A great Boris Muñoz piece in The New Yorker

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Nicmer Evans - defender of violence
Nicmer Evans – defender of violence

Boris Muñoz is one of a select few “must-read” Venezuelan writers. His latest for the New Yorker – talking about our black-and-blue National Assembly – is a doozy.

Apparently, chavista “intellectual” Nicmer Evans thinks people who confuse chavismo with a personalist, autocratic, no-criticism-allowed movement … are mistaken! They somehow misunderstood what Chávez meant to teach them. It must have been because Chávez trained them to obey him, and him only, without conditions. Nicmer seems to think we call chavistas “trained seals” out of spite alone.

Apparently, the violence in the National Assembly is the sad by-product of internal fights within chavismo. In other words, they can’t get along, so Julio Borges’ forehead has to pay the price. They can’t find common ground, so Maria Corina Machado’s nose must be broken.

Apparently, there are several sane chavistas out there who can now (finally!) sleep at night because they criticized Maduro to a journalist for a foreign publication, making it clear that they are absolutely against beating up their fellow deputies and taking away their right to speak. It’s just too bad that they don’t have the guts to say those things on the record.

What the piece does – perhaps without wanting to – is lay bare the moral bankruptcy of chavismo. Even the “good,” “sane” guys come across as unbearable hypocrites with no moral compass, cashing in on a movement forged in violence, that governs with violence, and only promises violence, and yet somehow finding a way to dissent anonymously, quietly, by way of secret tape recordings.

Message to chavistas with a glimmer of a conscience: the moment for ditching this ship out of principle passed a long time ago. There is no point of return for you anymore. The worst aspects of chavismo – the violent, thuggish, autocratic god-given mess it has become – is what you’re wedded to … forever.

Own it.

1 COMMENT

  1. Nicmer Evans is the very most unmamable subpecies within the chavistoid genus. The affectation of intellectual detachment in an evident toady is somehow far more galling than the straight up paranoid stalinism that’s become the default setting for the tribe. There’s a special corner of hell reserved for guys like Nicmer…

    • He and Farith Fraija, another despicable member of the same subspecies. Both burst onto the scene seemingly at the same time. Both highly annoying.

        • Nicmer Evans and company are not intellectuals. Intellectuals make determinations based on evidence. These are court hangers-on, court-esans.

          The entire history of the twentieth century, from Romania to China, Poland to Vietnam Yugoslavia to Cuba, and all stops in between, show that “participatory democracy” is a public relations facade for Stalinist governments and one-man-rule.

          So, Nicmer is surprised by this development in Venezuela? Who could have imagiined this development, other than those smarter than a dormouse? Props to him for waking up after only 14 years.

  2. Juan,

    Thanks for that link.

    What I find amazing is how these so-called intellectuals keep thinking their statements are anything new. That includes that “participatory democracy” thing as opposed to what they called Stalinism. Fact is their “participatory democracy acts” are more akin to the soviets of early revolution times, when a group of thugs from the party cajoled others to agree on what the party leaders said.

    I agree with your basic statements here but the last paragraph seems a little bit of a catharsis than anything else. Although I don’t have any hope for a Chavista apparatchiki (I am in search for a word to differentiate between a chavista like Gumercinda Pacheco, 60 years old, a humble follower in a shanty town of Calabozo, and chavistas like state officials or self-proclaimed “intellectuals”), I think your statement for them that “there is no point of return” and “own it”, if they ever read this post, will be taken rather as a challenge (well, Gumercinda will for sure never read this). It is equal to “atrinchérate si puedes, que de aquí te saco a balazo limpio” that Germans knew very well from the Ypers trenches.

    My message to our poor Borges: learn Aikido. And kudos to him.

    • I woke up this morning wondering if my post was just a long rant, or if there was room for subtlety, particularly in light of this message I got from Boris Muñoz

      https://twitter.com/borismunoz/status/337043168640000000

      This boils down to an ethical treatment of chavismo. Ethical dilemmas are, by nature, gray areas. However, behind every great ethical debate there has to be some common ground, some basic rule that both parties in the debate agree to.

      For example, take the debate over abortion. Both the pro-choice and the pro-life sides of this debate have a basic underlying rule: that the rights of the weak must be protected. The problem is that, in the pro-choice case, the weak is the mother, whereas in the pro-life view, the weak is the unborn. That’s where the debate occurs.

      With chavismo, I don’t know if there is a “common ground.” Some people might say that the value both chavistas and non-chavistas hold dear could be the defense of the poor, yet how can someone rationally say chavismo defends the poor when it’s clear that it is set up to benefit Diosdado Cabello?

