Pinochet Revisited (2)

In Part 1 yesterday, I gave the background to the Pinochet Conundrum. Quite by accident, I read a post a few weeks back which appeared at (of all places) Return of Kings, which stepped away from the site’s usual Wars Between The Sexes spiel and gave still more background to Pinochet’s rule. It’s definitely worth reading the whole thing; and a number of the comments, many from actual Chileans, are extremely interesting.

But the long (very long) essay by Vladimir Dorta at Chicago Boyz gives, I think, the most balanced view of the Allende / Pinochet era and is definitely worth fifteen minutes of your time.

Here’s the truth of this whole issue, and why I’m asking you folks to read so much about Pinochet: the facts of the era are immensely complex, the issues as profound today as they were then, and when all the information is assembled, you will realize why the Left has taken so many pains to reduce the whole thing to a simplistic “Pinochet was an evil, murderous dictator!” trope. For one thing, the Left specializes in bumper-sticker slogans and aphorisms because the details of the issue — just about any issue — frequently expose their position as deeply flawed; and for another, history has since proven their support and near deification of Allende is mistaken, and profoundly cynical.

So in that same vein, allow me nevertheless to try to encapsulate the Pinochet Conundrum with my own brief take:

Pinochet was a dictator who deposed and assassinated his country’s elected president, and then had thousands of Marxist counter-revolutionaries murdered without trial or any legal process, before restoring Chile’s economy and rescuing millions of working-class Chileans from poverty. But such actions seldom occur in a vacuum; the truth of the matter was that Pinochet’s military coup against the Allende government was itself a reaction to the terrible dissolution of a modern democracy into a Marxist misery-pit by Salvador Allende, who (in modern parlance) was trying to install a Chavez-type society in Chile, and destroying Chile’s economy in so doing.

Let’s play a little revisionist history here for a moment. Let’s assume that right before Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez could truly begin to change his country’s polity into a Leftist dictatorship, an Army colonel named “Pablo Martial” had deposed and assassinated him, brutally eliminated his Chavista adherents, and installed market reforms which would eventually (but quite quickly) make Venezuela a paradigm of prosperous democracy in South America.

With that assumption, here’s my question: knowing now through hindsight what has since befallen Venezuela and its hapless population as a result of  Chavez’s ruinous policies, would we still be so quick to denounce Colonel Martial’s actions? And would working-class Venezuelan women today be scattering flowers in front of Colonel Martial’s private residence, as their Chilean counterparts still do to this day outside Pinochet’s modest home in Valparaiso?

Because make no mistake about it: Chile under Allende was heading in precisely the same direction as Venezuela would do under Chavez. No clinical reading of the numbers could yield anything but that conclusion. And Chile is still enjoying the prosperity which Pinochet’s “brutal regime” created, over twenty years later, while Pinochet’s secret police force is but a distant memory (despite the Left’s desperate attempts to keep it alive).

And that, my friends, lies at the heart of the Pinochet Conundrum. It’s a timeless issue and is always an uncomfortable one, which is why we need to understand it fully, without the noise of propaganda. I hope I’ve helped that understanding, because at the heart of the matter, the Conundrum is not about Pinochet; it was never about Pinochet. It is about evil being done to prevent a greater evil. And how we decide which is the “greater evil”, and whether we should support the evil which destroys it, is the most vexing and timeless question of all.

That’s Why

When people discover that I emigrated from South Africa back in the mid-1980s, a fairly common question is: “Why?” Here’s why (via Reader PeterB and Moonbattery:

[South African] President Jacob Zuma said 2017 is the year of “taking land back to the people” and for this reason government will seek to change legislation to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

So like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, the South African government is going to steal property (that’s the true meaning of “expropriation without compensation”) from Whites and give it to Blacks. Considering how well this has turned out in the country just to its north, where once-productive land now lies fallow and an exporter of food (Rhodesia) now has to import what they once produced in over-abundance (Zimbabwe), this was obviously a slam-dunk decision for the Marxists of the African National Congress. Like all Marxists, the intention (Right the wrongs of apartheid!) is more important than the outcome (national collapse into bankruptcy, violence and anarchy), ending up with a billionaire ruling class, no middle class and a poverty-stricken underclass (see: Venezuela, Cuba, etc.).

And it will result in that same outcome, as surely as night follows day. Oh well. I would get upset, but I need to go and trim the dog’s toenails.

Pinochet Revisited (1)

Reader Norma asked this question of me under one of yesterday’s posts:

Sooo…how do you reconcile your admiration for Pinochet with your revulsion of Guevara/Castro, given that they used a lot of the same means to achieve their respective ends?  Is it all about the ends rather than the means?

I’m not an admirer of Chilean General and President Augusto Pinochet, by any means. What amazed me, back when I visited Chile with The Mrs., was how many Chileans, both ordinary working-class and the prosperous middle class, were admirers of Pinochet. So I attempted to bring some balance to the established trope about him, and looked at commentary and historical observations outside the usual “He was an evil dictator!” howls from the Left, both academia and most especially, the Press.

