Tuesday, June 10, 2003

CHAVISMO AS A RELIGION
June 10, 2003

These past two weeks I have been a little bit quiet. I was watching the development of the situation as Chavez starts to deploy his guns and gets ready to shoot them. Will he be able to pull the trigger? Will that be enough for him to secure power for a few years? We’ll see.

However last week in El Universal I run into a commentary from Javier Brassesco, a rather astringent columnist at times. He illustrates an idea that has run through my mind for quite sometimes: Chavez messiahnism is not idle talk.

Since April 2002 I have considered the country cut into three camps that are unlikely to change. The opposition is around 50% and is not likely to go below 45% rain or shine. Chavistas are around 30% and they are more likely to slip slightly as the economical situation worsens. But they are stubborn and almost fanatical since April 2002 and they have a hard core constituency that will remain with Chavez no matter what. The remaining 20%? Well, they probably do not care much and they will vote on the issues that matter to them at election day if they bother to vote.

The question is what motivates those hard core supporters of Chavez. A hard core cast that does not seem to be perturbed by the continuous tales of corruption, the collapsed administration or the economic disaster. One explanation is that some see Chavez as a Messiah, an avenging angel for all their real or perceived frustrations. Where does logic stands in front of such a mystical approach? The article from Brassesco that I have translated below states it quite nicely.


Spiritual revolution
Javier Brassesco for El Universal

There are people that are so simple minded that they border heresy, people so earth bound that for watching the mundane trees miss the forest of our process (ours, not the one from that poor Jew from Prague). And thus they pretend to judge the revolution according to its achievements. Has there been such a dare, such vulgarity? How can one be so mundane, so nearsighted? How can so many people allow the nullity they have for souls wallow in the most pedestrian materialism? Then they come to talk of smallness: that the inflation is the highest in the region, that this is the worst recession, that there is such a proliferation of panhandlers. They do not understand that chavismo is more a religion, an act of faith, a state of mind, than a political movement. And there worthless are brainy arguments or immaterial are ineffective policies. Have bad priests and all the repressive machinery of the Catholic Church compromised the Christian ideal? Has not Christianism come out stronger after Enlightenment and all the criticisms that were formulated from there of the manipulations that that the Church made of it, with its bonfires and its Holy Inquisition? Has any Muslim reneged its credo because Allah lent a deaf ear in the wars that were fought, either against Israel or against the US? This revolution, so misunderstood, so vilified, could well say as Montaigne: “I cannot carry a registry of my life through my actions; fortune has put them too low. I keep it through my fantasies”.

It did happen with Moses, to whom God one day told, when he was halfway, that he would never reach the Promised Land, a warning that did not faze the Prophet, since he understood that this land could only be promised as long as he would never step on it. Thus is our revolution, an eternal promise that has only meaning as such, as a promise ever postponed and that in addition is bringing a substantial bestowal to Universal History (not of Infamy, do not think ill), because it is rearing as the last religion of modern man. Over would be that insult of Freud when he said that the only Latin-American contribution to world culture was tobacco, nor will have a basis that complaint of Nietzche: “Almost two thousand years and not a single new God!” nor all the arguments of Cioran when he said that man is spiritually exhausted and thus he is unable to found a new religion. Chavismo has done it: it took from the Latin-American mythical universe that idea of the strong man that one day will come to save us from ourselves, mixed it with a good dose of flag waving, drove in us the idea that we are the chosen people, the best in the world, and even brought us a Messiah.

What are all these blessings compared to pettiness such as unemployment, does it matters that street vendors are the owners of the streets or that at each corner two people are washing car windows if in exchange we are going to get paid with the intoxication of the history of which we are the pioneers. No, it is not from hunger that our stomachs are churning. It is the sound of the new era.

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