By Alfredo Coronil Hartmann
Since I started reading history, I suppose it was when I was a toddler because I don’t remember having done anything else in these excessive 76 years of existence, I tried to imagine what the Romans who lived at the end of the Empire or the Chinese before the Mongol hordes would feel. In other words, before the final collapse of their worlds, their ways of living, communicating, loving, or creating beauty, of breathing. But I never sensed that I would have to live through something similar. Merely thinking about it seemed like a war game or a somewhat idle intellectual digression.
But today, this languid Saturday in October 2019, it is enough to take a lucid look – you don’t need to be a political scientist – at the environment, not only the continent but the globe as a whole. There is a profound sense that everything is going to the dogs, to the sewer.
The winds of the foliage do not respect earthly or spiritual powers; a traveler, who was recently in Rome, told me that the Synod of the Amazon seemed like a meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum. In Washington, the operetta emperor expresses his annoyances -always on Twitter- while he abandons his Kurdish allies to the bloody arbitrariness of Erdogan, apparently determined to reconstruct that Ottoman Empire that for six hundred years dominated Asia Minor and a good part of Central Europe, very poor imitation of Suleiman the Magnificent, this aspiring Sultan of the two Worlds already announces deliriously that he will arrive in Damascus, and why not? He has a first-class army, the largest one in NATO after that of the United States, and if no one opposes him…
The ineffable Venezuelan political leadership -that is, the supposed democratic opposition- sets new records of clumsiness and submission. Colombia risks its democratic advances in a senseless flirtation with deplorable chaos. The thoughtful and beloved Chile seems willing to immolate itself despite all the successes (unthinkable for those of us who knew the country when it was poor and skeptical of its future in the sixties), and it already has seen nineteen deaths, in little more than one week of madness.
Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina poor in political sanity, rich in everything else. Mexico in the hands of a stupid and absurd Lopez Obrador, paying homage to 21st-century socialism, the same ideology that destroyed Venezuela and is taking bit by bit the dwindling remains of Nicaragua and Bolivia.
Speaking of Cuba is pointless. Sixty years of vileness destroyed even that beautiful island, once prosperous and vital, and today it has become the quintessence of manipulation and greed, indeed very successful in its deleterious task.
But in the face of this New World devoted to debauchery and nonsense, we might think of resorting to the wisdom and example of the old Europe, to the Motherland, to that Spain in whose domains the sun did not set but, in this case, it was not that the grandmother gave birth, but that she went mad completely, starting with the Catalans who seemed to be the most serious. The self-destructive passion of the Spaniards, who had performed the quasi-miracle of a transition, managing to pass almost unscathed next to the million dead from the Civil War and Franco’s eternal dictatorship, thanks to the conjunction of an enlightened group of men and women, with a sense of state and history. They choose the worst of their governors, who failed and destroyed the economic bonanza, the stupid Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, as mentor and political guide of an intellectual, lamentable, and clumsy PSOE and they go from idiocy to idiocy digging their own grave and committing the imbecility of trying to revive Franco, who if they get that dead race will not stop in Gibraltar.
Ah, but La France, barely past the Pyrenees, the Athens of Europe, the cultural lighthouse of the West, the homeland of Charles Martel who defeated the Arab invasion in Poitiers, the firstborn daughter of the Church, Dei Gesta per francos and all that. The Marseillaise that every free man cannot mention without feeling moved, now colonized, wears babouches, burqas, and a dirty rag. Thanks to a few socialist governments and a complex of political correctness on the part of their left-wing intellectuals, which almost cost them their existence in 1939, paralysing it with a pacifist discourse at all costs, in the face of the warmongering thrust of Nazism and which also made it deaf to those patriots, such as De Gaulle, who tired of warning of the danger and deficiencies of an obsolete military apparatus and an archaic strategic doctrine.
Germany, yesterday’s ” bogeyman,” now has absurd and overflowing immigration. It is rich in euros and industries. In the precarious equilibrium of a waning political spectrum, Mrs. Merkel does not imitate Adenauer at all, and the SPD slides and diminishes electorally. The homeland of the Reformation seems determined to dissolve into Islam. It appears that they went from that irritating “Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles, Uber Alles in der Welt,” so warlike and so Nazi, to mosque succubi.
The stupid and formal England, not too serious, also possessed by madness, stumbles, and tangles pitifully, it seems that its only coherent image is that of the old Queen. Without Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom would today look like an anarchist pub; God save the Queen!
Russia, in the hands of its mafias formed by the KGB and China, unstoppable on the course set by Deng Siao Ping but expanded uncontrollably under the most savage capitalism.
When we face this panorama, what remains? What are the alternatives? Rather, are there alternatives? I can’t see them. We have to reinvent the world, one that is livable, open, tolerable, and, if it doesn’t seem frivolous to you, even with something of good taste. That reconstruction will take time, lives, efforts. It will be up to the very young people today to create it, and by conceding its use, it will be a task of the “right”; the “left” serves to break, but they do not know how to lay two bricks.
I have not mentioned Brazil. The genesis of this rescue movement could take place there. It will depend on many things, including the consistency and projection of its current governors. Being a statesman is much more complicated than winning elections; God help them! I trust the moral and professional reserves of the Chilean Army, the reasonable judgment of the Colombian ruling class, that in the United States a serious leadership worthy of the historical influence of that great country will emerge, with political leadership that is so gray, feeble to say the least.
I’m not going to say anything about Venezuela, among other reasons, because I don’t know if it still exists or what’s left of it. God gave them too much of the wealthiest subsoil on earth, a generous and open, intelligent people. But I repeat, I’m not sure that Venezuela still exists as a nation.
The human being loves simplifications, perhaps because of laziness, but – for the time being – we know that the planet, with the help of a saint and an actor from the West, Saint John Paul II, and Ronald Reagan, took a decisive step towards democracy and peace. What will be the legacy of Francis I and Donald Trump? It remains to be seen.
Alfredo Coronil Hartmann is a prestigious Venezuelan writer, poet, lawyer, and political scientist. He has a long career and a significant number of published works.