LA CUESTIÓN SOCIAL EN CHILE (1880-1920)

Es indudable que la pobreza y las desigualdades sociales no surgieron en el país en la década de 1880, como tampoco han desaparecido en la moderna realidad del Chile actual. No obstante, ya desde finales de siglo XIX muchos elementos se conjugaron para transformar los problemas sociales en una cuestión social, como son, un contexto económico capitalista plenamente consolidado, marcado por una incipiente industrialización y un proceso de urbanización descontrolado que agravaron las malas condiciones de vida del trabajador urbano; una clase dirigente ciega e ineficiente ante los problemas y quejas del mundo popular; y, finalmente, una clase trabajadora que ya no estuvo dispuesta a quedarse de brazos cruzados esperando que el Estado oligárquico llegara a ofrecer alguna solución a sus problemas.

cuestion social2.jpg

Fue a lo largo de estos años que se pusieron en marcha una serie de movimientos sociales que transformaron la cuestión social en un problema que afectó no sólo a los trabajadores sino a todo el país. Desde entonces, surgieron a la luz pública una serie de innumerables escritos, ensayos, artículos de prensa y tesis de grado que comenzaron a analizar sus causas y motivos, además de las posibles alternativas de solución. Esta amplia gama de debates políticos e ideológicos pueden resumirse en tres grandes corrientes.

La primera corriente se originó al interior del mundo conservador-católico, que a partir de la Encíclica Rerum Novarum adhirió a la línea social cristiana impulsada por la iglesia católica. A grandes rasgos, vio la cuestión social como resultante de una crisis moral que desvirtuó el rol dirigente y protector de la elite criolla. El énfasis estuvo puesto en la responsabilidad que le correspondió a los ricos en el cuidado y bienestar tanto material como espiritual de los más pobres, a través de la educación, la beneficencia, el socorro y la justicia. En síntesis, más acción social y menos caridad.

cuestion social1.jpg

En segundo lugar, existió una corriente liberal y laica vinculada al Partido Radical y donde también se incluyeron intelectuales independientes de clase media. Para ambos sectores, la cuestión social fue el resultado de un conflicto de clases, un problema estructural de la sociedad nacional, afectada por la falta de desarrollo económico, la explotación laboral, la inflación y la carencia de ayuda estatal hacia los más pobres. Por consiguiente, los dardos apuntaron al Estado y a la necesidad de regular el sistema de libre mercado que rigió en el país, a través de una adecuada legislación social que promoviera y asegurara el progreso y adelanto material de todos los sectores.

Una tercera tendencia, fue la corriente socialista, impulsada por sectores pertenecientes a la clase trabajadora. Para este sector, los problemas sociales fueron consecuencia de la propia existencia del Estado liberal y del sistema capitalista; y declararon que su solución no pasó por la acción caritativa de la clase dirigente ni por las medidas de corte proteccionista que reclamaron algunos liberales, sino que radicó en la acción y el poder autónomo de los propios trabajadores.cuestion social.jpg

A pesar de sus diferencias, cada una de estas tres corrientes coincidió en la urgente necesidad de otorgar pronta solución a los problemas derivados de la cuestión social, que hacia el año 1920 se convirtió en una preocupante cuestión política, traspasando las fronteras de la opinión pública e insertándose de lleno en los planes del Gobierno y del Congreso Nacional.

Fuente: Memoria chilena
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