secD11.html 43 KB
Newer Older
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
<!DOCTYPE html>
  <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
  <title>D.11 Can politics and economics be separated from each other? | Anarchist Writers</title>
  <div class="content clear-block">
ju xor's avatar
ju xor committed
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65
    <h1>D.11 Can politics and economics be separated from each other?</h1>
<p>A key aspect of anarchism is the idea that the political and economic  aspects of society cannot be separated. <a href="secDcon.html">Section D</a> has been an attempt to show how these two aspects of society interact and influence each other. This means that economic liberty cannot be separated from  political liberty and vice versa. If working class people are subject to authoritarian political organisations then their economic liberty will likewise be restricted and, conversely, if their economic freedoms are limited then so, too, will their political freedoms. As Proudhon put it, <i>"industrial liberty is inseparable from political liberty."</i>  [quoted by Alan Ritter, <b>The Political Thought of Pierre-Joseph  Proudhon</b>, p. 188]</p>
<p>Some disagree, arguing that economic liberty is of primary importance. When Milton Friedman died in 2006, for example, many of his supporters  parroted his defence of working with the Pinochet regime and noted that  Chile had (eventually) become a democracy. For Friedman, this justified  his praise for the "economic liberty" the regime had introduced and  rationalised the advice he gave it. For him, Chile provided his earlier  assertion that <i>"economic freedom is an indispensable means toward the  achievement of political freedom."</i> For while Friedman stated that there was <i>"an intimate connection between economics and politics,"</i> he meant  simply that capitalism was required to produce democracy (to use his words, <i>"capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom"</i>).  [<b>Capitalism and Freedom</b>, p. 8 and p. 10]</p>
<p>So it should first be stressed that by "economic liberty" Friedman meant  capitalism and by "political liberty" he meant representative government  and a democratic state. Anarchists would disagree that either of those  institutions have much to do with genuine liberty. However, we will  ignore this for the moment and take his general point. Sadly, such a  position makes little sense. In fact, Friedman's separation of  "economic" and "political" liberties is simply wrong as well as  having authoritarian implications and lacking empirical basis.</p>
<p>The easiest way of showing that statism and capitalism cannot be  separated is to look at a country where "economic liberty" (i.e. free market capitalism) existed but "political liberty" (i.e. a democratic government with basic human rights) did not. The most obvious example is Pinochet's Chile, an experiment which Friedman praised as an "economic miracle" shortly before it collapsed. In <a href="secC11.html">section C.11</a> we discussed the Chilean "economic miracle" at face  value, refusing to discuss the issue of whether describing the  regime as one of "economic liberty" could be justified. Rather,  we exposed the results of applying what leading ideologues of  capitalism have called "free market" policies on the country.  As would be expected, the results were hardly an "economic miracle"  if you were working class. Which shows how little our lives are  valued by the elite and their "experts."</p>
<p>As to be expected with Friedman, the actual experience of implementing his economic dogmas in Chile refuted them. Much the same can be said of his distinction of "economic" and "political" liberty. Friedman  discussed the Chilean regime in 1991, arguing that <i>"Pinochet and the  military in Chile were led to adopt free market principles after they  took over only because they did not have any other choice."</i> [<b>Economic  Freedom, Human Freedom, Political Freedom</b>] This is an interesting  definition of <i>"free market principles."</i> It seems to be compatible  with a regime in which the secret police can seize uppity workers,  torture them and dump their bodies in a ditch as a warning to others.</p>
<p>For Friedman, the economic and political regimes could be separated. As he put it, <i>"I have nothing good to say about the political regime  that Pinochet imposed. It was a terrible political regime. The real  miracle of Chile is not how well it has done economically; the real  miracle of Chile is that a military junta was willing to go against  its principles and support a free market regime designed by principled  believers in a free market."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>] How, exactly, could the  political regime <b>not</b> impact on the economic one? How is a "free  market" possible if people who make up the labour market are repressed  and in fear of their lives? True, the Chilean workers could, as workers in Tsarist Russia, <i>"change their jobs without getting permission from political authorities"</i> (as Friedman put it [<b>Capitalism and Freedom</b>, p. 10]), however this is only a small part of what anarchists consider to be genuine economic liberty.</p>
<p>To see why, it is useful to show a snapshot of what life was like under  Friedman's "economic liberty" for working class people. Once this is done, it is easy to see how incredulous Friedman was being. Peter Winn gives a  good description of what Chile's "economic liberty" was based on:</p>
