Domingo, 23 de Octubre de 2016
08:34 CEST.
Latin America

Plato at the OAS

Luis Almagro, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), quoted Plato at the start of his June 23 report to the General Assembly, in which he stated that: "Justice is the main and the first social institution, as has been said..." (a pause before completing his sentence) .. ever Since Plato."

Since Plato? What does Plato mean in the context of backwards banana republics? Does Secretary Almagro really think that what is being betrayed in Venezuela is the Athenian spirit? The answer to this question can be found in any book on Greek philosophy, as it a well-known fact that in 404 AD, when he was 23, Plato experienced, first-hand, the same problem as that posed by el chavismo.

The story goes that a group of oligarchs organized a revolution and seized power in Athens. Among the leaders were several of the philosopher's relatives, who invited him to participate in public life as an official in the new regime. In one of his letters,  as an old man, Plato recalled those days and described his naiveté: "It is no wonder that, being so young, I imagined that they would lift the state out of a situation of corruption to one of probity."

It is not so much his youthful candor as his subsequent Platonic disillusionment that makes us so quick to identify with the son of Ariston and Perictione, making him feel like our contemporary: "Logically, I began to see what they were up to. I soon realized that these men were going to make the old regime look like a paradise."

In the case of Venezuela, the overthrow was not carried out by an oligarchy, but rather what Ortega y Gasset called "hyperdemocracy": government by the mob, the direct action of the rabble. Ortega's prophecy materialized in Latin America and, in a way, with Castro's revolution, Spain's alternative destiny was realized in Cuba.

It is its Hispanic destiny that has condemned Latin American governments to a whole series of strongmen, crooks, tyrants and demagogues. Nor is it a trivial fact that Spanish Republican exiles gathered at the hacienda of Che Guevara's parents, in Alta Gracia (Argentina), and that as a child Che's political sensibilities were shaped by the social gatherings presided over by Dr. Juan Gonzalez Aguilar, who was close to President Manuel Azaña, Spain’s deposed Republican leader. "I believe that at that time he began to develop a defiant spirit against any dictatorship that oppressed the people," his father wrote in his book Mi hijo el Che.

Secretary Almagro refers to that fate, to that tradition when he speaks of "the indifference and emptying of contents," and also when he laments that "the history of our continent is rife with acts of injustice, indolence and impunity."  We learned from the masters. We came to conceive of politics as that fabled "rebellion against the dictatorship that oppresses the people," and to view "the ideal as an ingredient of reality," as Ortega feared. Thus did we end up embracing Che’s slogans of the “mass man,” and rush to seal a deal with a rotten cause, which did not lead to harmony, but to iniquity. We sunk to indifference and ethical vapidity; anything in order to continue to believe that we were acting on behalf of "the oppressed." In short, we threw the lofty principles of Platonic political philosophy into the trash. 

To end up with chavismoit was necessary to banish Plato, to eliminate areté and to elevate ignorance and rabblerousing to an Orteguian level of false multicultural pluralism. As for the honorable Luis Almagro, he aspires to to put an end (though it is not clear for how long) to four decades of decline at an institution that Fidel Castro accused, rightly, of being prostituted.

The Secretary-General concluded his speech by stating that he wants to get Venezuela "back on track," implying that the alternative is the "wrong way": the route of castrismo, bolivarismo and antiparliamentarian chavismo, but also the fork in the road that leads to passivity and connivance. The OAS itself now finds itself between a rock and a hard place: either it betrays its Platonic ideals, expressed in Almagro's report, or at some point it will have to turn its gaze towards the source of iniquity ... it will have to address the problem of Cuba.