Felix Stalder on Wed, 22 Dec 2021 10:20:15 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Social media and mass mobilization in Chile's presidential election

Hi everyone,

I'm sure many have followed the election in Chile. It was historic. Not "just" because it means the writing of the new constitution will continue which will have the potential to re-draw the political map (finally stepping out of the long shadow of Pinochet) and the dynamics unfolding on it. But also because Boric, from what I understand, really is a candidate of social movements, coming out of a decade of student struggles and 3 years of popular protests against neoliberal austerity. It is a testimony to the depth of these struggles that they survived the pandemic as an active social force.

Being a social movement candidate, the mobilization of many different groups as active players in the campaign played a large role, and this mobilization was largely done over social media, with videos, hashtags, and memes. This is not to suggest that Boric is a social media candidate, he clearly is one of social movements, but it is still helpful to counter the somewhat self-defeating attitude that social media amplify only "fake news" and the far right.

These are, of course, hugely problematic companies, but I think it's better to say that social media amplify social energy and for the last couple of years, particularly in the US and Europe, the right was far more energetic than the left.

What this election seems to indicate -- similar to the Corbyn Campaign in the UK and the municipalism in Spain -- is that positive (in the sense of having a vision, rather than just an enemy) social energy is built in a hybrid way, that large social mobilization are necessary for creating an understanding of a collective situation, but the social media campaigns can enable a new articulation of the way on which large numbers of people are embedded in the political process as self-articulating actors, rather than just spectators or "rank-and-file".

But I'm sure there are people who are much closer to the events in Chile and who can speak with more knowledge about the mobilization during this campaign. I would be curious to hear from you.



Javiera Manzi, an activist with Chile’s largest feminist advocacy group. It’s known as the Coordinadora Feminista 8M, March 8th, International Women’s Day.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And could you talk about the coalition Boric is a part of, the “I Approve Dignity” coalition, what political movements are represented within it, and the importance the student movement in propelling volunteers and activists for that coalition?

JAVIERA MANZI: Yes. Apruebo Dignidad is a platform, a left platform, a very diverse platform, as well, that has a progressive agenda. And, for us, it’s important to say that it’s not only their victory. It’s a victory of people who never went to vote before. You see, this is the election with the most votation since the vote is voluntary here in Chile. And even though we can see the diversity there, and we can see, of course, the extent of the — and the diversity of different social movements even in Apruebo Dignidad but also outside the Apruebo Dignidad, that in a unity made possible this victory. For us, it’s very important to say that this is a victory of a way of a radical tenderness of the people and the aim of a radical transformation, and that feminism as well as environmental movements are in the — we are working towards that justice, social justice and social transformation.

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