September 11, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the left’s 9/11 world-historical catastrophe: the day Chile’s aspiring Communist dictator Salvador Allende was deposed in a military coup. Needless to say the left has always seen the deft hand of Nixon, Kissinger, and the CIA behind the event, and while it is certainly true the Nixon Administration was hostile to Allende’s proto-Communist regime, subsequent history ought to disabuse everyone that our national security apparatus is competent to bring off such an operation in the absence of considerable indigenous support.*
In any case, the left works overtime to make Allende a martyr to Western Cold War imperialism and colonialism, and the anniversary this year shows that anti-anti-Communism is still very much alive, even if the Soviet Union isn’t.
And so we see a lugubrious article in the current issue of the New York Review of Books from Ariel Dorfman entitled “Defending Allende.” It is not worth going through the whole thing in any detail. Two excerpts suffice. First, Dorfman tells us:
Ever since he had won the presidency three years earlier with 36.6 percent of the vote in a three-way race, forces from inside and outside the country had been conspiring to destroy his attempt—the first in world history—to build a socialist state through nonviolent, democratic means.
No sentient being over the age of six believes you can build socialism through “nonviolent, democratic means.” Had Allende survived and consolidated his rule, Chile would have become Venezuela 40 years before Venezuela went down the socialist road of economic incompetence, rigged elections, and authoritarian rule. In fact Dorfman’s narrative unwittingly reveals this future:
Not all of Allende’s problems came from the foes to his right. Even before his victory in 1970, many left-wing militants had viewed with suspicion his confidence that he could use the bourgeois legal system to achieve radical change. That was only possible, they claimed, if total power was in the hands of the working class and its revolutionary vanguard, which would mean an inevitable confrontation with the military.
Second, Dorfman invokes Naomi Klein’s surprisingly popular but economically idiotic “shock doctrine” thesis:
Chile became a laboratory for Milton Friedman’s neoliberalism. The new regime applied the pain of “shock therapy” to a captive land. Instead of a shining example of a country that could peacefully aspire to a radically just social order, we were turned into a model of extreme free market economics that was imitated around the world.
Dorfman supplies a footnote:
By the end of the decade Margaret Thatcher was imposing this experiment on her country, and soon thereafter it was Ronald Reagan’s turn.
“Imposing.” Let’s see: Reagan won two of the largest landslides in American history, and Thatcher also enjoyed two landslide re-elections in the mid-1980s. Popular consent of that magnitude can hardly called “imposing” a policy, especially when compared to a self-proclaimed “revolutionary” who only got 36 percent of the vote.
And as for that “experiment,” we can see some clear results, given that Venezuela decided to embrace the Allende model:
* Mary Anastasia O’Grady reports in her weekly Wall Street Journal column:
But Central Intelligence Agency briefings for President Richard Nixon, declassified last month, suggest that the agency wasn’t informed ahead of time about the military’s decision to move against Allende. “Although military officers are increasingly determined to restore political and economic order, they may still lack an effectively coordinated plan that would capitalize on the widespread civilian opposition,” the CIA told Nixon on the morning of Sept. 11.