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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Carlos Alberto Montaner: The Liberal Family, Friends and Foes
Latin American genius Carlos Alberto Montaner on what we can learn from Chile's experience.

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

To Antonella Marty

A few years ago, we knew what we should do in Latin America to overcome underdevelopment: imitate Chile.

It was not always like that. In 1959, the year in which the Cuban communist revolution won, Chile had a mediocre performance. Its per capita and its economic development index were two thirds of those that Cuba showed.

Today these data have been reversed and Chile marches (or marched) at the head of Latin America, triples Cuba’s per capita, and leads (or led) the way toward being the first country in Latin America that reaches that mythical place called “First World”.

However, and here lies the core of these reflections, there are thousands of Chileans methodically destroying the material expressions of the formidable Chilean transformation.

Why does this absurd phenomenon of autophagy happen? Why do thousands of young Chileans attempt against their own welfare? In my opinion, because of a key error in the identification of potential allies and the inevitable adversaries.

For centuries, since the French Revolution, when the Jacobins sat on the left and the Girondins on the right in Parliament, the custom of qualifying the political parties as “left” and “right” remained, but that division today is totally inadequate.

Today there is another frontier. There are several parties within the “liberal democracy,” which have remarkable differences around economic issues, but those differences do not make them adversaries.

Conservatives, liberals and libertarians, Democrats and Social Democrats, agree on these five fundamental aspects:
  1. All persons are equal before the law.
  2. There are imprescriptible freedoms.
  3. There must be a separation between powers with a mutual balance.
  4. The powers must be limited and subject to plural, free and transparent elections, capable of renewing the authorities periodically, allowing generational relief and the circulation of elites.
  5. The market, with its spontaneous growth, has demonstrated its ability to allocate resources much more efficiently than the rigid planning of the “experts”.

The fundamental and insurmountable differences are those with the authoritarian regimes, whether frankly totalitarian, such as the communists and fascists, or what are now called “illiberal democracies.”

These illiberal groups can gain power through elections, but their ideological burden has very little to do with the values and principles nested in the liberal family. They are usually nationalists, anti-immigrants and, therefore, contrary to free trade and globalization, basic aspects of the liberal democracy family.

It is not convenient, then, to make pacts of government with the communists, as they did in Chile during the Concertación, or as the socialists of Pedro Sánchez have done in Spain.

It must be understood that communists and fascists do not even remotely coincide with the vision shared by the different branches of liberal democracy. The political situation requires them to play democracy, but without the slightest conviction.

. They believe in violence as the “midwife” of history, as Marx thought. And they strangely believe that the German thinker came up with the mechanisms that regulate the course of history: surplus value, differences between scientific and utopian socialism, the legendary role of the workers and the other dogmas of the sect.

· They believe in a single political party, according to Lenin’s design.
· They believe in central planning.

And if the things they firmly believe in are essential, still more important is everything they reject from the liberal family:

· They reject the private ownership of the means of production and, of course, the market.
· They reject the separation of powers. It seems to them a ploy of domination.
. They reject freedom of expression, arguing that it expresses the will of the owners of the media.

Let us agree, at least, that it is not intelligent to sleep with the enemy. This has been clearly seen with the material destruction of Chile. The position of some communist groups was of total encouragement to the devastating attitude of the enemies of Chilean companies.

That makes a lot of sense from the communist perspective. If one believes that the world must be remade from its foundations, it is convenient to manipulate the destroyers, the “proletarian lumpen,” which is what they have done in Chile.

What is totally absurd is to treat them as if they were allies, and not as they really are: enemies of the law and order freely established by more than 80% of Chileans. If we do not understand it, we are condemned to disappear and face poverty, jail, death or exile.

As simple as that.

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.


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