Referring to the horrors of the Pinochet dictatorship but speaking on behalf of many societies abused by their rulers, Tomas Moulian makes the case that impunity, albeit sounding like a generous way of “moving forward,” actually condemns a society to continuing the evil it should instead exorcise by public, official condemnation of both the responsible leaders and the abusive principles that guided them:
el lenguaje de la politica no es un hable commun, sino un codigo cigrado, trucado, es un metadiscurso….Por que esta atrapada esta politica en el silencio, en las medias palabras, en la hipocresia?
Porque no ha habido una purificacion del karma de diecisiete anos de terror. Chile Actual [WM: Chile during the first decade after Pinochet] esta basado en la impunidad…A traves de una condena simbolica, totalmente desproporcionada respecto a la naturaleza del crimen imputado, Contreras due perdonado de suverdadera responsabilidad, de la autoria intelectual del plan de exterminio de la izquierda….
Esa impunidad es una manifestacion demasiado expresive de la desigualdad, de la capacidad de los poderosos de sobrepasar la ley sin temor al castigo….
de la inocencia por parte de los hechores de crimenes masivos [Chile Actual 66-70].
Punishment of the guilty leaders may inevitably follow this exorcising of the abuse of power, but punishment is merely a by-product of a process of political cleansing whose purpose is to free society from the moral and legal shackles of past evil. The policies, language, and symbols of leaders who abused power must be decoded, their hypocrisy exposed, their principles dissected…and a new, honest political vocabulary accepted in order for society to be capable of debating honestly about its future course of action. Oppression must not be called “peace;” aggression must not be called “defense” or “preventive war;” the slaughter of political opponents must not be called “security;” terror must not be excused simply because used by the state; the theft of homes by criminal bankers with the protection of laws written to conceal misbehavior by the wealthy must not be called “capitalism;” managed democracy must be called “dictatorship;” bailouts must be recognized as “corporate socialism;” the planned impoverishment of the middle class must be recognized as “class war.” Without clear public condemnation of the sins of leaders past, the population and leaders of the future will not be free of the shadow of the past. They will not be able to think.