<table><tr><td><em>In the self-proclaimed Venezuelan revolution we already know that debates about the economy are off the table because they are a secret and are totally subordinate to the consolidation of power. But neither the social issue because, following the government’s plan, society is an endangered species.</em>
Pedro Pablo - [El Libertario, # 65, February-March 2012, Venezuela. Trans. Luis]
Politics, in the larger sense, has long ceased to be the focus of reflexive thinking, everywhere degenerating into cheap tricks, lies, propaganda, promises and deceits in the race for more power. However, from the XVI to the XVIII centuries it was one of the main topics of thought when modern nation-states and their ways of government were formed; when, from Machiavelli to Tocqueville, Hobbes and Rousseau, politics was a problem to be solved. But, as Marx and Proudhon recognized, in the XIX century, when capitalism became hegemonic and representative forms of government became general, the main themes became the economy and society. The poles in the debate ceased being political and became the model of property, bourgeoisie or proletariat, unequal or re-distributive, stratification or social mobility, in force no matter what the dominant political regime was. More recently, towards the middle of the XX century certain voices arouse to re-think politics.</td><td><img title="no need to rethink, reject." src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/v_notimagination.jpg"></td>...
The fact that for some time in Venezuela this polarization has been essentially political –in the worst sense of the word- and winning elections the only topic in the media, in a permanent electoral campaign that devours everything from soccer victories to the university budget, is, on the one hand, a sign that we worry about the wrong thing, and on the other that we are incapable of appreciating the real matters that should worry us in our times, the economy and society, at least until politics returns to issues of interest besides elections. The responsibility for this retro preoccupation falls upon those who have climbed to the apex of power and have stolen the oil wealth. In this self-proclaimed revolution we already know that debates about the economy are off the table because they are a secret and are totally subordinate to the consolidation of power. But neither the social issue because, following the government’s plan, society is an endangered species.
Creating victims and bolibourgeoises
Remember that 13 years ago, when the so-called Process started, the topics for discussion were the political system’s debacle, the inadequacy of local governments faced with economic globalization, the evaluation of such globalization in order to either confront it or accept it, the social safety net vs. the neoliberal model, the emergence of minority rights, the importance or organizing civil society, the weakening of State power, the revitalization of the law, the place for women in society. Today little of this is debated, because of all the sudden the government forced us to choose sides between the Good or the Evil decreed by the politicians, as if the La Guaira cataclysm of 1999 had become national and popular. This preponderance of politics, reduced to the taking and keeping of power has caused violence to become the center, internally as well as a consequence of common delinquency, the complicity with the drug mafia, the corruption, the permissiveness in its dealings with the Colombian armed movements, how the language of war –or at least of neighborhood thug- was assumed in international relations and the support of motley causes under the pretext of fighting the Empire, which on the other hand was showered with oil concessions.
At the same time the underpinnings of society such as respect for certain institutions that administered laws and values more or less accepted, for the way the transformation was being managed, for the way commitments were met, for common sense, for the structures that spread the wealth, for certain authority relationships, and for the rejection of the absurdity and nineteenth century arbitrariness as the rule for action took on a progressively and increasingly debilitating character. The best example at hand is how under this government, with its calculated inability to prevent catastrophes, the museums have become refuges, the racetracks, the hospitals, commercial centers, the presidential palace, the cultural centers, the military outposts, the parking lots, the hotels all have become refugee camps with the result that the function that each institution and place should fulfill has been devalued by intentionally engaging in conduct leading to perverting the meaning of what is social. The country has ceased to be the place for relationships of all kinds to become a gigantic refugee camp, forever temporary. On the other hand, contributing to this, we find parallel and uncoordinated educational systems, the same happens in health, defense, justice is an empty shell, the Constitution a book with blank pages.
