Wednesday, December 20, 2006

conservatives against Pinochet

Surprisingly, the last word on Pinochet comes from the Weekly Standard.

Pinochet and his apologists argue thus: "Castro and the far left are worse than Pinochet, they kill more people and deliver fewer benefits than did the military government of Chile." Are we to admire Pinochet because his murderous regime was more efficient than tyrants on the left at producing higher GDP? Without the torture, rape, and killing, would economic and political freedom have been impossible in Chile? Hardly! But this is the argument insinuated by Pinochet. He successfully appropriated the utilitarian fallacy to which many on the left fall prey: that murder and torture are acceptable if they hasten the advent of the utopia implied by one's ideological model. That fallacy probably killed more people during the 20th century than typhus, and it stands to do so again in this century if we do not inoculate ourselves against it.

Pinochet tied his advocacy of free markets about people's eyes like a blindfold, to keep them from seeing his firing squads. Nothing that was achieved during his years of tyranny justifies the crimes he committed. Nor is there any meaningful sense in which the policies adopted by the Pinochet government should be viewed as paradigmatic for economic freedom. The military government long pursued a badly misguided policy of overvaluing the local currency; during the debt crisis of the 1980s it took the outrageous step of converting private debts to foreigners into public debt. And then there was its corruption, details of which continue to gradually leak into public view. Indeed, there continues to be a need for economic reform and openness in Chile, where a "good old boy network" acts as a powerful check on economic and social mobility.

(via Matt Yglesias)

Also the Economist.

Take note, Pinochet defenders—while your eye was on the enemy, your legs were shot out by your comrades.

And then there’s this:

I hope dying hurt a whole lot, you rat-faced son of a bitch. I hope you suffered the tortures of the damned. I hope no one wiped your brow or comforted you while you suffered and died. I hope you died alone.

Exactly right. Unfortunately, my guess is that none of that happened.

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