Against Navel-ism

Chávez is not the head of the Bolivarian Revolution, he is its belly button. At least, that is, it seems for many on one side or the other, when considering the political spectrum.

Chávez is not the head of the Bolivarian Revolution, he is its belly button. At least, that is, it seems for many on one side or the other, when considering the political spectrum. That thing that many look to so as to not have to look ahead, to not have to account for their actions, and to free themselves from all responsibility, avoiding that trance of thinking with one’s own head. That thing that many desperately point out with their index finger, so as to divert attention, so as to not do, so as to let happen.  

There are those who have accumulated all of their political capital by repeating that Chávez is responsible for even the smallest flutter of a butterfly’s wings, making it so that when any sort of natural catastrophe occurs, it is also Chávez’s fault. Chávez the beginning and the end, the fragile order and the dreadful chaos. This has its correlate within the supporters [chavistas]: Chávez as the endless beginning, as the only guarantor of order, regardless of what order that might be. One the one side, he is the monkey dictator. On the other side, ‘command’, commander, ‘order away’.    

Neither sun nor black hole. But there are those, on the side of those summoned to push forward a Revolution, who trade a baboon for star and king, with an effect that could not be more pernicious: a mythical Chávez, perfect, deified, infallible, as far as possible from mere mortals, a black hole in which all potential, energy, and fuels pass if they are to propel the democratic radicalization of this society. This is the Chávez reduced to a bottomless belly button, without a people, on the edge of a cliff.    

It is said that anti-Chávismo has an unconcealed and inevitable propensity to navel-ism: It has never been so easy to go against something. It suffices that any thief or murderer point to Chávez’s navel for those who are against Chávez to absolve said thieves and murderers. It is also said that it is less easy to recognize the navel-ists among the revolutionary ranks. But really it isn’t: It suffices that they be the object of a criticism, however timid or pertinent it may be, for these personalities, pointing to their belly button, convert said criticism into a ruthless attack against Chávez. If the disposition heats up, and the rumors of protest turn into a roar, the possibility will always exist to appeal to the rhetorical resource: it’s an order from Chávez. Orders from the baboon leader to orders from Chávez himself, who, in the mouths of the navel-ist demagogues, ends up backing abuses, humiliations and injustices. 

Chávez, when reduced to a navel, ends up being the perfect excuse for not advancing. Not only as the result of the works and grace of demagogues, but also because of omission: the omission by those who don’t wish to give up the comfort involved in assuming that it’s always someone else, and always the same, the one who does the work for them. If something goes wrong, it’s the belly button’s fault.

Chávez himself, of course, also gets distracted by his own belly button. He makes mistakes, and does it poorly. He is responsible for errors. Everyone can prepare their own balance sheet: how much have we advanced in the destruction of the old, corrupt, sclerotic, Bourgeoisie State; how much have we advanced in the construction of new institutionality; how much is there of rhetoric in the discourse about socialism and how much concretion; how much have we advanced in the construction of people’s power, neither tutelary nor co-opted; how much yes, how much no, and how much more to add to the list. Let’s go for it: let’s subpoena the baboon.

But one thing is just as true: I didn’t vote for Chávez so that he makes the Revolution for me, so that he would think for me, so that he would build for me. A Revolution is not made by staring at one’s navel. I don’t feel responsible for, nor accomplice to, those who profit in the name of the Revolution. I also don’t assume guilt for all the palaver of the speech-givers, nor for the mediocrity of the mediocre. But it is equally true that every space that they usurp is a space we have not known how to defend or re-conquer. There are those who confuse Revolution with a spectacle, those who cheer on the passivity and demobilization. It is up to us, principally, to assume our role as actors of allocation, that is, of protagonism. Break the threads, mobilize ourselves, shake off the drowsiness. 

The popular movement can’t sit and wait for the baboon to build a popular movement. Intellectuals, artists, poets, cultural workers, writers – out here there is an entire people that makes noise, that demands, shakes and summons. There are many functionaries that encourage and accompany the popular struggles, but there are many others who gave up on their own ideas a while ago: someone else, always the same, should take the initiative, say what is right and what is wrong. The social subjects and struggles that have remained in the dark for years are no small few, as if they were condemned to ostracism until Chávez came around and took care of the issue at hand. And then, all of the sudden, we are all residents, farmers, workers, the motorized, the peddlers, or the indigenous. All it takes is for the baboon to glance again for all of us to become no one again, with our own eyes focused on our navel.  

A lot is said about the need for collective leadership and this demand is absolutely pertinent. But often we act as if the construction of said leadership was the work of one man, and not a collective effort. It’s like arid lands, waiting, resignedly, that one day it will rain socialism – or at least more democracy. We forget that a Revolution implies conflict, transgression, insubordination, rebelliousness.

Let’s subpoena the baboon, yes, of course, but let’s also subpoena the navel-ists, wherever they may be found. Let’s stop staring at our belly buttons. 

Translated by Venezuelanalysis.com

Source: Saber y Poder Blog