Once upon a time a general of the Mexican Revolution declared, dispirited, “Revolution degenerated into government.”

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All revolutions have faced the same danger: either they fail, like Béla Kun in Hungary in 1919 or they degenerate into government as did Joseph Stalin or like the Institutional Revolutionary Party in Mexico. How can one be revolutionary and institutional if revolutions are made against institutions?

The war waged by the reaction, always out of proportion, brutal and barbarous, forces revolution, if it is genuine, to military discipline. The Soviet Revolution had to face invasions and internal uprisings, like the tragic one by the revolutionary mariners of Cronstadt.

Lenin had to write his pamphlet Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. [1] During WWI the Revolutionary Socialists placed a bomb at the German Embassy in Moscow. Vladimir Ilich and the Political Bureau had to present their condolences to the Chargé d’Affaires, because the Ambassador himself had been killed by the blast.

In Chile, Salvador Allende had not only to confront the conspiracy of imperialism, but the lack of discipline of the extreme left, that only harmonized with the discourse of the extreme right.

After the August 15th Referendum, some revolutionaries, right or wrong, reject the candidates backed by Hugo Chávez and Chávez summons them to run along with the opposition. Then the dissidents say they do not accept arbitrary impositions. That is where the confrontation might escalate.

This curious version of the “revolution within revolution” becomes doubtful when it shows up only during elections. Every revolution is defied by the Danton/Robespierre dilemma, brilliantly described by the film Danton by the Polish Andrzej Wajda [2] , though obviously biased against Robespierre.

In a memorable moment, Danton takes the hand of Robespierre and places it on his own neck and says something like,“This is the very concrete neck you are going to sever; not any of your abstractions!”It is also the dilemma of Che Guevara in his farewell letter to Fidel [3]: knowing how to evaluate “the dangers and the principles.” I.e. the abstractions and the realities.

Venezuelan revolutionaries have hoped during more than 40 years of resistance that one day the majority would conquer power, not only a few privileged few, who are highly corruptible because an infinity capability for arbitration easily leads to arbitrariness. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as Lord Acton said.

The mystic believes while the hypocrite pretends to believe, even more than the mystic, in order to step up the power echelons. He feigns to be more revolutionary than everybody. Curiously enough, left-wing pretenders almost always jump into the wagon of the extreme right. Ethic-and-savior doctrines like Stalinism tend to create this dilemma. It makes impossible to prevent the Pharisees to control the State, the church, the party, etc.

It is hard to stop them, because they know the innards of what Otto von Bismarck called Realpolitik, so many times invoked by Henry Kissinger. The mystic, on the other hand, as an unarmed prophet, Robespierre, only sees the principles, disdaining the dangers and usually spoils everything. Or immolates to avoid any concession to dangers. It was illustrated by the dramatic phone call from Fidel Castro to Chávez at 00:05 on April 12 during the coup d’État: “Look, let me tell you something, save your people and save yourself, do whatever you have to do, negotiate with dignity, do not immolate yourself, Chávez, because this does not end here. Do not immolate yourself.”

This Venezuelan revolutionary experience is as singular as any other is, because every revolution is singular, but at the same time it shares characteristics with others. We have overcome in Venezuela the dangers of Stalinism or the tragedy of the so-called Democratic Kampuchea, led by Pol Pot. And also, on the other side of hubris, we have overcome the poltroonery of social democracy, as in Venezuela’s Acción Democrática and Felipe González.

Venezuelan revolution has been pacific. It is opposition that has produced violence. This assertion does not pretend to omit a few non-systematic trigger-happy revolutionaries. This claim can seem strange to some opposers indoctrinated by media, especially those who were once leftists and miss in this revolution, or attribute to it, the Stalinism they would have set up if they had won when they were as extremist as they are now, but on the left.

The proof is in the events on April 13rd 2002 when people reinstated Chávez in power after the coup d’État: if this revolution had been violent it would not have recovered power pacifically. There were no armed groups, and in any case if there were they did not act as such. It was not necessary. That was the perfect occasion for a violent revolution to act as such. In fact, Venezuelans have innovated in revolutionary matters. There have been favorable circumstances for that, which are subject matter for another, long, article.

But we must innovate also in another equally hard and decisive aspect: effective power for the majority. The formula, sadly, is not either in Aristotle, Plato, Saint Augustin, Thomas More, Campanella, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Bolívar, Marx, Lenin or in any other theoretician of political science. We have to either invent or err, as Simón Rodríguez said. There are the Bolivarian Circles, the Electoral Battle Units and the Patrols, grassroots organizations created for the Referendum that confirmed Chávez on the Presidency on August 15th.

They have worked very well when they have been so required, but they exclude opponents and they much less educate opponents to live in democracy. One of the most conspicuous characteristics of the Venezuelan opposition is the self-indulgence of spoiled children: if you do not give them what they ask they mutiny and trigger every kind of barbarian behavior.

Fortunately, for most of the opponent mass, overthrowing a government is a “rave” party in a five-star hotel. It is a bourgeoisie so lazy, because of its rental nature, that it did not even pervade the military high ranks, as the Chilean bourgeoisie did, controlling even the firefighters’ command.

It is necessary to include and educate this intolerant and fundamentalist sector of opponents, that simply refuses not only legitimacy but also humanity and even existence to the poor majority. So much that they still do not understand that it lost the August 15th Referendum and are not content even with the very favorable fact that four out of 10 Venezuelans support them.

Like self-centered brats, they want everything right now. This traumatic event left them disoriented and depressed, in a convulsive screaming of “fraud!” in a professional ineptitude that borders insanity, when all national and international powers tell them to abandon that litany because it is boring and causes a dull laughter. It is necessary also, beyond the electoral fever, to develop tools for preventing any regional authority or parliamentary representative to seize a representation that has been only temporarily delegated to them, after they were elected in the Chávez platform, as many so called “fence jumpers” have done.

If this popular power is good only to run “correct” candidates, it leaves the battlefield open for a succession of abuses. We cannot count only with honest people, because then we cannot fight scoundrels when they deceive us. The ideal situation is that the citizens are empowered to prevent that the elected delegates disobey its will, so that the elected individuals and even their political penchant becomes strategically unimportant.

Chávez must not be Venezuela’s mayor, as Fidel said. In some cases a burned bulb is not replaced because Chávez himself does not do it and there is no one else to carry out the job. We must go beyond mere denunciation to an effective exercise of power by the citizens. The “oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely” are normal because the State has been designed for that during thousands of years, and because in the Venezuelan public administration the extraordinary is not still daily life, as Che said was revolution. That is why the revolution bypasses the State to carry out the special massive missions of health and education.

The country in revolution is debating this subject, inventing and erring, because success does not exist without failure. The next months are decisive to overthrow, with “patience and more patience, with work and more work” (Bolívar), both the corrupt Danton and the incorruptible Robespierre.