Monday, February 25, 2008

Leave aside the extreme dubiousness of the proposition that Castro has, in fact, made his countrymen better off. This is like listening to those conservatives one occasionally encounters in the darker corners of the movement who drop gems such as "Well, I don't excuse Pinochet, but Chile wouldn't have a privatized social security system without him."
These "darker corners" apparently include the warrens of Mark Steyn...
But, on the passing of one of the great hate-figures of left-wing drawing-rooms, even those not quite as gung-ho for the old strongman as Peter Simple ought to acknowledge that [Pinochet] left his country much better than he found it.
...and Jonah Goldberg...
I THINK ALL intelligent, patriotic and informed people can agree: It would be great if the U.S. could find an Iraqi Augusto Pinochet... Pinochet's abuses helped create a civil society. Once the initial bloodshed subsided, Chile was no prison. Pinochet built up democratic institutions and infrastructure. And by implementing free-market reforms, he lifted the Chilean people out of poverty.
...and the Wall Street Journal...
[Pinochet] is responsible for the death and torture that occurred on his watch, but had Salvador Allende succeeded in turning Chile into another Cuba, many more might have died.

Late in life it emerged that he had probably stashed millions in personal bank accounts. But he also supported the free-market reforms that have made Chile prosperous and the envy of its neighbors.
...and... but why go on? While you have to go to history, entertainment figures, and blog commenters to find fulsome praise for Castro, you can find such praise for Pinochet right smack dab in the conservative political mainstream even after the old bastard croaked.

Is it a meaningful difference? The old commies certainly hold some romantic appeal for many liberals, and it's bleak fun to use Cuba to twit fans of American healthcare. But you'd have to dig pretty hard to find a liberal who'd really like to see more rather than fewer Communist dictatorships. As we have seen, on the right there are highly-placed commenters who don't even class the Pinochet regime as a failed experiment. They think it went just fine, and look forward to trying it again. Some kids may like to wear Che on their t-shirts, but when conservatives are opened, you shall find "authoritarian government" lying in their hearts.

UPDATE. A commenter points out that McArdle cross-posted to her own blog, where you will find a multitude of "darker corners" in comments.

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