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. 

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
· 38 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 48 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 93 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. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 26 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.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.