The process of democracy VS the practice of democracy

Posted on February 2, 2007

Fantastic work, Michael. An excpept from his article explaining why Chavez should not be compared to a… totalitarian dictator.

I had dinner last night with two friends (one a first-time visitor), who had spent a full day talking with people active in communal councils in two Caracas neighbourhoods (one extremely poor). And, they were telling me about the frustration and anger of so many with local and ministry officials who were holding back change — and about their identification with the impatience of Chavez, whom they trusted. Not surprisingly, this led us to a discussion of the Enabling Law and of Lopez Maya’s interview. No, they said, the people they saw weren’t worried about that at all — they agree with the need for speed. You mean, I asked, that the people are in a hurry? Yes, they readily assented (to my surprise), and one commented that they are less interested in democracy as process than in democracy in practice.

…in a country with an enormous social debt, where people have basic needs for sewers, electricity, water, jobs, housing, etc. and where they are being encouraged to take things into their hands through communal councils, cooperatives, and other forms of collective self-activity — and where everywhere they come up against the long-standing patterns of bureaucracy, corruption, and clientelism — should we be surprised that the people are impatient? Should we be surprised at how few people answered the Opposition’s call to demonstrate against the Enabling Law? Should we be surprised that the people are in a hurry?