C.11 Doesn't Chile prove that the free market benefits everyone?

This is a common right-wing "Libertarian" argument, one which is supported by many other supporters of "free market" capitalism. Milton Friedman, for example, stated that Pinochet "has supported a fully free-market economy as a matter of principle. Chile is an economic miracle." [Newsweek, Jan, 1982] This viewpoint is also commonplace in the more mainstream right, with US President George Bush praising the Chilean economic record in 1990 when he visited that country.

General Pinochet was the figure-head of a military coup in 1973 against the democratically elected left-wing government led by President Allende, a coup which the CIA helped organise. Thousands of people were murdered by the forces of "law and order" during the coup and Pinochet's forces "are conservatively estimated to have killed over 11 000 people in his first year in power." [P. Gunson, A. Thompson, G. Chamberlain, The Dictionary of Contemporary Politics of South America, Routledge, 1989, p. 228]

The installed police state's record on human rights was denounced as barbaric across the world. However, we will ignore the obvious contradiction in this "economic miracle", i.e. why it almost always takes authoritarian/fascistic states to introduce "economic liberty," and concentrate on the economic facts of the free-market capitalism imposed on the Chilean people.

Working on a belief in the efficiency and fairness of the free market, Pinochet desired to put the laws of supply and demand back to work, and set out to reduce the role of the state and also cut back inflation. He, and "the Chicago Boys" -- a group of free-market economists -- thought what had restricted Chile's growth was government intervention in the economy -- which reduced competition, artificially increased wages, and led to inflation. The ultimate goal, Pinochet once said, was to make Chile "a nation of entrepreneurs."

The role of the Chicago Boys cannot be understated. They had a close relationship with the military from 1972, and according to one expert had a key role in the coup:

"In August of 1972 a group of ten economists under the leadership of de Castro began to work on the formulation of an economic programme that would replace [Allende's one]. . . In fact, the existence of the plan was essential to any attempt on the part of the armed forces to overthrow Allende as the Chilean armed forces did not have any economic plan of their own." [Silvia Bortzutzky, "The Chicago Boys, social security and welfare in Chile", The Radical Right and the Welfare State, Howard Glennerster and James Midgley (eds.), p. 88]

It is also interesting to note that "[a]ccording to the report of the United States Senate on covert actions in Chile, the activities of these economists were financed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)" [Bortzutzky, Op. Cit., p. 89]

Obviously some forms of state intervention were more acceptable than others.

The actual results of the free market policies introduced by the dictatorship were far less than the "miracle" claimed by Friedman and a host of other "Libertarians." The initial effects of introducing free market policies in 1975 was a shock-induced depression which resulted in national output falling buy 15 percent, wages sliding to one-third below their 1970 level and unemployment rising to 20 percent. [Elton Rayack, Not so Free to Choose, p. 57] This meant that, in per capita terms, Chile's GDP only increased by 1.5% per year between 1974-80. This was considerably less than the 2.3% achieved in the 1960's. The average growth in GDP was 1.5% per year between 1974 and 1982, which was lower than the average Latin American growth rate of 4.3% and lower than the 4.5% of Chile in the 1960's. Between 1970 and 1980, per capita GDP grew by only 8%, while for Latin America as a whole, it increased by 40%. Between the years 1980 and 1982 during which all of Latin America was adversely affected by depression conditions, per capita GDP fell by 12.9 percent, compared to a fall of 4.3 percent for Latin America as a whole. [Op. Cit., p. 64]

In 1982, after 7 years of free market capitalism, Chile faced yet another economic crisis which, in terms of unemployment and falling GDP was even greater than that experienced during the terrible shock treatment of 1975. Real wages dropped sharply, falling in 1983 to 14 percent below what they had been in 1970. Bankruptcies skyrocketed, as did foreign debt and unemployment. [Op. Cit., p. 69] By 1983, the Chilean economy was devastated and it was only by the end of 1986 that Gross Domestic Product per capita (barely) equalled that of 1970. [Thomas Skidmore and Peter Smith, "The Pinochet Regime", pp. 137-138, Modern Latin America]

