Salvador Allende - Man, Myth, & Monster

Val at Val e-Dictions has posted a truly masterful work (scholarly, even) which critically debunks and destroys a major article of the Marxist faith- the Allende Myth.

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On another September 11th, back in 1973, the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende Gossens, was deposed via military coup- instantly creating a Marxist Martyr and forever branding Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte as the sine qua non of Evil for socialists, marxists, fellow-travellers, and true believers everywhere. For some American leftists, I imagine that the 9-11 of 1973 is still considered more tragic than 2001's.

Before I get accused of being some sort of Pinochet-sympathizer, let me take the time to explicitly and without reservation denounce him and his wicked ways; the disappeared, the executions, the persecutions, the replacing of the Rule of Law with the Rule of Exception, and everything else that violated the liberty and freedom of the good people of Chile. But it is precisely because I despise Pinochet that I have even more loathing for Allende, the man and the myth, who made Pinochet's reign of terror possible. The myth of Allende is that here was a popularly elected marxist leading a country peacefully into the communist utopia- not just some weaselly social democrat sellout version like the western European leftist parties, but full-fledged, full-throated, rip-roarin' Cuba-style nationalization and socialism. Everything in this Brave New World was fine and dandy- until the Archfiend Pinochet, with his nasty military and his (of course) demonic CIA advisors, swept in and destroyed the dream, beginning a brutal fascist despotism that ruthlessly oppressed the sons & daughters of Truth & Light for 17 years. The myth hits all the highlights for the faithful: US is bad guy, military is bad guy, 'right-wing' is bad guy, marxists are righteous martyrs in class struggle.

The problem with this blinkered view of September 11, 1973, is that the reality of the situation PRIOR to that day is completely ignored, and this has irritated me to no end for years whenever I hear the Allende myth. My mother lived in Chile for a time when she was a teenager, under President Jorge Alessandri Rodr?guez, and left prior to the accession of President Eduardo Frei Montalva. When I was growing up, Mom would tell me stories about Chile, and how nice it was, the interesting differences, what the culture was like, etc. Later, when I found out that it was being run by a military dictator, I was a bit confused- how did Mom's Chile become Pinochet's frightening Chile? Thats when I found out about Allende (from books and my grandparents), and just what kind of a man he really was, and what really happened before the coup, and it made me extraordinarily angry.

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Strike a pose - Revolutionary Vogue

It made me angry (at the time in the late 80s) because it was clear that the reason Chile was not the nice place it used to be was because of Salvador Allende, who tore up the Chilean constitution, trampled on the rights of property holders, and ruined the Chilean economy such that the 'people' he ostensibly was for, were reduced to harder poverty, with plenty of company as the middle class was impoverished, savings were squandered, industries were destroyed, and civil society ripped to shreds and left dysfunctional.

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Allende's UP thug squads preparing to fight the 'fascist' opposition

In short, Allende caused Pinochet to happen- he and the UP party were sowing the Chilean soil with the seeds of revolution, as in truth they were always a minority party and could never have accomplished their goals either democratically or constitutionally. The far left of his minority coalition were actively importing arms and ammunition from Cuba, and were explicitly planning for revolutionary warfare against the 'bourgeois' elements in Chile. Members of Allende's cabinet were actively trying to subvert the military, setting up networks of soldiers personally loyal to Allende and the UP. Everything in 1973 was pointing to violent conflict, one way or the other. The choices were: the increasingly Stalinist/Castroist bent of the UP and Allende, with control achieved in Nazi-like manner of subverting the organs of state control until the congress could be abolished or turned into a rubber-stamp organization (which in time would have been no different in brutality to Pinochet, except with extra poverty and privation and potentially no end in sight, even today); a full-fledged civil war between the left and the right, splitting the military and leading to mass destruction and bloodshed for an untold number of years; or a military coup. These choices were solely due to the destruction of civil society wrought by Allende & his party. I can't say that Allende 'got what he deserved', per se, but I certainly believed that he reaped what he and his minions sowed.

