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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 25. 3rd October 1973

Keeping up with the Joneses

Keeping up with the Joneses

Dear Roger and Peter,

Reading through the latest Salient article on Chile "Rampages, Breadlines and the Black Market" we kept hearing a familiar sound some-where in the distance. The haunting [unclear: cefrain] of an old Dylan song it was, and as the writer grizzled over his damp sheets and dribbled at his Chilean women it came clearer: "Cos there's something happening here and you don't know what it is — do you Mr Jones."

Or did he? As Bob Jones [unclear: pointed] out in an earlier Salient effort "I have never visited a dictatorship without feeling that its a good exciting place to be in." And we're willing to [unclear: bet] our leaky flat by the railway line to his Koro Koro castle that he didn't mean a dictatorship of the proletariat.

While even Kirk made harmless tut tut noises about the military coup, while the world protested at the triumph of the reactionaries and while Marxist-Leninists said of Allende's tragic fall "It's a pity but we told you so," Jones was out trying to sell fascism to Salient readers. He made a good attempt too, the only catch being that if you happen to think about his article after having read it Jones case for the oppression of the Chilean people falls intodirty little pieces.

Just as the trains ran sporadically before Mussolini's rise in Italy so there is no soap, a shortage of firewood, poor service, overpriced colour firm etc in pre-junta Chile. This tale of woe, this heaping up of trivial anecdote of "communist" Chile shortcomings makes up most of Jone's "observations and...obvious conclusions of my stay." It is skillfully calculated to arouse feelings of revulsion in a reading audience whose mother's have always provided soap and clean sheets.

An anonymous guide shows our hero round the nationalised factories, telling him that "inevitably, (they) come to a standstill under worker management." In this case we are left to draw our own "obvious conclusion" about workers' management at factories.

If Bob had devoted less space to his epic three days in a snow bound Chilean hotel and other such non-events he could have given some indication, either from his anonymous source or himself, about such vital questions as factories. It is a fact known to the world that factories in such countries as Albania, North Korea, North Vietnam and the People's Republic of China are run by workers and run with great efficiency. So it is not because the factories were "worker controlled" (and again — to what extent?) that they ran down.

Jones' "observations and obvious conclusions" as regarding agricultural reform are similarly childish. In an article dealing with a serious political question one may use anecdotes about peasants guzzling meat (most probably for the first time in their lives) but one cannot draw an "obvious conclusion" of any useful consequence from that anecdote alone.

The following paragraph is of interest, as it is typical of the whole presentation and logic of the article. "Despite world criticism I am convinced that the military take-over was an action of great responsibility and patriotism by the armed forces who had remained absolutely patient to date. I am also convinced that it is action that has the support of the vast majority of Chileans."

Sound familiar? Sort of easy on both ears? (The one it comes in and the one it goes out). Read Hansard. Have a glance at almost any Marshall/ Holyoake press statement. Listen to the news on TV sometime. And its all in that one little paragraph, admirably condensed, the pompus and deceitful non-argument of the extreme right wing. He's convinced, but he couldn't give you an intelligent reason why. Makes him seem a bit of a rebel even, being convinced that reactionary militarism is ok in the face of world criticism. He's also convinced that it is supported by the vast majority of Chileans. Just like Marshall was over the tour issue. The public's subsequent acceptance of the cancellation put paid to that all right and we're damn sure that the will of the Chileans the ones we give a stuff about, the workers and peasants will prove Jones as wrong as Grandpa Jack.

But what kind of Chileans did Jones run across, to form his obvious conclusion — no, sorry his "conviction" that most of the people welcomed the arrival of firing squads and rubber truncheons?

"All of the many Chileans I spoke to asked me about emigrating to Australia or New Zealand." Draw your own conclusion about the cross-section of the population or otherwise that that above sentence implies.

Near the end of Bob's article I laughed so hard that the neighbour banged on the wall. Allende putting communism first and Chile second? I would advise Mister Jones to read Terry Auld's article again, if he ever did in the first place. (Salient Sept 19). The reasons are too long to repeat here, but Allende put Khrushchovism before communism. Never having understood a grain of Marxist theory ("the shame about communism is that it never took place as Marx planned it. He planned it for Germany and it would have suited the German temperament," (Jones), it is natural that Bob should clown like this.

One of the nastiest parts of the article is his sexist attack on Ms Liv Aasen, which I find too infantile to be worth repeating.

Equally distastefull is Jone's announcement "I shall be returning to Chile shortly to try its trout fishing and shall look with interest to see if the 500 yard long bread queues are part of the daily scene." This type of bourgeolse arrogance I have only come across before in US Embassy officials and the like.

Mister Jones is a skilled apologist for fascism. But when one takes a second glance at it the rotteness of his propaganda is fully revealed.

The Chilean people will disappoint Jones, just as the workers have always finally disappointed the hopes of those who wish to halt the march of progress with a whip and a gun.

Yours fraternally,

Don Franks.