerated transformations, of technology inuncing everything and that pleasant feeling of that you have more than before, more than the rest, there are certain things that our country maintains and that without good time seems to forget, at times also emerges as an uncontrolled spasm.
The economic prosperity of recent decades in our country allowed the numbers to gradually become increasingly flattering, a drastic reduction in poverty and destitution, increased wages, access to goods and services than in many our parents and grandparents could only have dreamed, next-generation tVs, smartphones, luxury cars, bonanza at all levels. Our country was being developed in Latin America as a great beacon of prosperity, a beacon that was necessarily attracting those poor nations around us, those people who have not been lucky enough to live in a stable, democratic, well-managed country, on the road to development, a country of winners that was shouting to anyone who would like to hear that in Chile there is money, there is employment, that we can all be whatwe want to be, that we can all have a house, that we can all study and be professional, we can all be entrepreneurs and become great entrepreneurs, that we can all be rich… could we all be rich?
A couple of months ago the honorable Senator Van Rysselberghe suffered an exaggeration in front of the cameras and emanated from the depths of her being to a phrase that is certainly more complex than it might seem: “Any slurry feels the right to insult Someone who works in the public service.” It is not the objective of this article to delve into the increasingly installed trend of effectively attacking any figure that does something relevant or responsible, because it is a subject that cannot be taken lightly and that probably touches at another time , what interests me here is to address precisely that a senator like Van Rysselberghe complains that it is the “slap” who do it.
Patipelado is a concept that transports us directly to that dark Chile of yesteryear (which is also not so far away, because 30 years ago it was still a fairly common scenario), to that Chile in which there were not only people who walked to “peeled leg”, that is that it did not have to buy shoes and that he had to walk with his feet barefoot or with basic or poor quality footwear, but also a Chile in which the majority of the population suffered from shameful poverty that did not allow him access to basic services, that did not have resources to dress or co adequately, but even worse, he did not even have the rights to be considered citizens on the same level as the senator.
In that Chile, children swarmed the streets trying to earn a living, unable to study, without protection of their rights, with their parents working without social protection, in days of exploitation and practically without hope of being able to reverse that destiny. This situation is not unknown, or should not be unknown by anyone, because it is a reality that was not very different in any country of America, the problem is that along with this there was always a segment of the population that did have to buy shoes , who did have the resources to access all services, basic or not, that he could dress well, that he could eat well and that he enjoyed all the rights that the Republic could consecrate, a segment of the population that felt as fair the enjoyment of these benefits and who enjoyed and became uncluttered in political and economic power. Not innocent, in all societies and throughout history there have always been those who have more, it is something inevitable, but my point in this is not that, my point is that those who were not skated 100 years ago, were not 50 years ago , they weren’t 10 years ago and they’re not today, but one way or another those who were still are.
In the history of our country the surnames of powerful families can be traced from the colony or before (left and right almost equally), the same names that are repeated over and over again, names in charge of companies, names in charge of the government , names in parliament, which as in a dance that seems to have no end slide through the halls of power of our lost country at the end of the world. These families and their children so enjoy the goodness that society offers have ended up assuming that it is an acquired right, that the power to do and undo is their hands almost as chosen by a higher will. When the senator explodes lashing out at the skating sympels does not do so as an annoyance over a particular situation, she does so as a class statement, as a reaction to what from her view, from her world-building, is an absurdity, an inconsistency, a disrespect on the part of a commoner who could not understand the way society works, who does not understand that the natural order of things is that they are the ones who are above and those who decide.
It is extremely interesting as from this class, segment or sector, whatever it is called, a concept has been developed and installed that hastily assimilated by the rest of society and which is that of “merit”, a speech has been prepared in the which insists that merit is the central element by which to evaluate each person, that things must be won, that success is the prize given to the person who has the best skills, to whom he tries the most , to which it shows the superior talents. Our education system as a whole has been structured based on the concept of merit, it seeks that each individual develops his skills in order to turn those skills into something redeemable, and will be able to market, so the skills that most appreciated are the ones that can be sold. Our social system has infiltrated this economic logic and characterizes a person’s success in how economically successful it is, however, this discourse is somewhat misleading when we see that it comes from a sector for which merit is not a demand, because here the family surname ends up being the defining element in the success that will be achieved. It is extremely unlikely that we will see a Larraín, Errazuriz or Van Ryselbergue as a baker or toilet staff in a company, we are more likely to see him as a manager, or mayor, or deputy, or as a minister and consequently then we will see his children and their children in the same position.