<blockquote><p> <i>"In the wake of the coup, most of the 'revolutionary' leaders of the textile workers disappeared, some to unmarked graves, jails, or concentration camps, others to exile or the underground resistance. Moreover, when the textile factories resumed production, it was under military administration and with soldiers patrolling the plants. Authoritarian management and industrial discipline were reimposed at the point of a bayonet, and few workers dared to protest. Some feared for their lives or liberty; many more feared for their jobs. Military intelligence officers interrogated the workers one by one, pressing them to inform on each other and then firing those considered to be leftist activists. The dismissals often continued after the mills were returned to their former owners, at first for political reasons or for personal revenge, but, with the recession of 1975, for economic motives as well.  The unions, decimated by their leadership losses, intimidated by the repression, and proscribed by military decree from collective bargaining, strikes, or other militant actions, were incapable of defending their members' jobs, wages, or working conditions.  With wages frozen and prices rising rapidly, living standards  fell precipitously, even for those fortunate enough to keep their jobs."</i> [<i>"No Miracle for Us"</i>, Peter Winn (ed.), <b>Victims of the  Chilean Miracle: Workers and Neoliberalism in the Pinochet Era,  1973-2002</b>, p. 131]
<p>In the copper mines, <i>"[h]undreds of leftist activists were fired, and many were arrested and tortured . . . the military exercised a firm control over union leaders and activity within the unions remained dormant until the 1980s."</i> The <i>"decade following the military  coup was defined by intense repression and a generalised climate of  terror and fear."</i> Workers recalled that people who spoke at union  meetings were detained and until 1980 police permission was required  to hold a meeting, which was held under police supervision. At work,  <i>"supervisors and foremen ruled with an authoritarian discipline"</i> while miners <i>"reported that spies denounced workers who talked  politics or spoke at union meetings to the company administration  and police."</i> [Thomas Miller Klubock, <i>"Class, Community, and  Neoliberalism in Chile"</i>, Winn (ed.), <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 214 p. 216 and  p. 217]</p>
<p>Over all, Workers <i>"bore the brunt of the repression during the military take-over and throughout the Pinochet regime. The armed forces viewed  workers -- and the level of organisation they had achieved under previous  governments -- as the greatest threat to traditional power structure in  Chile . . . Armed troops went after workers in general and union members  and leaders in particular with a virulence that contradicted their claim  to be stamping out 'class hatred.'"</i> As for the relationship between  "economic" and "political" liberty, the latter was dependent on the end of the former: <i>"Fear of repression was clearly essential to the  implementation of free-market labour policies, but far more pervasive  was the fear of unemployment"</i> generated by the so-called "economic  miracle." [John Lear and Joseph Collins, <i>"Working in Chile's Free  Market"</i>, pp. 10-29, <b>Latin American Perspectives</b>, vol. 22, No. 1,  pp. 12-3 and p. 14]</p>
<p>Thus the ready police repression made strikes and other forms of protest  both impractical and dangerous. When working class people did take to the  streets after the economic crash of 1982, they were subject to intense state repression as Pinochet <i>"cracked down, sending in army troops to curb  the demonstrators."</i> According to a report by the Roman Catholic Church  113 protesters had been killed during social protest, with several thousand  detained for political activity and protests between May 1983 and mid-1984.  Thousands of strikers were also fired and union leaders jailed. [Rayack,  <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 70] In fact, the <i>"brutal government repression put even the  militant copper miners on the defensive."</i> [Winn, <i>"The Pinochet Era"</i>,  Winn (ed.), <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 43] Workers were aware that the regime <i>"was  likely to use the full rigour of the law against workers who acted in  defence of their interests. Moreover, even though the arbitrary actions  of the secret police diminished in the last years of the dictatorship, they did not disappear, nor did their internalised legacy. Fear of becoming  a target of repression still exercised a chilling effect on both workers  and their leaders."</i> [Winn, <i>"No Miracle for Us"</i>, Winn (ed.), <b>Op. Cit.</b>,  p. 133]</p>
<p>All of which puts into stark light Friedman's 1982 comment that <i>"Chile is  an even more amazing political miracle. A military regime has supported  reforms that sharply reduce the role of the state and replace control  from the top with control from the bottom."</i> [quoted by Rayack, <b>Not so Free to Choose</b>, p. 37] Clearly Friedman had no idea what he was talking about.  While the <i>"role of the state"</i> <b>was</b> reduced in terms of welfare for the  masses, it was obviously massively <b>increased</b> in terms of warfare against them (we will address the <i>"control from the bottom"</i> nonsense shortly).</p>
