Thinking Politics: Intellectuals and Democracy in Chile, 1973-1988 (1994)

According to Thinking Politics (1994), the success of democratic transition in Chile can be credited in large part to the influence of intellectuals involved in public life.

In this study, according to a blurb for Thinking Politics (1994), Jeffrey M. Puryear shows how, “with the coming of the Pinochet regime, autonomous think tanks were established – with significant foreign support – by those who disagreed with the military government’s policies.”

A review refers to the restricted scope of the study and lack of a bibliography. These are legitimate points, but as the review also notes, the study is nonetheless of value.

According to Puryear (p. 102), two possible interpretations – persuasion and conceptualization – are plausible with regard to the influence of intellectuals in the democratization process in Chile from 1973 to 1988. He adds that the relationship between cause and effect is not readily evident in political life.

“Even politicians, ” he comments, “don’t always know exactly what led them to choose one option over another. Making political actors aware of the argument for an option is certainly different from persuading them to do it, but both are important.”

I know next to nothing about Chile, except for the Pinochet narrative, and the fact that Chilean intellectuals played a key role in the changes that occurred in the meaning of the term “neoliberalism” since the interwar period in Germany. I look forward to learning more.


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