By Colton Pickard
Socialism is a hot topic in America, and it likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. You could look to Venezuela as a modern-day example of what socialism can do to a once-vibrant country. 1 This is an example often used by people who are against socialism. People who are for socialism turn to the Nordic nations. The only problem with that argument is that none of the Nordic countries are socialist. If anything, they’re a mixed economy with a significant dependence on the welfare state.
One country that isn’t discussed too much about falling victim to socialism and then building its country back up with capitalism is Chile. It was one of the poorest nations in Latin America for most of the 20th century. When Chile’s 30th president was elected in 1970, things didn’t get much better. Salvador Allende, a socialist who was inspired by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, won the 1970 election and was Chile’s president until 1973. He further destroyed a country that could not afford anymore destruction. Allende nationalized industry, which led to shortages. Inflation rose 600%, and half the country fell into poverty. 2 When Chile’s Supreme Court declared his actions unconstitutional, he ignored them. Parliament had to use the military to restore order, and Allende committed suicide during the bombing of Palacio de La Moneda. That opened the door for Augusto Pinochet to take over. If you know anything about Pinochet, he was increasingly worse than Allende. He was so bad; Allende is often forgotten about, but he was the one that opened the door to the horrible things that went down when Pinochet was in power.
One positive that came out of Pinochet taking over as president is the Chilean government took back the central government and military junta and replaced it with a proper democracy. After Pinochet was removed from office, Chile quickly became an economic success story post-socialism. For the first time in decades, its GDP skyrocketed and rose above Cuba, the Caribbean, and Latin America. 3 Now, Chile stands as one of the most prosperous nations in South America. 4
Chile is nothing short but thriving right now, and it’s all due to having a democratic government and a capitalist economy. No longer are socialist dictators committing human rights violations, stealing from farmers, and nationalizing industry. They are the perfect example of how a country can recover from socialism in a matter of a few decades by opening the markets and rejecting tyrants. Chile realized the evils of socialism early and abandoned it. Now, they’re thriving because of it.
Colton Pickard is a Journalism major with a focus in sports and politics at Middle Tennessee State University. Colton is involved with multiple political organizations on campus and is fighting for freedom and educating his peers on the real dangers of socialism.