<p>For anarchists, it is simply common-sense that "economic liberty" cannot exist within an authoritarian state for the mass of the population. In reality, the economic and political regime cannot be so easily compartmentalised. As Malatesta noted, <i>"every economic question of  some importance automatically becomes a political question . . .  Workers' organisations must therefore, of necessity, adopt a line  of action in face of present as well as possible future government  action."</i> [<b>Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas</b>, pp. 130-1] Such common-sense is sadly lacking with Friedman who seriously seems to believe that "economic liberty" could exist without the freedom of workers to take collective action if they so desired. In other words,  the "economic miracle" Friedman praises was built on the corpses,  fears and backs of working class people. Unlike Friedman, Chile's workers and bosses know that <i>"employers could count on the backing  of the military in any conflict with workers."</i> [Lear and Collins, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 13] As can be seen, Malatesta had a much firmer grasp  of the question of liberty that Friedman, as expected as the latter  equals it with capitalism and its hierarchies while the former  spent much of his live in prison and exile trying to increase the freedom of working class people by fighting the former and the  state which maintains them.</p>
<p>As we argued in <a href="secD1.html#secd14">section D.1.4</a>, laissez-faire capitalism does not end statism. Rather it focuses it on purely defending economic power (i.e. "economic liberty" for the capitalist class). The example of Chile's "economic liberty" proves this beyond doubt and shows that  the separation of economic and political freedom is impossible and, consequently, both capitalism <b>and</b> the state need to be fought and, ultimately, abolished.</p>
<h2><a name="secd111">D.11.1 What does Chile tell us about the right and its vision of liberty?</a></h2>
<p>The key to understanding how Friedman managed to ignore the obvious lack of "economic liberty" for the bulk of the population under  Pinochet lies in remembering that he is a supporter of capitalism. As capitalism is a hierarchical system in which workers sell their liberty to a boss, it comes as no real surprise that Friedman's  concern for liberty is selective.</p>
<p>Pinochet did introduce free-market capitalism, but this meant real  liberty only for the rich. For the working class, "economic liberty"  did not exist, as they did not manage their own work nor control  their workplaces and lived under a fascist state. The liberty to  take economic (never mind political) action in the forms of forming  unions, going on strike, organising go-slows and so on was severely  curtailed by the very likely threat of repression. Of course, the  supporters of the Chilean "Miracle" and its "economic liberty" did not  bother to question how the suppression of political liberty effected  the economy or how people acted within it. They maintained that the  repression of labour, the death squads, the fear installed in rebel  workers could be ignored when looking at the economy. But in the  real world, people will put up with a lot more if they face the barrel  of a gun than if they do not. So the claim that "economic liberty"  existed in Chile makes sense only if we take into account that there  was only <b>real</b> liberty for one class. The bosses may have been "left  alone" but the workers were not, unless they submitted to authority  (capitalist or state). Hardly what most people would term as "liberty".</p>
<p>Beyond the ideologues of capitalism who term themselves "economists,"  it is generally admitted that the "labour market," if it exists, is  a somewhat unique market. As "labour" cannot be separated from its  owner, it means that when you "buy" labour you "buy" the time, and  so liberty, of the individual involved. Rather than be bought on  the market all at once, as with a slave, the wage slave's life is  bought piecemeal. This is the key to understanding Friedman's  nonsensical claims for never forget that by "economic freedom" he  means capitalism. To understand the difference we need only compare  two of Friedman's arguments to the reality of capitalism. Once we do that then his blindness to Chile's neo-liberal dictatorship's impact on genuine economic liberty becomes clear.</p>
<p>The most obvious fallacy within his argument is this assertion:</p>
<blockquote><p> <i>"A characteristic feature of a free private market is that all parties  to a transaction believe that they are going to be better off by that  transaction. It is not a zero sum game in which some can benefit only  at the expense of others. It is a situation in which everybody thinks  he is going to be better off."</i> [<b>Economic Freedom, Human Freedom,  Political Freedom</b>]
<p>Who can deny that the worker who sells her liberty to the autocrat of a capitalist firm is <i>"going to be better off"</i> than one starving to death? As we noted in <a href="secB4.html#secb41">section B.4.1</a>, Friedman avoids the obvious fact that a  capitalist economy is dependent on there being a class of people who  have no means of supporting themselves <b>except</b> by selling their labour  (i.e. liberty). While full employment will mitigate this dependency  (and, as a result, bring the system to crisis), it never goes away. And  given that Pinochet's <i>"free market regime designed by principled believers  in a free market"</i> had substantial unemployment, it is unsurprising that  the capitalist was <i>"better off"</i> than the worker as a result. As the  experience of the <i>"free private market"</i> in Chile suggests, workers need  to be free to organise without the fear of death squads otherwise they  will be oppressed and exploited by their bosses. By denying that freedom,  Pinochet's regime could only be considered "free" by the ideologues and  savants of capitalism. The only positive thing that can be said is that  it provided empirical evidence that the ideal neo-classical labour  market would increase inequality and exploitation  (see <a href="secC11.html#secc113">section C.11.3</a>).</p>
