No More

By Colette Capriles

Código Venezuela. March 13, 2014.

That make-believe country has always been there, covered up by the exhausted rhetoric of a third-world narrative, by the outpour of subsidies and by the everyday use of a language of hatred, which spread everywhere as if it were harmless. Now we are shown everything, with people dead, wounded, imprisoned, and humiliated: it is a price too high to pay.

The most important thing about revolutions is how they end. In his book Interpreting the French Revolution, François Furet felt obliged to write an introduction presenting the battlefield where, two hundred years after the revolutionary events occurred, the battle for interpretation still continues. Maybe, the revolution is the modern sacred book and needs to be deciphered all the time. When he made himself the exclusive owner of power, Bonaparte declared that the revolution was over; only to state that he was its only heir, following the principles of 1789. Tocqueville was one of the few people who was able to see the secret continuity between the Bourbon monarchy and the institutions of the French revolution. He considered Bonaparte´s regime a historically unprecedented autocracy, a form of despotism only possible through and after democracy, where the centralization of the administration, the legal system, allowed an almost complete and legitimate control over public and private life.

Chávez was a huge symptom of democracy´s illness, of the true democracy which is representative and liberal. Because there is no other. I don´t believe that those who voted for Chávez in 1998 had anything else deep down but a blind indignation; I don´t think they took the idea of a “participatory” democracy very seriously. But the temptation for order – or rather a new powerful order that would ditch the indecisiveness and uncertainties that go with democracy, and that would do justice to the fattened-up resentment of an unfinished modernity – was just too much. Maybe that explains the hypnotic submission that the institutional and factual powers handed themselves in with, ever since that grim swearing-in ceremony that promised to end them.

A whole year was needed for the tyrannical inherited mess to become painfully obvious. While I write this, Chávez´s voice, singing his own personal version of the anthem in a kind of Neronian stage, is amplified by speakers on top of military tanks chasing protesters, pleasantly covered by treachery and the darkness of the night. This is the staging of the legacy: it isn’t only the strength and terror of a State machinery against the defenseless citizen; it is a Wagnerian gesture of supreme power, of the enjoyment of fire and humiliation. It´s like looking at the naked flesh of the country imagined by Chavismo: the one without any limits of power, the one that annihilates the unwanted.

That make-believe country has always been there, covered up by the exhausted rhetoric of a third-world narrative, by the outpour of subsidies and by the everyday use of a language of hatred, which spread everywhere as if it were harmless. Now we are shown everything, with people dead, wounded, imprisoned, and humiliated: it is a price too high to pay.

If it can be formulated in a simple way, it seems that we have to return to something more basic, to something that comes before politics: to a sense of preservation that needs to come before the disintegrated fields of strength that is the country today. Chávez´s power didn’t lie in any of his doubtful personal attributes, but in his ability to break, divide, fragment and fracture – even the most daily aspects – and rule over that puzzle. Now we have to connect those pieces, bring together, join, glue, add, form growing entities, find a solid spot in the center of the map of Babel where we can tie ourselves to and mobilize this society, all of it, in another direction; leaving this shipwreck, this crushed imaginary country behind. The people in power don’t want to talk, because conversation means denial of power. But we have to force them to speak, not in their sinister and Orwellian terms, but in the terms of justice, simple and clear. It was said by Pedro Salinas in The Defender: “Only when hope is lost in the persuasion power of speech, in its strength to convince, then the weapons will shine and violence begins”.

 

Source: Capriles, Colette. “Ya No Más” CódigoVenezuela.com. March 13, 2004. http://www.codigovenezuela.com/2014/03/opinion/colette-capriles/ya-no-mas-por-colette-capriles-cocap

Main photograph: Platón Antoniou

Translated by #infoVnzla

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