December 31, 2014

THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BEING...:

America needs to study the enemy within (JARED DIAMOND, 12/26/14, LA Times)

 In 1973, after decades of democratic elections, Chile's armed forces overthrew then-President Salvador Allende. The resulting Chilean military government, under General Augusto Pinochet, set modern world records for inventing sadistic sexual tortures too revolting to describe in print. It aimed to exterminate its opponents, "disappearing" and killing thousands of Chileans and driving a hundred thousand more into exile. Pinochet held on to power for 17 years.

In retrospect, there had been abundant signs of trouble brewing in Chile for years before the coup. The country's left, right and center political parties, which drew roughly equal numbers of votes, couldn't agree on how to address Chile's chronic economic and social problems, which kept the Congress in a state of gridlock. Allende had been elected by a narrow 36% plurality of voters, and his party coalition controlled neither house of Congress, yet he nevertheless tried to introduce radical political and economic changes.

When the armed forces finally launched their coup and imposed a right-wing dictatorship, it initially received broad support from centrist Chileans, frustrated by years of government gridlock and the declining Chilean economy. Moderate Chileans reasoned that the military dictatorship would be just a brief transitional stage necessary to restore functional democracy to Chile.

Chile is by no means the only place where government gridlock and breakdown of political compromise led ultimately to military dictatorship, the end of democracy and (in some cases) civil war. Examples include Egypt today, Indonesia in 1957, Spain in the late 1930s and Austria just before the Nazi era.

So, should we worry about possible parallels between Chile in 1968 and the U.S. today?

...that all the major political parties in the Anglosphere today are Pinochetist.  Indeed, elections are won by whichever party is most closely identified with advancing his sort of Third Way agenda.


Posted by at December 31, 2014 6:22 PM
  

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