This is the image of a calculated and dramatic de-socialization of society with an urge for power whose paradigm is the destruction of thevery institution society created to impart justice. This socialism of the XXI Century is busy diluting society in its quest for power and in large measure has been successful. The result is that a group of revolutionary Golden Boys (Maduro, Jaua, the Chavez family, the Flores, the Chacons, Tarek’s tribe, the Cabellos, the Ramirezes, the bankers, many business people, to name only a few) rose to the top. It isn’t that they stopped talking about the problems but now they are totally somebody else’s problems because they are outside of the society they came from thanks to money and the power of the state they have stolen. For them there are neither rules, no duties or obligations to meet, neither collective interests to defend nor needs to cover, they don’t answer to anybody and the institutions are at their service while the people is something way behind the TV cameras. Let’s cite one example: Carlos Escarra was offended when, at an international airport, he was asked to remove his shoes claiming it was a violation of his human rights. He didn’t know that such violation of human rights was the rule at the Maiquetia airport for all travelers but, being outside of society, was not aware that this was the case.
Of politics as the art of disengagement
At the other extreme, those once referred to as the marginalized, the poor, and the dispossessed also disappeared from society. For them there are also no rules or rights to claim, nor duties to fulfill, nor institutions they can trust or that stabilize collective life. We hear of many families waiting for their dead at the morgue every weekend and the only consolation they get is God and his ghostly justice, as the society that used to mete out justice, albeit haphazardly, has been dissolved. There is confusion as to who teaches, who is responsible for health, who answers for social security, who should be building housing or keeping order in the prisons. The formerly marginalized are now beggars and their importance is reduced to being electoral meat, like any street dog hoping for a handout. Just like animals going to the stable to get fed, so people are guided to government organized centers in order to satisfy their needs, be it food, a fridge or a vaccine. And they must do so with a grateful heart, without protest.
Their complaints, and there are thousands, are pitiful pleadings nobody listens to because the government’s social responsibility has disappeared and they come from those outside the social fabric. That is why the results are almost nil and everything boils down to begging for the leader’s mercy. And I say almost nil because from time to time one must have a photo opportunity for propaganda purposes. It’s enough to mention that a housing complex was inaugurated with only a single house built, but the inauguration was showcased on TV. Another one: near my house it took 5 years to repair three blocks of pavement (half the time it took to build the Panama Canal) but, when after two years the first block was fixed, it was broadcast nationally with the president in attendance, and lots of people bussed in along with food, orchestras and dancers.
What was formerly known as society is only the aspiration of a small group that still tries to get institutions to fulfill their role, that wants laws and regulations to maintain order not to function as useless absurdities to enforce submission, that oppose the violence taking over everywhere, that tries to assemble freely without the control of the state, that seeks to identify collective problems and create social movements for their solution. We struggle to organize in different initiatives, but we see that what gives meaning to our actions, namely society, is being diluted and what remains are only individuals at the mercy of the elements, lost, more and more subjected to the power. Faced with the decline of the social, space is occupied by force, violence inflicted by those precisely outside the social, those outsiders at the top and those at the bottom, by the holy wars of the leaders against some enemy, foreign or domestic, real or imaginary, or the delinquency of gangs of different brands that cause hundreds of deaths and injuries. The solution pretends to be political, but the reality is different.
What is being proposed to avoid the undeniable dissolution of society? What has been launched from above, although as usual in the irrational propagandistic tone of those who rule by force and as a ruse to distract, are two different options of dubious compatibility and impossible agreement. We have, on the one hand Communal Councils and similar organizations, very medieval and alien to any contemporary rationality, whose only common sense is personality cult, along with uncritical dependence upon some foreign model, such as Cuba. On the other hand, vague notions, very post-modern, leading to dispersion and the uncommon, such as cultures, peoples, races and ethnic groups which among us, mostly of mixed race, are almost non-existent.
None of these options are useful to make a call for collective life. When modern society disappears, when workers unions, neighborhood associations, political parties, government structures, the institutions in charge of protecting all of us, the rules for the assignment of tasks, the institutions that administer agreements, have lost all reasoning and common sense, it is a clear sign of social crisis. The consequence, sought after by those who hold state power, is increased aggressiveness at all levels of collective life, isolating individuals left to fend for themselves, generalized chaos in social relations where one can only expect apathy, violence and totalitarian power, partially interrupted when, during the electoral campaign some candidate makes lots of promises and hands out some candy.