So I was overjoyed to see Val's devastating critique- it dissects every major portion of the myth using books from both the right and the left, explicitly detailing how horrific conditions had become in Chile, and what the human cost of Allende (and his revolutionary plans) was that explicitly led to the 1973 coup. Arguably, Pinochet's reaction was the least worst option among all those possible at that point in time. Despite his brutality, Pinochet did restore much of Chile's civil society and economy, and indeed opened the country up to the global market, deregulating many sectors and in so doing helped ease the poverty inflicted by the UP's reign, and set the table for the Chilean Miracle in the 90s- the emergence of a prosperous liberal democracy on a continent known for corruption & repression. The end result of Allende is indisputable- mass poverty and oppression (but perhaps with stellar Potemkin Statistics, like Cuba's 'education' system).

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I wanted to say that Chile

I wanted to say that Chile and Argentina are both really tragic examples of the Cold War. It must be said that Allende was a communist that was going to turn Chile into another East Germany or Cuba. Radical students in the MIR terror group were killing many innocent people throughout much of the 1970s.

In Argentina, you had several weak governments under Juan Peron and then his wife Isabel. Argentina was also suffering a wave Communist terror attacks until the military took over in 1976.

The Military and many people in those countries believed that their countries were under seige from Communists, Cuban and Eastern Bloc sponsored terrorists. However, resulting military coups in both countries resulted in thousands of people, many of them not terrorists, being killed, children being kidnapped and families disappearing. These acts make me sick, but I, also, believe that it would have been no better under Marxists governments either. The MARXIST REGIMES WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THINGS.

Simply, both countries were in a no win situation. looking at Chile today it is a much more peaceful and wealthier country. Argentina on the other hand, is still a basket case.

Great post, so very well

Great post, so very well said.

For those who'd react with a "Pinochet defender!" or "right wing fabrication" (it's all such a powerful part of antiamericanism, so it's obvious those folks would rather not hear about the whole background preceding the coup), well here's an article in last week's Washington Post, written by a Chilean former communist, who acknowledges some of the responsibilites of the Chilean left and far-left:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34856-2003Sep6.html

Thanks for the comments, I

Thanks for the comments, I appreciate it. Since Sept 11th has come and gone again, I wasn't surprised at all that this time around critics would begin to bring up Allende again.

Brad DeLong, in responding to Irving Kristol's Neocon Manifesto where Irving said Neocons were about defending democracies under seige/attack, snarked that "where was the US when Pinochet was attacking Chilean democracy?"... to which, of course, we must respond "where was the US when Allende was attacking Chilean democracy?" Certainly Chilean democracy was dead long before Sept 11, 1973- both in fact, and in law (Allende's government had been declared illegal by the Congress roughly a month before the coup). Allende and Democracy are two terms that really have nothing to do with each other, except that, ala some other dictators of note, Allende ascended via a back-room deal in a democracy.

I actually live in Chile.

I actually live in Chile. September 11th 1973 was a tragic day that all should remember. Those people who say "Antiamericanism" bullshit just don't know the concecuences of this day. Salvador Allende was planning on the same day to make a "plebisitio" or elections to see if he should say in power or not. Augusto Pinochet said to Allende that he should postpone it to September 12th, so that Pinochet would have time to destroy the Chilean democracy.

If anyone would learn about Salvador Allende, then they would definitely understand that Allende loved Democracy and freedom, and would never do anything to destroy it. He, as I said before, tried to save democracy with his ellections. Even the Communist party, by the time of the coup, abandoned the coalition of his government. That is why he tried to save it.

As for the US, you must know one thing. The US was the perpetrator of the coup. The CIA was the organisation that killed the most stable democracy in latin america. That dictatorship had cost more then 3000 lives, and the Condor agreement leadered by Pinochet has cost probably 80,000 lives in all latin america. People who just dissapeared suddenly, and their families never saw them ever since.

So I believe that this should be a tragic day to remember the crimes that people like Augusto Pinochet and countries like the US did to the world. This kind of action makes the US not better, or even worse, then the USSR.