Faced with this massive collapse of a "free market regime designed by principled believers in a free market" (to use Milton Friedman's words from an address to the "Smith Centre," a conservative Think Tank at Cal State entitled "Economic Freedom, Human Freedom, Political Freedom") the regime organised a massive bailout. The "Chicago Boys" resisted this measure until the situation become so critical that they could not avoid it. The IMF offered loans to Chile to help it out of mess its economic policies had helped create, but under strict conditions. The total bailout cost 3 per cent of Chile's GNP for three years, a cost which was passed on to the taxpayers. This follows the usual pattern of "free market" capitalism -- market discipline for the working class, state aid for the elite. During the "miracle," the economic gains had been privatised; during the crash the burden for repayment was socialised.

The Pinochet regime did reduce inflation, from around 500% at the time of the CIA-backed coup (given that the US undermined the Chilean economy -- "make the economy scream", Richard Helms, the director of the CIA -- high inflation would be expected), to 10% by 1982. From 1983 to 1987, it fluctuated between 20 and 31%. The advent of the "free market" led to reduced barriers to imports "on the ground the quotas and tariffs protected inefficient industries and kept prices artificially high. The result was that many local firms lost out to multinational corporations. The Chilean business community, which strongly supported the coup in 1973, was badly affected." [Skidmore and Smith, Op. Cit.]

The decline of domestic industry had cost thousands of better-paying jobs. The ready police repression made strikes and other forms of protest both impractical and dangerous. According to a report by the Roman Catholic Church 113 protesters had been killed during social protest against the economic crisis of the early 1980s, with several thousand detained for political activity and protests between May 1983 and mid-1984. Thousands of strikers were also fired and union leaders jailed. [Rayack, Op. Cit., p. 70] The law was also changed to reflect the power property owners have over their wage slaves and the "total overhaul of the labour law system [which] took place between 1979 and 1981. . . aimed at creating a perfect labour market, eliminating collective bargaining, allowing massive dismissal of workers, increasing the daily working hours up to twelve hours and eliminating the labour courts." [Silvia Borzutzky, Op. Cit., p. 91] Little wonder, then, that this favourable climate for business operations resulted in generous lending by international finance institutions.

By far the hardest group hit was the working class, particularly the urban working class. By 1976, the third year of Junta rule, real wages had fallen to 35% below their 1970 level. It was only by 1981 that they has risen to 97.3% of the 1970 level, only to fall again to 86.7% by 1983. Unemployment, excluding those on state make-work programmes, was 14.8% in 1976, falling to 11.8% by 1980 (this is still double the average 1960's level) only to rise to 20.3% by 1982. [Rayack, Op. Cit., p. 65]. Unemployment (including those on government make-work programmes) had risen to a third of the labour force by mid-1983. By 1986, per capita consumption was actually 11% lower than the 1970 level. [Skidmore and Smith, Op. Cit.] Between 1980 and 1988, the real value of wages grew only 1.2 percent while the real value of the minimum wage declined by 28.5 percent. During this period, urban unemployment averaged 15.3 percent per year. [Silvia Bortzutzky, Op. Cit., p. 96] Even by 1989 the unemployment rate was still at 10% (the rate in 1970 was 5.7%) and the real wage was still 8% lower than in 1970. Between 1975 and 1989, unemployment averaged 16.7%. In other words, after nearly 15 years of free market capitalism, real wages had still not exceeded their 1970 levels and unemployment was still higher. As would be expected in such circumstances the share of wages in national income fell from 42.7% in 1970 to 33.9% in 1993. Given that high unemployment is often attributed by the right to strong unions and other labour market "imperfections," these figures are doubly significant as the Chilean regime, as noted above, reformed the labour market to improve its "competitiveness."

