Chávez sin chavismo / Cantórbery Cuevas

Chávez without Chavismo

Evidence of the depletion of contemporary revolutions, those that have occurred and those to come, can be found – as with the former – in the death of most of them; the conversion of others into prosperous mercantile States, and the progressive evanescence of the few remaining ones. As for the so-called embryonic ones, we only know of one that openly proclaims itself as such: president Chávez’s. And we find ourselves moved by the candor of his sincere use of symbols so outmoded that recently in Moscow I saw how the old State-run department store was selling effigies of Stalin and Soviet military medals to tourists as picturesque souvenirs of a definitively past and settled time. (Upon my return home I was surprised by the contrast of a poster of our President, with a huge yellow hammer and sickle against a red backdrop, along with the astonishing slogan: “Towards Scientific Socialism!”)

Besides being supremely unfortunate, these symbols, slogans and colors emblematic of obviously lost causes, eloquently express the opposite of what the concept of revolution once represented: originality, confidence, ingenuity, the capacity to astonish, irreverence. And, inversely, they expose: uniformity, failure, anachronism, closure, militaristic submission. The curse of the Petrostate (an overwhelming flood of mining profits, without any control by institutions that are inexistent anyways), as we’ve said, is only one of the negations faced by the President’s retrograde dream. And the living resurgence of multitudes unwilling to let themselves be led to an imprecise destination by someone else’s whims, is merely another.

I doubt Chávez will ever understand that his time (and ours) is not epic. And if he were to understand this, I doubt he would accept the evidence. But let us venture an exercise of the imagination in which the President, engrossed in the jungle of paradoxes that plague this convoluted society and world, and confronting his reiterated local and foreign blunders, were to sit down and reflect. Let’s assume he completes his constitutional term, and let’s add the following fantasy element: pressed by growing problems, orphaned of an epopee, slave to a grandiloquent discourse that becomes more and more empty, and fearful of reaching a level of embarrassing, picturesque parochialism if he doesn’t change course, he decides to reconcile with reality. And then, the new female President of the empire (of which he is an associate, by the way), once the devil has been dislodged, receives him with open arms at the White House. For the sake of equanimity, let’s allow him to keep some of his characteristic, hardware store Bolívar-socialism and eloquence. But – and here’s the charm of the matter – Chávez substantially modifies the content of his proposal, and, with the clumsiness that’s so essential to his being, starts to blend in subtly with the only global economic reality by means of an ingenious and perhaps functioning radical social democratic reformism.

With lots of red T-shirts. Of course.

{ Cantórbery Cuevas, Tal Cual, 9 July 2007 }

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