Okay, let me clarify one

Okay, let me clarify one little tiny thing here. Allende was NOT a communist. He was a socialist. He was not trying to turn Chile into another Cuba or Soviet Union, he was trying to turn it into another Switzerland. THis was the US's fault okay! No matter what you say, Allende's assassination was caused by the United States CIA! You guys are so willing to blame anyone but this country. You think we only fight to defend ourselves, but this is wrong. The US kills when it is convient, we are no better than any other brutish regime.

THe military coup led by

THe military coup led by Pinochet needed to happen. Either one way or another. There would have been just as many lives lost in the Allende regime, than the Pinochet. Yes, Augusto did commit many inhuman crimes, and abuse human rights. But, he also prevented a bloody civil war, which would have costed much more innocent lives. Both of them were evil & good. So, you cannnot point fingers to tyrants or dictators.

I am sorry to tell you that

I am sorry to tell you that your analysis is completely wrong and it doesn't show any kind of historical coherence or evidence. You just wrote a lot of very common statements without mentioning, as Alex_pharaon rightly pointed out, anything about the sabotage actions of CIA, the enormous popular consens to Allende, the fact that MIR wasn't part of the coalition, the assationation of workers carried out by the fascists, the american embargo that was the actual reason why he "ruined the Chilean economy". I can go on and on....

Therefore the next time you want to destroy a myth at least try to do it in a serious and effective way, trying to show a bit of competence in the matter. Furthermore trying to compare Allende's methods to NAzi's ones is simply ricolous!

And I want to add that not

And I want to add that not matter what is the regime, not matter what happened or what was about to happen, nothing, I repeat NOTHING justifies the inhuman crimes commited by the blody dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Anyone who thinks that those things could even have any justification should look himself in the miror and ask himself if he is a human being.

This website tells all about

This website tells all about allende but where are all the good things that he did as a president. I'm studying chile an your website says nothing i got nothing out of it so i suggest that you put some good things up thank you.

The American embargo ruined

The American embargo ruined the Chilean economy? Looks like we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't. If we trade with certain troubled countries, dictatorial countries, Third World countries, whatever, we're accused of being an evil corporate machine. If we cut off trade with these countries, we're accused of fucking up their economy. I guess our only choice is to become socialist, then everyone will love us.

Look, I don't like militarists. I don't like Nazis. I don't like fascists. I also don't like Communists, no matter how much crap comes out of their mouth about "equality" and intellectual bullshit is spewed about the bourgeoisie and proleteriat. End of story.

No one should support Pinochet's deplorable actions, just as no one should support the dictatorial actions of Castroites, Sandinistas, Stalinists, and all the other forces of the Cold War, whether they're Communists or military dictators.

VIVA ALLENDE!!! ABAJO LAS

VIVA ALLENDE!!!
ABAJO LAS MENTIRAS FASCITAS!!!

I´m chilean and I live in

I´m chilean and I live in chile.

I think it´s not easy to find such a damned biased website...I suggest the webmaster´s study a bit more and not just regurgitate what the chilean ruling class says...

I refuse to believe that a victim is responsible for the criminals acts....it´s like the idiots who say it´s womens fault that they get raped...

Allende´s government improved the average chilean people´s lives immensely... obviously big landowners or company C.E.O´s were and will be against sharing the wealth...

I suggest to the poeple who want to know more on the true history of chile visit

www.memoriaviva.com
www.mir-chile.cl
www.elsiglo.cl

or search people like chonchol, cardemartori, fazio, salazar.

if you are a chilean, why

if you are a chilean, why don't write in spanish...

VIVA EL PUEBLO !
VIVA CHILE !:wink::beatnik:

Yes, vivan las Allendistas.

Yes, vivan las Allendistas. Viva food shortages, hyperinflation, centrally-planned bureaucratic muck, braindead and bankrupt philosophy, excet-er-a.

Now I'm just waiting for someone to make the argument that Chile's economy was better under Allende than it is today. They'll cite some bullshit about deccreased wages as if its the sole indicator of economic activity.