The Washington Post posted a skull-splintering editorial yesterday about the late Augusto Pinochet, which can be summed up as “Pinochet was good for Chile.”
I don’t know what the fuck they were thinking, but apparently the Post editorial board feels that torture, mass murder, and totalitarianism are okay, if they’re done in the name of free market capitalism.
They start the article with an unsupported attack on Pinochet-haters: the real reason you hate Pinochet is cuz the guy he overthrew was a hero to you commie pinkos. Maybe you thought you hated him because of his ruthlessness and destruction, but you’re wrong. You hate him because of your petty and incorrect political ideology, got it?
Then they go through a quick laundry list of Pinochet’s crimes, somehow making nearly two decades of horror and despotism sound bland.
Then comes the praise.
“It’s hard not to notice, however, that the evil dictator leaves behind the most successful country in Latin America.” The editorial lauds Chile’s economic indicators, and sort of snickers that socialist post-Pinochet rulers of Chile have “not dared to reverse” the dictator’s free market policies. Um, maybe that’s because last time someone implemented socialist policies, they were murdered and the country sucked into hell? (do I even need to mention that the US supported Pinochet and helped bring about his coup?) It’s also baffling that they try to claim that Pinochet is responsible for Chile’s recent economic “success”, despite the fact that he hasn’t been in power for 16 years.
And Pinochet wasn’t that anti-democratic, they say. When he lost a referendum in 1990, he stepped down from power without a nation-wide execution rampage. See, you dirty hippies? He wasn’t such a bad guy.
At this point, the Post decides we need to compare Pinochet to Castro. Why? I dunno. Pinochet was a right-wing dictator who brought “success”, while Castro was a left-wing dictator who brought poverty. Which leads us to our conclusion.
The also-recently-deceased Jean Kirkpatrick, Reagan mentor and former US ambassador to the UN, was famous for her theory that it was okay to support right-wing dictators because right-wing dictators were better than left-wing dictators (similar, I suppose, in the way that we should all support cancer, because cancer is better than ebola). Which is what the Post concludes as well, “Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.” Hence the Cuba comparison, hence the “look at Chilean prosperity”, hence the “look how democratic they are now.”
Go to Chile, or the places where Chileans fled to, and ask if they want high GDP or whether they want their aunts and uncles and parents back. The Post editorial talks about how Chile is a “success”. Yeah, when you take a reeeaal narrow view. Let’s go to Chilean author Isabel Allende for her view:
The US press celebrated the triumph of Pinochet’s economic system and gave him credit for having turned a poor country into the star of Latin America.
None of the indices, however, revealed the distribution of wealth; nothing was known of the poverty and uncertainty in which several million people were living. There was no mention of the soup kitchens in poor neighbourhoods that fed thousands of families - there were more than 500 in Santiago alone - or of the fact that private charities and churches were trying to replace the social services that are the responsibility of the state. There was no open forum for discussing government actions or those of businessmen; public services were handed over to private companies, and foreign corporations acquired natural resources such as forests and oceans, which have been exploited with very little ecological conscience. A callous society was created in which profit is sacred; if you are poor, it’s your own fault, and if you complain, that makes you a Communist. Freedom consists of having many brand names to choose from when you go out to buy on credit.
The figures of economic growth, which won The Wall Street Journal’s praise, did not represent real development since 10 per cent of the population possessed half the nation’s wealth, and there were a hundred people who earned more than the state spent on all social services combined. According to the World Bank, Chile is one of the countries with the worst distribution of income, right alongside Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The head of a Chilean corporation earns the same, or more, than his equivalent in the United States, while a Chilean labourer earns approximately 15 times less than a North American worker. Even today, after more than a decade of democracy, the disparities in wealth are staggering because the economic model hasn’t changed. The three presidents who followed Pinochet have had their hands tied; the right controls the economy, the Congress, and the press.
So yeah, prosperity for the wealthiest, soup kitchens for the rest, everyone wins!
If anyone feels like writing to the Post to let them know they’re full of shit, the address is email@example.com
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