Chilean workers vs. Allende

On the Mises blog, Peter Klein links to a quirky historical piece in the New York Times about the early-70s experiment with a computer-run economy in Chile. It turns out that they never really got the thing up and running entirely before the coup in 1973, but regardless they were still fighting a futile effort against Mises, Hayek, and Robbins. Against such a line-up, victory is hardly possible. The NYT piece doesn't really discuss the state of the Chilean economy as a whole very much, but it was pretty dismal.

The piece is worth reading in its own right, but one thing struck me:

Cybersyn’s turning point came in October 1972, when a strike by truckers and retailers nearly paralyzed the economy. The interconnected telex machines, exchanging 2,000 messages a day, were a potent instrument, enabling the government to identify and organize alternative transportation resources that kept the economy moving.

The strike dragged on for nearly a month. While it weakened Mr. Allende’s Popular Unity party, the government survived, and Cybersyn was praised for playing a major role.

Salvador Allende is most remember today for being on the wrong end of the coup d'etat of 1973, which cost him his life. The extent of foreign involvement is still debated, so I won't get into that, though I suspect Richard Nixon and his gang had more to do with it than they'd want the world to know. Even if it were just home grown Chilean right-wingers that did the deeds, Allende has still become a symbol to many on the far end of the Left. Allende the Marxist strike-breaker.

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It depends on WHO is doing the strike-breaking

Capitalist pigs? It's evil. A "revolutionary", quasi-authoritarian Social Democratic president? It's ignored.