<p>The problem with Friedman's argument is that he fails to recognise the  hierarchical nature of capitalism and the limited liberty it produces.  This can be seen from Friedman's comparison of military dictatorships  to capitalism:</p>
<blockquote><p> <i>"Almost all military juntas are adverse to economic freedom for obvious  reasons. The military is organised from the top down: the general tells  the colonel, the colonel tells the captain, the captain tells the  lieutenant, and so on. A market economy is organised from the bottom  up: the consumer tells the retailer, the retailer tells the wholesaler,  the wholesaler tells the producer, and the producer delivers. The  principles underlying a military organisation are precisely the reverse  of those underlying a market organisation."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>]
<p>Obviously geometry was not Friedman's strong point. A "market economy"  is characterised by <b>horizontal</b> links between workplaces and consumers,  not vertical ones. However, the key issue is that the dominant <i>"market organisation"</i> under capitalism <b><i>is</i></b> marked by the <i>"principles underlying  a military organisation."</i> To present a more accurate picture than  Friedman, in the <i>"market organisation"</i> of a capitalist firm the boss  tells the worker what to do. It is <i>"organised from the top down"</i> just  as a military junta is. That Friedman ignores the organisational  structure which 90% of the population have to operate within for  most of their waking hours is significant. It shows how little he  understands of capitalism and "economic freedom."</p>
<p>In Pinochet's Chile, the workplace <b>did</b> become more like <i>"a military organisation."</i> Without effective unions and basic human rights, the  bosses acted like the autocrats they are. Discussing the textile  industry, Peter Winn notes that <i>"most mill owners took full advantage  of the regime's probusiness Labour Code . . . At many mills, sweatshop  conditions prevailed, wages were low, and management was authoritarian,  even tyrannical . . . Workers might resent these conditions, but they  often felt powerless to oppose them. Informers and the threat of  dismissal kept even alienated and discontented workers in line."</i>  [<i>"No Miracle for Us"</i>, Winn (ed.), <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 132 and pp. 132-3] John Lear and Joseph Collins generalise the picture, noting that  <i>"[i]n wake of the coup, factory owners suddenly had absolute control over their workers and could fire any worker without case. From  1973 through 1978, practically every labour right for organised  and unorganised workers was suspended. All tools of collective bargaining, including of course the right to strike, were outlawed."</i>  [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 13] The Junta themselves had no illusions about the military-like regime they desired within the workplace, stating in 1974 its intention of <i>"imposing authority and discipline in  production and labour relations."</i> [quoted by Joseph Collins and  John Lear, <b>Chile's Free-Market Miracle: A Second Look</b>, p. 27]</p>
<p>The reality of life under Pinochet for working class people should make  anyone with sense wary of praising the regime in any way, but Friedman  argued that the <i>"results were spectacular. Inflation came down sharply.  After a transitory period of recession and low output that is unavoidable  in the course of reversing a strong inflation, output started to expand,  and ever since, the Chilean economy has performed better than any other  South American economy."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>] Of course, by downplaying the  deep recession caused by applying his recommended <i>"shock-treatment"</i> policies, Friedman can confuse the high growth resulting from coming out of the boom combined with ready repression on labour with sound economic policies. Strangely he failed to mention the <i>"spectacular"</i>  recession of 1982 which wiped out the gains of 1976 to 1981. As indicated  in <a href="secC11.html">section C.11</a>, looking over the whole of the Pinochet period the results  were hardly <i>"spectacular"</i> (unless you were rich) and the moderate gains  were paid for by the working class in terms of longer hours, lower pay and political and economic oppression.</p>
<p>In other words, Friedman and the 'Chicago boys' provided an appearance  of technical respectability to the dreams, greed and power of the landlords and capitalists who made up the Chilean oligarchy. The military  simply applied the brutal force required to achieve those goals. As such,  there is only an apparent contradiction between political tyranny and  "economic liberty," not a real one. Repression for the working class and "economic liberty" for the elite are two sides of the same coin.</p>