      More and more, chavismo has become, in its essence, either a tool for a Marxist takeover of society, or a tool to enrich yourself and supress dissenters – take your pick. Neither one is defensible from a moral point of view.

      That’s why you hear Mario Silva struggling to convince himself (and the Cuban) on whether the Revolution is worth saving. These “chavistas with a conscience” are simply deluding themselves, and that’s why I have no sympathy for them.

      “No hay que descalificar” says Boris Muñoz. I dare say that one MUST disqualify the apologists for what is in its essence an oppresive ideology. Diosdadismo (which is what chavismo sin Chávez essentially boils down to) has no redeeming values to it, and people who defend it are inherently wrong.

      • I understand that. For me the apparatchiki are beyond repair. And I agree we need to talk clearly about their lack of ethics or at the very least absolute delusion of a few – most of these blokes are into it for a combination of corruption, power lust and sometimes some ideology, but never pure ideology.

        What I have always had problems with is using a term that makes everyone who voted for Chavimos fall in the same category. It’s a matter of Realpolitik.

        As I said: chances are Gumercinda Pacheco from Calabozo won’t read this but sooner or later our words or that of people close to use will come to her and she shouldn’t hear that half the population is morally, ethically wrong and they are without hope and without redemption.

        I think we need a new term to specify the difference between the apparatchiki, the Mitläufer, and the rest of the people, whether they are oppos, ninis or gullible believers. I want the 50%+-2 we have to increase to 60%, 70% and to do that I think we need to make clear that 10%, 20% of those do have hope. I would not go as far as Capriles was doing, who almost seemed to imply he was more like Chávez than Maduro. That is not the point. But do not use words that might make humble voters insulted in the same way as the real doers of Chavismo, the officials and real profiteers.

        Perhaps you see this as a mere term detail, but I think this matters in the word wars you will see in the next year or so in Venezuela. No querrás que los pobres que aun estaban ellos se agrupen en torno a los boliburgueses y fanáticos. Diferenciémoslos.

        • I think it’s pretty clear that the people I’m referring to are the higher-ups, the Nicmers and the Tania Diazes and the Mario Silvas.

          • I know you mean it. I am just fastidious with it because in the general discourse it often gets lost. It is not in your text but in the terms we all use. And when others on our side use that term – chavista – on the streets, everywhere, they can hurt more people than necessary. And I wonder if we shouldn’t create one specific Spanish term that describes these apparatchiki. Perhaps Capriles term “enchufado” is a good option, don’t know.

          • I always use the term “Confundidos” for the Gumercinda Pacheco’s of Venezuela and I think “Enchufados” fits perfectly for the non deserving sympathy crowd. Confundido is a better starting point for a conversation with our fellow compatriotas… one that will unfortunately not always succeed into changing minds if you will

      • There’s such a thing as hilar demasiado fino. Eichmann also followed a “lógica política.” (Our knee-trembling awe at Boris’s skill behind a keyboard remains, of course…)

      • Juan, I suggest you look up Kohlberg’s work on moral development. One important foundation of the work is that to study moral development, it’s not about to what conclusions people reach, but about how those conclusions are reached.

        For example, claims that robbing a pharmacy to obtain a medicine that would save a partner’s life can be both morally sound and morally wanting, depending on whether the person’s basis for the decision is “the voice in my head said I should”, or “saving a life is worth my going to jail”, or “just couldn’t sit still and watch my partner die without doing anything”, or “I owed my partner one”, or “I don’t want to be left with my partner’s debts.”

        In this case, I’d like to point to the possibility that each chavista has different ways of getting to their decision of supporting chavismo. You’re criticism of them implies placing them all in one bucket of judgement is way too black and white.

        In a nutshell, just because people haven’t earned their invitation into Heaven doesn’t mean that they deserve whatever is being dished out in Hell…

    • Hey Kepler,

      Maduro knows how you voted, how does that make you feel?

      And how’s your buddy Borges doing, did he get those bruises fixed yet? Haha.

    • Thanks for that link.
      The first link to The New Yorker article came to Caracas Chronicles last night.

      Good comment about “participatory democracy” in the early days of the Soviets. I imagine you have read Bertrand Russell’s The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism, which discussed those early times of the Revolution. As far as I can tell, Russell was the first pilgrim to the USSR who came back with a clear-headed vision of what was going on.

    • My message to Borges is that he should shut up and try to learn something about loyalty to the State.

      When a bunch of traitors get roughed up a bit, I have better things to worry about.

    • Oh, no, that no. Let the apparatchiki – whether they get their dosh at VTV or PDVSA- use their long knives with each other.

