By Victor Maldonado
It is not only wars and catastrophes that are capable of destroying a country. It can also be a responsibility shared between a nation’s leaders population’s disposition to plunder. The fundamentalist adhesion to populism and the accompanying submission to the “caudillo” can not be deemed otherwise.
A dumbed down people, deeply ignorant and covetous middle classes, and a autocratic leader, are three crucial characteristics to destroy any country. These are the factors that then allows a nation to proceed without major problems towards a fatal disintegration. But what could be the sequence that brought us here? What would be the ten steps that any tyrant should consider to rule over the ruins of his republic?
The following compendium of indications, initially perfected by Lenin, although the amendments and corrections made by Stalin at the request of Lavrenti Beria are considered prophetic. How did they get to the tropical Cuban lands? Some say that it was through Leon Trotsky, as that this was precisely the booklet that was lost at the time of his murder.
Some pages have been lost over time, but what remains of it belonged to the lost library of Che Guevara. Fidel Castro made important amendments, for which his latest update is acknowledged.
1. Lean on the myths that affirm the failure of the Latin Americans: Insist on the theses of the lost decades and of the obstinate treason to the deed of the liberators. Systematically doubt institutions and exploit dissatisfaction with what we have become as countries. Keep the general disagreement about the future, accuse the “system” of denying any possibility of improvement, have your list of thieves and corrupt, riot politics and declare enemy to anyone who opposes the change that the people deserve. Insist that only a strong man is capable of fixing the situation. Always remember that a people who feel frustrated will always look for someone to save them from their fiasco. And they will do it blindly.
2. Practice populism as intensely as possible: Put on that messianic halo that characterizes the one that supposedly “can do everything.” Introduce yourself as the defender of the causes of the oppressed people. Offer revenge and a new start, without those parties and leaders of the old guard “who stole everything.” Threaten to take justice into your own hands. Denounce the voracity of entrepreneurs. Point out the unspeakable ties of the privileged with imperialism. Accuse international neoliberalism of starving the country. Demand better prices for the commodities that support national income. Exploit the most abject nationalism, and promise without pause, and without thinking about the costs. Propose a National Constituent Assembly that gives the people the original power and restores their rights that were taken away. Do not give quarter to what has been. Criticize everything, offer a total change, promise to distribute the country’s wealth more equally, and repudiate merit.
3. Transform yourself into the leader the masses need: Build for yourself a “glorious” epic. Conspire, try to enact a coup, if possible spend a few years in jail, visit Cuba, make an altar to Che, adopt the “Mao suits” and military garb as uniforms, do a television program called “Aló Presidente “, order new radio and television channels every day for anything, become the essential, centralize everything, and constantly organize stagings with the town as a backdrop. Buy three or four left-wing intellectuals who deify you and write articles on “the dawn of the people” thanks to your constant concern for the fate of the oppressed. Draw attention to yourself with the support of the “undersigned,” as the enlightened citizen that the country needs to restore the republic. Sing, dance, and dress like the most dispossessed. Insist on your popular origin. Show pride in your lack of studies and your intellectual superficiality. Quickly find an external enemy, try to move the emotions of the mob and even try to make yourself a new religion where you are the holy one. Never forget that cruelty is an exclusive attribute of the gods of politics, and you are one of them.
- Expropriate, expropriate, expropriate: Forget the expropriatory guarantees provided in the constitution. Practice popular justice. Invoke the fallacy that “all property is a robbery.” Argue that lands, companies, real estate, productive assets, inventories, and even human capital, can be the object of plunder in favor of “this new revolutionary stage.” Show that things belong to who needs them and not who produces them. Use “conspiratorial theories” to show that behind each owner there is a conspiracy against the people. Take everything from them, put them in prison, extort money from their families, and make a great celebration out of the “just” distribution of the proceeds. If by chance it is not convenient to handle the destruction of the company, then regulate the prices of the products below the costs, provide incentives for mass looting, and present yourself as the hero proposing the fair prices. When there is nothing left to distribute, justify it by saying that there is an economic war against the government that does not want socialism to succeed.
Transform Every Crazy Idea into a Public Company: Organize monopolies in any economic field that seems “strategic” to you. It does not matter if it is a ranching, a pigsty, a corn crop, cement, sugar mills, steel mills, gold mines, or hydrocarbon exploitation. Everything that you can snatch from the private sector, convert it into public spending. Put your most loyal friends in top management positions; it does not matter if they know about the business or not, because in the hands of socialism there is no business but looting, and do not forget to give a big slice of the pie to the military. Forget about productivity, quality, and effectiveness. It is about pretending and having a critical mass clientele that are forced to comply with any decision of the regime. Always remember that the slogan is “every public employee is a loyal servant of the regime.” And do not forget about the role of socialism in big ideas such as launching satellites, continental pipelines, nuclear energy, and the international arms race.
