The Restoration of High Culture in Chile

In “The Restoration of High Culture in Chile,” Martha Rosler discusses implications of the military overthrow of the Popular Unity government (Unidad Popular) in a narrative format. She sympathizes with the former regime and argues that the economic reforms pushed by the United States towards free market capitalism have economically polarized the Chilean community. Finally, she criticizes the American press for touting economic progress when, “the condition of the poor is still desperate; unemployment and inflation are rampant.”

Quotes from the piece include the following:

People have shown that Chile is a classic example of a subject state, forced to yield its resources to foreign interests, mostly U.S. owned multinationals, and to import finished goods at inflated prices.

People have shown that the class differences in Chile have been systematically misrepresented in the U.S. press.

People have shown that the “truckers’ strikes” of October 1972 was a strike  of truck owners, shopkeepers and professionals and that workers and students joined together to set up other ways of distributing goods and food rather than joining the strike.

People have explained that Chile has had to rely heavily on imported consumer goods and even food. Before Unidad Popular, the wealthiest 20 percent of the population drew 46.5 percent of the income and consumed 42 percent of imported goods.

People have shown that under the fascist generals, although the rich have had their privileges restored, the rest of the Chilean people are poorer, more disease-ridden, and hungrier than ever. For example, one-quarter of the population is now out of work.

People have used milk as an example: Despite the 57.8 million dollars received through only one of the many monetary-aid channels … the junta removed the price restrictions on milk, and consumer prices rose 40 percent while the price paid to producers dropped 22 percent. There are over 10,000 producers in Chile but only two processing companies, which control the market.

Rosler’s narrative suggests that the Chilean community may still harbor resentment at a class divide. When combined with the Kachchh case, we must acknowledge the possibility that post-earthquake recovery efforts may have strengthened this class divide when it should serve as a unifying event. How can objects and architecture act as a transformative forces that create a greater sense of community under these circumstances?

Rosler, Martha. “1. The Restoration of High Culture in Chile.” Martha Rosler: 3 Works. Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. 2-8. Print.

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