Merit seems to be a condition for evaluating others, those who do not have surnames or alcurnia, those who do not come from families of great purchasing power. And with this I’m not saying that they don’t have skills, but it’s easy to develop these when your position allows you to study in the best colleges and in the best universities, have the best food and the best rub, being also not asked to be outstanding, because just because you have studied there and be part of such or how your future is already assured.
As previously suggested Chile has had several decades of economic boom and has seen an increasingly extensive middle class strengthen that as characteristics has a high level of education and receive higher incomes than previous generations, a class means that it feels powerful in having the possibility of acquiring goods and services, of having a certain capital, of being able to travel and approach certain spheres of power, but when one member of this class is heard to refer to the “patipelados”, when one sees the the president’s children travel to do business to China on the presidential plane or to the Pulido threaten with their relations with a general to some carabinieri in a police control, when certain parliamentarians talk about the need to create “republican elites” against equity in education, one can only reflect on how much skates we are no longer, whether it is effective that the rules apply to everyone in the same way or whether the measure ultimately varies depending on who is affected (I do not forget as Benjamin Echeverria Larraín was discovered with 20 thousand doses of cocaine in 2014 and sentenced to probation or when the senator himself was pauted and paid by the Association of Fishing Industrialists of the BíoBío (Asipes) to disadvantage artisanal fishermen in the Fisheries Act).
It has sold the false idea that through individual effort it is possible to reach the highest spheres of economic and social power in our country, to poor students, to middle-class students, are sold that through education they will be able to ascend in the sc social wing, raise class, and become successful and powerful. The idea of the professional title as the key to economic success has allowed the development of a very strong economic activity, which is private education, and has led millions of families to choose to borrow for decades only in the hope that their children they can have a privileged place in society, however, the only thing this has achieved is an expansion of the middle class, with virtually no impact on the configChilean upper class. The debacle suffered by public education arises precisely from this aspirational feeling that was generated in the 1990s with the mass flight to the “particular” schools, which actually continued to be subsidized by the State, to this day it is very well seen that the families say they have their children in “schools,” almost indefectibly assuming that children who study in “schools” belong to the poorest sectors. The curious thing about this is that this aspirational middle class feels almost part of the elite when paying 50,000 or 100,000 in a “private” school, without understanding that really private schools charge 1 million or more. This illusion of rise on the social ladder ends up becoming a kind of alienation in which individuals are permanently convinced to be better than they are, to be closer to “success”, without seeing that in practice all they have achieved is to increase their layer debt.
The merit trap associated with economic success causes me to evaluate my development as a person based on what I have and to evaluate the other in the same way, it makes me consider that if I have the little I have it’s for my own effort and sacrifice and if another has less it’s because it hasn’t been sacrificed enough, so I admire the one who has the most because I assume he has worked harder and I assume that if I try harder I can have the same thing, or ideally more, and so I go away from the “poor” and approachthe “rich”, blurring even the limits of morality, with the intimate desire for this to consider me an equal. In my life I’ve met people who make $1 million and look down on the one who earns 500, people who earn 3 million and feel like they’re upper class, people who talk about capital and investment and live off a salary in a job they hate. When Larraín manages to leave his son to be unpunished over the outrage of Hernan Canales, when ministries are filled with cousins who in turn are brothers of the directors of large companies, when we see that 140 compatriots concentrate 20% of the country’s wealth , when Van Rysselberghe berates the “slings” because they think that mPs earn too much, what is being done is nothing more than remembering that no matter the effort or how much you’ve managed to rise on your merits, you’ll never become considered an equal, because in the end you will always be just an employee.
The content poured into this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.