Assume that productivity is the enemy of the people and a trap of capitalism: It is not about being competitive but about milking the udders until they are dry. For that reason regulate prices, limit costs, systematically increase the minimum wage, yes, without consulting anyone, much less private employers. Do not allow free importation and set high tariffs for all imported goods. Raise taxes and organize a system of taxes and “contributions” to “help sports”, “improve technology”, “fight drugs”, “develop telecommunications”, “finance universities”, and whatever happens to emanate from the public sector, but using private income. Denounce selfishness as a vice of the capitalists and raise social justice as an excuse for everything. As you are the employer of all public employees, forget fiscal discipline and budget constraints. Spend, spend, spend, without taking into account if you have produced the resources before hand. Print money – for that you have the Central Bank and the Casa de la Moneda – and give out bonuses to all your workers. Grant retirement pensions to all who ask for it, and do not attempt to establish any relationship between those who contribute and those who receive that benefit. If it is a matter of building houses, hire the most expensive builders, even if they are the worst, because first there is “solidarity among peoples”. Yes, be careful to give away the houses, but keep the property in state hands. There is the trick, to maintain that dependence that transforms free men into submissive servants.
We are all servants of the great brother called the regime: Destroy the market, end the purchasing power of wages, annihilate the companies, devastate jobs, decimate entrepreneurs, extinguish entrepreneurship, and when there is insufficient supply and demand, organize a rationing system of the benefits through the identity card of the country: a substitute for the identity document. Deliver a bag of food without temporary regularity, which keeps the slaves alive, and helps ensure weight loss. Forget to differentiate between families with children and families with the elderly. Everyone has to get used to eating a little of the same. Infant formula, diapers, proteins, sanitary napkins, and contraceptive pills are all “instruments of capitalist domination” and tools for dependence. Always remember that “being rich is bad” and having many things prevents others from obtaining something. In this way you will have a good part of the population domesticated and anxious, waiting for the next bag of food you will so generously provide.
Within the revolution is everything: Apply from the beginning the socialist model of impunity. For a “good revolutionary” there is no law or limits. For the rest, there is only repression and being permanently raked over the coals. Dissenters have to be made to feel that they are being watched; they must be constantly suffering from the fear that at any moment the thought police will arrive. Put them in jail and do not give them any benefits. Violate their rights and throw them into oblivion. Let those divergent politicians know that they must go along with the program. You have to build two countries. One for the privileged – the apparatchik- that sustains the regime, and the rest that must endure hunger, fear, repression, and eviction. For the former, give them dollars, let them benefit from corruption, the possession of weapons, crime, drug trafficking, flirtations with the guerrillas, relationships with international terrorism. Give them the best women, the best wines, the most sophisticated “scotch”, and credentials to always access the fast lane. The rest are condemned to endless waiting. Condition their identity, deny them their passport, make them feel the rigors of extortion and blackmail, make them kneel at the foot of your photograph, imploring mercy. Exasperate them as they pray for medicine. Ration their water, cut their electricity, do not allow them to work in the public sector or in the private sector. Make a list to exclude enemies of the state from benefits. Humiliate them constantly, treat them like worms, and call them worms.
Do everything possible to get the middle classes to flee the country: Encourage the exodus. Give reasons for people to lose hope. Break up families. Cause those who leave to have a feeling of triumph and those who are left to remain with feelings of defeat and failure. Destroy the consular service and put unpresentable clowns in the embassies. It is about throwing them in the gutter – for those who leave-, stateless persons who can not vote, nor register their children, nor process documents. But don’t update the electoral registry: use them still to your favor come election time. Save resources that they would demand in food and public services. Send that problem to the rest of the countries, oblige them to negotiate with you “because if you do not do it, I will send a wave of refugees, remember the Marielitos.” The objective is the smallest possible population.
Buy collaboration and finance the group that pretends to be opposition: There is nothing cheaper than a fraudulent pollster to generate the necessary confusion every time free elections are simulated. The cost does not increase too much with a handful of organic intellectuals who provide mercenary service, and who let slip some conveniently demoralizing message. Entrepreneurs are also often useful. I mean those who are willing to do anything to get a contract, a privilege, a protection, or just something of relevance. But where the real business is in the coopting of politicians who are willing to play “the valuable role” of being the counterpart of each and every one of the moves of the regime, whether it calls for dialogue and negotiations, or if necessary the need to mount an electoral fraud. Those “politicians” will always be there to argue a certain viewpoint, use the same allegations of tyranny, lubricate the perception of reality, and make life easier for the regime. They encapsulate the betrayal of the enlightened elites of the countries. They are always “the exquisite left” that profits from the misfortune of their compatriots. The rest you can censure them, shut down their media outlets, hinder their operations, force them into bankruptcy, and when they are desperate, buy them. Nothing is cheaper than silence.
At the end of the manual there is a phrase scribbled by the original author: “You can not make a revolution with silk gloves.” She says it all.