[Note: If you came looking for fresh insights or proper analysis, you might as well move along. This one’s just one long rant. Click through only if you’re up for that sort of thing.]
"Three new political persecutions in one week, with more certainly on the way. The regime is working to routinize repression, to establish it as just part of the normal ‘way things are’ that those who criticize it publicly can expect to go to jail."
What can you say about a statement like that? It’s grave, certainly. Deadly serious stuff. It’s also evident – determined to impose itself on our collective consciousness with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It’s something like the opposite of insightful. It takes no special insight to grasp it. The governing elite has decided the time for subtle messages is over.
I don’t know how to shake this sense of the sheer useless repetitiveness of continuing to write about it, the raining-on-mojado sense that the cards are now fully on the table, that power now acts at its most basic, at its most naked in Venezuela, and that the evidence all around makes further comment just plain depressing.
I keep remembering the meta-narrative in Nanni Moretti’s Il Caimano, which is less a film about Berlusconi than it is a film about making a film about Berlusconi while being fully aware of the sheer, soul-crushing pointlessness of making a film about Berlusconi. At one point, one of the characters, played by Moretti himself, explains why the project is so ridiculous:
"A film about Berlusconi? Oh no! Everybody already knows everything about Berlusconi. Those who wanted to know, know…and as for those who’d rather not understand…well, come on! What else do you want to tell people about?…everything’s out in the open."
Which, mutatis mutandi, is pretty much where we are now in Venezuela.
The challenge, I suppose, is to keep the sense of outrage going, to fight that routinization so that each new injustice burns as bright as the ones before. Some people are better at this than others. I only envy them. Personally, I struggle with the sense of despair. With the sense that all this bullshit is making the blog too predictable. And boring. Or, what’s worse, solemn.
That last bit, in particular, gnaws at me.
My ambition all along has been to craft a blog that’s serious but not solemn. An antidote to the dreary, plodding, narcosis-inducing drone that takes up so much of the official Venezuelan public sphere. I always thought Caracas Chronicles makes an implicit promise to its readers: come here and, day after day, and we’re going to keep it fresh. Sassy. Fun. We’re going to point your attention to stuff you need to know about Venezuela without preaching or getting all solemn and boring and sanctimonious. Hopefully, we’re going to make you laugh along the way.
Could the sheer dictatorial excesses on the ground be forcing us to renegue on that promise? At what point does sprinkling a blog with snark become just plain obscene?
It may just be that the time horizons of the internet world are too compressed for the task we face. That blogs, written daily, or Tweets, written in just a few seconds, create an illusion of immediacy that blinds us to the Long Game. That postmodern dictatorship can’t be demolished, but can be slowly worn away at, corroded little by little by the sheer bloody minded determination to keep on keeping on. That every tiny act of defiance is useful – if on a microscopic scale – and that the only way the regime wins is by psyching us out – by feeding the despair that leads to the inaction that is its only hope.
It could well be like that.
Still, it’s a fight you have to fight every day.