Venezuela can be likened to a Jenga tower. Years and years of revolution have been building it while carefully removing and replacing some of its pieces… but all of that work is for naught. Now we find the country on the verge of a breakdown.
Every society lies on a system that the society itself builds by its own means. This system is what we call a social structure.
Man is, by nature, a free being. Remember that Sartre has rightfully said that a man’s freedom ends when another man’s freedom starts, thus, it’s only natural for men to be conditioned. However, human nature is constantly surprising us. Be it because of dissatisfaction, a wish to break out of monotony or simply out of desire, in our current generation there exists a pervasive wish to go against the tide.
And that’s how we introduce the topic of a structure that’s about to crumble. This structure is, precisely, a government that defines itself as The Socialism of the 21st Century. That sounds pretty, doesn’t it? But it is no secret that Venezuelan society is falling apart.
If we were to begin with the argument that a moderately complex social structure must attend to the basic needs of each individual inside of it, then, what can we say about Venezuela? We could only compare it to a rhinoceros lacking one of its legs.
In an intrinsically complex society such as in Venezuela, we could pinpoint a lot of problems, existing and potential, with its current structure. However, I would like to begin by saying that our basic needs as citizens have gone unmet for several months now. How is it possible that a country, the so-called “socialist of the 21st century,” is still able to stand when it is evident that it is about to fall apart? This 21st century socialism, based in solidarity, fraternity, respect to private property and participatory democracy, has failed the citizens in the lowest economic classes with the Madurist regime these last days. And here is where the fundamental problem lies, within informative isolationism, within the manipulation and repression that lower-class Venezuelans (backbone of the country’s social structure) suffer day-to-day.
The maintainance of the right and normal functioning of any society entails certain important elements being taken care of. In Venezuela, there has been a fracture of these elements, and this wound is only worsening matters with the passing of days.
Let me start with subsistence, the potential wrecking ball that threatens the social structure I have just analyzed, and the main ingredient that is lacking in this recipe for a well-functioning society. A society’s subsistence must take care of the production of food, raw material and anything else that a country’s citizen might need to cover his or her necessities is in a dreary state. The excessive control over the exchange of foreign currencies that is taking place here has put our country, historical producer of petrol, in a struggle to keep itself in the international market. The local businesses dedicated to selling tomatoes do not have anyone to provide them with lids for packaging, those that produce the lids do not have the material needed to manufacture them, and so on. This is tearing at every tier of the supply chain.
Some Venezuelans have certain thoughts on the struggle that local industries are facing. Public opinion, even in the case of totalitarian governments, is a key factor. There is no leader capable of ruling while turning his back to what his citizens have to say, even if their requests are only archived in a drawer, which is what has been done here in Venezuela these last few months.
Maduro goes on to be oblivious to the national discomfort, which is directly proportional to the price of the dollar in the black market. And this only adds up to Nicolás Maduro’s first misstep: Legitimate authority. Our social structure relies on the pillar of authority. Citizens must have a notion of who’s the one in charge. If we are to pay attention to the rumors circulating these last months, we do not know who is really in charge – whether it is Diosdado or our president. It is of utmost importance for the citizens inside a political system to recognize the authority above them all, and to accept it and respect it, but not because of an existing fear to the police, the military or the loss of a subsidy.
The cleft left by Madurism is getting bigger, and it has just come against the obstacle that sparked the student uprising: Insecurity. This phenomenon, that affects us all, is an affront to one of the most inextricable human characteristics: Socialization. Young Venezuelans have been forbidden from calmly going out to the streets, be it to go to lectures or to the queue to get some flour, oil, or whatever goods have miraculously appeared in the nearest market. Here, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, or where do you live, survival in Venezuela is determined by the size of your weapon.
Socialization has also been thwarted by the informed isolation that we suffer. While some people are dying, others are making TV shows about the consequences of infantile insomnia. This totalitary control of what we know and don’t know only distances two realities that are already running in parallel ways.
Venezuela’s ontological bases have been more and more repelled during these last fifteen years. It is inevitable. The political discourse generated by our government goes on about hatred, intolerance and lethargy. This discourse has divided us into two Venezuelas. The threshold between them both is the streets, because it is there where we know this silenced war is taking place. Citizens are disdaining the ideas that unite us and giving special importance to what separates us. Those institutions that are supposed to protect societies, family and education, are being tampered with.
Venezuelan families are being regularly fragmented by violence. The homicides, kidnapping and “setting straight disagreements” are coming to life just in the way that some people are finding ways to turn this revolution into profits. Our Bolivarian education produces doctors with only two years of study, these years mainly employed in the study of texts about our current government and the benefits of a Castrist rule. That is without even going into the insecurity that also percolates Venezuelan education, because attending college exposes its students to robbery, sexual assaults and violent drug trafficking. This insecurity was the main fuel that moved young students on eighth february into action.
There is a lack of contact between the two Venezuelas I have talked about, but there is one thing that is a huge weight on the students’ shoulders: A lack of cohesion. Cohesion is the final element of any social structure, but, in this case, it has been tarnished, vanquished and demolished. In the past, religion was what gave society cohesion, but in our socialism of the 21st century, Venezuelans cannot find any common values in the other side of the ideological threshold.
A human being (a free being) decides to accept a social structure in order to prevent being overwhelmed by stimuli, and, at the same time, keeping some order. However, when a man is sick and tired of the conditions that are imposed on him, he’ll naturally act against them. In Venezuela, our social structure is dangerously trembling on the face of students, deciding to make the structure crumble with the last shred of their freedom. Why is it that, when the roots of our society are evidently lifeless, it has not fallen apart yet? Well, because our foundations haven’t been destroyed yet.
The foundation of this structure is the Venezuelan that one day trusted Chávez. The basis is the Venezuelan that hasn’t yet found another ideology, but that is conscious of the titans that are now attacking the country. A Venezuelan who has lived through the Bolivarian revolution has an intrinsic distrust that has cleft the country in two. This distrust is slowly becoming part itself of our soil, and we will soon reap its fruit.
The mission of the free Venezuelan that is not satisfied with his country and is conscious that this structure is about to fall apart is, then, to bring down the ideological barrier. Cohesion is key. This authority that goes against our most basic rights and the insecurity striking against our fundamental institutions (family and education) are issues that should concern every Venezuelan, no matter where he is from or what he believes. With utmost responsibility, Venezuelans should go down a path that gets them to a common future.