Now, before you get too excited about reading intra-opposition blog feuds (you know who you are) be aware that I have too much respect for the great work of JC to blast him over a single post on something that rubbed him the wrong way. In fact, even as I think he took the wrong angle and that I disagree with him, his post or rant, your choice, is constructed which is more than can be said for any chavista page still floating around in search of serious readers. Thus this is not a rebuttal, nor, of course, an acknowledgment of putative mistakes on my part as readers are perfectly able to decide on their own which of the two interpretations of the interview they agree with: all the necessary elements have been posted.
If I reply in such way it is because unwillingly Juan Cristobal offers us a way to rethink once again why the heck he and I keep blogging day in and day out. Well, not a wholesale discussion of the motivation, rather a questioning on how far we should go in our blogging.
The parts from JC post that seems to summarize best his displeasure would be:
Naím was asked to give a diagnosis of the country. .... his expert diagnosis is “the same as all Venezuelans have.” .....Not content with his non-answer, he goes on a riff, counting off the many ways in which he thinks the Venezuelan economy is screwed up. We have lots of energy but no electricity. We have money but we give it away. We have inflation, unemployment, and murders.....What Naím failed to do was answer the question. An economist, when asked to give a diagnosis of a country, needs to bring to the task the clarity of mind and conceptual precision that his training affords him. He needs to talk ..... the way the cross-cutting links between them affect the country's prospects. [my editing and emphasis]In other words, for not explaining ways to get out of our problems, JC implies that Moises Naim has committed the sin of non-intellectuality and I am guilty by association.
When asked what should be done instead, he skirts the question by saying it’s “not even worth talking” about what should be done....giving an inconsequential, intellectually timid response.
I am not going to discuss his position, he might even be right for all that I care. What I am going to criticize JC is not to have a more solid grasp of Venezuelan reality, of committing the sin of non-reality-thought.
It does not matter how we dice it now: the problem of Venezuela is Chavez and as long as Chavez is in office any time we spend in discussing what to do in an after Chavez era is simply a waste, a misuse of any intellectual power best used elsewhere.
Because every month that Chavez remains in office is an additional month of destruction of the country, either in its moral fiber or in its capacity to dig from under the disaster that is falling to us. Any plan that we might painfully devise today will be a moot point in three months from now.
True, there are some parameters that we all know and can discuss on ways to dealing with once Chavez is out because those are evils he has left us with: extreme political division, corrupt army, paramilitary structures that will cause trouble once Chavez is expelled, corruption, etc... but it is simply a waste of time to discuss in details plans to evaluate our ways in a post Chavez era. The only useful thing at this point is study what is going on, understand it and find ways to make electoral promises that can resonate with the reality in order to get Chavez out of the picture. It does not matter what we promise for next September or for 2012, once the books are studied all of our plans will likely be useless. Ask Greece's Papandreou for a recent example.For that matter, any promise of Chavez will be equally useless as he finishes off the country.
It is not for me to speculate on why Moises Naim came to the conclusion that there is no point in discussing a post Chavez era until we are sure he is on his way out. But I understand his conclusion because I have long ago reached the same one. That is why my blog is about reporting the offenses of chavismo, the outrage of the day based on logic and ethics. My blog is about listing the offense for which in a post Chavez era a few dozen people will need to stand trial and account for their crimes so that no one will be able to claim "I did not know!". That is why my blog is not about the intellectual reconstruction of the country because frankly I do not know how, frankly it is a waste of time and frankly I am not the one that will do it, being too old for that and not being among those politicians that will have to take charge.