Economy Crashes, Government Rejoices

Yesterday marked another insane low in the festering of Hugo  Chávez’s Revolution.

In the process of slamming the opposition for supposedly rejoicing over the first quarter drop in GDP, Chávez, in effect, rejoiced over the first quarter drop in GDP. 

It’s hard to contain the sheer, blind rage this response sets off in me.

In celebrating the plunge in our nation’s economy, Chávez is, in effect, celebrating the fall into poverty of countless thousands of families, of his base, damnit. Thousands of regular folks see the gains they’d made during the oil boom cruelly clawed back by inflation and shortages, and the government’s response is to chalk it all up as a win!

Do stop to grasp what we’re seeing here, because in a way, it’s historic.

For any number of poor and near-poor Venezuelans, the distant abstractions of the first quarter GDP report mean all they can afford is two meals a day, instead of three. It means having to choose between medicine and school supplies for their kids.

The lethal combination of slowing economic activity alongside fast rising prices spells real economic hardship, proper suffering, for precisely the kinds of people the government claims to champion.

It took a radically pro-poor government to, in the end, come all the way around and cheer what the most conservative of right wing governments could never have allowed itself to celebrate: the further impoverishment of the poor, under its own watch.

It’s really too much.

Yesterday’s was the moment we witnessed the government crossing a kind of final threshold into utter lunacy, where all common sense and basic humanity was banished from an official discourse that can no longer think in any but the most stridently ideological terms. Chavismo has really reached the llegadero: infatuation with a the airy abstractions of paleomarxism has wrung out the last bit of common empathy for people’s day to day lives for these guys.  

Patently unable to sustain the gains made in the oil boom years, the government has taken the easier route of chalking up its failures as successes instead. As the entire basis of legitimation for the regime goes up in smoke, the government just plows on, elevating the goal of screwing its opponents above the goal of helping its supporters.

The result is just pathological: a mental illness masquerading as a governing philosophy. 

The only question now is whether the government cares that its popular support is going up in smoke right alongside the gains it once made against poverty. Because, make no mistake about it: there is heightening, incandescent anger about the inflation/shortages crisis – even among loyal chavistas. In fact, the kinds of strident discontent chavistas express with regard to the economic situation is increasingly indistinguishable from the denunciations from Chávez’s ideological opponents.

People are pissed. How could they not be?

What Chávez grotesquely signaled with his declaration yesterday is quite simple.

"I don’t care. Your hunger is my victory. Any questions?"

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