The ends NEVER justifies the means…?

Many people make the claim that the “ends” or goals never justify the means, ever.  This is an understandable idea.  I can actually agree with a lot of the cases that many people use to show that any kind of corrupt or dangerous method to accomplish an end goal of supposedly “higher ideals” makes the method and ideal null and void. 

One easy thing to point out is the presidency of Chilean president Augusto Pinochet.  Pinochet was a dictator that let a military coup in 1973.  The Chilean economy and society were in shambles because of the radical-leftist policies of democratically elected president, socialist Salvador Allende.  Now South American countries are not known for being patient and waiting for reform (Bolivia has 190 military coups) but the Chilean case was interesting because up to this point, they had a relatively peaceful democratic process.

            Immediately following the coup, approximately 1,500 supporters of Allende, along with leftists, and students were taken into the soccer stadium and never heard from again.  It is commonly accepted that over 3,000 people were killed under his rule while over 25,000 were incarcerated and tortured.  Pinochet was in power until 1990.  Partway through the 80’s and into the 90’s Chile has had arguable the most stable South American economy with consistent market growth with the rest of the western nations.

Now the question is this:  With a stable government and stable economy with relatively low levels of poverty, were Augusto Pinochet’s actions justifiable?  Many would argue yes.  It’s an understandable argument to examine this idea from a middle-class or upper class Chilean perspective.  I have had the good fortune to talk to some Bolivians and Peruvians who I’ve asked, “Do you think your respective country could benefit from a Pinochet?”  Many times I have heard a resounding yes.  These people take the stance that their countries are so thick headed that the only approach to economic growth or political stability is to crack a few skulls.  Although I understand this mindset, I have a really hard time agreeing.  When the metric used to justify the means is the loss of human life, I have a really hard time justifying it.  Therefore, it is easy to make the argument that the ends never justify the means. 

Let’s look at the other side of the equation, when human life can benefit from corruption.  I was lucky enough to talk to a missionary to the Banjara gypsies of India.  His name is Rob, (I changed his name slightly).  His goal as a missionary was to assist these gypsies in starting businesses that would lead them to sustainability.  In India, like many places across the globe, it is illegal to give bribes or “gifts” to government officials to conduct business or speed the paper process up.  So here’s the dilemma.  Ignoring the fact that this guy is a missionary, he is doing economic development projects.  If he or any of the gypsies were to give a gift worth $15 to a government official so that the gypsies could start a rickshaw business to feed themselves, feed their wives, feed their children is that not justifiable?  I think so.  You might disagree with me and that’s okay.  I can appreciate your commitment to your ideals.  In my humble opinion, which is biased toward me, I see no problem with illicit “gifts” to feed a group of people. 

This is a lot to look at so I’ll leave where I am.  I hope to come back to this later.  If anyone feels like adding more to this please feel free, or argue with me, that’s cool too.


One response to this post.

  1. Rileye:

    Just found your blog. I love the Subtitle. I am more than ready to join the “Moderate’s revolution” sign me up.

    I know you are busy as a student, but keep up the good work on this blog.

    Chau from BA


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