Notes on Speculationism

By Alberto Barrera Tyszka

El Nacional – April 27, 2014 

Pick up the phone and dial 0800-72268253. Have no fear. Speak up as soon as someone answers. Tell them the truth. That prices have rocketed. That it’s no fun standing in line. That you would like to buy your groceries in the same store that Elías Eljuri (head of the National Institute of Statistics) gets his basic food basket. Don’t hold back. This is the number they re-launched last year so citizens could report the wrongdoings of capitalist pigs, those responsible for what’s going on. Tell them all your troubles. Don’t worry about time, it’s a toll-free call. Ask about that stall in Guaicaipuro Market where Cilia (the First Lady) buys her rags. Tell them that your salary isn’t enough to make ends meet. That you don’t understand a thing. What’s going on? Didn’t President Maduro request special powers to fight the economic war and put an end to the crisis?

The government has made a theoretical contribution to the complex field of economics and its interpretation. It’s called “Speculationism.” It is a broad and generous concept that can be used for, well just about anything. You can use it here or there, you can use it anywhere. It doesn’t break down and it doesn’t get wet, and it is free of depreciation. It works in any context. You can always count on it. Speculationism is, in itself, another act of speculation. It assumes that there is a nationwide movement dedicated to a sort of contagious vice whereby we make a living out of our imaginations, ignoring the true value of things. In this country, reality is merely a hypothesis.

Perhaps this is why there are so many different explanations about what is happening to us. So called “objective conditions” or “socio-economic structures” are by no means definitive or weighty properties, they seem to be fickle or whimsical at best. For example, until recently, we were going to be this great economic powerhouse. And we were told that thanks to the revolutionary government we had been saved of the neo-liberal crisis that was devouring the planet. But then, when its plans started to crumble the government cried out against an alleged media war. Later they spoke of an economic war, although they also said that the crisis was a blessing in disguise that would lead us to socialism, even faster. Later, they made accusations against international terrorism; they denounced a ferocious economic sabotage against Bolívar’s children. However, now they tell us that the Bolívar’s children “have no work ethic, that we don’t make an effort, and that we don’t produce a thing.” Dear comrades, you have become an army of beach bums.

Speculationism can also help us to elucidate and clarify where the hell could the almost one trillion dollars in oil revenues experts say the country earned during this period of oil bonanza be. We’re not talking peanuts here, especially if you consider we are suffering the highest inflation rate in the world. It’s hard to get one’s head around that figure, it’s hard to picture it. And if we put that figure in the context of what we have to endure on a day-to-day basis, well then it becomes even more distant and bewildering. Try to picture one trillion dollars sitting next to the country’s large public hospitals. Tragic. The economy is nothing but a void.

What does speculationism say about this? Well, that reality lies, that it conceals the truth, that what we see is an illusion. President Nicolás Maduro says, and he’s backed up by his Education Minister Hector Rodríguez on this one, that since 1999 a little more than 60% of all that money has been destined to “social investment”, which is the same as “social development”, also the same as “social expenditure”. Sounds good, but there’s no way of proving it. What’s it all about? How can one verify that 600 billion dollars have been devoted to social programs? What else is considered under that heading? Flights, rallies, t-shirts, events. The presidential residence? 110 vice ministries? Speculationism doesn’t need to provide proof, nor does it desire control or auditing. It is under no obligation to inform the people.

Call 0800-sabotage. Tell them that you want to make a complaint. That we are still waiting for the government to show us the list of ghost companies that were handed more than 20 billion dollars. How much for a kilogram of transparency? Ask them. What’s the going price for a slice of truth?

Source: Barrera Tyszka, Alberto. “Apuntes sobre el especulacionismo”. El Nacional. April 27, 2014. El Nacional. April 27, 2014.

Translated by #infoVnzla