Is a New Age of Revolutions Beginning?

A New Age of Revolutions could have begun, and few people are noticing. The international political and economic order could unravel while Americans are focusing all their attention on the tragedy in Israel.

The first domino to fall is in Chile where leftists won 76% of the vote in the 15 and 16 May 2021 elections. The electoral upheaval follows a year of disruptive protests that forced the country’s elite to call a new Constitutional Convention.

The protests in Chile are a revolt against today’s international order of neoliberalism. “Chileans Voted for an End to Neoliberalism” Palbo Abufom observes in the Jacobin. Neoliberalism is an international order of unrestricted capitalism, democracy, and racial and sexual equality.

Chile’s Dangerous Course

The May 15 and 16 elections could mark a paradigm shift because Chileans voted for almost every office in the country from mayor to governor, to president.

Moreover, the Chilean people elected the delegates to a Constitutional Convention. Hence, leftists could rewrite Chile’s Constitution and restructure Chilean society and government.

Chileans have embarked on a dangerous course. The French Revolution broke out because King Louis XVI called a meeting of the National Legislature or Estates-General to rewrite France’s constitution in 1789. Within three years the Reign of Terror, a slaughter that claimed the lives of Louis XVI and his family and tens of thousands of others, had begun.

Twenty years of warfare that spread to every corner of Europe accompanied the Reign of Terror. Ten years after Louis XVI held the first Estates General since 1614, Napoleon Bonaparte was dictator of France.

A New Age of Revolutions

Strangely, the New Age of Revolutions is beginning in Chile, a country where you can argue the last great global revolution began.

To explain, perhaps the Age of Neoliberalism began on 11 September 1973. On that date, the Chilean military staged a coup against inept socialist president Salvador Allende.

The leader of the coup General Augusto Pinochet became Chile’s military dictator. In 1980, Pinochet wrote the constitution Chileans want to rewrite. Pinochet was a staunch neoliberal who privatized large swaths of Chile’s economy. As dictator, Pinochet sought advice from neoliberal economists such as  F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman.

A worldwide neoliberal reaction that dismantled many socialist and Communist regimes followed the September 11 Coup. On the balance, the neoliberal revolution was good: it dismantled the Soviet Empire, India’s license raj, and the Maoist stupidity in China.

Moreover, the body count from Pinochet’s revolution (over 3,000) was far lower than the death toll of Communism. The Black Book of Communism estimates that Communists all over the world killed over 94 million people.

However, many of the long-term effects of neoliberalism have been bad. Income inequality grew and austerity destroyed social safety nets. In many countries, governments are incapable of performing basic functions such as law enforcement and public health. The US government, for example, was incapable of containing the pandemic and protecting Congress from a mob of cosplayers.

Be Careful What you Wish for

Thus a New Age of Revolutions has begun. History, however, shows we may not like the outcome of those revolutions.

Predictably, Leftists such as Aubufom are cheering the outcome of the Chilean revolts which so far has been good. Unfortunately, the history of the French Revolution shows Chile’s Constitutional Convention could be a recipe for disaster.

Thus, Leftists need to be careful because such popular revolutions often fall flat. Remember the Arab Spring? Instead of Middle Eastern Democracy that popular uprising led to more military dictatorships, ISIS terrorism, and bloody civil wars in Libya, Yemen, and Syria.

Hence, the result of Chile’s present chaos could be Pinochet 2.0 rather than social democracy. A worse outcome could be a Communist dictatorship in Chile. Something modern leftists forget, is that ordinary people backed tyrants such as Pinochet because their opponents the Communists were worse.

Unfortunately, Leftists have a long history of welcoming Revolutions before the outcome is clear. Radicals on both sides of the Atlantic crucified Whig politician Edmund Burke; a supporter of the American Revolution, for condemning the French Revolution in the early 1790s.

History shows that Burke was right was right and Francophiles; such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, were wrong. The French Revolution led to the Reign of Terror, 15 years of Napoleonic dictatorship, and two decades of all-out war.

Important events are unfolding in Chile. However, it is too early to tell if those events will lead to a New Flowering of Democracy or a New Age of Repression.