<p>This should be common-sense and, as such, it is nonsensical for the likes of Friedman to support an economic policy while pretending to reject the  system of terror it required to implement. After all, economic policies do not occur in a social and political vacuum. They are conditioned by,  and at the same time modify, the social and political situation where  they are put into practice. Thus there cannot be "economic liberty" for workers if they expect a visit from the secret police if they talk back to their boss. Yet for Friedman and those like him, there seems to be a lack of awareness of such basic and obvious facts. There is a necessary  connection between economic policy (and its outcome) and the  socio-political setting in which it is implemented.</p>
<p>Friedman exposes the utter hypocrisy of the supporters of capitalism. His myopia about the reality of the regime was expressed in articles which amount to little more than apologetics for the dictatorship. For example, in 1982 he noted in response to the economic problems of the  previous year <i>"the opposition to the free-market policies that had  been largely silence by success is being given full voice."</i> [quoted  by Rayack, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. p. 63] No mention that the real cause of the <i>"silence"</i> of the opposition was not the <i>"success"</i> of policies which  had impoverished the working class and enriched the elite but, rather,  the expectation of a visit by the secret police. Given that Pinochet  had sent murder squads to kill prominent dissidents abroad, Friedman's comments are incredulous -- particularly as Allende's former foreign  minister, Orlando Letelier, was assassinated in Washington in 1976  by a car bomb.</p>
<p>The state terror, the violation of human rights and drastic control  and suppression of every form of meaningful dissent is discussed (and often condemned) as something only indirectly linked, or indeed entirely unrelated, to the economic policies that the military  imposed. To publicly praise and support the economic policies adopted  by the dictatorship while regretting its political regime is simply illogical hypocrisy. However, it does expose the limited nature of  the right's concept of liberty as well as its priorities and values.</p>
<h2><a name="secd112">D.11.2 But surely Chile proves that "economic freedom" creates political freedom?</a></h2>
<p>As noted above, Friedman defended his praise for the Pinochet regime by arguing that its "economic liberty" helped produce the end of the dictatorship. In the words of Friedman:</p>
<blockquote><p> <i>"The economic development and the recovery produced by economic freedom  in turn promoted the public's desire for a greater degree of political  freedom . . . In Chile, the drive for political freedom, that was  generated by economic freedom and the resulting economic success,  ultimately resulted in a referendum that introduced political  democracy. Now, at long last, Chile has all three things: political  freedom, human freedom and economic freedom. Chile will continue to  be an interesting experiment to watch to see whether it can keep all  three or whether, now that it has political freedom, that political freedom will tend to be used to destroy or reduce economic freedom."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>]
<p>It is hard to find an account so skewed by ideological blindness as this. The notion that Chile's "free market" capitalism provided the  base for eliminating Pinochet's dictatorship is hard to defend. If  it were true then we would expect Pinochet's rule to be substantially  shorter than other military dictatorships in the region. However, this  is <b>not</b> the case. For example, Argentina's Military Junta lasted from  1976 to 1983, 7 years; Peru's 12 years (1968 to 1980); Uruguay's 12  years (1973 to 1985); Bolivia's 18 years (1964 to 1982). Pinochet's  lasted 17 years, exceeded by Brazil's 21 years (1964 to 1985). If  Friedman's argument were valid then Pinochet would have fallen long  before the rest. In fact, Chile was one of the last Latin American countries to return to democracy.</p>
<p>Nor can it be said that ending of the Pinochet regime was an automatic outcome of economic forces. Rather, it was a product of struggle by  ordinary people who took to the streets in the early 1980s to protest  in the face of state repression. The regime was subject to popular  pressures from below and these, not capitalism, were the key factor. After all, it was not "economic liberty" which produced the desire for  "political freedom." Working class people could remember what political  freedom was before it was destroyed in order to create Friedman's  "economic liberty" and tried to recreate it.</p>
<p>In the face of state terror, political activists and trade unionists  fought the regime. The 1988 referendum Friedman alludes to was the  product of this heroic activity, not some abstract economic force.  As Cathy Schneider points out, the 1983-86 <i>"cycle of protests had set the stage for a negotiated transition to democracy in 1990."</i> These protests, it should be noted, were subject to extreme state repression (one demonstration saw Pinochet send 18,000 troops onto the streets, who shot 129 people, 29 fatally, and tortured some of the 1,000  arrested). [<b>Shantytown protest in Pinochet's Chile</b>, p. 194 and  p. 165] Peter Winn, for example, notes <i>"the resistance of workers to  both the dictatorship and its neoliberal policies, often against great  odds and at great risks."</i> In fact, <i>"during the Pinochet era, with  its repression and restrictions on union activism, Chile's workers  displayed great creativity in devising new ways to resist . . . Nor  was this resistance confined to the workplace or workers' issues . . .  it was Chile's workers who first raised the flag of political resistance  against the dictatorship in the 1970s and sustained it during the years  when political parties were banned. And it was the copper miners who  mobilised the social protests and political opposition to the military  regime in the 1980s to demand an end to Pinochet's dictatorship and  the restoration of democracy and civil liberties."</i> [<i>"Introduction"</i>,  Winn (ed.), <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 11] This is confirmed by John Lear and  Joseph Collins, who note that <i>"[d]uring the mid-1980s, unions were  fundamental to organising the national protests that led eventually  to the negotiations of the 1988 plebiscite."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 20]</p>
