The majority curse

After the 15-F defeat, were the Revolution proposed an amendment to the Constitution that allows to every charge of popular election to be re-elected indefinitely and won the referendum by a wide margin, some analysts have focused on ways to earn that people support Chavez seems to have as a solid guarantee that allows him to do whatever he wants. It has been said that the only way to turn the events to our favour is to earn more votes in a future election. It has also been said that a “democratic attitude” is one were the losers admit their defeat in a civilized way. Finally, I have also heard that once the majority takes a decision, the minority does not have other choice but to hope and work to have better luck next time.
All the previous statements are right. But they are right under certain conditions. They can’t be right statements if they are consider alone, in an absolute way.

In the way I established them, they are right in the same way that kids tend to see things “right” or “wrong”. Years ago, we explained to my niece that it was no right to eat any dessert, sweet or candy before lunch. One day, she discovered me grabbing a small piece of chocolate and putting it inside my mouth minutes before lunch and she look at me like I was the worse person in the world for doing that. It was useless to explain her that a small bite of chocolate it is not a big deal, or that as an adult I don’t need the same discipline or the same requirements she does. For kids when something is “right” or “wrong”, it is in a completely and absolute way. There’s no middle ground, no excuses, and no shades of grey.

Some people never stop being kids in that sense. The only difference is that as years and knowledge goes by; we come up with more “adults” words to describe that attitude. If it pleases us, we call it “moral” (the “good” one), “honesty”, “principles”, “incorruptible minds”, “ability to distinguish between right and wrong” and even “common sense”. If it doesn’t pleases us (I’m on that list and I’ll explain why right away), we call it “fanatism”, “closed minds”, “lack of flexibility”, “inability to negotiate”, “absolute moral”, “radicalism” and even, “dogmatism”. It should not be a doubt left: I truly suspect and dislike the absolute minds, no matter how “right” or “good” they might seem for everybody.

An absolute mind develops an irresistible tendency to totalitarianism (using Arendt words, but If memory does not fails, she was referring to the masses instead). An absolute mind does not see its opponent as an opponent but qualifies his opponent as an enemy in the best cases. In the worst, the enemy is reduced to an idiot, to a poor idiot who is completely wrong at everything. An absolute mind is always right and therefore, who ever by any reason does not support its views, is wrong. Since the “right” and “wrong” has already been established, there’s nothing left to say. There’s no room for discussion, no room for negotiation, no space for an effective inclusion of the other. In such circumstances, there’s even a point of talking about an enemy for anything else but a caricaturized amusement. The opponent, as an opponent it simply does not exists.

Such is the case here in Venezuela, were the Vice- president itself says that it is out of question to establish a dialog with the "domes of the opposition" (I don’t know the equivalent in English for the word “dome” in the sense we give in Spanish and more likely here in Venezuela, where such a name does not only imply leadership, but it has also become an insult of some sort), because “they want to put in risk the achievements of the people”. He also says that “this is a government of the dialog” because it “dialogs” with everybody, but the opposition (yes, he actually said that).

It is funny that the opposition in Venezuela is rarely named by the government alone, but always is mentioned next to an epithet such as “the domes of the opposition” or even “the shitty domes of the opposition”, “the stateless” or “antipatriotic opposition” and “the oligarchs” just for mentioning the most popular ones. In that way, on every government speech, the opposition is left with no retrain of legitimacy, even before the speech has started and the “facts” has been exposed to support the accusation. In that way, the opposition is guilty before charge. Plus, a dialog made with “everybody but the opposition” it is not a dialog because, if we see what is obvious, that by “everybody” he’s referring to the ones who are agree with the government; what he calls a dialog can’t be more than a pleasant conversation between soul mates, an exchange of mutual affirmations (and usually, adulation included), an agreement established by nature before the talk has even started. There can be, as you can see, plenty of ways to name it, but I’m sure that “dialog” is not one of those ways.

The dialog occurs where there are things to solve or to talk about between groups or individuals with different approaches, different interests, and different positions. For a dialog to take place there most be a mutual (notice that I just wrote mutual) recognition of a legitimate (notice that I just wrote legitimate) existence of the other; even if the other is a minority in the numerical, political or economic sense. Put in simple words, even if one part is “smaller” or “less” than the other. The parts must be aware that therefore, all their rights are going to be respected before, during and after the process. It must also be obvious to the parts, for establish a dialog, that they can’t come with an absolute and non negotiable conception of “right” and “wrong”. They just can’t carry a childish mind to a dialog. They must come open to contradictions, open to accept new restrictions to their original considerations of what is “right” and “wrong”. They are ought to come for that tempting but not originally allowed little piece of chocolate before lunch. If not, a democratic system cannot be possible. Notice that I’m putting the dialog and no the simple respect of the majority will, and not the elections, as an inexorable condition for a democratic system.

I’m sure this won’t sound “right” for many. It can be also consider as a political incorrect statement (on a side note I must confess that I might be having an affair with political incorrect statements lately  ). But it is at this side of the fence, where I’m supposed to be the opponent but I see myself reduced to the enemy, the oligarch, the antipatriotic, to the one that must be exclude just because of being what it is, just because of being who I am: someone who is not agree with them. It is at this side of the fence where I don’t dare to call a system “democratic” just because there are elections where the majority will is respected. There can’t be fair elections where the opponent is not even consider respectfully as a legitimate one, where the opponent is not accepted.

Do not dare to call this the whim of a loser. Do not dare to call me “a bad loser”. I’m not a bad loser. I’m not a good loser either. I’m not a loser because I was not even asked to be part of this game. They played alone. I can’t be a loser if I’m not consider as a player. I’m not a loser, because for this political system, I’m no one. No matter how many electoral process they organize to amaze the world with their democratic manners, no matter how many times I go to “vote” on each and every one of those process, if I don’t exist as a citizen but only as an oligarch and so on, I’m not living under a democratic system. It can’t be democratic if the majority will suppress the minority opinions. It can’t be democratic if after every election I end up earning more sadness and losing more rights.

Of course, I’m not talking about anything new. Long ago, Tocqueville used the accurate term “the tyranny of the majorities” on his book “Democracy in America” and Crick, for example, made similar stance on his polemic chapter “Defence of the politics against the democracy" of his book “In defence of politics” . But there’s a distance between talking about it and actually living the dangers they once predicted, living inside the Revolution, experiencing directly “the majority” curse. I hope the reader now understands why I call it a “curse”.

PS: The recent opinions made by the once Vicepresident of this regime, José Vicent Rangel (here, in Spanish, sorry) are quite suitable with this post and differ with the current Vice- president. I coudln't believe my ears when I head them, too bad he's a journalist and not the vice president anymore, although he's part of the Revolution still.