Re: The House of the Spirits; The Terror
This chapter really is the climax of the book, and brings together the threads of the message the author is conveying.
The Trueba family represent legitimate diversity. In the madness of politics, they are ignored, even while Esteban has become a leader of reaction, and this mad situation brings extreme views to the surface. The truebas form a prophetic voice, a group of Cassandras
who are condemned to be ignored.
One of the most telling comments in the book is where Esteban's popularity increases the more he is attacked by the left wing press. We see here a sort of inchoate conservatism, an inarticulate mass opinion that celebrates leaders who stick it up to the politically correct. Nothing that left wing people say can get through to this sort of mass sentiment once it is aroused.
It is really hard to tell if this conservative populism is irrational or if it speaks to a deeper common sense.
The election of the socialist government was greeted with blind fury by the conservative 'right to rule' brigade. The trouble here is that no one has automatic mandate by virtue of social position, but must earn popular legitimacy through sound policy. Over the years the right has allowed the left to grow by treating popular concerns with contempt, until the situation spills over with the election of a left wing government.
The contempt shown towards Esteban by the fascist regime is an ominous picture of the nature of extremism. If I own a savage dog and keep it on a leash in a yard, I should not be surprised if it attacks some one when given the chance. The whole scene is very reminiscent of the rise of Hitler in Germany. He tapped into a broad fear following the Bolshevik Revolution that communism aimed to destroy western civilization, and that only a crazy extremist like him could take the fight up to the communists. Pinochet spoke to the same tribal sense in Chile. It is extraordinary that Pinochet continued to be feted by Margaret Thatcher.