Norma was referring to a long-ago post I wrote called “The Pinochet Conundrum”, and I’d like to beg my Loyal Readers’ indulgence to read what I wrote back then, because it saves me having to rewrite much of it. The piece was actually posited against the problems facing post-war Iraq, where “moderates” in government were facing all kinds of radical Islam terrorist activity, and my point was that perhaps what Iraq needed was a strongman like Pinochet, who might do all sorts of barbarous things to the extremists, in order to turn the country as a whole into a modern, prosperous society (as Pinochet did for Chile). It’s a “conundrum” because you have to make all sorts of uncomfortable choices, some of which might go against the grain of long-held beliefs and, it should be said, decades of Leftist propaganda. Here’s the Conundrum, as I wrote it back then. Please read it.

Read more

Quote Of The Day

From the brilliant mind of Sarah Hoyt:

“Horrible tyrants don’t get toppled. Their softer, kinder successors do.”

Now get over there and read the rest, which explains the revolution we’re about to experience. (Warning:  Sarah is an expository writer, and when she makes an argument, she buttresses it with all sorts of logic, reasoning, historical perspective and personal experience. In other words, she doesn’t do bumper-sticker aphorisms, she does wisdom. If you think it’s “TL;DR” then I feel sorry for you.)

You Can’t Say That Here

Tyler Durden (the other one) talks about how free speech is increasingly becoming criminalized, and it’s absolutely true, of course. When someone can get jailed for “hate” speech (my favorite kind, especially when it pertains to politicians of all stripes and Marxist politicians in particular), and when simply wearing a T-shirt can get one into trouble (try wearing a MAGA shirt on the Berkeley campus, for example), it’s easy to prove Tyler’s thesis.

I have two anecdotes on the above, relating to my oh-so brief period as a full-time student at a four-year college. (I should mention up front that while U of North Texas is, by Texas standards, an island of PC and Green groupthink, it’s like Hillsdale College by comparison to Yale or Berkeley.)

Anyway, sometime during my second week on campus I was strolling towards the coffee bar at the student union building or whatever they called it, when I saw a small expanse of lawn, maybe forty feet square, in front of which was a small sign designating this lawn as a “free speech zone — permit required” area. I happened to see one of my professors walking towards me, and I stopped her.

“Am I seeing things, or is this the only place on campus where someone can make a speech? And you need a permit?”
“Uh huh,” she replied, clearly oblivious of the trap I was setting for her, “You get it from the Student Affairs office.”
“Doesn’t sound very free to me,” I observed. “If one has to get a permit to speak, it could, theoretically, be turned down?”
“Oh, they hardly ever refuse a speaking permit.”
Hardly ever doesn’t really seem to jibe with free, does it?”
“Well, they try to avoid allowing anything that would rile up other students.”
“So if I stood up there, permit in hand, and started yelling that women and niggers shouldn’t be allowed to vote, there’d be repercussions?”
She flinched at the sound of the word “niggers”, which was my intention all along. “You’d probably be suspended!”
“So really, it’s not a free speech zone at all, is it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Exactly how is it free, when I have to get permission to speak, the content is subject to penalty, and where I can speak is constrained by regulation?”
She had no answer to that, but walked off with a horrified look on her face. As did I. I can only imagine the discussion in the faculty lounge later that day. (Despite the evidence that I was a troublemaker, I still got an A for the course because after a few lectures it was clear, both to the prof and to the other students, that I could have taught the class. So why did I take the class, then? It fulfilled a stupid requirement, and as it was an easy A, it freed up time for me to concentrate on Post-WWII German Economic History, which was an absolute monster.)

The second of my many brushes with this free speech foolishness was when I saw a student, a young kid of maybe nineteen, wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt. As we were in a classroom waiting for the professor to arrive, I thought I’d have a little fun.

“Why are you wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt?” I asked.
He looked down, as though seeing it for the first time. “‘Cause it looks cool.”
“You mean, you like the design, or you approve of his revolutionary ethos?”
I think he was a little confused by the word “ethos”, but he replied, “Both. He was a cool dude.”
“You know he was a mass murderer, right?”
The little shit smirked. “He was doin’ what had to be done.”
“Killing his political enemies, without a trial or any legal procedure, just lining them up and mowing them down with a machine gun?”
The kid started looking uncomfortable. “He didn’t do any of that.”
“You know there’s photographic and documentary proof that he did, right? And you know one of his most famous quotes?” (Long ago, I’d taken the trouble to memorize this one, for just such an occasion.)
To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail.” I paused. “Still think he was a cool dude?”
The kid was saved further embarrassment by the arrival of the professor, but after the class another kid came up to me and said, “Dude! That was awesome! Can you write that down for me, what Che said?”

Maybe, just maybe, I prevented at least one kid from becoming a Marxist. At worst, I exposed the other kids in the class to the reality of Guevara’s barbarity. One at a time, folks; one at a time.