The rejection of the employee. Historical differences in own-account work in Chile

In our picture of the historical development of Chile, the central actors are not own-account workers. You can, however, be noted that not only do they have a relevant presence in the course of the history of our country, but have been relevant in shaping the identity of various historical subjects in Chile. In fact, the same can be said in general of Latin America. Sánchez-Albornoz (History Minimum of the Population of Latin America, FCE, 2014, ed, revised, 1994: p 88-89) notes that an important part of the Spanish migration to America in the colony was artisan, typically self-employed, and not of peasants, which explains its urban character, which in turn had consequences for the implementation of the hispanic culture in America.

In the first place, we can observe the significant presence of sectors that are not-dependent-long history in Chile (at least from the EIGHTEENTH century), and observed in it also a certain willingness to escape of dependent work.

In what concerns the segments popular, Gabriel Salazar has been leading the search away from the domination of the elite hacendal or of the aristocracy commercial. Regarding the situation in the EIGHTEENTH century suggests that:

However, they were the same colonists poor and the mestizos who are opposed to it. Is that from your perspective, the intermediate forms of appropriation of labour did not constitute a real access to the land, or a means to meet minimum capital originally. Lack of mentality of the proletariat -since they were, despite everything, the settlers – the vagabond colonial resisted pressure management. It is for this reason that the process of formation of the peasantry and the peonage chilean included the traits of a peculiar pre-class struggle (Salazar, Husbandmen, labourers and proletarians, 2000, ed. orig. 1984, LOM: 30)

Salazar, even goes so far as to emphasize the will business of these groups, the will of accumulation (pages 75-98). While it could be envisaged that are not necessarily proto-capitalists, the examples of Salazar do show a capacity to accumulate between these groups of workers who were out of systems of dependent work (in the chilean case rural this does not necessarily salaried by the way).

Throughout the EIGHTEENTH and NINETEENTH century we find ourselves against a resistance of the low people, to use the nomenclature of Salazar, against the incorporation of the world dependent. Something that becomes more explicable as a tendency, and more difficult as a result, if you observe the trends of intensification of use of the workforce over that time. Salazar in the work already cited shows such as on the farms the situation of the tenant, formally independent, it becomes progressively more onerous, in particular throughout the EIGHTEENTH century, when increasing the work requirements. With regard to the land in the district of Puchacay, a rural district near Conception, towards the end of the EIGHTEENTH century, Lawrence (From rural to Urban, Editions of the University of Valparaíso, 2014: p 182-183) describes that although there are differences between renter and tenant in connection with the provision of work for the landowner, as in the first is included the work requirement for it when the room requires it. The difference occurs between sporadic and permanent, but it’s not a pure commercial relationship of lease. In some sense, keeping the proportions and distances, a phenomenon similar to the second serfdom in early modern Eastern Europe. The barriers to the independent activity of the lower people by the elites is a saying, in any case, in the work of Salazar: Is your analysis of the reaction of the aristocracy to trade popular in the cities ( Merchants, Businessmen and Capitalist, South american, 2008).

With regard to the middle strata also we find a similar dynamic: existence, not recognized, of a sector of their own. The traditional view of a middle stratum built in the eaves of the State during the NINETEENTH century, hides the importance of prior sectors craft. The statistics of occupations show percentages relevant of these segments: Thus, the census of 1907 shows a number in the same magnitude range of private employees that the merchants (91.758 the first and 78.490 the seconds, see Gonzálz Le Saux, employers to employees, LOM, 2011: p 121). It would have been the middle-class traditional artisan that would have transformed into a middle-class wage-earning public, would be those actors that would have had the resources and capital to take advantage of the expanding educational that allowed the generation of a public official in the middle class. In front of the emergence of various processes that hindered the reproduction of the craft industry in the NINETEENTH century appears in public employment. In particular, the replacement of a culture of popular consumption, that he preferred the traditional products produced by these artisans, by a abandoned those traditional products and created with technologies that were not wielding traditional artisans is an important part of the process that generated a crisis inside of it. Although the trajectory is not similar, the fact that the culture of consumption and the relationship between traditional techniques and new techniques of production are also crucial to understand what happens with the craft, is repeated in the analysis of Sergio Solano (Trades. economy of market, habits of consumption and social differentiation in Work, workers and Popular Participation, Anthropos, 2012) on the colombian Caribbean during the NINETEENTH century. It is, in any case, more difficult to raise in these cases, a resistance to the transformation in paid employment: in the Face of the difficulties of playing the ‘horizontal transmission’ to middle-class wage earner does not seem to have been too problematic. Now, it is possible to ask whether the preference for public employment rather than the private, many times noticed, and criticized, is not due to a true rejection of the conditions of wage employment private. However, this is only as a hypothesis, because there is no clear evidence in this regard.

In the second place, we may note that one of the features constant in this evolution is the difficulty of being able to give dignity to the condition of dependent work. So, for example, by analyzing the discourses and disputes over honor in the Santiago of the EIGHTEENTH century, Veronica Undurraga, makes us see that:

In sum, the condition described as ‘vile’ was not agricultural work in itself, but that subjection to a pattern, that is to say, the relationship of dependence and submission that it entails. Hence the allusions of repeated the term ”serving” to refer to the type of work that the laborer was doing (Veronica Undurraga, The Faces of Honor, University, 2012: p 96)

The wage labour was under a sign infamous -the submission implies that one is not free, and then it is the craftsman who can say, as a tailor in 1819 that he is ‘a poor craftsman but I have honour’ (p 21 in the above-mentioned study of Undurraga). In fact, this is a representation of honor, which does not necessarily follow the guidelines of the honor of the traditional lineage or honor, as a civility, but a construction in a certain sense characteristic of the popular sectors in chile.

In societies where forced labor has had relevance (or at least, where the image baseline of the dependent work is not necessarily paid employment-free), as is the chilean case, it is not strange that then the image of servitude will not let you cross the idea of wage labor. This same difficulty of thinking that the wage-earner is free and to identify the mere idea of working for someone else as non-free is observed in ancient Greek times where working for others is something only worthy of slaves (Cohen, Athenian Economy and Society, Princeton UP, 1992: p 70-73, see also Arendt, The Human Condition, Chicago UP, 1958: Chap 2, § 8, n 60). In those circumstances and contexts, the status and image of own-account work can not leave having a positive intrinsic.

Even more, it allows us to understand the historical reasons why it does not correspond to identify the desire for independence or autonomy with entrepreneurship: Because that desire is traditional, and can be compatible with an economic ethics very traditional (using the terms weberianos of the Protestant Ethic). A personal anecdote. At the beginning of this century I had to perform a consulting job in Pomaire, artisanal sector near Santiago. What was evident was the combination of a high valuation of own-account work (having no head) with an economic ethic highly traditional and rejecting the accumulation. Dependent on another is, in this view, something which is manifestly negative, and that is what gives the account of their own, beyond their problems, a feeling that is inherently positive.

In the historical process of chile, the own-account work can not be reduced to a simple actor marginal and represents a constant trend (and valued in certain aspects by the subjects that constitute the chilean society) that has marked the historical evolution of Chile. Even more, it constitutes a counter-option to that which occurs in the workplace-dependent. The work on their own, in a certain way, it represents a possibility of escape (this perceived either negatively or positively) the limitations of the wage ratio and, therefore, in a certain mode, a mode of resistance to the insertion in a world where others take decisions; and it also appears to be a feature of the long term of our society.

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