Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Some Thoughts On Dictatorship

I’m wondering just how many of the Liberals who keep claiming that Iraq was better off under Saddam are also the same folks who are sermonising about the evils of Pinochet ? I’m guessing at least 50%.

Of course, the analogy isn’t exact. Saddam never managed to produce a functioning Iraqi economy then turn over power to a democratic government. Then again, Pinochet never managed to gas whole villages, so I guess they both had their weaknesses. Or something.

As far as the case against Pinochet goes, it revolves around two things: he overthrew a democratically-elected government, and he killed a whole bunch of people for no reason at all.

Let’s take these complaints in order. Allende was elected on plurality of the vote then – true to the Marxist template of ‘one man, one vote, one time’ – his government embarked on a campaign of such outright thuggery that both the Supreme Court and the Congress censured him prior to the coup. Or, to put it another way, the folks who claim to be outraged by Pinochet’s lack of respect for ‘human rights’ are the same people who claim that by dint of being elected Allende was empowered to ignore the Chilean constitution and the law of the land – not an obviously coherent position. Neither is complaining about Pinochet's abuses while ignoring Allende’s own crimes – arguing that these were committed by non-government forces, merely puts Allende, at best, in the position of a small town sheriff refusing to act against KKK lynching. Allende must have known what was going on and had a duty to stop it, but instead positively encouraged it – whether or not anyone can track down a written order for each abuse, the responsibility was surely his. By the time Pinochet acted, Allende was acting outside any possible interpretation of his mandate. Pinochet’s overthrow of Allende was only as unconstitutional as anything Allende was doing.

Looked at in isolation, the charges of human rights abuses against Pinochet are harder to refute. It’s true that Pinochet’s government did use brutal tactics, including execution. If, like Liberals, you argue that there are fundamental human rights that governments can never breech, then you won’t agree with Pinochet’s tactics. Of course, when I say Liberals argue this, I mean they argue it when the government in question is on the Right. Left-wing governments are pretty much in the clear. Mass slaughter and Marxism might go together like waste and the public sector, but Liberals would rather you didn’t mention it.

See, that’s it right there. Pinochet no more decided to randomly slaughter people picked out of the Santiago phone book than the USSR really suffered 70 years of bad weather. Before the coup Allende had cheerfully told a crowd of supporters that he wasn’t the president for all Chileans, while his thug supporters rammed the point home with acts of violence against alleged class enemies and 15 000 Cubans took up residence in Chile, presumably not for the opportunities in the copper mines. Chile was hovering on the edge of civil war even before Pinochet acted. After the coup, the form book would have predicted open warfare – and eventual victory for the Marxists.

This is the real reason why the Left hated Pinochet. Marxists had convinced themselves that their opponents were ineffectual fops, like the British colonials downing cocktails in the Raffles bar even as the Japanese closed on Singapore. Pinochet was at the opposite end of the scale, a jungle fighter who met the Marxists head on, and ripped their black hearts out of their chests. What the Left hated wasn’t how he fought, it was that he won. Pinochet was a living rebuttal to the idea of the inevitability of Marxists revolution.

Faced with the utter exposure of their ideology, Leftists switched to Plan B: whining, complaining and special pleading. Pinochet’s tactics were harsh, but hardly disproportionably so. Liberals have spent decades denouncing Pinochet, yet they’ve never been able to show any evidence of indiscriminate violence and certainly no equivalent to the mass executions of ‘class enemies’ seen under Marxism. On the other hand, we do have plenty of examples of nations that tried to play nicely with savages, only to end up as People's Republics.

It would have been better if Pinochet was able to save his nation without using harsh measures. It would also have been nice if Churchill had won the war without firebombing German cities. What both leaders knew was that faced with utterly evil ideologies, the true immorality would have been to lose.

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