Pourquoi les intellectuels haïssent tant Pinochet ?
C'est en anglais et, comme souvent Dalrymple, c'est délicieux.
Why Pinochet was so hated
When I learnt that the Torquemada of international law, Judge Garzon, was in trouble in his home jurisdiction, Spain, I confess that I did not feel a great deal of sympathy for him, rather the reverse.
He seems to me to exude self-righteousness almost like a sticky physical secretion, and the self-righteous are rarely attractive even when they are right.
Judge Garzon came to world prominence when he succeeded in having General Pinochet arrested in London on an international warrant. I am not in favour of universal jurisdiction for a number of reasons; but the arrest of Pinochet did help me to clarify something in my own mind. This was the question of why General Pinochet was so hated.
I can quite understand why victims of his repression hated him, of course, and the relatives and friends of those victims; there is no puzzle there. No, I mean all those people who hated him so passionately without any personal reason for doing so, and who had no particular connection to or with Chile. They might reply that they hated him because they hate repression everywhere, but that does not seem the answer. They do not hate dictators in anything like the proportion of the repressiveness of those dictators. For example, they do not hate Mengistu or Sekou Toure or Macias Nguema a hundred times more than they hate Pinochet, though they were a hundred times worse than he.
Here is the real puzzle: why they do not hate the members of the Argentinian junta as much as Pinochet? Why do they not respond emotionally to the junta as strongly as they do (or did) to Pinochet? The scale of the junta’s repression, after all, was very similar to his; in this respect, there was not much to choose between them. They don’t like the junta, but they hate Pinochet.
The conclusion that I came to is this: that while the Argentinian junta was completely unsuccessful in almost all respects, Pinochet, as a matter of historical fact, laid the foundation for the current flourishing economic condition of his country. Although counterfactuals in history are no doubt difficult to prove, it is as certain as such things can be that if Allende, whom he overthrew, had continued to govern, Chile today would not now be by far the richest country in South America – richer, per capita, than Argentina.
It was, of course, unforgivable for a military dictator to have done such a thing as improve the state of the economy of his country out of all recognition; but the manner in which he did it was, if anything, even worse. His successful policies flew in the face of all the orthodoxies peddled by development economists for the previous thirty years at least, including Raul Prebisch of the Economic Commission for Latin America. He made such as Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish Nobel Prize Winner, look a complete fool. And no one ever mistook Pinochet for an intellectual giant; hence the fury. Hell hath no fury like an intellectual proved wrong.
Of course, he made other mistakes from the point of his popularity among intellectuals. He held a referendum on his own rule and when he lost it he abided by the result and stood down (though not, of course, without amnestying himself and his accomplices). This introduced the painful suspicion that, had it not been for the obvious dead end into which Allende was leading Chile the world would never have heard of General Pinochet: he would long before have retired on his military pension to cultivate his garden in total obscurity. In other words, Pinochet was a consequence of Allende, and one that you wouldn’t have had to have the clairvoyance of Nostradamus to predict.
Murder is murder, torture is torture, and disappearances are disappearances; Pinochet was guilty of them all. But his real crime was to make a monkey of Gunnar Myrdal et al.