Re: [xmca] Pinochet

From: JAG (
Date: Mon Dec 11 2006 - 00:56:13 PST

I hope that by focusing on past crimes and criminals we don't forget
about present crimes and criminals. I doubt that prosecuting the past
serves as a warning to the present. I fear that focusing on the past
allows us too much to forget about where there are possibilities for
action - now.

I did research in Chile - just before the fall of Pinochet - when
there was a referendum on whether to have elections or to give
Pinochet 4 more years to prepare for an election.
It was clear that a) the junta had already fallen apart - to even get
to the point of having the thought of a referendum b) people were
still scared but many that had left in fear to go to Mexico had
already returned c) since the Junta had done as one of its first acts
the burning or invalidating of voter registration cards - people had
to do something positive (act) to vote d) the fears were real enough,
but the reality was more like "kitch" - the Junta masquerading as
having power and the students around the University having what
looked like candle lit conspiratorial corners - where they were doing
things like selling pictures of John Lennon or tapes of Violetta Parra
(Gracias a la vida).

The junta and the revolution against it had turned to theater. My role
was conduct, analyze focus groups and to devise strategies to get
people to register to vote - since we knew that underlying opinion was
80% against the "four more years of Pinochet stewardship." People felt
weak - in the face of the illusion of power and needed to develop some
"collective" soiurces of strength. We did that by having the
equivalent of a rock concert where, while people were turned up and
socially protected it was easier for them to sign up to vote (as part
of a social group that was doing the same). They were'n't thinking
about voting (that was too scarcy) but they were thinking about
"celectrating being Chileno." We got over 7 mil to sign up and won the
referendum to have an election - thus washing away the power of those
who had prospered during the Junta (following Milton Friedman and the
"Chicago Boys" economic policies). So theater defeated theater - but
by that time the contest it was only theatrical - with some practical
consequences (like getting rid of a figure head)..

Little noted was the fact that Milton Friedman recently died too - but
there has been no Pinochet like outcry or celebration. I think that
the toll in human suffering unleashed by economic neo-liberalism was
as great or greater (but not as noticeable as crimes against humanity)
as the crimes against humanity of Pinochet.

My general point here is that it is easy to focus on the wrong symbols
and then feel celebratory or angry about their ultimate demise - while
we forget some of the underlying inhumanities that we either "only
symbolically" protest, or don't even notice or care to acknowledge.

By the time that people like Pinochet become prosecutable - they are
already gone - and we are prosecuting a ghost and making ourselves
feel good about it.

Ghosts must be prosecuted, but we shouldn't allow ourselves to be
diverted by apparitions,

There is more to be done.

As a simple example - the work of Vygotsky had to be brought out from
under a veil by the moral force of A.R. Luria who made sure that his
manuscripts found wider circulation - and became known to us. It was
action like Luria's and Mike Cole's that created the availability of
Vygotsky's thought - which we now take for granted as having "always
been there," It was always there - but it required work for it to be

On 12/11/06, Leif Strandberg <> wrote:
> Yes,
> I remember our slogan from 1973 when we were marching on the streets in
> Sweden:
> "Chile, Chile - Solidaritet"
> It did not help - that time and now when Pinochet is dead another
> thing comes into my mind. Last week a Swedish citizen was sentenced to
> life time in prison for war crimes in former Yugoslavia during the
> civil war. He (a black man AND a member of White Aryan Resistance
> (sic!)) did very bad things against muslim people in Bosina - so I do
> not think the trial was wrong. There are a lot of people who are put in
> trials (in Haag) for war crimes. I think it is good. But some people
> are evidenetly very hard to bring to such trials. And Pinochet was one
> of them.
> Why?
> Leif
> 2006-12-11 kl. 01.00 skrev David Preish:
> >
> > Today the dead of Pinochet made me remember the old thread Mike
> > initiated regarding forgiveness. Thus, the same day than we across the
> > world celebrate a new anniversary of the universal declaration of
> > human rights, a new dictator goes away, unpunished for all the harm he
> > caused on thousands. Some people see this as a nice turn of history:
> > the general´s final day is marked by the international commemoration
> > of human rights. I see here the opposite thing: Pinochet left us
> > smiling, untouched by the action of justice, remembering us that he
> > won his final battle over those that intended to give human rights
> > some kind of substance, to turn them in something real, which can be
> > touched. Here, then, a criminal has died. Shame on our judges. We will
> > not forget. Without justice, we will not forgive.
> >
> >
> > David Preiss, Ph.D.
> > Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor
> >
> > Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
> > Escuela de Psicología
> > Av Vicuña Mackenna 4860
> > Macul, Santiago
> > Chile
> >
> > Fono: 3544605
> > Fax: 3544844
> > e-mail:
> > web personal:
> > web institucional:
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> >
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