Inversiones dialécticas / Oswaldo Barreto

Dialectical Inversions

Those who have taken the words and actions of President Chávez very seriously have highlighted, without exception, his desire to proclaim himself the direct or indirect inheritor of Marx’s world vision and methodology. Among his abundant doctrinaire speculations, particularly those related both to his desire to create 21st century socialism and the profound reasons that have guided his other great decisions, there are those who seek and even find the reflection of his dialectical vision of the world.

That’s why any observer of Venezuela’s political events knows about the consecration of the jealous caretakers of the Marxist dialectic – such as the frequently cited German-Mexican professor Dietrich or the very Venezuelan and very versatile Jerónimo Carrera – in discovering the threads of Marxist orthodoxy underlying the Chávez phenomenon in its most diverse facets. Without pretending to emulate or contradict these researchers of Chávez’s thought and works, I confess that on more than one occasion I too have perceived in one and the other a few glimmers of a dialectical vision of the world. Except, the dialectic I perceive is that other dialectic against which Marx opposed his own. We should recall, in relation to this, the philosophical manifesto found in Capital: “My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.” And we should also recall what would turn out to be the most famous example of the opposite results to which these methods lead: “For Hegel the State creates society for dialectical materialism (Marx’s); the opposite is true, it is society that creates the State.” It has occurred to us, then, that these seemingly indelible remembrances from our Marxist formation have come to mind when we’ve faced the president’s firm conviction that he will, as an incarnation of the State, rebuild Venezuelan society in all its components. From Chávez (master of the State) will emerge, first Venezuelan society and then, with a bit of luck and good oil prices, Latin American society and who knows? Maybe even a new multipolar world.

And if this brief comparative sketch might seem extravagant, let’s look at what’s happening now with Colombia. When Chávez affirms that relations between Venezuela and Colombia “have turned sour” because Uribe rejected him as a mediator with the FARC, he once again ratifies his idea that anything affecting him personally is a matter of importance for Venezuelan society, thus surpassing that other famous dialectical inversion by Louis XIV: “L'État, c'est moi.” And – representing a dialectical inversion of graver consequences – after he exposes that things have gotten bad, he declares, he manifests his disposition not to work toward improving them, but instead toward worsening them as much as his will permits.

{ Oswaldo Barreto, Tal Cual, 26 November 2007 }

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