Tactics an authoritarian regime, such as the one in Chile under Augusto Pinochet, often employ are those that are oppressive. Not only disallowing choice in the government but also the way the people have to be kept from expressing those choices. With all the atrocities that take place in a regime like the one mentioned above, there is the question of what happens after. In the case of Chile a democratic government was put in place so that is one arguably good outcome in the aftermath but what happens to the perpetrators of crimes against the people is also important.
The memory of the past does not go away as soon as a dictator is out of power and thus some sort of action is taken after to prosecute the criminals. However, when this does not happen and the criminals go free to live lives that are in many cases better than their victims the past is really not the past because there is was no punishment. The people who perpetrated that past are continuing to be rewarded for the crimes they committed and the people they hurt to continue to suffer. What can happen to a country that is not able to leave the past behind or if they can forget/forgive even if the criminals are not punished are questions that come to mind when thinking about a situation such as the one in Chile. Another question is what would happen to a country’s relationship with a county that has been liberated from a dictatorship if that country has been affected by the past doctor negatively and he is still living freely. These questions may only be answered as time goes on and in different ways by different people.
This week’s reading addressed the ways in which race, gender and the identities of people were defined and utilized by authoritarian regimes and democratic societies to further a nationalistic agenda. All three of them share the notion that within each specific context, gender identities became tools to “advance” or improve the well-being of the state overall.
Can we observe the same kind of ideas if we were to assess gender roles and race today? What about in modern populism? This is something worth discussing in the present.
A concurrent theme from the readings was the concept of national value in regard to how one self-identified or was identified. Be it:
- The feminized or masculine homosexual in early 20th century Germany (Claudia Bruns)
- The linear success, male-dominated and non-individualistic discourse around people in postwar Japan (Rio Otomo)
- The warlike, hardworking and socially committed “New Man” of interwar Romania (Valentin Săndulescu)
These ideas made me begin to think about what a democratic society such as ours today perhaps hold similar to these examples. The Bruns reading shows how in German life today, female or gay descriptions are still sometimes used in a derogatory manner and that the German LGBT(QI) community may exhibit racist discourses towards Muslim immigrants.
But can we think of other ways in which gender identities today continue to shape our collective thought processes? Terms like, “be a man,” or “act like a lady” come to mind. Could it be that we still subconsciously use the gender roles that are ascribed today to further our own conception of national value?