As promised a couple of days earlier, a more considered analysis of the legacy of General Pinochet. For the most part the media response has been quite heartening. There was of course Thatcher's "great sadness", which the charitable would put down to dementia, except that it was entirely consist with her previous actions in government, which were unremittingly pro-Chile. And that's consistent with her philosophy, which is that any inhuman monster is worthy of praise provided they stand up for British interests. As Alan Partridge once said (not about her, but it fits), "scum. Subhuman scum."
Others on the right have been more reasonable - for example, Daniel Finkelstein on The Times's Comment Central blog wrote as good a piece as anything I've seen. Conversely, for a supposedly 'centre-left' politician, Margaret Beckett's comments were a pathetic cop-out and insulting to the thousands of Chileans who died during the Pinochet dictatorship. What's the matter, Margaret? Worried that Baroness Thatcher won't vote Labour next time?
But the main lesson for the left to learn from the 1973 Pinochet coup which overthrew Salvador Allende's democratically elected government is that control of the military is essential to implement a radical programme - by which I mean, anything to the left of Blair/Brown/Cameron (BBC!) style centrism. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela understands this well, which is why he has put so much effort into keeping the military onside. (Incidentally, Johann Hari in The Independent wrote a very good article on Chavez a couple of days back.) Whiilst the spate of documentaries that ran earlier this year marking the 30th anniversary of Harold Wilson's resignation suggested that the rumours of a military coup in the UK in the mid-70s were never that serious, the military is a much tighter operation now than it was in those days and the modern Chinese model - high growth and rampant corporate power at the expense of democracy - is probably an attractive alternative our rather decrepit democratic system, to high-ranking armed forces personnel and business movers and shakers alike. Brown and Blair are neo-liberal enough not to worry anybody outside the most reactionary elements of the system, but if, for example, the Green Party were ever to get into government on anything like a radical environmentalist programme, they wouldn't last very long unless they had infiltrated the military. Incidentally the latest Populus poll in The Times puts the Greens on 4 per cent, which is still not very much, but is a damn sight more than they were getting even a few months ago. Fallout from the Stern Report perhaps?