Exhumación del señuelo / Héctor Silva Michelena

Exhuming the Lure

Memory is a psychic faculty for holding or remembering the past. Events are made of experiences and their content. The nature of human memory guides it toward abandoning the "superfluous" past, so as to retain only recent occurrences, which it considers the most important. If, as Octavio Paz said, faith lays traps, then memory sets up ambushes. That's why adjusting the past to fit the present sends out a lure that leads us into a trap. In this context, certain statements by Chávez after his trip to China come to mind: "Socialism has not died," or "We are market socialists." The reader will easily discover the contradiction in both statements. Scientific socialism demands State control of the means of production, because that's what guarantees absolute equality. The market, on the other hand, requires diverse forms of property (co-managed, cooperative, etc.) which make room for competition. No one can assure the development of an egalitarian society under these conditions. For Lenin, utopian socialism, the same one that Chávez's memory clumsily rescues now, is nothing more than a conjecture, despite the genius of Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and the faith of his successors, the Saint-Simonians. But Chavismo sustains that what failed was "actual socialism" and not the authentic one, the one from never-never land. In this aspect, Aníbal Romero is correct in his article "Marx Turned Upside Down" (El Nacional, 2/9/05), especially when he points out: "In this manner, for the Venezuelan President, the Soviet experience was not socialist but was instead a state phenomenon. One can assume that Hugo Chávez considers Castroite Cuba an authentic socialism, which gives us a clue as to his understanding of what that means."

I don't agree with Aníbal when he places the entire left in one bag. He knows there is a democratic left that fights against Chavismo precisely because of the latter's retro ideology. Chávez doesn't know that the human and human relationships are democratic values. In their complicity, Castro and Chávez suffocate democracy. Nevertheless, one cannot avoid addressing the historic misdirection of the left that has not assimilated and inventoried the experience of an unfeasible universe's collapse. Did the Soviet Union and the socialist world have to collapse for the left to intuit, let alone say aloud, that someting was seriously wrong with the socialist utopia? The left doesn't seem to have fully analyzed the fact that socialist utopias built a detestable world, a nightmare where everything was political except for actual politics, when pursued outside the party. A shameful dictatorship exists in Cuba, a dictatorship that performed the miracle of reviving generalized slavery, after the Asian model of production. In Cuba, Castro maintains the so-called Unidades Móviles de Ayuda a la Producción (UMAP) [Mobile Units for Aiding Production], which are forced labor camps where any dissident can be placed. Chávez has rapid-response brigades for planting terror at his command. Make no mistake: Venezuela is to Cuba what Cuba was to the Soviet Union. This is the political equation that Chávez embellishes.

{ Héctor Silva Michelena, TalCual, 14 February 2005 }

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