Sunday, October 16, 2005

The frog in the boiler

I have wondered for a while, how can people let themselves fall into totalitarian regimes. How did Stalin become Stalin?, how did Mussolini become Mussolini?, how did Franco become Franco?, how did Hitler become Hitler?, how did Castro become Castro?.

Before, in royalty times, it was the thing to do, it was what was expected, so it's understandable that it took a thought revolution (and the quest for power of some of the displaced) to get from under the King's rule. But these modern regimes start from relatively little, sometimes with a military involvement sometimes democratically, but in many cases these regimes start by being popular and very gradually change their tune to become totalitarian.

It is amazing to me to see the apathy that Venezuelans have towards our current regime, quite a few have seen the regime change over time, and quite a few have seen where it's headed. But even then I have spent countless hours on the phone and countless e-mails to try to make my friends and family understand this, and I very seldom get past a "do you think so?, noooo, I know he is bad but no way it can get _that_ bad!." Of course some of those that see it clearly, have already left the country, or are making plans to do so. Many others, that also see it clearly, are desperate to get their neighbors understand this, as they cannot conceive the possibility of leaving their country. But the great majority of Venezuelans choose to ignore the signs, and go on with their lives, while the regime becomes more and more totalitarian. Partially because they feel themselves powerless to fight against it, partially because they prefer to ignore it to be able to justify their own inaction.

Chávez has made an art form out of dividing Venezuelans into 'us' vs. 'them,' this permeates all strata of society. The "opposition" (which as I have mentioned before includes everyone that does not agree with anything from the Chavez regime) is even divided by this, all the opposition political parties are now part of the "them," it does not matter how many good things they have done before, it does not matter how many good intentions, it does not matter how democratic they are, it does not even matter that some are recently formed parties to fight against Chavez regime. They are not "us" and as such, cannot be trusted to do anything good. But then, at the same time huge segments of the "opposition" is waiting for a leader to get them out of the bind Venezuela is in!. Am I the only one that sees a problem with this logic?.

I understand the sources of the apathy, and it all goes back to the Revocatory Referendum. The Venezuelan society was very organized back then following basic precepts of non-violent struggle, and it was this organization that allowed the RR process to go that far. But opposition party leaders made huge mistakes by negotiating with the regime (and they still don't seem to have learned that lesson), and failed their own people by not reacting fast enough to the multiple tricks pushed forward by the regime. After that, all the power that was in the hands of the Venezuelan people dissipated, and it even looks as if it had never existed.

But a year has gone by, and the basis of the fight should still be fresh in their minds. There are many people pointing out what needs to be done, but even in forums of people that think this same way, they choose to complain and whine, instead of choosing to fight, to get organized, to do what even the Venezuelan Catholic Church has said that must be done. It amazed me that I seem to have a better understanding of the consequences of article 350 of the Venezuelan constitution than many people that are actually lawyers and don't see a way out!. At least Súmate seems to have a clear idea by starting to organize a parallel government, so that the "ignoring a totalitarian regime" put forth by article 350 can be implemented. Let's hope that "they" succeed before even that article gets removed from our constitution, but to do that, it has to stop being "they" and start becoming "us."

So, unlike a frog, that contrary to popular belief would actually jump out if the water gets hot enough, people seem to just prefer the status quo, hoping that it will not get worse, without realizing day to day that it already has. And I can assure you that this does not apply _only_ to Venezuelans.


"All politics are based on the indifference of the majority."
-James Reston

"Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen."
-Dwight Eisenhower

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
-Albert Einstein

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
-Dale Carnegie

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Edmund Burke

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
-Albert Einstein

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
--Margaret Mead

The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.
-- Dante Alighieri

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