<p>This, it should be noted, has always been the case. Political freedoms have <b>never</b> been given by the powers that be but rather won by long struggles by working class people. This has always been the case, as  Kropotkin stressed basic political liberties were <i>"extorted from  parliament by force, by agitations that threatened to become rebellions. It was by establishing trade unions and practising strike action  despite the edicts of Parliament and the hangings"</i> that workers <i>"won the right to associate and strike"</i> in Britain for example. [<b>Words of a Rebel</b>, pp. 123-4] To ignore that often heroic struggle shows an  ignorance about history which only matches an ignorance about liberty. The history of capitalism is important in this regard. It first  developed under Absolutist states which used its power to bolster the  position of their capitalist class within both national (against the  working class) and international markets (against foreign competitors).  As we discuss in <a href="secF8.html">section F.8</a>, they actively intervened to create the  pre-conditions for generalised wage slavery before becoming a handicap  to the rising bourgeoisie. These regimes were generally replaced by  liberal states with limited voting rights which generally lifted the  burden of state regulation from the capitalist class. The working class  had to fight long and hard to win basic civil liberties and the vote.  As Chomsky notes, such progress <i>"didn't just happen; it happened  through the struggles of the labour movement, and the Civil Rights  Movement, and the women's movement, and everything else. It's the popular movements which expanded the domain of freedom of speech [and other liberties] until it began to be meaningful."</i> [<b>Understanding  Power</b>, pp. 268-9]</p>
<p>Once these rights were won, the ruling elite has always turned to  fascism to control them once they started to threaten their power  and wealth. This obviously applies to Chile. Until the coup of 11  September 1973, Chile had been seen increasing participation of the  working class in economic and social decision making. The coup was,  simply, a massive class revenge of the wealthy against a working  class which had dared to imagine that another world was possible. Unsurprisingly, given the key role of working class people in the  struggle for freedom, <i>"Worker leaders and activists . . . were  central targets of the military regime's state terror, whose goal  was to intimidate them into passivity, in large part so that  neoliberal policies could be imposed."</i> [Peter Winn, <i>"Introduction"</i>, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 12] Equally unsurprising, those who had taken to the streets aimed for political freedom in order to <b>end</b> the "economic liberty" imposed by the regime.</p>
<p>This means that Friedman's maxim that economic liberty is required to  produce political liberty is a deeply flawed position to take. Not  only does it ignore the popular struggles which have always had to be  fought to end minority government, it also allows its advocates to  justify and work with authoritarian regimes. At best, this position  ensures that you will be indifferent to the destruction of political  freedom as long as "economic  liberty" (i.e. capitalism) was secured.  At worse, it ensures that you would actively support such a destruction  as you can justify it in terms of a return to "democracy" in the long  run. Friedman and the "Chicago Boys" express both ends of that spectrum. That he can comment on <i>"the paradox that economic freedom produces  political freedom but political freedom may destroy economic freedom"</i> in the context of Chile is staggering, as it was the destruction of "political freedom" that allowed "economic freedom" (for the rich) to be imposed. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>]  In reality, Chile provides evidence to support the alternative argument that the introduction of free market capitalism  requires the elimination or, at best, the reduction of "political  liberty."</p>
<p>In other words, fascism was an ideal political environment to introduce "economic liberty" <b>because</b> it had destroyed political liberty. Perhaps  we should conclude that the denial of political liberty is both necessary  and sufficient in order to create (and preserve) "free market" capitalism? After all, the history of capitalism has been marked by the ruling class overthrowing "political liberty" when their power was threatened by  popular movements. In other words, that Malatesta was right to argue  that the <i>"capitalists can maintain the struggle in the economic field so  long as workers demand small . . . improvements; but as soon as they see  their profits seriously diminished and the very existence of their  privileges threatened, they appeal to government and if it is not  sufficiently understanding and not strong enough to defend them . . .  they use their own wealth to finance new repressive forces and to set  up a new government which will serve them better."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 131]</p>
