Counting Cats in Zanzibar Rotating Header Image

Hansard: New South Wales Parliament, 11 September, 2013

This is not a statement of support for Augusto Pinochet, it is an indictement of those who support Salvador Allende.

The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS [5.57 p.m.]: Last night two members of this place lamented the overthrow of Salvador Allende’s regime in Chile 40 years ago today. Tonight I make the case for Augusto Pinochet. There are many who believe that General Pinochet was a reluctant hero, a morally courageous man, who not only saved his country from communism but also whose adoption of the Chicago school of economics brought prosperity to his country. Pinochet stopped an avowed communist from creating a new Cuba in South America. First, we have to come to a realisation—one that far too many people, especially those opposite, are reluctant to arrive at. We have to accept that sometimes it is necessary to do bad things to prevent terrible things from happening.

It is all too easy to say, “We believe we should never sanction dictatorship” or that we should have no truck with evil, but such principles are foolish and self-defeating in the real world. We should ask ourselves whether in hindsight it would have been better to have had an illiberal Tsar or a murderous Stalin. Indeed, the Left’s moral position is basically one of placing one’s own sensibilities before the requirements of survival. Those who denounce Pinochet appear to be totally ignorant of the historical reality in Chile at the time of the military coup on 11 September 1973.

Salvador Allende was not some mild-mannered social democrat. The choice was not between popular socialism and a military regime; the choices on offer were full-blown communism and civil war, or military rule. Allende was elected with only one-third of the vote for his party, roughly the same as Hitler was. He was installed as president based on his immediately broken promise to respect the rule of law. His political partners walked out of their coalition at his radicalism. His regime simply ignored the decrees of courts. It nationalised property contrary to law and it was arming party militias. That is what really happened.

On 26 May 1973 Chile’s Supreme Court unanimously denounced the Allende regime’s “disruption of the legality of the nation” in its failure to uphold judicial decisions. Allende’s Government refused to permit police execution of judicial resolutions that contradicted the Government’s measures. On 22 August 1973 the Chilean Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution 81-47 that called on “the President of the Republic, Ministers of State, and members of the Armed and Police Forces” to put an immediate end to the breach of the Constitution “with the goal of redirecting government activity towards the path of Law and ensuring the Constitutional order of our Nation, and the essential underpinnings of democratic co-existence among Chileans”.

The Greens moralists opposite are the first people to get up in this Chamber and spruik about the primacy of parliaments. They are the first people to spruik about the role of judicial authority, but in this instance Chile’s Supreme Court unanimously denounced Allende, and its Chamber of Deputies overwhelmingly resolved that he was being unconstitutional. In spite of all that, the Chilean armed forces held off. Pinochet did not move until both the legislature and judiciary had condemned the abuse of executive power. The Allende Government was operating contrary to law, was preparing to launch a civil war and was planning to turn Chile into a Soviet state. Yes, Pinochet killed people. If anyone knows of any other way to overthrow a government than by military force, then let me hear about it.

Yes, Pinochet killed people. According to the 2011 commission, the regime killed some 3,065 people over 17 years and that is a terrible number. But the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua killed just as many in the first few years of their regime—and members opposite love the Sandinistas. Yes, Pinochet killed people; he killed people at the rate of about 15 per month. But according to the Black Book of Communism between 1959 and 1997 the Castro regime in Cuba killed between 15,000 and 17,000 people, or at twice the rate of Pinochet. Yet do members opposite criticise Castro? No, they idolise him. They idolise a man who killed people at a rate twice that of Pinochet. I ask those opposite: What would they have done in Chile in September 1973 to prevent it from becoming a brutal Communist state like Cuba?

H/T Catallaxy Files


  1. Julie near Chicago says:

    Excellent posting, Cats. The gentleman understands the truth, or at least my understanding of it. Allende wanted Cuba for Chile, and Pinochet did not.

    From what I’ve read, under the Pinochet regime you might have been hungry and miserable while the economy got sorted out, but as long as you stayed out of politics you had little to fear from the regime itself. (I don’t mean corrupt cops — those will always be with us, like the common cold*.)

    I think that has not been the experience in countries that were under Communist rule.

    *Which can sometimes be deadly. The simile does not trivialize Corrupt Cop Syndrome.

  2. Mr Ed says:

    Superb post and great that an MP is saying it. General Leigh of the Junta was a better man than Pinochet even that rag pays him unintentional compliments. However, Pinochet’s actions were in effect, self-defence and defence of others.

    General Matthei of the FACH, the Air Force junta member in 1982 did all he could to ensure that Argentina lost the Falklands War, for which he and his fellows were branded as acting ‘like pigs’ by Menendez, Gauleiter in the Islands, despite Argentina planning war with Chile over the Beagle Channel after the Falklands (and in 1978).