  3. This discussion kinda reminds me of the navel gazing which must have taken place in 1946 among the western intellectuals who found some merit with one-party governments of the 1930’s. People like Charles Lindbergh and Edward VIII leap to mind. Democracy is messy, painful to watch. So unpalatable in fact that events like the 1938 Kristallnacht were quickly dismissed by those very same intellectuals. Little was said. An aberration. Nothing to see, move along.

    • Edward VIII an intellectual? About as much as Paris Hilton. He was an archetypical upper-class twit. Lindbergh was a man of parts, but no intellectual either.

      In any case the great majority of Western intellectuals were busy eulogizing the USSR under Stalin.

  4. There goes JC again, implying that the majority of his fellow countrymen are “insane” and “immoral”. With such a simplistic “good vs. evil” view of things, its no wonder his analysis is so often so completely wrong.

    What JC can’t seem to understand is that when people support a political movement it does not mean they support everything they do, or even most of the things they do. It is often simply because they know it is better than the alternative, which is obviously why an extremely weak, bumbling candidate like Maduro was still able to beat the opposition candidate.

    Capriles is so obviously the representative of the business elite (as even people within the MUD have admitted) that most people preferred to vote for Chavismo rather than go back to the neoliberal policies of the 1990s. The most ironic part about JCs view is that if he truly wants to understand how so many people can still support such a failed movement like Chavismo, he simply has to look in the mirror.

    • Get a Clue,

      Juan Cristobal Nagel isn’t ever going to aclknowledge, because that would require him admitting that squalid types like him are the problem, not the solution. he is indeed a disgusting piece of work.

  5. Are you telling me that chavistas know that their movement is a personalist, autocratic, no-criticism-allowed project, and they still defend it?

    • Funny, it almost sounds like you are describing Capriles’ project, who won’t be interviewed by any opposing media or even allow any state or alternative media into any of his press conferences in order to eliminate any critical questions. But you still defend it huh?

      • State or alternative media? That is a funny turn of phrase.

        Anyway, it would be hard to allow someone in who doesnt want to give you coverage.

      • Oh, and the fact that Mario Silva goes quiet after criticising Chavistas, and can only do so in secret, shows the lie of your claimed open debate!

        Compare this to the opposition which arrived at Capriles through a debate and primary process.

  6. Human capacity for self delusion does not exempt people who at some level think of themselves as intellectuals . For any follower of Chavez to believe that Chavez was not wrapped up in his own cult of monolithyc absolute autocratic authority is a wild conceit (participatory democracy indeed!! when did Chavez ever practice it) . Intellectuals of course can make up arguments to give a kind of phony rethorical plausability to their own conceits which others dont bother with . These arguments deserve no respect even if those who expound them unwittingly self delude themselves into believing in them . Of course they inwardly fear the response of their correligionists and their leaders but they tell themselves that they dont so as not to have to renounce their self respect !! Boris is a brilliant and insightful writer , but as most people he takes other peoples self glamorizing pronouncements at face value , specially when these are couched in noble sounding terms . Even if overtly sincere ‘intellectuals’ like Nicmer are guilty of what Sartre called ‘bad faith’ !!

  7. >>>> …. they can’t get along, so Julio Borges’ forehead has to pay the price. They can’t find common ground, so Maria Corina Machado’s nose must be broken.

    So…
    battered cattle need be prodded.
    Treblinka! here we come!
    Ethical considerations are superfluous when it comes
    to chavezing the herd.
    Now, this I CALL A RANT!

  8. My dear Venezuelan, American and other nationalities friends, no need to put “air bunnies” on how intellectual Mr. Evans is. If he were American, he would be teaching with tenure in any California State U next door to society’s very well respected intellectuals such as Angela Davis and/ or in Columbia next door to Kathy Boudin. Or Justin Delacour (what about him? still around?) … sheez…

  9. Yes, I’m still around, Feathers. Thanks for asking. More of a spectator nowadays, though. Not feeling very convinced by anyone about the current direction of Venezuelan politics.

    Juan Nagel is good at convincing himself and his choir of the righteousness of his own politics, but he’s not so great at convincing others. Juan ought to acknowledge that economists have very little training on questions of ethics, as any good economist will tell you. Moreover, Juan refuses to acknowledge that, despite its many problems, Chavismo has provided some sense of empowerment to poorer segments of Venezuelan society. From my vantage point, the leading sectors of the Venezuelan opposition have yet to give any serious indication that the social enfranchisement of traditionally excluded sectors is a priority to them, which calls into question the notion that Juan and company are really in a position to claim the moral highground at this point in history. That’s not to say that the Caracas Chronicles doesn’t offer some valid critiques of Chavismo, or that Chavismo deserves a free pass simply because it has a poorer social base. It’s rather to say that it is premature for Juan to suggest that people like himself are in a superior moral position simply because they can point out examples of corruption and inefficiency in the Chavez government. The test of moral character lies not merely in one’s capacity to point out indiscretions on the part of his adversaries but also to hold himself and his own political camp to the same standards that he holds others.

