Is Venezuela thinkable? Unfortunately not. As a consequence of the crisis that began in 2012 for its inhabitants, the country stopped being thinkable, symbolizable. The political community became trauma, it became unspeakable. We are screams that make no sound at the shock of trauma. The objection about what is useful and what is harmful in the us – the quid of politics – gradually went from being voice, argument, and creation to being noise, preservation, and self-absorption. The dark subjectivities took the helm of the construction of a narrative about the destiny of the community in detriment of the subjectivity faithful to the event.

Assassinated in the hands of its heirs, the Revolution went from being the axis from which society created its symbolization and political position before the Others to being locus of repentants, converts, and demagogues. The State, including the elected or appointed powers, instead of being the sounding board of the national-popular spirit is prisoner by actors motivated by an instinct of personal-patrimonial preservation at all costs. The I protect ergo force as cogito ergo sum of the State gave rise to the mediocre Aurea as the mantra of the official-revolutionary. On the sidewalk of the counterrevolution, the all-encompassing power granted by the Euroccidental Concilium is turned into the most strident defeats in the face of the most unusual delaying traps when the imperial dictum must be translated by the schizophrenic, stiff, corrupt and deliriant imperial officials with a national passport.

The economic structure fertilized by the most original mixture of inaction, external pressures, and ignorance quickly moved from crisis to collapse, from collapse to extinction. Migration became, according to the first evidence, a way to heal misery and under-consumption but not a step towards republican reconstitution. Standing before the moral collapse of the political class that promised to rebuild the republic at the beginning of this century, actors with new faces have come to contribute to the political collapse by promulgating the old ideas, the outdated ideals and the failed programs of the historical oligarchies, now in an anti-national version and subordinated to the interests of the United States, hardly trackable in the most foreigner of our ancestors. Criminal accumulation is in good health in the strategic programs of the political class.

This situation is the product of the inability of the country’s social forces to be multiplicity, that is, to reinvent a reality that several years ago became miserable. The insertion as a rentier State in the capitalist world-economy of Venezuela created economic independence of the State towards the society antithetical to the “normal” financing of the State in the modern world. It eliminated from the outset the fiscal issue as a protection tool for civil society [1] in the face of the legitimate monopoly of violence. But also the Braudelian maxim according to which “capitalism only triumphs when it comes to identifying with the State, when it is the State” became flesh. Venezuelan society was always an easy target of an offensive of dispossession from the State regardless of the political sign that carried it out. Fears that to the interest of subordinates classes is worst a State in improvised hands than in hands of the dominant class, came true. Where was our organicity as a society to defend ourselves against the deterioration of the real salary, the annihilation of the health system, the pauperization of education, the deterioration of everything that constitutes a decent life? Where were the unions, civil associations, community organizations, academia, comités de usuarios, comuna, etc.? Let’s look at the flow of oil income and we will find many answers about the Venezuelan catatonia.

During the displacement of the country’s economic structure from crisis to collapse (2012-2016) and from collapse to extinction (2017-2022), the political class definitively split from the interests of society, the intellectuals became anaphoric operators of the political class treasuring the most supine narcissism of small differences, public opinion, and the media, after self-delegitimizing, became, at most, advertising bodies with the darkest political interests. The country was left without historical projects. The Great National Strategy of the country was stolen. National sovereignty – which is nothing other than the sacred right to decide here and between us the course of our destiny – hangs by a thread. Large sectors of the armed forces massively migrated to the bureaucracy in search of oil revenues.

After suffering some blows, the old commercial bourgeoisie allowed the most unusual pairings with the bureaucracy in economic growth to make way for the unthinkable in the old days of industrialization by import substitution: de facto dollarization, total liberation of imports, sanctions avec privatizations, overvaluation of the bolivar without compensatory protectionism, absolute lifting of sanitary, fiscal, financial, and union regulations. The national bourgeoisie lives the death of any option of national accumulation with the optimism of those who pay in dollars for a kilogram of sardines while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell two thirds since 2013, imports reached levels of Central American countries and the salary does not exceed 5 USD monthly.

