By Axel Capriles
Dinero – June 6, 2014
Venezuelan Jungian psychoanalyst Axel Capriles believes the Government has led Venezuelans to fend for themselves, relying on selfishness and trickery, which in turn has led to a fractured and dismembered society
Economic statistics in Venezuela are as clear as can be: inflation has reached 57%, the scarcity index hovers around 28%, and the murder rate stands at 39 deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants. These figures speak of a country immersed in one of the worst socioeconomic crises of recent years, one that in the opinion of Axel Capriles, a social psychologist and PhD in Economic Sciences, will be very difficult to overcome because “the government knows that the measures needed to correct this situation contradict the political system it has been implementing.”
However, despite Capriles recognizing that the country is suffering a severe economic crisis, he does not believe that a social uprising is on the cards right now given that people are looking to adapt to the situation through individualistic anarchism in order to solve their particular problems. In his opinion, Venezuelans are trying to get by through a mix of selfishness and trickery, something that translates into a fractured and dismembered society.
Are Venezuelans getting used to scarcity and survival?
I don’t think we can talk of becoming accustomed to the situation, because it is quite unique for Venezuelans. I think it is more a matter of perplexity. We are confronting a new experience and we do not know how to react, which is why sometimes we feel enraged and take part in demonstrations, but also why we sometimes seem passive or rely on cunning. It is premature to say we have become used to this, because we have not become Cuba yet, although this is a possibility we cannot rule out.
Generally speaking, we are in a state of shock facing an experience that we did not believe was possible. No one could have imagined that in this oil-rich country people were going to suffer the level of shortages we are currently witnessing, queuing for hours just to find basic staples. This state of perplexity demands an examination of our cultural identity. We are experiencing a situation of collective paralysis, perplexity, fear and uncertainty, a situation in which the collective actions that could pave the way for a transformation have yet to materialize in definitive terms.
So is Venezuela still far from a scenario of social upheaval?
Many people are expecting a social outburst. The thing is the government has made Venezuelans fend for themselves and find the solution to their problems individually. People have become used to arbitrariness, relying on cunning to get what they need. Everyone is increasingly looking to adapt to these situations through a sort of individualistic anarchy, where we all partake in a survival-mode selfishness to satisfy our needs.
In this context, Venezuelans have resorted to finding a contact person at the supermarket to tell them when a given product has arrived, or to paying tips to receive preferential treatment. Alternatively, street vendors make their families stand in line to buy food that they will later re-sell at higher prices. This has led to the emergence of an underground economy that revolves around shortages and the related street smarts necessary to confront them. This is the formula people are using to adapt, but it cannot be seen as the solution because every country needs a level of production that is solid and large enough to satisfy its domestic demand.
Why haven’t the poor joined the recent demonstrations on a massive scale?
For the underprivileged, scarcity isn’t such a big deal as it is for the middle classes because they have always lived in precarious conditions and are more used to these difficulties. Venezuelans have been mistreated by all their governments and the popular classes have endured hardship generation after generation so, in spite of these new difficulties, they are already used to standing in line and suffering to get hold of water and food. Also, even though they suffer shortages and insecurity, the poor still receive some benefits from oil income through so called missions and other social programs.
On the other hand there is a problem of identity, there is a sense of belonging that certain groups feel towards Chavismo, which sells itself as the representative of the popular sectors. It could be that these segments of the population feel a sense of belonging towards Chavismo that is greater than the economic hardship they are suffering.
That sense of security and collective identity that certain people feel towards their particular political group has yet to break down. However, I feel that in the case of Chavismo this sense of collective identity is hanging by a thread and is about to break; reality is so bleak that things can start to turn against them.
Source: Capriles, Axel.”Estamos en estado de shock”. Dinero. June 6, 2014. Dinero. June 9, 2014.
Translated by #infoVnzla