Daniel Noemi proposes the “aesthetics of poverty” from the “analysis” of the literary, in Leer la pobreza en América Latina: Literatura y velocidad (Reading poverty in Latin America: Literature and speed) (2011). In simple terms, the “aesthetics of poverty” is a kind of procedure, a methodology if you will, whose final object of study is what the author calls “dromopenia”, that is, the speed of poverty. This procedure aims to “visualize” poverty.
We could say that the speed of something is the phenomenon in its relative aspects. Each object moves at its own speed, and as such, since the observer also moves to its own, it cannot attempt to represent the object being observed, it cannot be “re-presented”, be brought back, be presented once more. All that remains is to be give warning of it so it can be “visualized” (Noemi, 2011). Poverty, under this gaze, and because it has its own speed, cannot be presented again without erring in representation. How could poverty be represented, if as an observer I have a different coordinate scale tied to my own speed? Not even the “I come to speak for your dead mouth,” as Pablo Neruda said, nor the “I am the voice of those who have no voice” as Gabriela Mistral put it. I can’t get into explaining poverty, talking for it, or bringing it to talk for itself. These spells belong to a god or a prophet. The observer proposing Noemi (if he indeed does, who could rather expose a context of observation), is less pretentious.It is just indicated. She wants this observer to be more of an interrogator for others to observe.
Chile, according to the United Nations Report “Social Overview of Latin America 2019”, was the second country to have had a marked reduction in poverty, for presenting the second-best balance between the various incomes (about work income, income from public and private transfers, and other income), although it is the country that has the fourth greatest economic inequality in the region. It has the lowest poverty rate, after Uruguay. It is the country with the third best per capita income in Latin America (United Nations & Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2019).
If Chile, in economic terms, would have improved ostensibly, why is a constitutional change wanted? Why is a change in the state of things wanted?
In post-dictatorship Chile, the input of large investments and the introduction of the large company produced more consumer goods, in an exponential increase relative to the era of the administration in dictatorship. Access to goods was the great opening, the access to varied trade, the great factory, the large shop, the large supermarket, the large drugstore that was hoarding the market over the local shops, who became extinct because they could not compete. It began to be transmitted through advertising, media practices, a subtle but harmful message, which increased possession of material goods and produced a greater social valuation of an individual. To have more goods you had to buy. Money was required to buy. If no money was held at the time, credit purchases, loans, and cash advances solved it. With this the compulsion for the purchase was created in the subject. Thus came the logic of private indebtedness and interest-on-interest.
Perhaps this dynamic could operate in high incomes contexts, but not for every context. The middle and lower classes began to try to reach this expectation quickly. While the middle class bought cars and real estate, a lower-class sector living on the outskirts of cities bought its young people the most coveted sneakers of the time, Nike’s “AirFlight”, used by basketball player Michael Jordan, who in the imitation trade were called “FlightAir”. Hence, Anglicism led to the castilianization “flaite”, a nickname which was assigned to that sector. And perhaps they reflect very well this compulsive need installed in subjects that material possession of goods defined the person, which they obtained with effort or, failing that, using shortcuts such as bad practices and crime. All this generated an undesired social product, a different poverty.
With this system, the only possible way was opened to be able to possess some material wealth: indebtedness. But under this logic, the only tangible property that could be aspired to be the ownership of a debt. And whoever is an eternal debtor being a slave. Thus, only a minimal part of the population that owned the resources and means to generate wealth was the beneficiary, coupled with the fact that much of the profit of the productive sectors, especially foreigners, removed them from Chile. The merchandise became the center of social definition. The cult of Mammon in all its expression. Chilean society, far from being anthropocentric, became plutocentric.
While the speed of wealth in some sectors in Chile was higher, in another its speed was lower. While economic figures in Chile indicate sustained improvement, the truth is, “relative”. My improvement, but in relation to what? Since 1990, there has been a greater circulation of wealth resulting from “globalization”, and consequently greater market opening. Chile joins this global increase. And if Chile moves forward like other countries, it moves forward with its 21st-century poverty, which is not the same as 20th-century poverty. It has other characteristics, other forms of adaptation to economic systems. Its “dromopenia” can be correlated to such systems.
A new Constitution will not change that, but maybe it could be a start. Baby steps.