Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conservadurismo para Punks

Emilio Quintana reviewed Proud to Be Right (with my essay "Conservatism for Punks," and this blog, serving as the lengthy climax) for TheAmericano.  If you don't speak Spanish, please don't entirely trust the automatic translation function, which leaves me sounding as if we must "maintain to the State" and foster "holy madness," which doesn't sound quite right, but I trust the original Spanish captures things perfectly (and remember that "liberal" still means more or less "libertarian" in the non-English-speaking world).

The review starts, though, with praise of Nathan Harden's essay, which warned that the women of Yale are highly theatrical and promiscuous.  As it happens, I was witness to one of the other essayists mentioned in the Quintana review, religious conservative Ashley Thorne, who was on the C-SPAN2 panel about the book in October, praising Harden’s essay to one of our co-panelists – who had herself gone to Yale and finds Harden’s work annoying – just before the panel got started, an unintentionally slightly-awkward moment. 

(Thorne seems very nice, I should add.  By contrast, I only just noticed that one TNR reader, who knew that other co-panelist back at Yale, rather hastily declared that panelist to be “fine” – and me thus an “asshole” making false accusations for denouncing his fellow Yalie – when he weighed in on the matter over on  That makes him the only ardent anti-Todd voice of which I am aware, offhand though his comment may be, among people who claim to have some knowledge of one of the disputants.  Mistaken judgments based on cursory information are the bane of human thought, young Yale alum, so I’ll just say: be more careful in the future.)

The translation function works well enough on that review for me to understand that Quintana refers to this blog as a successor of sorts to and, and even as times and political contexts change, I will try not to forget that. 

In other Spanish-language news, Don Boudreaux notes that Obama should not honor Salvador Allende’s grave.  Just because Pinochet’s coup was violent does not mean Allende was a good man.  Boudreaux points out Chilean finance minister Jose Pinera’s observation that the democratic government of Chile, mere weeks before the coup, "presented [to the Chilean people] a list of twenty legal and constitutional violations of President Allende's government [including illegal detentions and torture]."  The left doesn’t just defend its own thugs, it reveres them.

As for the U.S., I don’t think it’s quite as imperialist as sometimes made out to be (even when unnecessarily intervening in Iraq or Libya).  But there are abuses.  The "kill team" photos from Afghanistan are a reminder that there are sadists among us -- including many who never actually murder but, for example, find cruelty sexually arousing.  Normal humans rightly despise them as subhuman beasts, whether they take the form of soldiers, meathead frat guys, or arrogant intellectuals. 


Gerard said...

Speaking of, what do you think of Andrew Wilkow's decision to consign himself to self-imposed exile on satellite radio? I suppose from a purely capitalistic point of view he and Howard Stern made good choices, but intentionally isolating yourself from a wider audience in return for more autonomy and/or money seems like a losing proposition in the long run if you make your living in the radio business.

Todd Seavey said...

Depends how you define "winning[!]," I suppose. If they're happy, I'm happy for them. I always want everyone to be happy.

Emilio Quintana said...

Yes, i wrote as a libertarian. You have to consider that the word “liberal” (in a modern sense) is a Spanish word. We are using this word (later used all over) since 1812, when the first liberal (“libertarian”) Spanish constitution was promulgated by the Cortes under the Napoleon´s siege in Cádiz.

We are trying to celebrate the 200th aniversary next year (try cause the political and economical situation is not so much “liberal” indeed).

I have translated your text “for punks”, and i hope can soon get the right to publish it.

Emilio Quintana said...

So difficult to link properly in blogger: Spanish Constitution of 1812.

Todd Seavey said...

Truth be told, I have never known how to make text in a comment into a link in Wordpress _or_ blogger -- nor how to italicize in a comment, as you can see. So you're ahead of me. Is it any wonder I need a week away from it all?

enodo said...

You have a link for the allegations of torture on Allende's part? I think you're referring to the situation during and immediately after the attempted putsch which preceded the actual coup. However, I have never heard any allegations of Allende's government using torture.

Todd Seavey said...

I don't pretend to have independently verified the claims, but _The Economist_ has interviewed people claiming to be survivors of torture under Allende, which some of his supporters dismiss merely by saying torture was more extensive under Pinochet.

I will leave that to people with more expertise as I head off for Texas for the rest of the week, though -- and coincidentally, the father of a former co-worker of mine is apparently in the running to be elected president of Chile's neighbor Peru this week. Good luck, then, to Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and to the giant guinea pig with whom he often campaigns.

enodo said...

I am unable to find the article on the article on the Economist web site to which you refer. Probably it predates what is on the web site. Reference to it is made in this unsigned editoral in the magazine decrying the smearing of Allende.

They note: "For further evidence, go to a source of the time: The Economist... Allende’s economics were, approximately, Marxist and certainly disastrous. Not so the political system he ran. The opposition press and parties carried on... But what did this ferocious critic [The Economist] of Allende’s regime say of its now alleged political tortures or killings? Not a word."

The Economist is not a "left" or (US) "Liberal" magazine. Allende was not an angel, but calling him a "thug" is hardly justified.

So long as we are on the subject of torture and Chile, what are we to make of Milton Friedman's working for Pinochet, who did torture, quite extensively, and killed thousands, even as Friedman advised him on policy?

Todd Seavey said...

Attempting to smear Friedman in this way is little better than free associative delusion. He wrote one letter to Pinochet urging free-market reforms, and some economists trained in the Chicago School later tried to nudge Chile in a free-market direction -- with a fair amount of success, which is why it went on to be far more prosperous than most of Latin America. Friedman certainly did not encourage torture, as your careless "even as Friedman advised him" construction suggests.

You might as well follow in the footsteps of the deranged Naomi Klein and imply that Deng Xiao-Ping's moves toward market reforms in China caused Tinanmen Square (but must not of course be given credit for China's increasing prosperity, if the leftist narrative is to be maintained).

As for Chile, Friedman himself said: "Chile is not a politically free system, and I do not condone the system. But the people there are freer than the people in Communist societies because government plays a smaller role...The conditions of the people in the past few years has been getting better and not worse. They would be still better to get rid of the junta and to be able to have a free democratic system..."