Thursday, 5 April 2007

Dictators, dodgy politics and the struggle for democracy

The other side of the 70s, the flip side to happy shiny techno modernist futurism (the dark side of the moon?)...features a selection of horrible, corrupt, right wing politicians. In this museum exhibit we collect together some effects and artefacts gathered from that era. The 70s also feature the turbulent emergence of liberation struggles into the mainstream of the political process, as oppressed peoples struggle for self-determination against the forces of repression and control, in increasingly globally observed, bloody and interconnected conflicts, linked to liberation movements in the West and the ongoing stare-out draw of the Cold War. No wonder Star Wars appeared in this decade. (That will be another exhibit too).

Here are some pieces of evidence:

Dictators and dictatorships: artistic expressions of the political Romania and Chile (1970s - 1990): an introduction

Caterina Preda (University of Bucharest)
"Art and politics in non-democratic configurations is a highly disregarded topic if one looks at the cases of Latin America and Eastern Europe. This particular approach to the study of politics focuses mainly on the fascist and Nazis experiences and in a much lesser degree on the soviet world. The relationship between art and politics in dictatorships represents therefore the main focus of this research. The two lines of investigation are represented on one side, by the dichotomy of authoritarian versus totalitarian regimes and on a second side, by the relations linking art and politics. Thus, the theoretical articulation of this study is based upon two grand lines: political theory and history of art/theory of art.

Having as a broad area of investigation Latin America and Eastern Europe, the case studies it seeks to highlight are Ceau┼čescu's Romania and Chile under Pinochet's rule. The period under scrutiny goes from 1975 until 1989. It coincides with the strengthening of Ceau┼čescu’s leadership and with the beginnings of the Pinochet regime in Chile and with their ‘unwanted coordinated’ fall.

The main question of research is: What is the relationship between art (both cultural policies and culture as resistance) and politics in a non-democratic regime? How is art (in the broadest sense) used by non-democratic regimes as a method/technique of ideologisation?"

Kissinger's extradition to Uruguay sought over Operation Condor

"An attorney for a victim of Uruguay's 1973-1985 dictatorship has asked his government to request the extradition of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger over his alleged role in the notorious Operation Condor.

Condor was a secret plan hatched by South American dictators in the 1970s to eliminate leftist political opponents in the region. Details of the plan have emerged over the past years in documents and court testimony.

The Latin American dictatorships of the time "were mere executors" of a "plan of extermination" hatched in the United States by a group led by Kissinger, said attorney Gustavo Salle, who represents the family of Bernardo Arnone."

Pillage and Plunder: an anthology of African Dictators
So how come the global political movers and shakers allowed them to stay there for so long?

Pol Pot: life of a tyrant
Year Zero, dictatorship, genocide. See this exhibition of photos (not for the faint hearted) to get an idea.

Apartheid in South Africa
This had been happening in one form or other for over 100 years but the 1970s saw some massive popular uprisings against apartheid... and the beginnings of some cracks in the regime...the Soweto Uprisings of 16th June 1976, in which black students protested against segregated education, are often regarded as a turning point in the struggle against apartheid - not least because this iconic photo of murdered schoolboy Hector Pieterson was splashed across the world's press...

The rise of Thatcher (another exhibit will have to deal with this in more detail), apologist for and general supporter of oppressive regimes, including Chile's Pinochet, South Africa's and PW Botha ("The big crocodile").


alex said...

I would appreciate that under Latin America you post a comment about Cuba 50 years under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro, 50 years.

Caterina said...

thanks for quoting my work but please write my name correctly. It is Caterina and not Katerina.
I was curious where did you find my abstract?
If you are interested in the topic soon my thesis will be available as an e-book online through

Graham Jeffery said...

Spelling duly corrected. Not going to get into an argument about Cuba here!