Augosto Pinochet Dead

Seems he died sunday from heart failure at the age of 91.

The world is a better place now. On the Pinochet apologitics we’ll no doubt have to put up with - I think LK said the coup was justified because he saved the country from Allende’s bad economics or something:

The good thing about a dictator like Augusto Pinochet is that even if he, sure, killed, maimed, and tortured a few people along the way, at least he implemented sound economic policies, right? Well, “multiple probes in recent years revealed financial corruption, including the discovery of millions of dollars in state funds held in numerous secret overseas accounts, among them several at the former Riggs Bank in Washington. As recently as October, Chilean investigators announced the discovery of 10 tons of gold, worth an estimated $160 million, in Pinochet’s name in a Hong Kong bank.” Shocking! A dictator and his inner-circle using their power to enrich themselves? Maybe he killed all those people for personal gain rather than out of the goodness of his heart. See here and here on LGM for the contemporary right’s continuing praise of Pinochet. I think this is the context in which you have to understand American conservatism’s generally blasé attitude toward the Bush administration’s more modest ventures into the fields of arbitrary detention, corruption, and torture. Years of apologizing for the deployment of such tactics by America’s proxies abroad naturally desensitizes the political culture to the re-importation of these methods to the center.

The only good thing about him was that he let go of power peacefully. Good riddance.

In other news, Francisco Franco is still dead.

Pinochet - sponsored by the same man who is helping shape today’s Iraq policy. Oh how far we’ve come.

That’s good to know. I, for one, have recurring nightmares about facist zombie dictators.

I love that his final undoing was that he had bought into his own propaganda so much that he held an election that was genuinely open, convinced that the love of his people would guarantee him a victory.

Nostalgics, when confronted with the decaying morals of the Kingdom, like to mumble: “If Franco would raise his head…”

“… He’d bang it against the fucking coffin” we reply.

This one will be cremated, apparently to avoid having his tomb defaced… great… burn motherfucker, burn!

Last night a cortege of honking cars drove by my window, celebrating his death. The Chileans sure know how to do a proper honking.

Speaking of which, here’s what the Washington Post editorial page had to say:

Wow. Just…wow.

So right-wing dictators are less bad than left-wing dictators because they “pave the way” for democracy and economic growth. Sure, they use intimidation, torture, execution, embezzlement - but if they embrace the free market, it’s all good! So does this mean Hitler was ultimately a good thing, because he pulled Germany out of its post-WWI recession and “paved the way” for it to become the economic, democratic juggernaut it became? Or was his defect that he had too high of a body count: a few thousand is fine, but a few million is just overkill? What is an acceptable ROI on dead bodies, anyway?

[Yes, I know, I hit the Hitler rhetorical button way too quickly there. What can I say? I’m feeling crabby.]

There are two fundamental flaws with the WP’s argument. The first is that their sample size is far too small to have merit: they just look at two countries which happen to conform to their view. They neglect, say, the post-Soviet Eastern European countries who have come out from the shadow of communism; or all the other right-wing dictators we’ve supported over the decades. [Was Hussein worth it?]

The second - and to my mind more offensive - is a “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy: that the good things which followed Pinochet’s rule were a result - directly or indirectly - of the bad things he did; it implies that this represents a best possible outcome for Chile that they couldn’t have reached without Pinochet (and our interference).

I mean, assuming you’re willing to buy their “ends justify the means” perspective in the first place. As a friend of mine observes, it’s not that surprising that conservative apologists turn a blind eye to the president’s misdeeds: they’ve been defending tinpot right-wing dictators overseas for so long, it’s not hard to reimport those ideas into our country.

The thing about dictatorships is they’re all evil, stupid. And yeah, that appears to be the case. When the government collapses and the opposition takes over, wouldn’t you agree that it’s better for liberal democracy when the one on the way out is the horrible right-wing SCUMFUCK dictator? At least the opposition is inheriting a functional economy, unlike shitty future Cuba.



That makes no sense, Larry. Hitler’s regime collapsed after him and Stalin’s did not. You are talking crazy.

That wasn’t meant to be a direct parallel to the above argument. Really, I don’t see how Hitler fits into it at all; his regime didn’t collapse, it was beat the fuck down.

Oooh, oooh, I want to play. Stalin killed more people than Hitler, which we all know means Hitler was an alright kind of guy.

Good riddance, Pinochet, you fucking scumbag.

I think using Cuba as an example of a communist country that fared poorly relative to Chile is unfair.

Communism and dictatorial socialism are disastrous economic and political systems, but Cuba is a special case. It’s a country that was almost wholly reliant on the US and was subsequently cut off entirely from America, and foreign investment there is very limited. Possibly due to the threat of American repatriation of businesses and land seized by the Cuban communists.

However, compared to say… Poland, Chile is doing fairly well, especially given that it has no European Union around to help it out. Chile has a lower GDP per capita (PPP), but stronger growth and MUCH better employment figures.

And you’d be hard-pressed to find a Pole who would mourn the loss of 10, 20, or 50,000 communist sympathizers in 1946 and a 20-year dictatorship if that’s what it took to keep communism out of the country (though Chile was admittedly not as communist as Poland, Poland was not as bad as the USSR).

The contrast between Cuba and Chile more than 30 years after Mr. Pinochet’s coup is a reminder of a famous essay written by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the provocative and energetic scholar and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who died Thursday. In “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.

That’s pretty bad cherry picking. All one has to do is look at the incredible successes of the post-Communist dictatorships of Europe to see the fallacy of this argument. Even comparing within the continent, countries like Slovenia (former socialist dictatorship) are already outstripping the likes of Portugal (former ultra conservative dictatorship) in terms of GDP per capita, and they’ve had twenty years less to overcome the ravages of their dictatorship. The Czech Republic are also just behind and catching up extremely quickly.

I don’t think the former political leanings of a dictatorship have much to do with the post-dictatorship successes of a country. Dictatorships are just plain bad.

If there’s a point to be made about the economic success of villainous dictators, it was already made by Star Trek in the late 60’s.

There is nothing new to add to what that episode has to say, and no disagreement with that it does not address.

I think you’re cherry-picking ideal communist recoveries. Czech and many former Yugoslav republics are doing remarkably well, but others are not. Poland’s a better median choice, one whose wartime devastation is arguably a better starting point to compare a backwards Chile with (as opposed to how Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were more or less spared and had solid industrial bases).

I’m not seeing a lot of different between “communist dictatorship” and “fascist dictatorship” when it comes to economic performance, I have to say.