Another consequence of Pinochet's neo-classical monetarist policies "was a contraction of demand, since workers and their families could afford to purchase fewer goods. The reduction in the market further threatened the business community, which started producing more goods for export and less for local consumption. This posed yet another obstacle to economic growth and led to increased concentration of income and wealth in the hands of a small elite." [Skidmore and Smith, Op. Cit.]

It is the increased wealth of the elite that we see the true "miracle" of Chile. According to one expert in the Latin American neo-liberal revolutions, the elite "had become massively wealthy under Pinochet" and when the leader of the Christian Democratic Party returned from exile in 1989 he said that economic growth that benefited the top 10 per cent of the population had been achieved (Pinochet's official institutions agreed). [Duncan Green, The Silent Revolution, p. 216, Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy, p. 231] In 1980, the richest 10% of the population took in 36.5% of the national income. By 1989, this had risen to 46.8%. By contrast, the bottom 50% of income earners saw their share fall from 20.4% to 16.8% over the same period. Household consumption followed the same pattern. In 1970, the top 20% of households had 44.5% of consumption. This rose to 51% in 1980 and to 54.6% in 1989. Between 1970 and 1989, the share going to the other 80% fell. The poorest 20% of households saw their share fall from 7.6% in 1970 to 4.4% in 1989. The next 20% saw their share fall from 11.8% to 8.2%, and middle 20% share fell from 15.6% to 12.7%. The next 20% share their share of consumption fall from 20.5% to 20.1%.

Thus the wealth created by the Chilean economy in during the Pinochet years did not "trickle down" to the working class (as claimed would happen by "free market" capitalist dogma) but instead accumulated in the hands of the rich. As in the UK and the USA, with the application of "trickle down economics" there was a vast skewing of income distribution in favour of the already-rich. That is, there has been a 'trickle-up' (or rather, a flood upwards). Which is hardly surprising, as exchanges between the strong and weak will favour the former (which is why anarchists support working class organisation and collective action to make us stronger than the capitalists).

In the last years of Pinochet's dictatorship, the richest 10 percent of the rural population saw their income rise by 90 per cent between 1987 and 1990. The share of the poorest 25 per cent fell from 11 per cent to 7 per cent. [Duncan Green, Op. Cit., p. 108] The legacy of Pinochet's social inequality could still be found in 1993, with a two-tier health care system within which infant mortality is 7 per 1000 births for the richest fifth of the population and 40 per 1000 for the poorest 20 per cent. [Ibid., p. 101]

Per capita consumption fell by 23% from 1972-87. The proportion of the population below the poverty line (the minimum income required for basic food and housing) increased from 20% to 44.4% between 1970 and 1987. Per capita health care spending was more than halved from 1973 to 1985, setting off explosive growth in poverty-related diseases such as typhoid, diabetes and viral hepatitis. On the other hand, while consumption for the poorest 20% of the population of Santiago dropped by 30%, it rose by 15% for the richest 20%. [Noam Chomsky, Year 501, pp. 190-191] The percentage of Chileans without adequate housing increased from 27 to 40 percent between 1972 and 1988, despite the claims of the government that it would solve homelessness via market friendly policies.

In the face of these facts, only one line of defence is possible on the Chilean "Miracle" -- the level of economic growth. While the share of the economic pie may have dropped for most Chileans, the right argue that the high economic growth of the economy meant that they were receiving a smaller share of a bigger pie. We will ignore the well documented facts that the level of inequality, rather than absolute levels of standards of living, has most effect on the health of a population and that ill-health is inversely correlated with income (i.e. the poor have worse health that the rich). We will also ignore other issues related to the distribution of wealth, and so power, in a society (such as the free market re-enforcing and increasing inequalities via "free exchange" between strong and weak parties, as the terms of any exchange will be skewed in favour of the stronger party, an analysis which the Chilean experience provides extensive evidence for with its "competitive" and "flexible" labour market). In other words, growth without equality can have damaging effects which are not, and cannot be, indicated in growth figures.