    • Justin Delacour: (ratings)
      “he is really nice…unless you disagree with him! i share many of his same views but was in a class where a vetrean did not share his left wing ideology’s, he called him an idiot and outed him in front of the whole class! very unproffessional.. i like justin… but will NEVER take another one of his classes”

      • Shame on you Justin, that men probably lost a leg so you have the liberty to be putting him down on a class in front of a bunch of kids. Typical Chavista behavior. 🙁 honestly I had more respect for you honey, grow up, you don’t do that to anybody

        • To reiterate, Feathers, that is a manufactured account. I would never ever imply that any student is an idiot. I would never do that in a private conversation with a student, and I certainly would never do that in the classroom. That’s just not how I roll.

          Not that it really matters, but If you pull me up on RateMyProfessors.com, you find that Kepler cherry-picks the only nasty statement there is, somehow ignoring the more numerous compliments. I guarantee you that, if that was really how I rolled in an American university, there would be more people saying it that one supposed student.

          We ought to be discussing real issues, not illusionary ones.

          • Sure we are, and yes you don’t strike me as the person who would do that, I am glad to know it didn’t happened. BTW and going back to your comment, Bill Blass posted the reason on why Chavismo didn’t empower anything and anybody… The core of this conversation very eloquently explained: “I rather doubt that any one is this blog is opposed to the social enfranchising of the poorest among our countrymen , nor to any government’s atempt to improve their living standards . They do however object to the flagrant and extreme ineptness , irresponsibility , mismanagement , waste and corruption with which the regime has handled the countries income , resources , wealth , compromising its future , its economic stability simply to serve the megalomaniacal delusions of a power mad man and his need to poison the most poverty ravaged masses with histrionic hatreds and scorns and resentments to hype up his own messianic conceits . With the way the regime he has founded is bent on destroying the free democratic fair operation of all institutions , to deprive of even basic freedoms all who lawfully dissent from their depotic plans , the list of reasons why the regime deserve any honest mans condemnation is large and uncontestable .”

            Now, trying to somehow justified Chavismo because of previous administrations doesn’t look logical to me, what is important is to get rid of the criminals in power now so we all can move forward as a country, don’t you agree with me?

    • How do you measure “empowerment”? By votes at most. And votes are also measured by the price of oil. In fact: we see now the lowest return for our petrodollars. When you didn’t know where Venezuela was, people adored Carlos Andrés Pérez. That’s why they voted for him – very naively – in 1988. They didn’t know they wouldn’t get what they wanted. Had very corrupt Pérez got the oil prices Chávez got, he would have been much more adored and much less hated than your beloved military caudillo.

      • No, I’m not just talking about voting here. The notion that voting is the sum total of political empowerment is fundamentally flawed. I’m saying that mechanisms have been established (through communal councils and other ways at the level of the barrio) to enhance the political participation of traditionally excluded sectors of society. I have no doubt that these mechanisms have many problems as well, but my point is that Chavismo has brought many traditionally excluded sectors of the society into the political process in a way that the opposition has never genuinely sought to do. Again, this doesn’t mean there aren’t real problems within Chavismo or that Juan or Quico don’t have any valid points about serious corruption and inefficiency. What it means, in my view, is that they’re not in a position to be playing the holier-than-thou card at this point in history.

        • I don’t get the holier-than-thou point, Chavistas deserve uttermost criticism, as well as any other administration in office. Why they have to do it in silence, in what planet that is representative and democratic, Justin? :/

      • Kepler, you should at least try to base your arguments on facts.

        CAP never got even close to the support that Chavez enjoyed. In 1988 only 43% of the electorate voted for him (52% of 80% who participated). This is almost identical to what Maduro just got in April (51% of 79% who participated), and no where even close to what Chavez enjoyed on multiple occasions.

        Not only that, CAP I governed during a massive oil boom, and yet his political party LOST the elections in 1978 at the end of CAP’s term, largely because people knew he was corrupt.

    • Hiya Justin, long time no see. Haven’t change a bit uh, though you could be a bit more wiser today. Anyway, I think it’s very unfair to say that Quico and Juan have not been fair to the Chavistas and you know that. The empowerment that you talk, is really not that empowerment if you take in consideration that you have to be affiliated to some type of political group to get some benefits after been humiliated like they are doing them a favor, and everybody who is in charge of the “empowerment” is a corrupt bandit, just like the old west bandits. You come and visited Venezuela through your 1st world explorer Capt Cook eyes. I am not giving a pass to Chavismo because of the mistake from the past of other forms of government. You really have to revision that empowerment you are talking about.

