Over on the Chicago Boyz Forum, Joseangel has posted this interesting note on an apparent opportunity for the Right in Latin American politics.
Commenter Joseangel left an extremely informative comment in response to this post. I am reposting his comment in its entirety below, because I think it deserves its own post. It also relates to earlier posts (here, and especially here) here on Pinochet and his fight against socialist government in Chile.
(I have added Web links and corrected a few minor spelling errors.)
Comment on Frank Discussion of Diversity by joseangel
January 21, 2007
January 8th, 2007 at 8:05 pm
“Your second point – Are the Chinese a low or high-trust culture? The Vietnamese? I thought these were low-trust cultures, but they encourage assimilation of their youth. In my opinion, the biggest danger in current immigration isn’t societal trust, it’s anti-americanism. Mexicans (at least not the class that migrates here) are not pro-USA. They are pro-Mexico and unanimously think the USA got one over with TX/CA and that we are only rich now because illegals do all the work. If you didn’t speak Spanish, you probably wouldn’t experience this first hand, but I assure you it is the case. Combine the mexican anti-americanism with that of the left’s, throw in some “diversity” and we have a political trainwreck in the making.”
While it is true there is anti-Americanism in Mexico, it is not generalized to the whole country. In North Mexico the majority of the people do not hold the same anti-American feelings that some people in central Mexico do, although they might hold ignorant or misguided geopolitical views that resemble anti-Americanism, I cannot consider them as essentially anti-Americans.
In my opinion, Anti-Americanism in Mexico occurs mostly in Mexico City and for reasons other than territorial losses to the USA or even past interventions. One important reason being the fact that thousands of socialist Spaniards opposed to Franco’s regime and persecuted by his government found asylum in Mexico, these Spaniard immigrants were profoundly anti-American, professing a hate towards America, the likes of what we see today in Muslim fundamentalist, because of North American support for Franco and the cold war also.
These Spaniard refugees blended very well into the already Spanish rooted population of Mexico City who saw with anger how the Franco regime committed crimes and abuses in Spain, these refugees had a lot of political influence, they read Marx and Engels, and firmly believed in Communism, then they found jobs in Newspapers, Television, Universities and other institutions of Mexico, including government institutions sometimes (link).
Many of them got into movie making and helped create the Mexican movie industry, which reached its splendor in the sixties, a decade and half after their arrival. The Spanish immigration to Mexico did not stop but until the early 70s when Spain became a democracy and their economy begun to grow. But they brought their hatred towards the United States with them and spread it in Mexico City and of course it found a fertile soil in leftist movements in the city.
When Pinochet took power, many Chilean intellectuals arrived to Mexico and continued writing from here also, repeating the same process of anti Americanization, although Mexico also suffered from a dictatorial one party regime, it was considered a soft dictatorship, as opposed to the military regimes in Argentina, Chile and other south American countries. We also received many immigrants from Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay, where military dictatorships committed crimes and were, wrongly perhaps, linked to USA interests. All these immigrants came carrying a heavy bag of anti Americanism and normally settled in Mexico City.
Then there was the Cuban revolution, which also inspired many anti American feelings in the region, and Mexicans could not be denied from this important regional events. Castro became a hero in Mexico City and was received as one whenever he visited. The anti American seeds could not have a greater soil to grow.
All of these socialist and anti American influences flourished during the 50s and 60’s and by the 80’s, there were already several communist and socialist political parties and organizations in Mexico City and Central Mexico. They joined and created what today is the PRD.
But in North Mexico, the PAN a center right and catholic party and pro American had been advancing and fighting against the one party dictatorship for decades before the PRD was even created and they had made great democratic gains in Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and several other northern states.
In 2006, PAN won the most seats in Congress and the Senate, with 207 congressmen, followed by PRD with only 126 representatives. PAN has also won the last two presidential elections, the latest one very tight and controversial.
What this tells you is that Mexico can be hardly described as an anti American society. If only, we can say there are many who are and many other who are not.
Yes it is true that we have some hate spreaders in our society, La Jornada and Proceso are newspapers and magazines profoundly socialist and anti American but they are read in Mexico City, and are far from being the most read newspapers, which in Mexico City are El Universal, Reforma, and Milenio, the last two newspapers belong to corporations from north Mexico but actually dominate the newspaper industry in all Mexico and the most widely read by Mexicans in general, they are not anti American and tend to be very fair in the way they treat our relationship with the United States.
The problem is many Americans come to Mexico City and get to think it is the same all over the country, but I assure you it is not.
