The Left Hand of Capital

Neoliberalism and the Left in Chile

By Fernando Ignacio Leiva

Subjects: Political Parties, Latin American Studies, Cultural Studies, Political Sociology, History
Hardcover : 9781438483610, 408 pages, July 2021
Paperback : 9781438483603, 408 pages, January 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: A Center-Left in the Era of Crises

Part I: Consensus as a Disciplining Mechanism

1. From Critics to Architects of the Neoliberal Nation

2. Social Movements and Governability

Part II: Crafting New Arts of Domestication

3. Governing through Participation

4. Ethnodevelopment: Harnessing Multiculturalism to Recalibrate the State

5. Labor after 1990: Co-optation and Contestation

6. Grupo Luksic and the New Spirit of Capital

Part III: Social Rights? Yes, but Commodified and Financialized!

7. The Center-Left and the Renewal of Chile's Neoliberal Order

8. Nueva Mayoría's Reforms, Commodifying Social Rights

Part IV: Toward a New System of Domination?

9. Class Compromise in the Age of Mature Neoliberalism

10. After Nueva Mayoría's Defeat


Original and comprehensive examination of Chilean political and economic development since the end of the Pinochet military regime in 1990.


In The Left Hand of Capital, Fernando Ignacio Leiva provides a theoretically grounded analysis of the last thirty years of socioeconomic policies in Chile, beginning at the end of the Pinochet military regime in 1990. He skillfully probes how innovative center-left politico-economic initiatives transformed the state's relationships with the country's urban poor, indigenous peoples, workers, students, and business elites, thereby contributing to institutionalize, legitimize, and renew Chile's neoliberal system of domination. Leiva documents how such politics, progressive in appearance, were pivotal in forging new arts of domestication, "participatory" social control mechanisms, and commodified subjectivities. This landmark book guides us into a deeper awareness about the limitations of center-left politics, not only in Chile, but elsewhere in the Americas and Western Europe as well. At a time when far-right movements seem to be growing in the Global South, Europe, and the United States, this book offers valuable insights into the predicament of social democracy and how, as in Chile and in the context of global neoliberalism, it can become the "left hand of capital."

Fernando Ignacio Leiva is Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz and the author of Latin American Neostructuralism: The Contradictions of Post-Neoliberal Development.


"Readers should pick up this valuable book not in search of ideological balance but rather to consider the author's impassioned view of what went horribly wrong with the Chilean model." — Survival