Lessons in Liberty Podcast Episode 13, I talk a little about the “Chilean Miracle” and the Pinochet meme.
Welcome to episode 13 of the Lessons in Liberty Podcast, a show where we talk about matters relating to Austrian Economics, libertarian philosophy, and right-wing politics. The show notes are available at lessonsinliberty.net/episode13. You can listen to the show through the audio player in each blog post as well as iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher. Stitcher is an award-winning free app that let’s you listen to all your favorite shows, plus discover from 65,000+ news, entertainment and sports shows. Don’t have Stitcher? … Download it free today at Stitcher.com or in the app store.
So, I woke up this morning to a notification on Facebook that the page called “Fakertarians” had mentioned Lessons in Liberty in a post that read:
Apparently Lessons in Liberty believes that because the left worships authoritarians, libertarians should too.
accompanied by a screenshot of a post I made advertising a t-shirt design featuring Pinochet. I said in the caption:
The left wears Che Guevara t-shirts and fly the Soviet flag… Get yourself a Pinochet t-shirt here…
I think it goes without saying that it’s a stretch to suggest I worship authoritarians because I designed a shirt with Pinochet on it. I’ll go more into what happened in Chile later on, but here was my response to Fakertarians:
Pinochet was a general who prevented a communist takeover of the Chilean government, likely saving millions of lives from the brutality of communist regimes. I by no means worship him, but I like the statement it makes to people on the left. You can’t virtue-signal in a gulag or with a leftist boot on your face. I’m not going to cuck like the guys at Liberty Hangout.
To which someone responded:
Yeah, I think you left off the part of him having around ten thousand people detained, tortured, or murdered to possibly save [ insert random number ]
And I said:
Ok, so you’d rather have millions dead than a few thousand.
To which Fakertarians replied:
That sure sounds like utilitarianism as opposed to libertarianism…
Now, let’s pause for a minute and break this down. It’s really bizarre to me how libertarians appeal to libertarian principles and abstractions as if in a vacuum. This is why I call these people nihilists, because they don’t really accept objective reality and base their decisions on it. It’s one thing to advocate for libertarian principles, but to suggest that it’s wrong to prevent a communist takeover of your government because of a twisted understanding of libertarianism is insane to me. Am I being utilitarian rather than libertarian by wanting to prevent a communist takeover? I can’t think of anything less libertarian than allowing communists to take over your country and government. I call these people virtue-tarians because these people are addicted to the dopamine hit they get when they virtue-signal on social media. They’re no different from the leftists who get a dopamine hit by demanding entrance for refugees or free college for all. Humans are wired to crave acceptance from their in-group. And that’s just what these people do. They’re deluding themselves into thinking they’re doing something successful and meaningful when in reality they are just being nihilistic and they have nothing to offer the liberty movement with regard to actually moving the needle toward liberty.
Anyway, my response was:
Virtue-signaling rather than understanding that had he not intervened there would be countless lives lost and standards of living reduced indefinitely sounds like nihilism and r-selected dopamine seeking. You’d rather get that hit of dopamine from virtue-signaling than understand reality and how things turn out in the long run. You’re an enemy of western civilization.
By the way, rights must be reciprocated, so I’m not sure how you extend property rights to people who want to kill you and take over the government, but of course you’re low IQ high time preference and would rather virtue-signal
And then this gem of a comment from the geniuses at Fakertarians:
Standing up for libertarian principles is not virtue signaling. Would you decapitate 5000 infants if you thought it would end communism?
Dude, you’re so fucking stupid it’s not even funny. Decapitating babies and defending your country from a communist takeover are completely different and unrelated. Get a grip. Nihilism is a hell of a drug.
And then someone said:
“Lessons in Liberty” teaching a lesson about how a dictator throwing people out of a helicopter without a trial for thought crimes is actually protecting liberty. Are you gonna teach us about the glories of the patriot act next?
Right, because communists planning to takeover the state are just thoughts, not something they were actually acting upon in Chile… So, I said:
Wait, so is allowing communists to take over more conducive to liberty than throwing communists from helicopters?
And Fakertarians doubled down with their stupid question by saying:
There was a very precise reason for my question, which is to see if you’re willing to violate the NAP to fight communism. Would you decapitate 5000 infants if you thought it would end communism?
No, you dumbass. Seriously, you’re too low IQ to even discuss these things. I wouldn’t kill innocent babies to end communism (what an absurd question in the first place). I would, however, attempt to physically remove communists who attempt to take over the government and throw me in a gulag.
It should be pretty obvious that I can’t stand people like this. If you missed episode 12, you should listen to it because I talk about r versus K selection theory. R and K are 2 different reproductive strategies used by animals including humans. The strategy is genetic and epigenetic, so not necessarily a conscious thing. The main difference between the 2 is time preference. R-selected people on the left tend to have a higher time preference or a shorter time horizon whereas K-selected people on the right tend to have a lower time preference or a longer time horizon. So, here we are getting into personal things that most people don’t want to address. It’s clear to me that people like Fakertarians who seek out that immediate gratification of the dopamine hit they get from virtue-signaling, rather than looking at the big picture and the long-run, are too affected by their high time preference to have anything to offer in the realm of politics. In this way, these people are effectively controlled opposition to the people who want to reduce the size of the state.
