¡ Y no saber adónde vamos...! / Héctor Silva Michelena

And Not Knowing Where We're Headed...!

At the end of his famous poem "The Fatal," the great Rubén Dario launches these two anguished phrases: "And not knowing where we're headed, / nor where we're from...!" The first of these was aptly turned into a question by the director of this newspaper on November 2: Where are we headed? asked Petkoff.

Well, if you're a Chavista, you won't feel a chill before either of these phrases turned into questions. To the first, you'll answer: We're headed towards wherever Chávez says! And you'll cite the transcript of the TV show Aló Presidente, where he said in "his recent self-critical babblings, whipping bureaucracy, administrative clumsiness and corruption" (citing TalCual), including as well the entire active population of Venezuela: "I demand the utmost obedience. That's where I pull out my whip, the whip of the revolution. That's where friendship doesn't count." This same Chavista will repeat the words of the Bolivian coca grower Evo Morales: "Comrade Chávez beat the Venezuelan opposition by many goals." But go slowly with the stretcher that carries a country wounded by hatred, conflicts and a disproportionate political repression.

In matters of institutional politics, the most important type in the modern field of developing a global society, we can distinguish three instances: the political, the social and the economic. Regarding the first, I don't think the regime has an authoritarian propensity; more accurately, I believe that a totalitarian temptation exists. There is already a bureaucratic and military authoritarianism here, when it comes to the political system and to those psychological dispositions aligned with power. Regarding political ideologies, there's an ideological transvestism and an amalgamation that make the "revolutionary" government a second-hand caricature of the reviled governments of the "IV Republic." After all, what does one call the happy gift of funds for the creation of as many small businessmen as possible? This turns the government, according to The Economist (early October), into the first to be tempted by the neoliberalism it so often deplores. Venezuelan capitalists are provided funds to massively produce and import "non-essential" goods and services. Chávez could, along with Hernando de Soto (the ultra-neoliberal Peruvian), unveil the Mystery of Capital and answer why capitalism triumphs in the West and fails in the rest of the world. He could say, along with de Soto, that such enterprises are a portentous revelation of the right to have property rights.

In the typology of political systems it's common to label authoritarian those regimes that privilege the aspects of leadership and undermine consensus in a more or less radical manner, concentrating political power in one man or in a single place, while devaluating representative institutions. That's why they don't care about political prisoners, the opposition, or even the poor. What would happen to Chávez if his factory of poverty, of ominous "growing returns," were to be converted into a factory of materially and spiritually free citizens?

{ Héctor Silva Michelena, TalCual, 8 November 2004 }

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