¿El ciudadano conforme? / Héctor Silva Michelena

The Resigned Citizen?

Lacking any dynamic principles, politics becomes a theater where the only thing seen is the character-actor. Interest centers on the person, not their principles, which in the best of cases are null. Freedom of choice is abolished, replaced by the plebiscite. This perversion of the political game legitimates abuse and when it happens implies a terrible conformity that generates the “resigned citizen.” A resigned democracy is a pharisaic situation, as are all conformities.

In the depths of this tragicomedy weighs the sinking of Marxism-Leninism and its fatal collectivism. When he broke away from the “voluntarism” of the Utopian socialists, Marx thought he was establishing the historical necessity of scientific socialism. The determining components of Marxist theory cease to be relevant when communism achieves power. So, today the State pretends to commit hara-kiri, while it stimulates associative forms of property that, in order to function, depend precisely on “L’État, c’est moi”; thus a truly assisted and client-based citizenry is created. That is when the great political, economic and moral fiasco that put an end to communism and questioned the validity of revolution as history’s midwife, larvae-like, begins. In that regime freedom of choice between material goods didn’t exist; nor did the possibility of opting for other spiritual or social goods. There was no personal or collective freedom.

A heavy curtain drowned everything amidst a terrible liturgy of deceit. A liturgy in which the officiant and the faithful knew the assembly was a lie but everyone still kept to the ritual. Does this resemble the superficial morality of Chávez and his acolytes when faced with the acts of corruption going as far back as the CAAEZ affair [Complejo Agroindustrial Azucarero Ezequiel Zamora, a failed sugar refinery project], on to the tribe of “Los Enanos” [The Dwarfs, a secretive criminal gang whose alleged existence came to light c. 2004] and more recently to the 248 formal complaints against Mercal [government-sponsored supermarkets] being investigated by the attorney general, and its $242 billion dollar loss in 2006? Hypocrisy?

That system, like its Bolivarian excrescence, was unable to assimilate the technological revolution, though it had the decency to fall on its own. The Berlin Wall falls on top of the entire left and all progressives. Even democratic socialism had and has a strong voluntarist component that connects it to the idea of progress created by the Enlightenment. It’s what Hayek called “the fatal pretension” of Soviet socialism.

We already know the deficiencies of the neoliberal model are even worse, since their central postulations remain intact and untouchable despite their harsh social effects; we know there’s no end to history in sight. We also know facts seem to move much quicker than ideas, and it is this desperate lack that creates the resigned, assisted, dependent citizen. That’s where flexible minds have been making efforts to create a theory of democratic transformation, and defeat the demolition of the Republic now underway.

{ Héctor Silva Michelena, Tal Cual, 11 February 2008 }

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