Liberal-republicanism and politics in Chile : from Bourbon reformism to the national state
The subject of this thesis is the historical relation between tradition and modernity in Chile in its transition from the XVIIIth century to Independence and its immediate aftermath. In order to study this relation, the thesis begins by analysing the effects that Bourbon reformism —the first attempt to modernize the state institutionally— had in Chile. Special emphasis is placed on the attitude of the ruling èlite vis-à-vis these reforms (Part I). Subsequently, the thesis centres its attention on the last thirty years of Spanish dominion and the repercussions brought about by the collapse of monarchy. Why a traditional society chose liberal-republicanism as a new legitimating order is the principal question analysed in Part II. The last section —Part III— is concerned with the immediate effects produced by this political option, in particular the emergence of a new consolidated government order and nationalist state during the 1820s. How liberal-republicanism reinforced a predisposition towards political change in addition to preparing the ground for further changes is also dealt with in this last part. Finally, the thesis contains an analysis of the main historiographical interpretations which have been put forward concerning Independence. Overall, the dissertation attempts to demonstrate that Chilean Independence is part of a process of long duration of an emancipatory nature, starting in the XVIIIth century, and which entails a gradual change towards modernity. The thesis affirms that a conjunctural change such as Independence, involving basically a political-ideological transformation of the traditional legitimating order, was to be of crucial importance for the later evolution of the country towards a broader form of modernization, even if the latter was not always foreseen or necessarily wanted. The thesis, thus, challenges conventional conservative interpretations which view Independence as a merely epiphenomenal or frustrated revolution, while questioning also voluntarist explanations of a liberal sort which tend to exaggerate the omniscience of the process.