    Why do the Left hate Pinochet? Because he won, and he ruined their daydream paradise: Yugoslavia in the 50s, Cuba in the 60s, Chile in the 70s, Nicaragua in the 80s, the 90s were spoilt by the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and then the USSR.

    There was nowhere for the Left to project psychopathic hatred of humanity onto an exotic stage where murder for equality could be exalted, and being a murderous scumbag suddenly became dangerous. How horrid of Pinochet to have joined and then led the coup to kill the Marxian beast before it killed him.

  3. john in cheshire says:

    General Pinochet is one of my heroes. And he voluntarily stepped down once he had defeated the communist enemies and left a stable and prosperous country in place of the communist destruction. We, here in England, need a General Pinochet for the same reasons that Chile needed him.

  4. Mr Ed says:

    John, I would not put my faith in any British General, who would have risen through the Blairmacht by demonstrating the ‘right’ attitude.

    Mr Farage’s programme would be a good start, to dismantle the MoD to get rid of some waste. Replicate that in every town hall, police force, nhs board, fire authority etc. scrap every quango, abolish the Bank of England*, restore Parliamentary sovereignty as a political reality and make the curent ruling class unemployed and default on their pensions, and you might avert economic disaster.

    * i am torn between evacuating the building and making it a hotel/club/museum of inflation or dropping a Tallboy on it from 40,000 ft using a Vulcan and leaving a huge pile of rubble in the City as a warning. With the BoE gone, the City would in any event turn into a Poundshop wasteland like many a British town far from the monetary bubble now is.

  5. Paul Marks says:

    The principle economic mistake of the Pinochet government was rigging (“fixing”) the exchange rate -this led to economic crack-up of 1982. Nothing to do with the Chicago School – Milton Friedman always OPPOSED rigged exchange rates. But then (contrary to the mythology of the left) Milton Friedman was never an adviser to the military government in Chile. He went to Chile and spoke to a private foundation – and got savagely attacked by the left (for years) for doing so. Yet (in the same year) Milton Friedman visited Mao’s China and spoke to a GOVERNMENT organised conference (a regime that had murdered tens of millions of human beings) – and international “liberal” opinion never made any protest over this visit.

    Let us examine the “liberal” opposition to the democratically elected government of Chile now (Pinochet resigned after losing a public vote in 1989 – yet to hear the left one would think he was still in charge).

    The “liberal” student movement (so lionised by the BBC and so on) turns out to have some odd demands.

    Not just more money for government schools and universities (the government offered that), but also a ban on private education, (totalitarianism) and a ban even on choice and local autonomy in the state education system – a centralised government controlled system. This proposed totalitarian system for education is to serve as a model for society as a whole – this is what these “liberals” (who are not liberals at all) want.

    No surprise – as the leader of the “liberal” student movement turns out to be a member of the Communist Party (and the other socialist parties are also, if one bothers to check, dominated by Marxist doctrine).

    The opposition in Chile is NOT about opposing Pinochet – he resigned after losing the vote in 1989 and has been dead for years. The opposition in Chile is about setting up a totalitarian socialist state.

  6. CountingCats says:

    “We, here in England, need a General Pinochet for the same reasons that Chile needed him.”

    No we do not.

  7. Mr Ed says:

    Cats, agreed, all that we need in the UK is to repeal some totalitarian laws (e.g. the Public Sector Equality duty, the National Assistance Act) reform the legal system to assert the rule of law and cheapen justice, and to cut all spending on the parasitic class of bureaucrats, quangocrats, fake charities, Arts courses etc. in Universities, wastrels, criminals etc. leave the EU and freeze the monetary base.

    The whole process would cause enormous economic and political dislocation and many losers, but in the long run, prosperity might spread through the land after some mob violence from the Left.

    Or when the State goes bust, some of the above will happen in a less-controlled fashion de facto if not de jure.

  8. Sam Duncan says:

    “We, here in England, need a General Pinochet for the same reasons that Chile needed him.”

    No we do not.

    No. Indeed, that’s the whole point. Allende was such a communist bastard that Chile did need another, lesser, bastard to sort things out. Bad as things may be here, they aren’t even close to being that bad.

    If we were really to follow the Chilean example, what we’d want is a libertarian-minded person with the cunning and political brass-neck-ery of a Blair. The sort of person that certain Tories swore blind that Cameron was before he was actually elected, in fact.

    Good speech. I don’t pay much attention any more, but as far as I’m aware, the BBC still routinely attaches the words “social democrat” to Allende’s name as if they were a part of it. That’s one of the reasons I don’t pay much attention any more, come to think of it.

  9. mactheknife says:

    “Indeed, the Left’s moral position is basically one of placing one’s own sensibilities before the requirements of survival.”

    Or, more accurately I feel:

    Indeed, the Left’s moral position is basically one of placing one’s own sensibilities before the requirements of other peoples’ survival.

  10. john in cheshire says:

    General Pinochet was a reset button for Chile. We, in England, need a reset button.

