The Achilles Heel of Populist GovernmentsFebruary 27, 2013 | | Print |
HAVANA TIMES — Populist social revolutions have as an inevitable feature, an excess of enthusiasm seasoned with a ridiculous chauvinism. The indignant masses cease to be citizens belonging to a party or a government; they adopt the epithets of their leaders.
I’ve seen this movie before. I know by heart how almost an entire nation acts in the midst of that apotheosis, when they don’t exactly know how to discern what the left really is and they can’t understand very well if it’s in their interest to be socialist or communist. Yet, what they clearly understand is that they’re supporters of Fidel, Correa or Chavez.
Technological advances in the media allow the news to be disseminated in the form and to the extent that those interested in “certain messages” want. Television channels, radio stations, the print and online media, as well as social networks are the means for carrying out the broadest political campaigns.
The new socialism or the new Bolivarian populist left (however it might be termed) is well aware that these days (in country’s calling themselves democratic) the right to media access must be considered an inviolable human right.
They have no choice but to enter the arena of cyberspace and digital television, even at the risk of their people being constantly bombarded with media discourses on one side and another. The Chavistas are clear that Venezuela isn’t Cuba, nor are the times the same.
This is why they haven’t blocked access to the Internet or confiscated satellite dishes. Instead, they’ve distributed digital television boxes to the majority of people – and for free.
Venezuela has a visible and audible opposition. In response, the government strives to gain followers, giving — and giving out so graciously — homes, schools, medical care and TV cable boxes. The people who are the most deprived (who are always the majority), like dogs, will always be faithful to the master who feeds them.
They’ll believe, repeat and toe the official line. They’ll make war on the opposition without giving them the least credit. Telesur is the epitome. The enemy = US imperialism. The worst evil = neoliberalism. The most unfortunate = the people of the European Economic Community. The most fortunate = the peoples of the new Latin America, and so on…
They’ll aggrandize their leader to the point of comparing this person to God on earth. But these great populist movements have an Achilles heel – they respond to Messiahs, not the goal. And when they lose their leader, they fade into extinction.
There were (and still are) many Fidelistas in Cuba, but there won’t be Raulistas. It’s the same with the Chavistas. No matter how much the second fiddle tries, there won’t be Maduristas.