So we will consider the claim that the Pinochet regime's record on growth makes it a "miracle" (as nothing else could). However, when we look at the regime's growth record we find that it is hardly a "miracle" at all -- the celebrated economic growth of the 1980s must be viewed in the light of the two catastrophic recessions which Chile suffered in 1975 and 1982. As Edward Herman points out, this growth was "regularly exaggerated by measurements from inappropriate bases (like the 1982 trough)." [The Economics of the Rich]

This point is essential to understand the actual nature of Chile's "miracle" growth. For example, supporters of the "miracle" pointed to the period 1978 to 1981 (when the economy grew at 6.6 percent a year) or the post 1982- 84 recession up-swing,. However, this is a case of "lies, damn lies, and statistics" as it does not take into account the catching up an economy goes through as it leaves a recession. During a recovery, laid-off workers go back to work and the economy experiences an increase in growth due to this. This means that the deeper the recession, the higher the subsequent growth in the up-turn. So to see if Chile's economic growth was a miracle and worth the decrease in income for the many, we need to look at whole business cycle, rather than for the upturn. If we do this we find that Chile had the second worse rate of growth in Latin America between 1975 and 1980. The average growth in GDP was 1.5% per year between 1974 and 1982, which was lower than the average Latin American growth rate of 4.3% and lower than the 4.5% of Chile in the 1960's.

Looking at the entire Pinochet era we discover that only by 1989 -- 14 years into the free-market policies - did per capita output climb back up to the level of 1970. Between 1970 and 1990, Chile's total GDP grew by a decidedly average 2% a year. Needless to say, these years also include the Allende period and the aftermath of the coup and so, perhaps, this figure presents a false image of the regime's record. If we look at the 1981-90 period to (i.e. during the height of Pinochet's rule, beginning 6 years after the start of the Chilean "Miracle"), the figure is worse with the growth rate in GDP just 1.84% a year. This was slower than Chile during the 1950s (4%) or the 1960s (4.5%). Indeed, if we take population increase into account, Chile saw a per capita GDP growth of just 0.3% a year between 1981 and 1990 (in comparison, the UK GDP per capita grew by 2.4% during the same period and the USA by 1.9%).

Thus the growth "miracles" refer to recoveries from depression-like collapses, collapses that can be attributed in large part to the free- market policies imposed on Chile! Overall, the growth "miracle" under Pinochet turns out to be non-existent. The full time frame illustrates Chile's lack of significant economic and social process between 1975 and 1989. Indeed, the economy was characterised by instability rather than real growth. The high levels of growth during the boom periods (pointed to by the right as evidence of the "miracle") barely made up for the losses during the bust periods.

Similar comments are possible in regards to the privatised pension System, regarded by many as a success and a model for other countries. However, on closer inspection this system shows its weaknesses -- indeed, it can be argued that the system is only a success for those companies making extensive profits from it (administration costs of the Chilean system are almost 30% of revenues, compared to 1% for the U.S. Social Security system [Doug Henwood, Wall Street, p. 305]). For working people, it is a disaster. According to SAFP, the government agency which regulates the system, 96% of the known workforce were enrolled in February 1995, but 43.4% of these were not adding to their funds. Perhaps as many as 60% do not contribute regularly (given the nature of the labour market, this is unsurprising). Unfortunately, regular contributions are required to receive full benefits. Critics argue that only 20% of contributors will actually receive good pensions.

It is interesting to note that when this programme was introduced, the armed forces and police were allowed to keep their own generous public plans. If the plans were are good as their supporters claim, you would think that those introducing them would have joined them. Obviously what was good enough for the masses were not suitable for the rulers.

