Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reflections on Pinochet and Franco:

1. These two dictators are by far the most hated historical characters among the international Left. This is probably because both of them brutally turned back a pre-revolutionary, internationalist Leftist movement. Many of those executed in Chile were young leftists who had come from other countries to help the revolution along, what were later called "Sandalistas" in Nicaragua. And, of course, the Spanish Left received Soviet aid both before and during the Civil War. During the war, as everyone knows, the International Brigades were run from Moscow.

2. Both were bloody killers. Franco was probably responsible for about 100,000 executions/deaths through mistreatment, and Pinochet was probably responsible for about 4000. (Castro is probably responsible for about 15,000-20,000. Mussolini was probably responsible for fewer than 1000. Mao was responsible for as many as 65 million deaths of all kinds, including those from famine.)

3. Both were generals who led military coups against a democratically elected Leftist government that had begun to behave very undemocratically. Both military coups were resisted and resulted in great violence. Both claimed to be responding to the chaos caused by an incompetent and pre-revolutionary government. Both had significant popular support. Both were backed by conservative elements--business interests, the Church, the middle classes, farmers, nationalists, anti-Communists.

4. Both gave up power peacefully, through an organized transition, though Franco did not do so until his death.

5. Both established the economic order necessary to allow constitutional democracy to succeed them.

6. There was no serious domestic opposition to either of them during their regimes. Nor did either receive serious external pressure.

7. Both enjoyed some cooperation from the Western democracies. During the Civil War, Britain, France, and the US embargoed arms sales to the Republic, and to the Francoists too--but since the Francoists were getting what they needed from Germany and Italy, they were not hurt by "non-intervention." While the US was not behind Pinochet's coup, we did know about it in advance and did nothing to stop it. Later on in their regimes, both were treated in a fairly friendly way by the US and UK.

8. Both were on the right side, among the winners, of the Cold War. Leftists hate this fact, and for some of them it invalidates our victory. However, few of them seem to be pissed off that Stalin and Mao were among the winners of World War II.

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