Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cheering for the Dictators

Brad DeLong discusses some horrible opinions by Noam Chomsky and Milton Friedman in a post on his blog. I find this bit from an addendum to be the most telling:
UPDATE: Note that Pinochet is likely to have read this paragraph from Friedman's letter to him as more than mere economic advice, but as an endorsement of his murders:
The problem... arises from trends toward socialism that started forty years ago and reached their logical--and terrible--climax in the Allende regime. You have been extremely wise in adopting the many measures you have already taken to reverse this trend.
I am undecided as to whether this was merely an extraordinarily infelicitous way of expressing himself on Friedman's part--I would have said that the "terrible climax" was people being gunned down in soccer stadiums, not land takeovers and inflation--or a nudge-nudge-wink-wink-say-no-more-say-no-more on Friedman's part.

The stench is much fouler from Friedrich von Hayek:
[I]n some historical circumstances personal liberty may not have been better protected under an authoritarian than democratic government. This has occasionally been true since the beginning of democracy in ancient Athens, where the liberty of the subjects was undoubtedly safer under the ’30 tyrants’ than under the democracy which killed Socrates and sent dozens of its best men into exile by arbitrary decrees.... More recently I have not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende...
Personally I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism. My personal impression — and this is valid for South America – is that in Chile, for example, we will witness a transition from a dictatorial government to a liberal government...
Echoes of Ludwig von Mises's claims that Mussolini's crimes were all really Lenin's fault:
It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history. But though its policy has brought salvation for the moment, it is not of the kind which could promise continued success. Fascism was an emergency makeshift. To view it as something more would be a fatal error...
There's more. Go read the whole post.

I remember as a kid looking at pictures in Life magazine taken in 1871 in Paris of the destruction of the Paris Commune after the victorious German army withdrew and let the French professional military led by right wing generals enter the city and wage war on the leftist government of the Commune. I remember seeing pictures of bodies fallen by the wall where they were summarily executed by the troops. The joke was that the right wing generals were upset that a handful of rich people had been killed by the Commune, so they came in and slaughtered many. Here is what Wikipedia reports:
The number killed during La Semaine Sanglante can never be established for certain, and estimates vary from about 10,000 to 50,000. According to Benedict Anderson, "7,500 were jailed or deported" and "roughly 20,000 executed".
The situation in Chile was similar. Allende didn't kill any rich people, but the right wing generals under Pinochet brought a reign of terror. Here are numbers from Wikipedia which I think are way too low:
While fatalities in the battle during the coup might have been relatively small, the Chilean security forces sustained 162 dead in the three following months as a result of continued resistance and tens of thousands of people were arrested during the coup and held in the National Stadium. This was because the plans for the coup called for the arrest of every man, woman and child on the streets the morning of 11 September. Of these approximately 40,000 to 50,000 perfunctory arrests, several hundred individuals would later be detained, questioned, tortured, and in some cases murdered. While these deaths did not occur before the surrender of Allende's forces, they occurred as a direct result of arrests and round-ups during the coup's military action.
And this from Wikipedia:
Among the killed and disappeared during the military regime were 440 MIR guerrillas. Many guerrillas confessed under torture and several hundred other young men and women, sympathetic to the guerrillas, were detained and tortured and often killed. Nearly 700 civilians disappeared in the 1974-1977 period, after being detained by the Chilean military and police.
This slaughter by a military revolt that overthrew a legally elected government in Chile is what got the right wing Nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman so excited.

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