The impact on individuals extended beyond purely financial considerations, with the Chilean labour force "once accustomed to secure, unionised jobs [before Pinochet] . . . [being turned] into a nation of anxious individualists . . . [with] over half of all visits to Chile's public health system involv[ing] psychological ailments, mainly depression. 'The repression isn't physical any more, it's economic - feeding your family, educating your child,' says Maria Pena, who works in a fishmeal factory in Concepcion. 'I feel real anxiety about the future', she adds, 'They can chuck us out at any time. You can't think five years ahead. If you've got money you can get an education and health care; money is everything here now.'" [Duncan Green, Op. Cit., p. 96]

Little wonder, then, that "adjustment has created an atomised society, where increased stress and individualism have damaged its traditionally strong and caring community life. . . suicides have increased threefold between 1970 and 1991 and the number of alcoholics has quadrupled in the last 30 years . . . [and] family breakdowns are increasing, while opinion polls show the current crime wave to be the most widely condemned aspect of life in the new Chile. 'Relationships are changing,' says Betty Bizamar, a 26-year-old trade union leader. 'People use each other, spend less time with their family. All they talk about is money, things. True friendship is difficult now.'" [Ibid., p. 166]

The experiment with free market capitalism also had serious impacts for Chile's environment. The capital city of Santiago became one of "the most polluted cities in the world" due the free reign of market forces. [Nathanial Nash, cited by Noam Chomsky, Year 501, p. 190] With no environmental regulation there is general environmental ruin and water supplies have severe pollution problems. [Noam Chomsky, Ibid.] With the bulk of the country's experts being based on the extraction and low processing of natural resources, eco-systems and the environment have been plundered in the name of profit and property. The depletion of natural resources, particularly in forestry and fishing, is accelerating due to the self-interested behaviour of a few large firms looking for short term profit.

All in all, the experience of Chile under Pinochet and its "economic miracle" indicates that the costs involved in creating a free market capitalist regime are heavy, at least for the majority. Rather than being transitional, these problems have proven to be structural and enduring in nature, as the social, environmental, economic and political costs become embedded into society. The murky side of the Chilean "miracle" is simply not reflected in the impressive macroeconomic indictors used to market "free market" capitalism, indicators themselves subject to manipulation as we have seen.

Since Chile has become (mostly) a democracy (with the armed forces still holding considerable influence) some movement towards economic reforms have begun and been very successful. Increased social spending on health, education and poverty relief has occurred since the end of the dictatorship and has lifted over a million Chileans out of poverty between 1987 and 1992 (the poverty rate has dropped from 44.6% in 1987 to 23.2% in 1996, although this is still higher than in 1970). However, inequality is still a major problem as are other legacies from the Pinochet era, such as the nature of the labour market, income insecurity, family separations, alcoholism, and so on.

Chile has moved away from Pinochet's "free-market" model in other ways to. In 1991, Chile introduced a range of controls over capital, including a provision for 30% of all non-equity capital entering Chile to be deposited without interest at the central bank for one year. This reserve requirement - known locally as the encaje - amounts to a tax on capital flows that is higher the shorter the term of the loan.

As William Greider points out, Chile "has managed in the last decade to achieve rapid economic growth by abandoning the pure free-market theory taught by American economists and emulating major elements of the Asian strategy, including forced savings and the purposeful control of capital. The Chilean government tells foreign investors where they may invest, keeps them out of certain financial assets and prohibits them from withdrawing their capital rapidly." [One World, Ready or Not, p. 280]

Thus the Chilean state post-Pinochet has violated its "free market" credentials, in many ways, very successfully too. Thus the claims of free-market advocates that Chile's rapid growth in the 1990s is evidence for their model are false (just as their claims concerning South-East Asia also proved false, claims conveniently forgotten when those economies went into crisis). Needless to say, Chile is under pressure to change its ways and conform to the dictates of global finance. In 1998, Chile eased its controls, following heavy speculative pressure on its currency, the peso.

So even the neo-liberal jaguar has had to move away from a purely free market approach on social issues and the Chilean government has had to intervene into the economy in order to start putting back together the society ripped apart by market forces and authoritarian government.

