No More Pinochets

Michael Walzer famously asked if there could be a decent Left. Well, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) proved that there certainly is no decent Right. The WSJ recent "After the Coup in Cairo" opined: "Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile's Augusto Pinochet, who took power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy."

                                                                                                                          Pinochett.jpeg

 

Translation: Egypt is not generating enough profit for international capital. Therefore, the country's rulers should prioritize the liberty of the "free market" over the freedom of Egyptian citizens.

Missing in this paragraph is any historical, much less humanitarian, context.  The early 1970s Chilean government of democratic socialist Salvador Allende suffered "chaos" partly due to actions by the Nixon administration to flood the world market with copper (Chile's primary mineral export), fund a covert propaganda campaign against the President, and sponsor disruptive activities by upper-class citizens.  Despite these problems, Popular Unity's (Allende's electoral coalition) congressional representation grew in the 1973 by-election, indicating the growing popularity of his government's reforms.

The overthrow of the government on September 11, 1973 marked an immediate end to Chile's democratic socialization.  Pinochet's "Chicago Boys" subsequent economic experiment dramatically increased poverty in the country, privatized pensions for nearly everyone (conveniently excluding the military leaders), and opened Chile up to unchecked neo-liberal thievery. 

Chile's transition back to democracy was hardly due to the General and his junta's midwifery skills.   In fact, a plebiscite in 1988 ended the dictatorship despite a large campaign by the government against a return to representative democracy.  The election results, made famous to many Americans by the 2012 movie "No," was partly solidified when the Americans decided to recognize the votes.  The message was clear: General Pinochet no longer could rely on Washington.  The Cold War was over; capitalism had won.  Embarrassments like Pinochet were no longer useful to D.C.

The American government then was honest in a way the WSJ was this week. For neo-liberals, if there must be a choice, then liberty and freedom of the market must triumph over democracy and liberties of people.  If people are "irresponsible," as Henry Kissinger described the pro-socialist Chilean electorate, then one can justify a state intervening to correct a market failure.  Freedom from state interference is only sacred for economies, not for the people who make them run. 

David Duhalde is the Treasurer of Boston DSA.  His parents met through Chile Solidarity. 

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 53 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 20 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 5 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.