<p>Friedman's argument implies that "economic liberty" is more important  than "political liberty," so making people less concerned about  dictatorships as long as they support the interests of the capitalist  class. While the long list of capitalists, conservatives and right-wing  ("classical") liberals who supported fascism or fascist-like regimes shows that giving them an ideological prop to justify it is unnecessary,  it is hardly wise.</p>
<p>Then there is the question of whether Chile does, in fact, have genuine political liberty (i.e. a democratic government). The answer is, not quite. Chile's democracy is a "managed" one, constrained both by the  political legacy of Pinochet's constitution and the threat of military  intervention. Significantly, Friedman seems unconcerned about the  quality of the post-Pinochet democracy Chile experiences. Simply put, the existence of an electoral regime cannot be confused with democracy or "political liberty."</p>
<p>It is clear that Pinochet went into the 1988 plebiscite expecting to win  (particularly as he tried to rig it like the 1980 one). According to many reports from members of his cabinet and staff, he was absolutely  furious and wanted to annul the results. The popular backlash this  would have created ensured he abided by the result. Instead, he  ensured that the new governments had to accept his authoritarian  constitution and decree-laws. In other words, knowing he would be  replaced he immediately took steps to limit the subsequent democratically  elected governments as well as remaining as the head of the armed forces  (as we discuss below, this obviously ensures the threat of a coup hung  over the new governments).</p>
<p>This means that post-Pinochet  Chile is not your typical "democracy."  Pinochet became an unelected senator for life after his retirement  as armed forces commander in March 1998 and 28% of the Senate is <i>"designated,"</i> including four retired military officers named by the  National Security Council. Pinochet also imposed a <i>"unique binomial  electoral law, [in] which to elect two deputies or senators from the  same district, a party or electoral alliance needed to double its  opponent's vote -- a difficult feat -- or else the opponent received  an equal number of seats in congress."</i> This ensured rightist control  of the Senate despite a decade of majority victories by the  centre-left in elections and so <i>"Pinochet's 'designated senators'  and undemocratic electoral law continued to frustrate the popular will  and limit Chile's restored democracy."</i> The majority could not <i>"pass laws without the consent of its rightist opponents."</i> Pinochet used <i>"final months as president to decree laws that would hamstring his opponents,  even if a majority of the electorate supported them."</i> In addition, any  new government was <i>"confronted by a judiciary and government bureaucracy  packed by Pinochet with his own adherents. Moreover, the Right enjoyed a  near monopoly of the press and media that grew as the decade advanced."</i>  [Winn, <i>"The Pinochet Era"</i>, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 64 and p. 49]</p>
<p>Thus Chile is lumbered with Pinochet's legacy, <i>"the authoritarian  constitution of 1980, which sought to create a 'protected democracy'  under military tutelage. It was written so as to be difficult to amend  and designed to handcuff a future opposition government and frustrate  popular will."</i> It <i>"removed the military from civilian control, while  submitting future elected governments to a military-dominated National  Security Council with a vague but broad purview."</i> It also <i>"banned measures  against private property."</i> With some <i>"relative minor modifications of  some of its most egregious features during the transition to democracy"</i>  it remained <i>"in effect for the rest of the century"</i> and in 2004 was  <i>"still Chile's fundamental charter."</i> [Winn, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 30] This  constitution built upon the work of right-"libertarian" Friedrich von Hayek and, unsurprisingly aimed to insulate "economic liberty"  from popular pressures, i.e. to limit and reduce democracy to secure the freedom of capitalism (and, of course, the capitalist class).</p>
<p>In addition, the threat of military intervention is always at the  forefront of political discussions. For example, on 11 September 1990,  Pinochet <i>"warned that he would lead another coup is conditions warranted  it. In 1993, when investigations into an arms procurement scandal  implicated his son, Pinochet ordered combat-ready troops and tanks  onto the streets for an 'exercise' . . . Throughout the Aylwin  presidency, Pinochet maintained an army 'shadow cabinet' that acted  as a political pressure group."</i> Unsurprisingly, the first post-Pinochet  government <i>"often backed down in practice for the sake of social peace  -- or out of fear of endangering the transition to democracy. As a  result, Aylwin was unable to fulfil his promises of constitutional and institutional reforms that would reverse Pinochet's authoritarian legacy."</i> This was because the new government thought that the coup and  dictatorship <i>"reflected the decision of business elites to call in the  military, because they could not protect their core interests under  Chile's radicalised democracy. The lesson that . . . [they] drew . . .  was that to avoid its repetition in the 1990s it was necessary to  reassure business that its interests would be protected."</i>  [Winn, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 50 and p. 53]</p>