      • after they are doing “them” a favor: means every citizens of Venezuela who is not a chavista civil servant or relative, from poor to rich… how is that empowerment for the love of God?

    • The sense of empowerment to poorer segments of Venezuelan society is pure propaganda bullshit, the Chavista higher-ups (including Chávez) only cared about accumulating power and money, and of course staying in power at any cost.

      And the facade fell already, now the opposition have reached the poorest segments of society and they’re begining to realize the many lies that they had been told over the years. If you don’t believe me you may believe the very chavista Eleazar Díaz Rangel

      Los 5 millones de Capriles: http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/opinion/firmas/los-domingos-de-diaz-rangel—eleazar-diaz-rangel/los-5-millones-de-capriles.aspx

      • Justin cannot see it because it doesn’t fit his political mental template. Or my theory is that he knows better but it’s in denial. To me the funny things is, that I see him as this colonialist who comes and takes pictures with poor people in the barrio…. and then formulate his own reality based on what he thinks should be right (according to Marx and Engels) OF COURSE *rolling my eyes*

        • I mean, the impossibility to think some people in the barrio would like to be a businessman and leave the shithole all those socialist governments helped created, for example…. no no no….

          • Yes, why would they want to leave the shithole and want a better life, somehow it’s fault of previous governments and of Juan Nagel for pointing it out that nobody can criticize Maduro because of some political logic and blah blah blah and this that and the other, why? How democratic is that, Chavistas, Get a Clue are you awake, do you care you cannot speak up? Hello?

  10. That actually never happened. Notice how you crib one comment among many others that we’re quite different than that. I’ve had good relations with students of various ideological persuasions and appreciate the input of all in class discussions. In political science, one teaches various theories of his or her sub-field, not just those to which he or she subscribes. Of course, if you want to cherry-pick one comment among many others to try to discredit an academic, there’s hardly an academic in this country who hasn’t been maligned by some supposed student on RateMyProfessors.com.

    In any case, if you were serious about discussing issues, you would try debating my points instead of rummaging through student comments to find one that serves to distract people from the discussion at hand.

    • Exactly. But they aren’t interested in discussing issues… They are too busy foaming at the mouth at those who don’t buy into their neoliberal ideology.

      It is quite ahistorical of them to pretend the Chavista government is somehow uniquely “immoral” because of corruption. Not only is corruption universally present among low income countries (not to mention high income countries), but they apparently don’t remember Venezuela’s last oil boom, which was so plagued with corruption that it spurred several major works on corruption in a petro-state (much of the same work, btw, that they now base many of their theories on!)

      Debate tactics like Kepler posting a student comment here not only demonstrates an embarrassing level of immaturity, but it reveals how bankrupt their arguments are.

        • I enjoy watching you all squirm. How do I do that? By discussing things that are uncomfortable for you.

          What ever happened to those 286 voting centers that had their witnesses removed at gunpoint Rodrigo? Funny how we never heard anything from any of them isn’t it?

          • Dude I thought you were in Venezuela right now. And THIS is what you’re doing for kicks??

          • GAC, you don´t discuss anything; you repeat nonsense, over and over and over again, ad nauseum. Again, you don’t debate, you regurgitate. That’s all. Buy yourself a clue, and go play in the traffic with it.

        • Nope. You don’t and shouldn’t accept it from any government. But you also shouldn’t pretend that this government (and the people who support it) are somehow uniquely immoral horrible people, when all governments in Venezuela have been full of corruption, especially during oil booms.

          • “All governments in Venezuela have been full of corruption, especially during oil booms”

            Even this one, wow!! that’s a new, I applaud that you acknowledged that. see, it wasn’t so hard, was it?

          • But they are immoral horrible people who have managed to do what the previous immoral horrible people never did. You see in the scale of horrible people your beloved leaders are way up.

    • I hope it didn’t happen then, I always managed to have some decent conversation to you even though you are a left wing batshit lunatic….

      • sorry J if that came across not that nice, you r not crazy, I always managed to have a decent conversation with you and you never called me names, but your calm and collected defense of Chavismo drives me crazy, same with my other liberal friends….

        • I’m really not as far out in left field as you probably think, Feathers. I’m pretty much a social democrat, really. The one sticking point is that I’m somewhat to the left of many self-denominated “social democrats” of the early 21st Century, who have abandoned too many of the egalitarian principles of social democracy, in my estimation.

