It was originally conceived as an inkling of Chilean “ressentiment” when our guide in the Atacama desert raged against Bolivians and when, three weeks later, in Pichilemu, a beach resort town in central Chile, a hotel waiter thought it apt to accuse the same neighbour of deceitfulness when he babbled the following – what has revealed itself as being – biased laden tripe:
A Bolivian is having a party and he asks a Chilean if he could rent him a couple of tables for a couple of days. They agree on a price and the Chilean supplies him with the tables. Two days later the Chilean goes to collect the tables, but when he arrives and asks for them the Bolivian tells him that they were sold to him and that they are now his.
“La patria” is writ large in Latin America and there, as indeed anywhere else where the “dulce et Decorum est” drivel holds sway, it purposely sets about preventing any cognitive processing that might lead to an objective conclusion. In other words, what do the guide in the Atacama and the waiter in Pichilemu know about the War of the Pacific, which started in 1879 and finished in 1884 with victory for Chile and that country’s acquisition of territory from both Peru and Bolivia? An acquisition that left Bolivia without a coastline.
Of course, such ignorance is hardly unique to Chile, or indeed to Latin America and stuffing people’s heads full of shit is a useful ploy by elites all over the globe. In a world where Samuel Johnson’s adage “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” remains pertinent, the “never forget national humiliation” narrative seduces the masses in our “three wee monkeys” middle kingdom, while Donald Trump’s “America first” policy strikes a chord with, perhaps, the majority of Americans.
And what does it all mean? Well, almost one hundred years after Wilfred Owen’s war, “the war to end all wars” , not only do we know that the wars never really stopped, but we also know that they are still fueled by the same old lie “dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori” and behind that old lie is still the same biased laden tripe. And would it not have been a waste of time had someone pointed our waiter in Pichilemu to a link which shows that it might in fact have been the Chileans who were the thieves?