Friday, 11 September 2015

9/11 Memories and the Current Economic Order

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of the terrible massacre of civilians in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, and of government staff at the Pentagon, by plane hijackers affiliated to al-Qa'ida.  Nearly 3000 innocent people were slaughtered in a brutal and spectacular attack on the contiguous territory of the United States. 

But today is also the forty-second anniversary of the rightwing military coup in Chile, which (assisted by the United States) saw the murder of the liberal-socialist president Salvador Allende and the ousting of his government, and the end of civilian democratic rule.   Decades of dictatorship by Augusto Pinochet were to follow.  Not only was this moment one of the greatest and darkest importance for Chile and its people, but it also witnessed the arrival and institutionalisation of the economic code by which the world economy has since been re-organised.   The 'Chicago Boys' - Chilean acolytes of Milton Friedman's brand of neoliberal or monetarist economics, trained at the University of Chicago - were installed in Santiago in one of the most important and drastic political-economic experiments of recent times.  The neoliberal 'reform' of Chile's economy, with its liberalisation, privatisation of public and state assets, and opening to the capitalist world-system, was a vital staging post on the way to the Friedmanesque/Hayekian revolution that was driven across America and Britain by the Reagan and Thatcher governments of the 1980s.  This was a crucial harbinger of the defeat and roll-back of the postwar social-democratic consensus in the western world, the coming financialisation of of the global economy, and the creation of what Wendy Brown calls a new form of rationality - market rationality - in almost all spheres of human activity.

Ralph Miliband, then Britain's finest and most formidable Marxist political theorist, professor at the London School of Economics, and notable interlocutor and critic of Nicos Poulantzas in the pages of the New Left Review, responded to the news from Chile in the pages of the Socialist Register.   Here is his essay, re-published by Jacobin:

The Coup in Chile



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