Signos / Fernando Rodríguez


Signs that we have become a degraded country cut into pieces are everywhere. One of the best emblems of this, tangible and visible, are the innumerable red shirts worn by the citizens who have access to missions and other governmental social programs.

Red unequivocably representative of governmental militancy.

The perversion is deep and evident. One can only accede to relief welfare or the cooperatives or the parallel universities or public sector jobs and to quite a few other things if one is aligned with the regime and submits to its rituals and cults. And that alignment must be visible, it can't be in pectore—pity on those who have to uniform themselves out of pure necessity. The missions were invented out of nothing, spoken by the great helmsman himself, in order to avoid a decapitation in the 2004 referendum, in other words, toward electoral, political, sectarian ends. Thus, their hybridization since birth with the functions of the State, which are by nature intended for all Venezuelans, pointing to the missions' aberrantly exclusionary character. Nothing hidden then.

But there is something sinister in that gregarious homogenization, in that civil troop, in that red herd. Something that attempts against today's sensibility which, even within consumption itself, tends toward individuality.

(Let us speak of good individuality, that which revindicates us as unique, thoughtful and critical beings and which doesn't annul our republican and altruistic sentiments.) Something that would seem to lead to the society of masses in its worst acceptation, the politicized.

The one that the previous century lived so intensely and extensively, of the fascist shirts or the uniformed and grey Chinese of other times. Or the same soldiers as always, olive green flocks submitted to the most severe disciplinary codes. Because that homogenization of our corporeity implies the homogeneity of our minds, the single idea, the command and the monochord collective chorus of unthinking acceptance.

And from this leveling of differences another notable sign of the country we live is inferred: the cult of personality. Let's not repeat the matter of the concentration of power and the single and caudillo-like voice that can do and decide everything. Here we wanted to underline that which so diaphanously, we continue with transparency, provides evidence of autocracy: the cult of personality. That fetishizing, humiliating attitude, which is another cession of the I, the renunciation of being our own masters, of our only life and our guaranteed death. Wherever one looks the signs of that illness are beginning to be felt. And let us not focus on that spontaneous cult that is born of the masses and which the demagogue foments.

I am referring to other things, to the Sunday coven [the Aló Presidente! weekly TV program], to the declarative silence of high officials in order to not attenuate the single voice, to the illegible laudatory books, to the public scoldings and mea culpas so that nothing will stain the leader's purity. And also to the induced industry of all types of effigies, from the sticker to the children's doll and the scapulary. But I fear we will move to a larger scale, to public monuments, made directly or indirectly for the glory of el proceso and its high priest. TalCual recently reported the proposal of the mayorship of Caracas to create a contest of works dedicated to Latin American integration, where president Chávez would have his deserved spot, just what we needed.

Like the majority of people, I suppose, I have lamented the atrocious destruction of public works of art, by means of culpable negligence or intentional actions such as the incident with the statue of Columbus. But I think I fear even more what could be built from now on—after all, the demolished works can be rebuilt someday—and that we will soon have absurdity in abundance, catering to military taste and for the glory of el proceso.

Those uniformed in red as in their minds and the altars of a cult are two faces of tribal barbarism.

{ Fernando Rodríguez, TalCual, 7 November 2005 }

No comments: