Desde la periferia / Antonio López Ortega

From the Periphery

In a certain manner, we are aging. That is, part of the country is aging, quickly, without being able to contribute anything to what we might call the national destiny. It is a crude sensation, a real one, which installs itself in the collective spirit, like a sledge hammer that falls from the sky. If what certain theorists define as social capital is measured by the highest social consensus, we obviously live in a dismantled society, where every sector looks in a different direction. Although it sounds like a euphemism, the old State occasionally exhibited an instrument that in its own way offered a vision: the Plan for the Nation. Something that allowed planning, getting ahead, glimpsing the future. What might be our Plan for the Nation today? Nothing we might share as a collective. Or in any case, nothing that we know of, and if it did exist it would be in the hands of a small sect.

There is a centripetal, vertiginous effect in Venezuelan society. A whirlwind takes us on an unknown route, amidst sonorous bursts, amidst the whips of shadows, and no one is surprised any more. Whoever shows up with any state of consciousness only procures a way of retreating, thinking the whirlwind won’t drag them away completely. This is a passing illusion that allows a temporary reassurance. The most benign, those who have dreamed of a country different from the actual one and the one in the past, fight to participate in some way – with ideas, with reflections, with projects –, but the whirlwind ends up repelling them because it only feeds on discards. This is the hour of followers, not thoughtful beings. A fundamental value of modern democracy – participation – is exercised in a slanted manner: those who don't question participate.

Not participating is a way of aging, of dying – at least democratically –. The sensation of being on the periphery, of not being able to contribute, of not finding channels, separates more than one and it disintegrates us as a Nation; it is the families that emigrate, the professionals who leave, the young people who seek their destiny elsewhere. Not believing in the country, seeing no future in the country… – Therein lies our society’s greatest defect –. At a moment that is propitious for invoking all social forces, for creating the greatest consensus, for gathering the best talent, we have veered off on an unproductive and anachronistic short cut: division, pugnacity, debasement. The opportunity for a quantitative leap presented itself, possibly the only one available to us in the final years of the 20th century to create an economic paradigm different from the petroleum-dependent one. But today we are more of the same: wasteful, pretentious, inconsequential. Of past kindnesses, none remain; but of errors, all the possible and imaginable ones.

{ Antonio López Ortega, El Nacional, 3 April 2007 }

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