So, for all but the tiny elite at the top, the Pinochet regime of "economic liberty" was a nightmare. Economic "liberty" only seemed to benefit one group in society, an obvious "miracle." For the vast majority, the "miracle" of economic "liberty" resulted, as it usually does, in increased poverty, pollution, crime and social alienation. The irony is that many right- wing "libertarians" point to it as a model of the benefits of the free market.

C.11.1 But didn't Pinochet's Chile prove that "economic freedom is an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom"?

Pinochet did introduce free-market capitalism, but this meant real liberty only for the rich. For the working class, "economic liberty" did not exist, as they did not manage their own work nor control their workplaces and lived under a fascist state.

The liberty to take economic (never mind political) action in the forms of forming unions, going on strike, organising go-slows and so on was severely curtailed by the very likely threat of repression. Of course, the supporters of the Chilean "Miracle" and its "economic liberty" did not bother to question how the suppression of political liberty effected the economy or how people acted within it. They maintained that the repression of labour, the death squads, the fear installed in rebel workers could be ignored when looking at the economy. But in the real world, people will put up with a lot more if they face the barrel of a gun than if they do not.

The claim that "economic liberty" existed in Chile makes sense only if we take into account that there was only real liberty for one class. The bosses may have been "left alone" but the workers were not, unless they submitted to authority (capitalist or state). Hardly what most people would term as "liberty."

As far as political liberty goes, it was only re-introduced once it was certain that it could not be used by ordinary people. As Cathy Scheider notes, "economic liberty" has resulted in most Chileans having

"little contact with other workers or with their neighbours, and only limited time with their family. Their exposure to political or labour organisations is minimal. . . they lack either the political resources or the disposition to confront the state. The fragmentation of opposition communities has accomplished what brute military repression could not. It has transformed Chile, both culturally and politically, from a country of active participatory grassroots communities, to a land of disconnected, apolitical individuals. The cumulative impact of this change is such that we are unlikely to see any concerted challenge to the current ideology in the near future." [Report on the Americas, (NACLA) XXVI, 4/4/93]

In such circumstances, political liberty can be re-introduced, as no one is in a position to effectively use it. In addition, Chileans live with the memory that challenging the state in the near past resulted in a fascist dictatorship murdering thousands of people as well as repeated and persistent violations of human rights by the junta, not to mention the existence of "anti-Marxist" death squads -- for example in 1986 "Amnesty International accused the Chilean government of employing death squads." [P. Gunson, A. Thompson, G. Chamberlain, Op. Cit., p. 86] According to one Human Rights group, the Pinochet regime was responsible for 11,536 human rights violations between 1984 and 1988 alone. [Calculation of "Comite Nacional de Defensa do los Derechos del Pueblo," reported in Fortin, September 23, 1988]

These facts that would have a strongly deterrent effect on people contemplating the use of political liberty to actually change the status quo in ways that the military and economic elites did not approve of. In addition, it would make free speech, striking and other forms of social action almost impossible, thus protecting and increasing the power, wealth and authority of the employer over their wage slaves. The claim that such a regime was based on "economic liberty" suggests that those who make such claims have no idea what liberty actually is.

As Kropotkin pointed out years ago, "freedom of press. . . and all the rest, are only respected if the people do not make use of them against the privileged classes. But the day the people begin to take advantage of them to undermine those privileges, then the so-called liberties will be cast overboard." [Words of a Rebel, p. 42] Chile is a classic example of this.

Moreover, post-Pinochet Chile is not your typical "democracy." Pinochet is a senator for life, for example, and he has appointed one third of the senate (who have veto power - and the will to use it - to halt efforts to achieve changes that the military do not like). In addition, the threat of military intervention is always at the forefront of political discussions. This was seen in 1998, when Pinochet was arrested in Britain in regard of a warrant issued by a Spanish Judge for the murders of Spanish citizens during his regime. Commentators, particularly those on the right, stressed that Pinochet's arrest could undermine Chile's "fragile democracy" by provoking the military. In other words, Chile was only a democracy in-so-far as the military let it be. Of course, few commentators acknowledged the fact that this meant that Chile was not, in fact, a democracy after all. Needless to say, Milton Friedman considers Chile to have "political freedom" now.