Oil nationalism as a political-social consensus on the country’s insertion in the world market gave rise to the New Oil Opening as an agreement of the declining class. The rentier reason born in the time of Gumersindo Torres is giving way to the “colonial reason” which is no longer only questioned, in light of the military management of the oil industry, if we can produce the mené, but also doubts about the ability to collect taxes and income. As in that distant 1917, the administrators of the oil issue believe that everything must be liberalized so that some godly souls in the world energy industry can raise crude oil production. And related to the ideas of Gomez’s rentiers, without knowing it, they aspire to capture an income for having self-privatized the common wealth.

On the external flank, international humiliation became our daily bread of a country that, according to ideological futurology, must pay with misery to dare to go against the current of the eschatology of Atlantic liberalism. The position on the Venezuelan issue delimits the political table in countries that in a decade went from enjoying the rentier boom by interest-free loans, free public works, overbilled exports, oil at special prices or consumer parties with dollars subsidized to show xenophobia and aporophobia to those who have had to migrate without the possibility of paying their acceptance with luxury condominiums in the most ostentatious streets of Madrid or mansions in Doral.

The people, the class, the crowd, and society vanished into individuals, who, like the most unrealistic utopia of neoliberal social philosophy, act like the wolf of the Other in search of their survival. In Venezuela whose economic structure transits from collapse to extinction, morality is anathema, and enrichment without producing it is a sacred creed. Criminal accumulation metastasized to wide sectors of society. If it were necessary to label a book on the effects of the end of the Venezuelan oil century, its best title would be MISERY OF REALITY.

There is no shortage of optimistic observers who declare the Venezuelan people in struggle, either against tyranny, against imperialism or against the ravages of their political class, depending on the ideological lens with which I look. However, the spyglass of political parties and their tributary agents have long since given up thinking about reality in terms of Grand Politics in order to do it in terms of self-preservation.

The content and consequences of the collapse in the way the country has understood economic, political, and moral issues go beyond hollow explanations according to which either any revolutionary project leads to totalitarianism for right-wing dogma or imperialism led us to this reality according to the exculpatory litany of the authoritarian left. In many non-aligned sectors, the inability to enter in the distribution of those at the top disguises itself as a denunciation of the political class.

Faced with the misery of reality, the validity of the theory must be declared. Given the impossibility of society joining under symbolic and political coordinates different from those established by the political class, it is fair to claim the need for the subtractive gesture as a precondition to the founding event. The political class has lost the ability to identify, mobilize, and build hegemony, but not the ability to divide, delegitimize or commit political infanticide. Which have been the great national issues throughout our history? Which have been the major concerns about homeland government and our place in the interstate system? In the search for the answers that some Venezuelans gave to these questions, we will undoubtedly find much more certainty than those who have fetishized small politics, throwing the country on the brink of disaffiliation and the crisis of representation.

Given the ineffectiveness of political-economic malthusianism of those who refuse any reform that goes against their patrimonial interests or the failure of the cardonismo of the elite of the right-wing, it is necessary to warn that the country is facing a historical fate as perhaps it has never had another. It is necessary to remember with Gramsci that the catastrophic tie in which national politics finds itself has long since escalated from the correlations of social forces to the correlations of political forces and from these to the decisive correlations of military forces where a crossroads is drawn at the which or “the old society resists and ensures a period of respite, physically exterminating the adversary elite and terrorizing the reserve masses: either the reciprocal destruction of conflicting forces occurs, with the establishment of the peace of the graves, who may even be under the surveillance of a foreign sentinel ”[2].

Although it is true that the task of reinventing the republic in light of our history and after the attempt was begun in 1998 takes on a Sisifian nuance, it is also true that this responsibility must dispense with guilt, mourning, fatigue, and resentment ( in short: the sad passions) that beat in the spirit of the sectors visibly in the struggle for the leadership of the country. Making Venezuela thinkable again consists of declaring the importance of theory, that is, a reading-interpretation not subject to momentary blackmail of everything that we were, are, and will be as a society, as a group, as a part, as individuals. If the deepest myths we believe in have been unsuccessful for the rebirth of the republic, the task is to invent other myths that demonstrate their strength and power in the indefatigable seas of making these people worthy of itself.

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Malfred Gerig

Sociologist from the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and candidate for Master in Political Science from the Simón Bolívar University (USB). Researcher with an interest in global political economy and political economy of oil.

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