Friday, September 10, 2004

September 11 (II)

Since the 911 commemorations can hardly pass without America-bashers' smug references to another September 11 anniversary (the coup against Salvador Allende in 1973), a few facts should not be left unsaid.

• More than a few Chilean voices do not share the romanticists' longings for Salvador Allende and his party, They include the Santiago resident admitting that the latter "put the interests of the party before the interests of the people". In conversations that the New York Times conducted with a vast number of Chileans, it emerged again and again that they implicitly blamed the party’s radicalism for Chile’s hyperinflation, shortages, and economic collapse in 1972 and 1973, conceding that a crucial reason for the coup was the Socialists' encouragement of peasant land invasions and worker takeovers of factories, going as far as calling on military units to mutiny.

Before you protest that the Chileans interviewed must have been neofascist Pinochet-lovers, it should be noted that the interviews that Clifford Krauss conducted for the New York Times were made exclusively with members of Allende's Partido Socialista (the Santiago resident quoted above being none other than Ricardo Lagos, Allende's direct heir as party head and president of Chile). (Full story here.)

• Bearing that in mind, if you get tired of hearing of simple generalizations of the coup d'état of 1973 (demonic Pinochet versus angelic Allende), here is Val Dorta's lengthy and straightforward article on what took place in Chile before, during, and after the Allende years (1970-1973). An excerpt:

The Allende myth may be good for keeping the socialist faith alive, but it evidently contradicts the historical facts.

While Augusto Pinochet’s brutal post-coup repression and terrorism cannot be justified, it is essential to explain what led him and the Chilean armed forces to the fateful coup d’état, outside of the fantasy that had him bursting onto the democratic Chilean political scene on September 11, 1973 with readymade CIA orders to stop a beautiful, pacific and liberating socialist dream. For I have no doubts that if the Chilean Marxist experiment had ended … as the totalitarian society it pointed to, it would have lasted much longer and would have brought Chileans much more suffering than Pinochet’s ugly but temporary dictatorship.

There occurred many important episodes leading to the coup, but I have chosen those that most clearly present the myth in all its falseness. To support the post I have selected four diverse books, one by a right-wing author (Moss), another by a trio of Marxists (Roxborough) and two by recognized scholars (Sigmund and Alexander); all of them knew Chile well and had first-hand experience of the Allende period.

• George Erbe has an item on the same subject, along with a lengthy excerpt of Mark Falcoff's March 4, 2000, article "Who Killed Latin Democracy?"

• En français, voici l'article de Ase sur le même sujet, une histoire détaillée de la période 1970-1973 au Chili ; celui de François-René Rideau, qui invite "les flammes" ; et le mien, intitulé Ce que les romantiques ignorent sur leurs martyrs.

• If you need some ammo to counter people asking "Do you know what other event occurred on September 11?" as they look down their noses at you, check out the final section of Americans Anonymous, the subhead entitled "Watching for the 'Fool-Proof' Cards".

Note: all of the above weblog hyperlinks (except
for my own, natch) were first mentioned on MiF
(Merci to W for digging them out again)

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