By Goodwin Ginger
There is nothing particularly joyful about the passing of Pinochet. To be sure, the passing of a tyrant always makes the world feel, if only briefly, a little bit lighter. But if one focuses on that lightness it quickly dissipates into a burdensome levity. Pinochet’s death will serve to silence once again all the screams of those he reportedly had poured into the walls of the soccer stadium in Santiago in the battle cry of August freedom which he and others like Milton Friedman shouted at a banshees pitch. On the other side how many similar stories could be told?
What dies with Pinochet is yet another piece of our collective memory and responsibility for the murderous rampage that was carried out throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia in the name freedom. But more than the bitter irony of Freedom as an executioner’s axe, Pinochet’s death encourages us to think that great men, in their good and evil, are the rogue agents of history. That in absence of their existence things would have been different. Pinochet may have given a persona to the barbarity of the cold war in that part of the world but he was not responsible for it, nor could he have given any character to it had it not been for his sponsors in Washington. The Cold War was the stage and Washington the co-director of the play without which we would, and more significantly Chileans, would have had little familiarity with the character of Augustus Pinochet.
And it is that burdensome levity which we shall feel when the executioner’s axe falls once more in the name of freedom across Saddam’s neck.