  11. In the early 60’s Ccs bawdy houses were inundated by a host of ‘proffesional’ ladies from Havana , scaping from the then puritan rigours of Castros revolution . a friend of mine went to one of them and was accosted by a very obese unnatractive black lady who wanted him as her customer , not liking the ladies looks or manner he demurred to which she retorted ‘whats the matter Chico, dont you like cuban women? ‘ I rather doubt that any one is this blog is opposed to the social enfranchising of the poorest among our countrymen , nor to any government’s atempt to improve their living standards . They do however object to the flagrant and extreme ineptness , irresponsibility , mismanagement , waste and corruption with which the regime has handled the countries income , resources , wealth , compromising its future , its economic stability simply to serve the megalomaniacal delusions of a power mad man and his need to poison the most poverty ravaged masses with histrionic hatreds and scorns and resentments to hype up his own messianic conceits . With the way the regime he has founded is bent on destroying the free democratic fair operation of all institutions , to deprive of even basic freedoms all who lawfully dissent from their depotic plans , the list of reasons why the regime deserve any honest mans condemnation is large and uncontestable . Just as happened to my friend , the reluctance is not related to the ladys national origin or in our case to the desirability of helping the deprived achieve a better life or a greater measure of dignity , but to the means and methods used by the regime to capture absolute power through the mediatic manipulation of those masses emotional hungers and then use that power to destroy the countries economic future and civic liberties !! I find the use of the tag socialist as a kind of ‘magic wand’ panegyric or the term neo liberal as an all purpose epithet to be childish and unworthy of any one purporting to judge things with intellectual rigour . these tags can mean anything depending on the prejudices of whoever uses them .

    • “I rather doubt that any one is this blog is opposed to the social enfranchising of the poorest among our countrymen , nor to any government’s atempt to improve their living standards . They do however object to the flagrant and extreme ineptness , irresponsibility , mismanagement , waste and corruption with which the regime has handled the countries income , resources , wealth , compromising its future , its economic stability simply to serve the megalomaniacal delusions of a power mad man and his need to poison the most poverty ravaged masses with histrionic hatreds and scorns and resentments to hype up his own messianic conceits . With the way the regime he has founded is bent on destroying the free democratic fair operation of all institutions , to deprive of even basic freedoms all who lawfully dissent from their depotic plans , the list of reasons why the regime deserve any honest mans condemnation is large and uncontestable”

      +10000

  12. “I rather doubt that any one is this blog is opposed to the social enfranchising of the poorest among our countrymen , nor to any government’s atempt to improve their living standards .”

    The only reason you can doubt it is that there’s been no test of what the modern Venezuelan opposition would do if it were to take power.

    Moreover, there’s little concrete evidence that Chavismo has sought to “deprive of even basic freedoms all who lawfully dissent from their depotic plans.” There are very real problems of corruption and inefficiency within Chavismo, but we can’t have a serious discussion of such problems if you’re not willing to set aside hyperbole and analyze the facts as they stand.

    • Justin: There is overwhelming everyday evidence of the regimes pursuit of absolute political hegemony substantially depriving dissenters from any effective participation in the processes of collective decision making and even from participating in the normal processes of government . The government methodically uses its control of public institutions to marginalize and persecute its opposition despite their representing at least half of the Venezuelan population . If you dont see this its because your very deep emotional attachment to Chavista ideals blinds you from perceiving even this most obvious aspects of our national reality. About the gross inefficiency and corruption of the regime and the destructive effect that it has on Venezuela’s current life and future there is little to talk about if you dont recognize that it is largely the result of many ideological prejudices which are the core of the Chavista ethos which privileges histrionic political loyalty and magic rethorical formulas over the demands of rationally functional economic and organizational management . All this I see as the legacy of Chavez own personality disorders and megalomania coupled with his ability at making his followers the apes of his delusional excesses. I trust you believe your self sincere when you seek to discuss the regimes corruption and inneficiency , the mind does play tricks on ones feelings , but if you really want to discuss this item why dont you start by giving us your own explanation of why the regimes handling of the economy and the functions of government have gone so seriously wrong!!

      • It bears repeating – are you listening, Arturo, GAC, yoyo and the rest of you idealists:

        “Why dont you start by giving us your own explanation of why the regime’s handling of the economy and the functions of government have gone so seriously wrong!!”

    • Justin sez: “The only reason you can doubt it is that there’s been no test of what the modern Venezuelan opposition would do if it were to take power.”