<p>The limited nature of Chile's democracy was seen in 1998, when Pinochet  was arrested in Britain in regard of a warrant issued by a Spanish Judge  for the murders of Spanish citizens during his regime. Commentators,  particularly those on the right, stressed that Pinochet's arrest could  undermine Chile's "fragile democracy" by provoking the military. In  other words, Chile is only a democracy in-so-far as the military let  it be. Of course, few commentators acknowledged the fact that this  meant that Chile was not, in fact, a democracy after all.</p>
<p>All of which explains why subsequent governments have only tinkered with the free-market policies introduced by Pinochet. They have dared not reverse  them not due to their popular nature but to the obvious fact that recent  Chilean history shows that progressive politicians and their supporters have  something to fear besides losing an election. Unsurprisingly, workers  <i>"socio-economic aspirations were postponed in the interest of not jeopardising  the transition and their expectations of labour law reform were sacrificed on  the same alter."</i> [Winn, <i>"Introduction"</i>, Winn (ed.), <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 10] While  2002 saw the election of the first socialist president since Allende, it is  unlikely that Chile will experience anything beyond minor reforms -- the legacy of fear and political restrictions will ensure that the ruling class will have little to fear from "political liberty" being used by politicians to curb their power and wealth.</p>
<p>Then there is the social legacy of 17 years of dictatorship. As one expert  on Latin America, Cathy Scheider, noted in 1993, <i>"the transformation  of the economic and political system"</i> under Pinochet <i>"has had a profound  impact on the world view of the typical Chilean,"</i> with most having  <i>"little contact with other workers or with their neighbours, and only  limited time with their family. Their exposure to political or labour  organisations is minimal. . . they lack either the political resources  or the disposition to confront the state. The fragmentation of opposition  communities has accomplished what brute military repression could not. It  has transformed Chile, both culturally and politically, from a country of  active participatory grassroots communities, to a land of disconnected, apolitical individuals. The cumulative impact of this change is such that we are unlikely to see any concerted challenge to the current ideology in the near future."</i> [quoted by Noam Chomsky, <b>World Orders, Old and New</b>,  p. 184]</p>
<p>In such circumstances, political liberty can be re-introduced, as no one  is in a position to effectively use it. In addition, Chileans live with  the memory that challenging the state in the near past resulted in a  fascist dictatorship murdering thousands of people as well as repeated and  persistent violations of human rights by the junta, not to mention the  existence of "anti-Marxist" death squads -- for example in 1986 <i>"Amnesty  International accused the Chilean government of employing death squads."</i>  [P. Gunson, A. Thompson, G. Chamberlain, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 86] According to  one Human Rights group, the Pinochet regime was responsible for 11,536 human rights violations between 1984 and 1988 alone. [Calculation of <i>"Comite Nacional de Defensa do los Derechos del Pueblo,"</i> reported in <b>Fortin</b>, September 23, 1988]</p>
<p>These facts that would have a strongly deterrent effect on people  contemplating the use of political liberty to actually <b>change</b> the  status quo in ways that the military and economic elites did not approve  of. This does not mean, of course, that the Chilean people are not  resisting oppression and exploitation and rebuilding their organisations,  simply that using free speech, striking and other forms of social action  is more difficult. That is protects and increases the power, wealth and  authority of the employer and state over their wage slaves goes without sating -- it was what was intended. As Kropotkin pointed out years ago,  <i>"freedom of press . . . and all the rest, are only respected if the  people do not make use of them against the privileged classes. But the  day the people begin to take advantage of them to undermine those  privileges, then the so-called liberties will be cast overboard."</i>  [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 42] Chile is a classic example of this, a bloody example  which helps deter genuine democracy in that country decades later.</p>
  <div id="book-navigation-239" class="book-navigation">

ju xor's avatar
ju xor committed
        <div class="page-links clear-block">
68 69 70
              <a href="secD10.html" class="page-previous" title="Go to previous page">‹ D.10 How does capitalism affect technology?</a>
                    <a href="secDcon.html" class="page-up" title="Go to parent page">up</a>
                    <a href="secEcon.html" class="page-next" title="Go to next page">Section E - What do anarchists think causes ecological problems? ›</a>
ju xor's avatar
ju xor committed

ju xor's avatar
ju xor committed
74 75 76