Venezuelan Politicians Hold Pointless Talks

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Enrique Capriles, the man he defeated in the most recent election, held six hours of talks on the nation’s future. The discussions were forced on Mr. Maduro as the streets remain filled with protesters against the incompetence of his regime, and of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. The trouble is that neither side really wants to make a deal, just as the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian situation don’t want peace. Each wants victory, and as a result, nothing will be accomplished.

For his part, Mr. Maduro is suffering from what every Marxism-inspired ruler does, the desire to hang onto power. This journal has frequently cited the critique of the vanguard party idea first raised by Mikhail Bakunin, the father of modern anarchism. Comrade Bakunin noted that the revolutionary leadership would establish a self-perpetuating bureaucracy because that was human nature. That is precisely the problem in Venezuela.

Mr. Maduro views things through the lens of a party apparatchik who has climbed to the very top of the greasy pole. He claims his detractors are fascists and that Mr. Maduro is a “traitor to chavismo,” the brand of crypto-Marxism established in Venezuela by the late and unlamented Huge Chavez. “There are no negotiations here. No pacts. All we’re looking for is a model of peaceful coexistence, of mutual tolerance,” he said. Discussions that aren’t negotiations are hardly a way forward.

Mr. Capriles stated “How are you going to ask the country to accept you if you call half the country fascists or you threaten them?” he asked. “I think it is very difficult to govern a country where half the people are against you.” Actually, it isn’t, but it requires a dedication to the polity that is rarely found in developing nations. He went on to threaten “We don’t want a coup d’etat. We don’t want an explosion on the streets,” he said. “Either this situation changes, or it bursts. I hope it changes because I don’t want violence.” Saying one doesn’t want a coup only makes sense if there if a very good chance of getting one.

The trouble is that the government hasn’t delivered. Crime is up, inflation is up, detention of protesters is way up. These concerns are, of course, largely those of middle-class Venezuelans. The noises from the state are still appropriately proletarian, and so the poor and working classes are on board with Mr. Maduro. He has said that so long as the protests don’t spread to other parts of society, there will be no change.

However, change is what Venezuela needs. Awash in oil, it has wasted years of petro-dollars. Electricity generation could have been solved with a couple of oil-fired generators, but after years of chavismo, there isn’t one. As a result, the lights go out from time to time. A government that can’t keep the lights on year in and year out deserves opposition. The red fascism that is chavismo, though, cannot accept dissent as anything but counter-revolutionary.

Things in Venezuela will go on as they have, badly.