The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'pinochet'
Speaking of the past vanquishing the future, today is the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup which, signed off by Richard Nixon, overthrew the (democratic socialist) Allende government and established the Pinochet dictatorship, a combination of classic Franco-style Iberian fascism and radical free-market ideology (courtesy of Chicago economist Milton Friedman, whom Nixon had parachuted in; Friedman went on to far greater things; advising Ronald Reagan and becoming the father of the neoliberal economic order we live in today). The Pinochet dictatorship ruled for seventeen years and crushed dissent, real and imagined, with stunning brutality, murdering Communists, trade unionists, human-rights activists, nuns and owners of suspicious literature (for example, books of art by Picasso—he was a Communist, you know—were enough) indiscriminately. Other than the big landowners whose near-feudal grip on their vast tracts of land and the lives of the peasants who came with it had been threatened by Allende, the big winners were multinational corporations (Friedman brought in a spree of privatisations, and the regime kept labour costs low and suppressed industrial complaints) and the Catholic Church (which was given a central role in the ultra-conservative society Pinochet built).
The Pinochet regime had its defenders for a long time after it fell; the most infamous was the late Margaret Thatcher, a close friend of Pinochet's who went to her grave proclaiming him to be a champion of freedom. (Either Thatcher's views or her outspokenness in them weren't widely shared at the time.) Other than that, it's mostly trolls and cranks these days, with most respectable conservatives tactfully keeping shtum (the Daily Torygraph's front page, for instance, is conspicuous in its lack of mention of this anniversary). As memory of the dictatorship's atrocities recedes into the past and witnesses die, however, we will undoubtedly see it rehabilitated by the self-styled mavericks of the Right, in the way that Spain's conservatives are rehabilitating the Franco regime, and the cult of Mussolini is enjoying renewed popularity in Italy; perhaps in ten years' time, we'll see a spate of articles by the rising stars of free-market thinktanks about the 50th anniversary of the Liberation Of Chile From Socialism.
Chilean free-market reformer General Pinochet is dead. Former British PM Margaret Thatcher is greatly saddened. Meanwhile, left-wing troublemakers such as Geoffrey Robertson QC and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture are unhappy that he'll never face justice for the 3,000 people who were killed or "disappeared" and the numerous others tortured as part of his reforms.
Those comsymps at the Grauniad are having a minute's silence for September 11 victims -- September 11, 1973, when the CIA-backed Pinochet regime overthrew Allende in Chile. Mind you, the estimated 30,000 men, women and children who were killed were all Communists, who would have enslaved Chile under a hellish Stalinist dictatorship had the CIA not intervened in the name of defending freedom worldwide.
(Wasn't it Kissinger or someone who articulated the difference between "totalitarianism", which is uniformly evil (and ideologically "left-wing"), and "authoritarianism", which can be benign, a strong state concerned about defending cherished values and such?)
On a similar tangent, I once heard that one of the reason for the West's toleration of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor was that Fretilin had troublingly leftist leanings; an independent East Timor would have been a probable Soviet client state, and Australia could have had its own Cuban Missile Crisis. And what better experts on Communist eradication in the asia-pacific region than Suharto's New Order?