An Affective Picture of Chavismo (XIV) – Bad Faith

In the fourteenth installment of his series, Reinaldo Iturriza scrutinizes the "bad faith" that underscores certain positions against Chavismo.

By Reinaldo Iturriza - Saber y Poder
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In his latest article, Reinaldo Iturriza analyzes the "bad faith" surrounding some debates on Chavismo. (Alba Ciudad)
In his latest article, Reinaldo Iturriza analyzes the "bad faith" surrounding some debates on Chavismo. (Alba Ciudad)

In the first text of this series I examined this fallacy that, in order to have a global perspective on Venezuelan reality, one must inevitably renounce the possibility of speaking from the subjectivity of Chavismo. In other words, one has to be on the outside.

I claimed that it is not only possible, but necessary to build a global perspective from Chavismo. That is, from the standpoint of a political subject that effectively emerged historically as a popular outsider. Furthermore, it called the core of elite politics into question and managed to rewrite the rules of the political game.

For those who sustain this fallacy from “leftist” positions, there is even some indignity in this effort to speak from Chavismo, especially at this moment.

This imposture has a lot of what José Romero Losacco, following Sartre, identified as bad faith: “Sartre defined as bad faith the denial of individual freedom which occurs when the subject objectifies their actions by taking them to be determined by the actions of others. It represents the typical justification of our actions by objectifying our own responsibility via its transfer [onto others].”

The “individualizing transfer of responsibility” amounts to an “exercise of reifying the individual as a totality,” which allows the individual to “objectify themselves from the reality they are a part of,” clearing their responsibility.

It is much less complicated than it might seem: it is not that it is necessary to be outside Chavismo to have a global perspective. Rather, the imperious need of a global perspective is a pretext for the political decision of standing outside Chavismo.

Only the reified individual can achieve a “totalizing” or global perspective, and said perspective is only possible by objectifying oneself in regard to Chavismo, or should this word prove too unbearable, to the Bolivarian Revolution.

If one wants, it is an elegant way, even if contrived and fallacious, as with all impostures, of renouncing Chavismo, displacing individual responsibility onto others.

To be clear: it is perfectly understandable for people to want to distance themselves from Chavismo or the Bolivarian Revolution, whatever the reasons. But a minimum of intellectual honesty and political wisdom would force them to take responsibility for their actions and motives. In other words, to act without bad faith.

The detail is that bad faith opens doors in restricted academic and intellectual circles, as well as in some “progressive” media. Now that Venezuela, Chavismo and the Bolivarian Revolution have become too toxic for such sterile environments and sensitivities, it is too much of an effort, almost an anathema, almost shameful, to be pictured in such a scenario, close to such an identity or experience, lest it be contagious.

The historical circumstances would demand a certain sobriety, equidistance, equanimity, objectivity is the word. Views and voices able to transcend the “polarizing” ideologies.

There is a lot of fear of being left out of spaces where one can receive, as a reward, recognition and prestige. Staying inside requires a certain discipline that is not always compatible with a militant spirit, to use another tricky word.

Furthermore, from these very academic and intellectual spaces one can make a career writing about the “failures” of Chavismo and the Bolivarian Revolution, often resorting to, as Romero Losacco writes: “neologisms that explain nothing, but which are useful to show a new face and thus elide mea culpa, telling the world: ‘It wasn’t us, it was they who did not understand.’ There is no shred of modesty, they do not conceive that the problem was that they could not explain it themselves, even less so that they are co-responsible for what is happening now.”

It bears saying: it would not be the first time that leftist intellectuals showcase their misery. It will not be the last either. Time and again, inspired by the popular revolutionary fire, they took sides and got involved in politics. And when the fire waned they left through the backdoor, ashamed, running towards what they consider their proper place.

It is necessary to identify these impostures, of course, especially to identify what should not be done under any circumstances, since it is acting in bad faith. But more important is understanding that, in order to rekindle the revolutionary fire, a lot of intellectual and political rigor is needed. This must come hand in hand with militancy. Learning from our mistakes, assuming our responsibilities, is the task ahead.

This is the thirteenth installment of a series of texts by Venezuelan writer and theorist Reinaldo Iturriza. Follow the links for the previous texts: part Ipart IIpart IIIpart IV, part VIpart VIIpart VIIIpart IXpart XIpart XII, part XIII.

Translated by Ricardo Vaz for

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.