Not only do these people have awful opinions regarding politics, but they don’t even have a viable political movement. The Democrats and Hillary Clinton weren’t afraid of libertarians during the 2016 election… they were afraid of Trump, the Alt-right, and White Nationalists. She wasn’t referring to libertarians when she said deplorables. Now, I’ve got some confessions to make. I pretty much was these people I’ve come to despise during the 2016 election. I was virtue-signaling against Trump, I was making nihilistic arguments against closed borders, and I ended up not voting though I donated a few bucks to the Johnson/Weld campaign which I very much regret. If I could go back in time, I’d probably vote for Trump because voting for Libertarians who can’t win really is a waste of a vote. Now, I’m not hesitant to criticize democracy and voting, but I’ve come to realize that by not voting, you’re only opening yourself up to your enemies winning an election. I’m a libertarian and an anarcho-capitalist, but pretending politics and the state doesn’t exist is a death sentence for libertarianism and Western Civilization. By twisting libertarian principles so that you disarm yourself, so to speak, you are only hurting yourself and the liberty movement. In this way, the libertarian movement is mostly a self-gratifying racket for activists and people with anti-authoritarian personalities.
To close out the show, I’m going to read a Mises blog article from 2006 by George Reisman titled, “General Augusto Pinochet Is Dead.” George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. Check out his website at www.capitalism.net.
On Sunday, December 10, General Augusto Pinochet of Chile died, at the age of 91. General Pinochet deserves to be remembered for having rescued his country from becoming the second Soviet satellite in the Western hemisphere, after Castro’s Cuba, and, like the Soviet Union, and Cuba under Castro, a totalitarian dictatorship.
The General is denounced again and again for the death or disappearance of over 3,000 Chilean citizens and the alleged torture of thousands more. It may well be that some substantial number of innocent Chilean citizens did die or disappear or otherwise suffered brutal treatment as the result of his actions. But in a struggle to avoid the establishment of a Communist dictatorship, it is undoubtedly true that many or most of those who died or suffered were preparing to inflict a far greater number of deaths and a vastly larger scale of suffering on their fellow citizens.
Their deaths and suffering should certainly not be mourned, any more than the deaths of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, and their helpers should be mourned. Had there been a General Pinochet in Russia in 1918 or Germany in 1933, the people of those countries and of the rest of the world would have been incomparably better off, precisely by virtue of the death, disappearance, and attendant suffering of vast numbers of Communists and Nazis. Life and liberty are positively helped by the death and disappearance of such mortal enemies. Their absence from the scene means the absence of such things as concentration camps, and is thus ardently to be desired.
As for the innocent victims in Chile, their fate should overwhelmingly be laid at the door of the Communist plotters of totalitarian dictatorship. People have an absolute right to rise up and defend their lives, liberty, and property against a Communist takeover. In the process, they cannot be expected to make the distinctions present in a judicial process. They must act quickly and decisively to remove what threatens them. That is the nature of war. The fate of innocent bystanders, largely those who cannot be readily distinguished from the enemy, is the responsibility of the Communists. Had they not attempted to impose their totalitarian dictatorship, there would not have been any need to use force and violence to prevent them, and thus the innocent would not have suffered.
Contrary to the attitude of so many of today’s intellectuals, Communists do not have a right to murder tens of millions of innocent people and then to complain when their intended victims prevent their takeover and in the process kill some of them.
General Pinochet was undoubtedly no angel. No soldier can be. But he certainly was also no devil. In fact, if any comparison applies, it may well be one drawn from antiquity, namely, that of Cincinnatus, who saved the Roman Republic by temporarily becoming its dictator. Like Cincinnatus, General Pinochet voluntarily relinquished his dictatorship. He did so after both preventing a Communist takeover and imposing major pro-free-market reforms, inspired largely by Milton Friedman (who in large part was himself inspired by Ludwig von Mises). The effect of these reforms was to make Chile’s the most prosperous and rapidly progressing economy in Latin America, Thereafter, in the words of his New York Times’—largely hostile—obituary, he used his remaining power to “set limits, for example, on economic policy debates with frequent warnings that he would not tolerate a return to statist measures.”
General Pinochet was thus one of the most extraordinary dictators in history, a dictator who stood for major limits on the power of the state, who imposed such limits, and who sought to maintain such limits after voluntarily giving up his dictatorship.
When General Pinochet stepped down, he did so with a guarantee of immunity from prosecution for his actions while in power. However, the present and previous regime in Chile violated this agreement and sought to ensnare the General in a web of legal actions and law suits, making the last years of his life a period of turmoil. This was a clear violation of contract, comparable to the seizure of property in violation of contract. Not surprisingly the regimes in question were avowedly socialist. As a result of their breach, it is now considerably less likely that the world will soon see any other dictator voluntarily relinquish his power. The Chilean socialists will have taught him that to be secure, he must remain in power until he dies.
Dictatorship, like war, is always an evil. Like war, it can be justified only when it is necessary to prevent a far greater evil, namely, as in this case, the imposition of the far more comprehensive and severe, permanent totalitarian dictatorship of the Communists.
Despite the fact that General Pinochet was able to use his powers as dictator to enact major pro-free-market reforms, dictatorship should never be seen as justified merely as a means of instituting such reforms, however necessary and desirable they may be. Dictatorship is the most dangerous of political institutions and easily produces catastrophic results. This is because a dictator is not restrained by any need for public discussion and debate and thus can easily leap headlong into disasters that would have been avoided had there been the freedom to criticize his proposed actions and to oppose them. And even when his policies may be right, the fact that they are imposed in defiance of public opinion operates greatly to add to their unpopularity and thus to make permanent change all the more difficult.
On the basis of such considerations, when asked many years ago what he would do if he were appointed dictator, von Mises replied, “I would resign.”