  11. Julie near Chicago says:

    Cheshire, Good clarification. Should you find an extra one somewhere– :>)

  12. CountingCats says:

    I cannot see any reason why any democrat would approve of Pinochet’s approach, or why they would wish to see it emulated. Allende may have been a marxist thug who was intent on subverting the Chilean constitution and the rule of law, It may have been legitimate to remove him, but to express admiration for the harsh steps taken by Pinochet, in the years following the coup shows a mindset I don’t share.

  13. Julie near Chicago says:

    I don’t think anyone here has expressed “admiration” for Pinochet. But he was not a psychopathic monster like most any Communist dictator I can think of, or the non-Communist but still highly psychopathic dictators such as Saddam Hussein.

  14. CountingCats says:


    I disagree, but, ok, approval then. In fact, anything bar condemnation. Pinochet may not have been as bad as Allende, he may even have been a cure to him, but once Allende was gone I still don’t wish Pinochets approach on anyone.

  15. Julie near Chicago says:

    Here’s Dr. Friedman explaining the extent and kind of his involvement with Chile. Unfortunately,, the uploader, as usual fails to state when the interview occurred, and when it was broadcast. To my mind this stuff is a huge fail.

  16. Julie near Chicago says:

    He was no Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro. Nor Saddam Hussein. If the choice was between living in a country run by one whose hero was Castro and who aimed to turn Chile into Cuba, and a garden-variety-type Enforcer, I would much prefer the Enforcer.

    Again, no one said he was a “good” man, but only that he did manage to bring peace and prosperity to Chile, and then stepped down when somebody else won an election. It seems to me we all agree with the first sentence of your posting.

  17. Julie near Chicago says:

    If anyone’s interested, I found this series of short videos put up by the Atlas Network: “Chile’s Economic Transformation,” which sketches how some students from the Catholic University of Chile went to The University of Chicago to study econ there, and the results when these “Chicago boys” were able to help to resuscitate Chile’s economy after the coup.

    Part 1, “Planting the Seed of Ideas”
    Part 2, “An Economy Gone Mad”
    Part 3, “Putting Policy in Place”
    Part 4, “Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Future”

  18. Paul Marks says:

    It is useful to remember that Saddam Hussain was a life long socialist – although not a Marxist.

    As for the old question of whether democracies can reform themselves……

    Well our problems are much more serious than most people seem to accept.

    Even in Chile the jury is out.

    The socialists (presently in the lead in the polls) have pledged not to accept the Pinochet Constitution (as they did when they, with the Christian Democrats, were last in power a few years ago) – and to go for unlimited Statism (like so much of Latin America).

    The forces of “Social Justice” will be not be denied – their desires are unlimited.

    And they are no different in Britain.

  19. Paul Marks says:

    Sulla died thinking he had saved the Roman Republic.

    He had got rid of welfare (the “free bread” that was threatening freedom), and handed power back to the Senate (which was made up of people who had been elected to a high office in the Republic and had served their term).

    Yet within a few years of the death of Sulla, the free bread had returned (restored by Pompey I believe) – and the demands for conquests (in order to fund the various payments by which successful “Populari” bought office – they had to invade places because they had no money of their own to finance elections with, the “Optimate” old landowning class were uninterested in taking over Gaul and so on)

    Soon coins with the word “Libertas” on them showed a loaf of bread – free bread, not freedom (the end of the Republic).

    Sulla had saved nothing – his killings had prevented nothing.

    What matters is what people believe – their basic core principles.

    Killing a few thousand Reds does not alter that – indeed it may even turn them into martyrs.

    What matters is changing what people BELIEVE – destroying the faith in “Social Justice”.

  20. Julie near Chicago says:

    Very true.

    Still, there are interims (if that’s what they are–one is, after all, entitled to be gloomy) — interims of improvement at least — and that’s important to notice, and remember, and understand.

    As for Chile … at least the Chileans were blessed with a second chance.

    And, of course, the jury is also still out on the U.S.

  21. says:

    Julie – the Cloward and Piven approach (really an adaptation of much older political tactics that are as old as Pericles) is to get so many people dependent upon government that “reaction” (i.e. the roll back of the state) is not possible – as more voters are tax eaters than are (net) tax payers.

    Already this may be close to being the case in the United States and many other Western nations.

    The possible counter to Cloward and Piven approach (i.e. the OBAMA approach – for one of his mentors was Francis Fox Piven) is that of former Prime Minister Harris of Ontario.

    Harris got government employees and even welfare dependents to vote him – to vote for CUTTING THEIR OWN BENEFITS.

    He did this by bluntly telling them that the alternative was bankruptcy and breakdown.

  22. Julie near Chicago says:

    Good luck with finding somebody with enough brass to try that here. –Oh wait, good luck with finding enough GOP’ers with the sense, the money, and the chutzpah to get behind said Brassy One and get him or her nominated.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: