No, this 9/11 is not the attack on the twin towers. This 9/11 was in 1973 in Chile when Pinochet and the CIA launched a coup d’etat against the democratically elected presidency of Salvador Allende and for nearly twenty years imposed a vicious programme of neoliberalism.
Essentially, the Pinochet regime turned Chile into a laboratory for experimenting with the ideas of Friedrich Hayek. Hayek was primarily an economist, but his economic liberalism forced him into political philosophy. As thousands of trade unionists and leftists were tortured and murdered, Hayek was writing to The Times to defend the coup.
“I have not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet that it had been under Allende” he wrote.
He should have got out more. But his small circle was convinced that democracy was an irrelevance. The free market, he wrote, is ‘indispensable for individual freedom … the ballot box is not.’ Small though the circle was and is, this conviction was and is powerful and influential.
Hayek and Pinochet were, of course, both friends of Thatcher, who carried a Hayek manual in her famous handbag. Hayek wrote to her complaining of the slow progress of neoliberalism in the UK, comparing it with the ‘achievements’ in a short space of time in Chile.
We are nearly half a century on and neoliberalism is still hegemonic, although the term itself is not. Its adherents are in denial. Although I have never heard Sunak use the term in public, he is on record as stating that he emphatically favours Hayek over Keynes. And of there is the odious Nick Cohen in a column published in The Observer on the Sunday before the second round of polling in Chile, claiming that not Blair, not Cameron, not even Thatcher herself, were neoliberals.
In his victory speech, Gabriel Boric told us that ‘If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave’.
I profoundly hope so. For Chile, Latin America, and the rest of the world.
Today from the everysmith vaults: I have been revisiting the Airplane and subsequently the Starship. I think the prompt was a proposed live performance of Blows Against the Empire, which is where I started this morning. The mono version of Surrealistic Pillow followed, then Crown of Creation, and right now the final Airplane show at Winterland in August 1972. Love anything with Papa john Creach.