With all its failings, the rot began to set in after English Civil War period (1649-1660) and was emulated just over a hundred and so years later in the post American Revolution era when power groups formed around certain prominent political personalities to become the bastardization of developing democracy's true intent.
In England it was a natural progression of elected but like-minded members taking up temporary residence at specific hostelries in London for each calendar session of parliament, with horsemen "whips" despatched to round up the numbers for successive divisions (voting) in the house, but its American cousin also took on the specter of a lobby system within the lobbyers to ensure party loyalty over responsibilities directly to one's constituents.
In the change-over from old-style under-the-table machinations in a pseudo-democratic power share between the now disenfranchised Accion Democratica (AD) and Christian Socialist (COPEI) parties that held sway for the last half century, President Hugo Chavez' ambitions for a truly democratic Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela appears to have lot the plot ... or at least gone off the rails ... with possibly dire consequences ahead of November 23 local and regional elections across the country.
Yes, since Chavez took over the reins of Venezuela in February 1999 there has been a raft of "social, economic and political transformation that has shaken the foundations of Venezuela" but the question left hanging in the tropical air is whether it was achieved by Chavez himself or by the will of the people, especially those who gathered in the streets around the Miraflores Palace in the middle of April 2002 to demand his return after Dictator-for-a-Day Pedro Carmona Estanga had ruthlessly dissolved parliament, the judiciary and overturned the constitution, imposing a dictatorship at the behest of his buddies in Washington DC?
Chavez himself has always insisted that he is not "Mandrake the Magician" although one has to admit that it is his personal charisma and force of personality that has guided the light of his Revolution which has sought to unite the Venezuelan people under one banner ... the ethos of being Venezuelan ... to the exclusion of all other outside influences. Perhaps it is there that Chavez and his closest theorists in the administration have lost the plot? For rather than attempting to achieve pan-Venezuelan unity irrespective of former party affiliations, it would appear that he has made his career's biggest mistake by attempting to create a unified political party of the left with the obvious exclusion of a largish percentage of the Venezuelan population that does not necessarily think in terms of left, right or center and verifiably to the exclusion of those Venezuelans who are caught up in the mesh of traditional conservative disregard for anything other than self-interest.
Again, perhaps in retrospect, I am as naive as Olof Palme (Sweden's Prime Minister of the time) was when he feted Mugabe in Stockholm, but it certainly shows how original ambitions for true representation of the people by the people can go seriously downhill when power cliques surround a leader who may or may not originally have had good ambitions but subsequently gave in to the self-delusion of personal invincibility.
In this regard, November 23 could well be a point at which Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias wakes up to recognize the fact that his collection of headless chickens running around the farmyard is pointed more towards George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' with the livestock headed to the slaughterhouse if he doesn't start getting rid of a lot of the accumulated manure and put some of the older cows and horses out to pasture.
Agreed, Chavez has substantially done more than just a lot towards promoting the democratic creation of local community councils and representative councils up the hierarchy to the top but somewhere in-between the wires have got themselves crossed and the fuses are blowing as the whole caboodle collapses like a pack of gaming cards simply because the whole idea of participative democracy is being strangled by political party apparatus (plural) hell bent on power amalgamation and to hell with any thought of taking instruction and direction from further down the political food chain...
Wilpert notes that Chavez' dynamism also poses risks to the ultimate achievement of political and economic transformation ... that his government has taken some measures to minimize the cult of personality around Chavez, but that as long as Chavez does not clarify the difference between uncritical obedience and absolute loyalty ... "where the latter allows for constructive critique and the former does not" ... Chavez gives the impression of being indispensable and unquestionable and all too often, die-hard Chavistas will immediately pigeonhole as 'escualidos' those who are critical of some aspect of Chavez or his government, even if the critic is otherwise a supporter.
Such is the situation where my naivety leaves me hankering for true democracy for Venezuela.
Not simply the grassroots representation all the way to the top, but an undertaking from Chavez -- the man of flesh and blood or the mythology that has been built up around him -- that he holds true to the transformation of Venezuela as indeed the birthplace of democracy best alienating itself from anything even approaching the corruption that party politics has clearly shown itself to have become.
Roy S. Carson
Venezuela is facing the most difficult period of its history with honest reporters crippled by sectarianism on top of rampant corruption within the administration and beyond, aided and abetted by criminal forces in the US and Spanish governments which cannot accept the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to decide over their own future.