Since the fall of General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in 1990, Chilean society has shied away from the subject of civilian complicity, preferring to pursue convictions of military perpetrators. But the torture, murders, deportations, and disappearances of tens of thousands of people in Chile were not carried out by the military alone; they required a vast civilian network. Some citizens actively participated in the regime's massive violations of human rights for personal gain or out of a sense of patriotic duty. Others supported Pinochet's neoliberal economic program while turning a blind eye to the crimes of that era.
Michael J. Lazzara boldly argues that today's Chile is a product of both complicity and complacency. Combining historical analysis with deft literary, political, and cultural critique, he scrutinizes the post-Pinochet rationalizations made by politicians, artists, intellectuals, bystanders, former revolutionaries-turned-neoliberals, and common citizens. He looks beyond victims and perpetrators to unveil the ambiguous, ethically vexed realms of memory and experience that authoritarian regimes inevitably generate.