To end my point I would like to add that while there are some Chicano organizations that have repeatedly stated their radical ideas of returning CA/TX to Mexico, these are considered ridiculous in Mexico and have absolutely no ties just like the Black Panthers and the Black Nation ideas had no correspondence in Africa, the same occurs with these Chicano radical movements, they originated there and belong to a process of problems of immigrants in adapting to a new country.
Mexicans don’t even talk about those issues. It is history and our history books describe these states as part of the United States of America, holding no ridiculous claim whatsoever upon them.
For the most part, having many relatives in the USA who already proudly consider themselves Americans and having nephews and nieces participating in the armed forces of that great country, I cannot but reject the notion that Mexicans hold on to their national flags and state, but why would they? If my country did not give my brother or sister the opportunity to work and to live in dignity, why would I deny them their right to love and to adhere to great nation that has PROVIDED as our country hasn’t?
UPDATE: Joseangel provides additional information in the comments.
The Spanish Inquisition is the one event or institution of 16th-Century Europe that everyone today knows of even if they know of nothing else of that era. Most people believe that we remember the Spanish Inquisition 400 years later because it represented a particularly brutal event in world history.
Most people are wrong.
Prior to circa 1800, every culture or society used torture as both a means of investigation and punishment for all types of crimes, whether civil, political or religious. As a rule, however, only members of the powerless and poor classes actually got tortured. Most cultures held the idea of torturing members of the upper classes to be almost unthinkable. The Spanish Inquisition broke this rule. The Spanish Inquisition had next to nothing to do with religion. Its true purpose was to destroy the political enemies of the Spanish crown and to confiscate or extort wealth. To that end, it tortured the noble and the wealthy and thereby shocked the conscious of Europe. Had the Spanish Inquisition stuck to torturing the poor and common like the Inquisition in other regions, we would not remember it today.
The Spanish Inquisition burned itself into the collective conscious of the world not due to its use of torture but due to the value that the culture of the day placed on the class of the people tortured. Even though most religions believed all human life to be of the same value, few put that belief into practice. Most people viscerally believed that some groups of people were morally exempt from facing torture. Elitism ruled the cultures of the time.
So what does it say about our culture today that some of us place a much higher value on the lives of some groups of people than they do on others?
One can hardly find an individual more passionately hated by the Left than the recently deceased Augusto Pinochet of Chile. Leftists say that they justifiably single out Pinochet for special opprobrium due to the uniquely vile nature of his actions. After all, he overthrew a democratically elected government, killed 3,000 people and tortured thousands more.
Yet, this explanation rings false. When you see an angry mob take after a petty thief while ignoring the blood soaked serial killer standing next to him, you know immediately that something other than outrage at the degree of the crime drives the mob. Pinochet was a minor villain by any measure. Why then did the mob hound him until his death while ignoring others with far more blood on their hands?
Pinochet did kill and torture but not to such a degree as to earn a special place in history. Sad to say, but by any objective measure Pinochet ranks far down on the list of murderous 3rd-world leaders of the post-WWII era. He wouldn’t even make it into the top 100 killers. Across the border, in Argentina, the military junta killed over 20,000 in the same era and the generals in Brazil 2 or 3 times that many, but few people today remember them at all. Even more damning, the same people who condemn Pinochet actively applaud people far more brutal. Castro murdered 13,000 Cubans, tens of thousands of Africans and nearly triggered a nuclear war, yet leftists still literally give him standing ovations in forums all around the world. Yassir Arafat’s war crimes were very, very public and very unambiguous yet no one threatened to arrest him when he traveled to Europe for medical care.
Looking back with 30 years’ hindsight we can perhaps forgive the leftists of the time for buying into the myth of Allende’s regime. Uncritical adulation of socialist states was part of the zeitgeist of the era. The degree of bloodshed in other, similar countries wasn’t yet widely known, so Pinochet might have stood out at the time. But that doesn’t explain why Pinochet still today occupies a special place of hatred in the minds of many leftists.
I think Pinochet stands out in the history of the 20th Century for the same reason that the Spanish Inquisition stood out in 16th: Pinochet killed those perceived to belong to a protected class. Unlike other right-wing dictators (and their opposites on the Left), Pinochet didn’t kill people largely at random or by quota just to spread terror. He targeted those believed to be part of the extreme-leftist leadership. He cut the head off the snake. Unfortunately for his place in history, that group included several hundred foreigners, mostly from western Europe.
Many Marxists from around the world flocked to Allende’s Chile so they could play at being revolutionaries. They tended to be the most politically radical. They didn’t want to muck about with bourgeois baggage like democracy and the rule of law. They gravitated towards those factions within Allende’s coalition which advocated immediate, violent revolution. When Pinochet decided to wipe out the radical leadership, foreigners were disproportionately represented in the body count.
