(infoshop.org) Chile is considered by some to be one of the economic success stories of the modern world. It can be considered as the first laboratory for neo-liberal economic dogma, first under Pinochet’s dictatorship and later when his regime had been replaced by a more democratic one. It can be considered as the template for the economic vision later applied by Reagan and Thatcher in the West. What happened in Chile was repeated (to some degree) wherever neo-liberal policies were implemented. As such, it makes a good case study to evaluate the benefits of free(r) market capitalism and the claims of capitalist economics.
For the right, Chile was pointed to as a casebook in sound economics and is held up as an example of the benefits of capitalism. Milton Friedman, for example, stated in 1982 that Military Junta “has supported a fully free-market economy as a matter of principle. Chile is an economic miracle.” [quoted by Elton Rayack, Not so Free to Choose, p. 37] Then US President George Bush praised the Chilean economic record in December 1990 when he visited that country, stating Chile deserved its “reputation as an economic model” for others to follow.
However, the reality of the situation is radically different. As Chilean expert Peter Winn argues, “[w]e question whether Chile’s neoliberal boom . . . should be regarded as a miracle. When confronted by such a claim, scholars and students should always ask: a miracle for whom — and at what cost?” [“Introduction”, Peter Winn (ed.), Victims of the Chilean Miracle, p. 12] As we will prove, Chile’s “economic miracle” is very class dependent. For its working class, the neo-liberal reforms of the Pinochet regime have resulted in a worsening of their lives; if you are a capitalist then it has been a miracle. That the likes of Friedman claim the experiment as a “miracle” shows where their sympathies lie — and how firm a grasp they have of reality. Read More