Más allá del mal y del CNE / Colette Capriles

Beyond Evil and the CNE*

Maybe revolutions are, simply and essentially, a linguistic act.

Not just any act, of course: a gigantic linguistic act, a discursive subversion, whose object is to create a “truer” reality, even realer you might say than the one we endure every day, but (this is very important) one that never substitutes it completely but instead coexists with reality. This artificial reality, but in the end a reality, is provided a history and assigned a future, is given a vocabulary, an aesthetic, some symbols, a way of saying and certain characters. Presented in this manner, it seems as though it were a certain type of branding or the creation of a logo which could be designed in some dark situational laboratory (or in a secret meeting of Santería initiates, either way). In fact, since 1998, we spectators have been placing bets to guess how much is deliberate and how much is involuntary in the design of this Frankenstein which our country has become. The answer should be obvious: there is a more or less formed design in which the will (which is, one could say, the realization of the national spirit, more or less in a Hegelian manner) is presented and for this, the will searches for its riverbed in an improvised manner, opportunistically taking advantage of any road that presents itself.

The fight is, then, for the forms of representation. A logomachy, a struggle for the appropriation of the symbolic territories. I believe the great substrata or the great text upon which all our ideological representations are mounted today is precisely petroleum as a metonymy of modernity, and the dispute involves determining how that image of ourselves is carried. If revolution (this which defines itself as such) exists, it's because it is like the stertor of the petroleum universe. I can’t help thinking of Alexis De Tocqueville’s lessons showing how the ancien régime placed its greatest efforts into destroying itself, in the measure that it believed it was modernizing: the reforms, directed at making the government’s management more efficient and, in this manner, legitimizing a modern conception of power (modern does not mean democratic, obviously), only succeeded in emptying the power of the traditional institutions, turning them into mere decorations of an isolated State. Perhaps the shudders that inundate us Venezuelans when we read De Tocqueville’s account are provided by the role the “illustrious” played in the diffusion of the technocratic thought that eventually confirmed the maxim of the end justifying the means.

In other words, this revolution (this which defines itself as such, I repeat) is the daughter of a crowd, and inscribes itself within the long moment of Juan Vicente Gómez,** if that's what one can call it. Notice the recent material that pollster Alfredo Keller has been circulating, in which, less concerned with Chávez’s political project, his popularity or his electoral destiny, the author dedicates himself to poking through the cultural substrata where the symbolic satisfactions the so-called revolution distributes can be found.

Keller notices a consolidation of the utilitarian culture that places the relations between citizen and government in terms of an ideological market, where a series of representations regarding well-being, wealth, poverty and the State government as a redistribution machine are settled. A public culture that is not a political culture, since the relationships between people and what they'd like to achieve (their well-being, for instance) are not mediated by institutions for the distribution (or the disputation) of power, but rather by a completely ecstatic link: vindication.

More or less, the end of history.

In this way, depoliticized society separates itself, disintegrates and, more accurately, pulverizes itself.

Fragments of magical thinking continue to circulate, attempting to erase (I’m sure they won’t succeed) the timid and hopeful apparitions of political discourse: not a few continue to believe in the curse of the CNE, as though the evils of the country were concentrated in the silicon soul of those voting machines, without wanting to give credit to the vindicating beliefs as electoral fuel and to the fascination they provoke. With or without the CNE, with or without electoral decency, with or without a unitary candidate, with or without primaries, the matter at hand is to win the discursive war, to confront the dissolving ideology that deforms social experience, making poverty seem like a prize, corruption like “bureaucracy,” arbitrariness like State reason, history like an eternal present.

* Consejo Nacional Electoral, Venezuela’s electoral council

** Military dictator who ruled Venezuela during 1908-1935

{ Colette Capriles, El Nacional, 4 May 2006 }

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