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. 

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 79 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 37 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.