Until that time, 1st-world Marxist intellectuals expected to be able to travel anywhere and do or say anything and be able to skate away scot-free. They thought of themselves not only as intellectually superior human beings but also as individuals endowed with a moral authority that made their persons inviolable. Most 3rd-world governments of all political persuasions just shipped off troublesome 1st-world foreigners, regardless of their complicity in any violence or subversion. Pinochet broke that rule.
Leftists reacted with outrage. Pinochet had not murdered nameless members of the “masses.” He had killed members of the new nobility, people just like the leftist intellectuals of Europe, and in many cases people they knew personally. To this day, virtually every news story on Pinochet contains a first-hand account from some 1st-world citizen who was either imprisoned himself or lost someone close to him. Like the upper classes of 16th-Century Europe, who saw themselves in the victims of the Spanish Inquisition, modern leftist intellectuals saw themselves in Pinochet’s victims. 1st-world leftists single Pinochet out for special venom because they believe he attacked them personally. It doesn’t matter that other rulers of other political persuasions killed far more; Pinochet killed members of the protected class.
In the end, Pinochet becomes a mirror that reflects the Left’s own dark heart. Leftists always portray themselves as altruistic, only concerned with the fates of the least powerful among us. Pinochet revealed their narcissism to the world. While he showed them to be no worse than the rest of us, he also showed them to be no better.
Perhaps on some level they understand that and hate him even more.
My friend Val Dorta originally published this outstanding historical essay on his blog in 2003. With the death of Augusto Pinochet, much attention is again being given to the Allende period, the military coup and the dictatorship that followed. I wanted to link again to Val’s essay but, unfortunately, his blog is no longer online. However, Val has graciously allowed me to republish his essay here, and I am honored to do so. – Jonathan
UPDATE: Google’s cached version of Val’s original post, with comments. (Thanks to the commenter who provided this link.)
UPDATE 2 (12/28/2014): The Google-cached version has disappeared from the Web, but Val’s original post is available via archive.org here.
The Allende Myth
The failed and tragic attempt by Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity at creating socialism in Chile in 1970-1973 has become a myth for the world left, presented as the possibility of a peaceful and democratic transition to socialism that was destroyed only because the almighty CIA acted as master puppeteer of the Chilean reaction. The myth reinforces itself; while the Cold War context is never mentioned, neither is the fact that the CIA’s workings are well documented whereas the Cuban and Soviet interventions are still mostly unknown. The Allende myth may be good for keeping the socialist faith alive, but it evidently contradicts the historical facts.
While Augusto Pinochet’s brutal post-coup repression and terrorism cannot be justified, it is essential to explain what led him and the Chilean armed forces to the fateful coup d’état, outside of the fantasy that had him bursting onto the democratic Chilean political scene on September 11, 1973 with readymade CIA orders to stop a beautiful, pacific and liberating socialist dream. For I have no doubts that if the Chilean Marxist experiment had ended in civil war, as it appeared to most observers at the time, it would have been an even greater tragedy or, had it ended as the totalitarian society it pointed to, it would have lasted much longer and would have brought Chileans much more suffering than Pinochet’s ugly but temporary dictatorship.
Michael Barone has a interesting post about the Brazilian election.
He notes state-by-state voting differences. Mr. Barone is of course renowned for his extraordinary knowledge of regional and local voting patterns, and their underlying ethno-cultural-religious-economic causative factors, primarily in the USA but also in Europe.
However as to Brazil, even the mighty Mr. Barone notes: “I’m not aware of the regional differences or issues that account for these very different results.”
Brazil is a large and increasingly important country about which many of us know nothing beyond “The Girl From Ipanema”. This situation really must be rectified.
Which writer knows all about Brazil? Who among our readers can give us a “five best books” list? Who is the David Hackett Fischer of Brazil? Is there a “Lusitania’s Seedlings”? If so, is it translated into English? Is there an Almanac of Brazilian Politics?
And in a similar vein, India is the world’s largest democracy. It is organized along federal lines, with state and national governments. Some of India’s states are bigger in size and population that European countries. It is going to be an increasingly major player in the world. And yet, and yet … I know too little about it. So, again, what are the best sources to make sense of Indian politics? A short book list? Websites? Especially on regional distinctions and the fundamentals of Indian politics.
We are going to need to pay more and more attention to these enormous and increasingly important democratic countries in the future.
Time to get educated.
(And please circulate this query to anyone who may have an answer it.)