      Would be good to give them a chance. But there’s evidence that they will do a better job, taken in consideration the Alcaldia de Chacao and Baruta, which are not Chavistas, they are doing a far more better job than the Chavista alcaldias, their services work better, they all have all kinds of programs.

      • Baruta and Chacao are the two wealthiest parts of Metropolitan Caracas. Irene Saez governed Chacao well too. That doesn’t mean she could govern the country. You can’t compare the two wealthiest parts of Metropolitan Caracas to the country as a whole.

        That being said, I don’t dismiss the possibility that there are sectors of the opposition who have learned some political lessons after being in the political wilderness for many years. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that someone like Capriles could govern well.

        However, it’s also not outside the realm of possibility that an opposition government would strip poorer sectors of many of the basic social rights that they’ve won. Much of the political base of the opposition doesn’t much care for poor people. That much was basically admitted by the opposition’s own Daniel Landsberg-Rodriguez, who noted in his Boston Review piece that “not many others in the anti-Chavismo camp agree with me” that some of the social policies of Chavismo have been “small but positive steps.” It is precisely because of what Landsberg acknowledges that gives me reason to doubt that Juan Nagel is in any position to be moralizing as much as he does.

        • Chacao anf Baruta are wealthy alcaldias, so is the country. There are poor neighborhoods in those alcaldias as well, and crime. So, don’t dismiss them as Beverly Hills (or whatever wealthy neighborhood in NM you live in 🙂 ) because they are not. So you can compare it with many areas of the country. Not the rural but in theory rural should be easier because it’s less people living there. Anyway, yes, you can make comparisons. Also, take note that wealthy neighborhoods can be prone more to corruption than poorer ones because there is more money to manage, so the fact those alcaldias are running better says something. Important.

          I don’t agree with Landsberg totally simply because you cannot put all the people on a jar and label it. He is been vague, doesn’t mention names or incidents, and who knows what motivation he said what he said. You have to think about that too. See, I believe there are people who care about social works both inside the Chavismo and the opposition, they are people who cannot care less about poor people and social work inside the Chavismo and the opposition, so that goes for everything else in life. You gonna find good people and bad people in any ethnicity, nationality, political views, democrats, republicans, associations, groups, charities, ecological movements, etc etc . That’s WHY no one should judge the book by the cover my friend.

        • However, it’s also not outside the realm of possibility that an opposition government would strip poorer sectors of many of the basic social rights that they’ve won.

          True. However, this is also a great deal of supposition, when you think about it. The opposition has, rather than persistently remain part of the “endogenous right” as one chavista regular says quite frequently, made remarkable inroads towards a moderate position that is much more encompassing and, dare I say, populist. Knowing that that is the key to sustained power in Venezuela, I cannot see them throwing all in for an election only to lose again 6 years later after backtracking. Political suicide, as it were, and justification for not being elected for another 14-20 years.

          The great irony and tragedy of Chavez is that he wanted to build a revolution that would endure and thus create his own legacy long after he was gone; much in a similar manner to his idol Bolivar (or, if you prefer, Castro). I will concede that some of his social policies were steps forward, however implementation was so atrociously bad and so beset by venality that the opportunity cost of those programs has more or less resulted in what will likely be viewed as a lost decade. A number of commenters on this blog view the Chavez years through that lens and realize that things could have been vastly different if, stripped of ideology, had been introduced. Instead, declining production, high crime, high formal economy unemployment, dutch-disease, cheap food that is not always avaiable, increased educational opporunities that come with a crippling ideological cost, a country that is literally divided in two, a broken and uncompetitive economy, internal rot and corruption on a vast scale; I could go on and on, but this is the lingering remains of Chavez – no better than the body, that was once so strong both in personality, health and will, that sits in Museo 4 de Febrero. The horror of Venezuela is that for such a rich country, it has elected to remain poor through its selection of its governments.

          Chavez ulitmately was (or rather, will be, once it all settles out) defeated by Chavez.

    • “Moreover, there’s little concrete evidence that Chavismo has sought to “deprive of even basic freedoms all who lawfully dissent from their depotic plans.”

      Politically there is plenty of evidence of people who is involved in the opposition, who is not a cohesive block, for example, Ismael Garcia as per today can be considered opposition, but comes to mind the case of the farmer who decided to confront the Chavismo, and died, what’s his name? Awhat about the simonovis, and the judge who is imprisoned and have been raped in jail? Justin, there are so many cases, it only take time for you to research about it, if you are serious about this matter.

  13. Happy to have a discussion with people who don’t engage in histrionic behavior while hypocritically pointing to the histrionics of their adversaries. Indeed, the Chavista camp is full of histrionic behavior, but so too is the opposition camp, as your own discourses clearly illustrate. When you’ve learned to hold yourself and your own political camp to the same standards to which you hold your adversaries, we can have a discussion. Until such time, this is a non-starter.

