In This Review
Thinking Politics: Intellectuals and Democracy in Chile, 1973-1988

Thinking Politics: Intellectuals and Democracy in Chile, 1973-1988

By Jeffrey M. Puryear

Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994, 204 pp.

A significant contribution to explaining the role that outside assistance can play in the most unfavorable circumstances. Puryear conservatively estimates that between 1975 and 1980, an average of $1 million flowed annually into Chilean private research centers, rising to $3 million between 1980 and 1988, including $800,000 from the Ford Foundation. This was money well spent.

Based on his experience at the Ford Foundation and extensive interviews, Puryear relates the largely unreported role of Chilean intellectuals in the plebiscitary defeat of General Augusto Pinochet, which opened a path for democratic elections. Intellectuals were purged from the universities and had no means of political expression, but they found a home in think tanks funded by outsiders. Constant fundraising forced these intellectuals to work efficiently, in effect to become competitive in the marketplace. Consequently they created a world-class body of social science.

Trained at Western universities and having experienced firsthand the relative merits of East and West European political systems, these intellectuals rejected the left view that representative democracy is a formal facade, fostered collaboration between political tendencies, and enabled the think tanks to move quickly from academic analysis to political consulting.