It is interesting to note that the leading expert of the Chilean "economic miracle" (to use Milton Friedman's words) did not consider that political liberty could lead to "economic liberty" (i.e. free market capitalism). According to Sergio de Castro, the architect of the economic programme Pinochet imposed, fascism was required to introduce "economic liberty" because:

"it provided a lasting regime; it gave the authorities a degree of efficiency that it was not possible to obtain in a democratic regime; and it made possible the application of a model developed by experts and that did not depend upon the social reactions produced by its implementation." [quoted by Silvia Bortzutzky, "The Chicago Boys, social security and welfare in Chile", The Radical Right and the Welfare State, Howard Glennerster and James Midgley (eds.), p. 90]

In other words, fascism was an ideal political environment to introduce "economic liberty" because it had destroyed political liberty. Perhaps we should conclude that the denial of political liberty is both necessary and sufficient in order to create (and preserve) "free market" capitalism? And perhaps to create a police state in order to control industrial disputes, social protest, unions, political associations, and so on, is no more than to introduce the minimum force necessary to ensure that the ground rules the capitalist market requires for its operation are observed?

As Brian Barry argues in relation to the Thatcher regime in Britain which was also heavily influenced by the ideas of "free market" capitalists like Milton Friedman and Frederick von Hayek, perhaps it is:

"Some observers claim to have found something paradoxical in the fact that the Thatcher regime combines liberal individualist rhetoric with authoritarian action. But there is no paradox at all. Even under the most repressive conditions . . . people seek to act collectively in order to improve things for themselves, and it requires an enormous exercise of brutal power to fragment these efforts at organisation and to force people to pursue their interests individually. . . left to themselves, people will inevitably tend to pursue their interests through collective action - in trade unions, tenants' associations, community organisations and local government. Only the pretty ruthless exercise of central power can defeat these tendencies: hence the common association between individualism and authoritarianism, well exemplified in the fact that the countries held up as models by the free-marketers are, without exception, authoritarian regimes" ["The Continuing Relevance of Socialism", in Thatcherism, edited Robert Skidelsky, p. 146]

Little wonder, then, that Pinochet's regime was marked by authoritarianism, terror and rule by savants. Indeed, "[t]he Chicago-trained economists emphasised the scientific nature of their programme and the need to replace politics by economics and the politicians by economists. Thus, the decisions made were not the result of the will of the authority, but they were determined by their scientific knowledge. The use of the scientific knowledge, in turn, would reduce the power of government since decisions will be made by technocrats and by the individuals in the private sector." [Silvia Borzutzky, Op. Cit., p. 90]

Of course, turning authority over to technocrats and private power does not change its nature - only who has it. Pinochet's regime saw a marked shift of governmental power away from protection of individual rights to a protection of capital and property rather than an abolition of that power altogether. As would be expected, only the wealthy benefited. The working class were subjected to attempts to create a "perfect labour market" - and only terror can turn people into the atomised commodities such a market requires.

Perhaps when looking over the nightmare of Pinochet's regime we should ponder these words of Bakunin in which he indicates the negative effects of running society by means of science books and "experts":

"human science is always and necessarily imperfect. . . were we to force the practical life of men - collective as well as individual - into rigorous and exclusive conformity with the latest data of science, we would thus condemn society as well as individuals to suffer martyrdom on a Procrustean bed, which would soon dislocate and stifle them, since life is always an infinitely greater thing than science." [The Political Philosophy of Bakunin, p. 79]

The Chilean experience of rule by free market ideologues prove Bakunin's points beyond doubt. Chilean society was forced onto the Procrustean bed by the use of terror and life was forced to conform to the assumptions found in economics textbooks. And as we proved in the last section, only those with power or wealth did well out of the experiment.