    • Asking a simple question is histrionic behaviour, Justin? After all your excuses and all the chavista fluff you’ve tried to sell us, for years, now you’re afraid to deal with concrete issues?

  14. No, Syd. What’s histrionic is to make obviously exaggerated claims about the lack of “even basic freedoms” in Venezuela and then to automatically dismiss those who question such an exaggeration as being motivated by “very deep emotional attachment to Chavista ideals.” While the opposition has grounds to criticize things like the lack of judicial independence, it does not have grounds to make the broad and sweeping claim that it lacks “even basic freedoms.” Mr. Bass shows himself to have limited capacity for self-reflection when he assumes that the charge of histrionics applies only to his adversaries and not to himself and to significant segments of his own political camp.

  15. Justin: Your histrionic response very much confirms what I first said , Chavismo is belligerently Histrionic, your purportedly intellectual brand of Chavismo being no exception , But maybe there is also a basic misunderstanding on what basic freedoms include , for me they include the defenestration of the Rule of Law as exemplified by ‘lack of judicial independence’ which you agree is the case in todays Venezuela . I also think that basic freedoms include the right to work for instance in government or with a government contractor even if you are not a government supporter , not to have the regime pressure my employer to fire me because of my political orientation, not to have my home or land or means of living taken from me without cause and without any compensation , not to have my tv or radio licensed revoked because I dont toe the regimes ideological line , not to be put in jail because as a judge I dont make the arbitrary decision the govts wants. Still I think your hiperesthesia and paranoia are all part of the mental make up of a true Chavista , I offered you to engage in a topic for discussion which you your self had suggested and you raised a very theatrical tantrum to justify not having it perhaps because dialectically you knew you were not up to it. I had hopes that a ‘free independent spirit’ like you might prove someone who might help me learn more about why the government has failed so miserably to manage the countrys economy and basic services !! unfortunately to no avail !! No need , your response has already told me enough about your incapacity to go beyond your ideological prejudices!

  16. Wait, let me get this straight. I acknowledge that there is a problem of a lack of judicial independence in Venezuela, but I’m still a “belligerantly histrionic Chavista” because I don’t think hyperbole and wild conjecture about people’s motivations is a useful basis of discussion. Okay, fella. If you say so.

    • Justin : Your sectarian state of mind doesnt mean youre wrong on every thing you say, for instance you happen to be right in your assesment that there is no rule of law and no judicial independence in Venezuela , kudos for you !! Regretably your allegiance to belligerent histrionic Chavismo probably does warp you sense of reality making you the victim of pseudo epic (hyperbolic if you like) ideological delusions . I dont think that makes you into a dimwit or a monster , just that it probably impairs what otherwise would be your natural good judgment and common sense. I do scorn Chavismo as a pseudo ideology ( more cheap rethoric than doctrine) but that doesnt prevent me from respecting you as a person who is much more than the stooge of certain farcical ideas. By the way by pure happenstance I happen to know that Capriles and his team do take their concern for the enfranchisement of the poorest very seriously , its no act !!.

  17. Bill: Eventually you’re gonna have to come to terms with the basic fact that you’re engaging in psychological projection here, whereby you project your own cognitive processes onto others. It’s a well-known phenomenon, and it’s quite easily recognizable in the kind of conjecture you employ. Your so-called analysis says more about your own ideological blinders than it says about the cognitive processes of others.

    • Hey, Justin: tell us all about your ideological blinders again. I ask, because it seems to be interfering with, not to mention, impeding, your cognitive processes.

  18. Justin . Im afraid the proyection explanation doesnt wash , because if adopted we can then artificially discard anyones critical arguments and their counter arguments (your own included) by labeling them a projection or counterprojection of their defenders state of mind and so on ad infinitum which doesnt prove or disprove anything about the intrinsic merits of the arguments those projections inspire . Even if we can criticize the motives that lead people to a particular position they can still be right on another meta psychological level. The fact or the matter is I ve read and studied a lot of psychology long before Chavez came to power and gained some understanding of human motives as they relate to peoples adoption of sectarian passions in both the history of Religion and Politics. Moreover when Chavez became a political phenomena I discussed with professionals of the human mind his personality profile and their predictions of what he would do and say were in time proven correct in every way. This is the reason why I think I know where you come from and thus can respect you for being able (despite your ideological/psychological blinders) to admit to the regimes animosity towards the Rule of Law and an Independent Judiciary and the gross mismanagement , waste and corruption thats characterized its governance . There may be hope for you yet!!

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