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When the Revolution Becomes a “Camel”

A recently returned Chávez, back from Cuba a few weeks after having undergone a second operation, voiced something which I think bears repeating: the president is facing a battle that is more personal than collective; inevitably personal, but undeniably collective.

It bears repeating because I perceive a certain tendency to belittle, if not simply ignore, the reflective Chávez of the last few weeks, who has maintained a constant dialogue with himself, but who has also made this exercise public. The reason, in my eyes, is very clear: it is not about a “mystical” Chávez, metaphysical and contemplative, or the fate of an oracle or some spiritual leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, it is quite the opposite; the Chávez who makes continuous reference to Nietzsche is the same Chávez that, for example, offers a reflection over self care, care of his own body and political militancy.

Something similar can be said for his constant reference to the parable of the three metamorphoses of the spirit, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, also by Nietzsche. You have to be very cynical, or extremely blind, not to realise that this isn’t just about a simple fable. Rather it is a reflection which is related to, for example, the type of leadership that is being practised by the president, but also to destiny, the evolution of the Bolivarian Revolution if you will.

Camel, lion and child. The camel carries “great weights of the spirit…including the heaviest burden of all”, he is the carrier of values. The lion “captures the freedom for himself in order to create something new, creates liberty for himself and a sacred ‘no’ even to duty”, iconoclastic lion, subversive. The child: “innocence is the child, and forgetting, a new start, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred ‘yes’”.

You could say that a revolution is a camel, lion and child. It is the camel (the old society with its old values) which gives way to the lion which subverts the old order and, at the same time, gives way to the child who creates the new society. But it isn’t that simple or linear: every revolution always runs the risk of becoming the camel: either because it was unable to put an end to what was outdated or because it ends up repeating the errors of the past: the new socialism copying the old socialism; the new party copying the old party or bureaucracy playing the role of Herod, the killer of children.

Chávez and his circumstances: inevitably personal reflections, yet undeniably collective, because the question relating to the prevalence of the camel in the Bolivarian Revolution is the responsibility of everyone. This is what we need to be discussing everywhere, and acting accordingly.

Translated for Venezuelanalysis by Rachael Boothroyd