Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Intellectual cowardice 

To facilitate the discussion of the proposed constitutional reforms a debate was being organized by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (the C.N.E.. The debate would have been between representatives of those favoring the reform (the "SI" side) and those opposing it (the "NO" side). The country might have been treated to the author of many of the proposed reforms, Hugo Chavez, debating their virtues with some of their main detractors.

Unfotunately, it turns out these debates will not happen. The official reason is that the C.N.E. is too busy with other things. But the widely acknowledged reason is the "SI" side, the side proposing all these changes in the first place, didn't want to partake in the debates. In fact their spokespeople said they were already carrying out debates in the "barrios". Apparently they don't see the need to explain themselves and defend their ideas before the entire country.

To be blunt, this is intellectual cowardice in the extreme. To see that lets think about this for a minute. Hugo Chavez should be intimately familiar with these proposals - in fact he should know them like the back of his hand. He presumabely spent weeks or months studying every word of them before they were even made public. He probably spent hours and hours discussing with his advisors the exact syntax and diction of each clause so as to convey the precise meaning desired. I am sure the pros and cons of each revision were given days of thought and consideration.

Given that Chavez should be able to run circles around anyone in a debate on their merrits. All the counter arguements would already have been thought through. So Chavez should be able to debate Petkoff, Rosales, Borges and any of the other opposition light weights and demolish their arguements easily.

Yet he has chosen not to. It would appear that in spite of everything said above he lacks confidence in his proposals and can't defend them in public. How lame is that!!!

This is not the first time we have seen this in Venezuela. Think back to last May when the protesting opposition students were given the opportunity to explain themselves to the entire country on TV and instead walked out.

Truthfully, that was not unexpected. The opposition itself as seldom put forth any ideas, even during its presidential campaigns, so why would we exect their students to stick around and debate.

Moreover, even opposition politcal parties are incapable of putting together a political program which they will put in the public domain and defend.

So when the opposition students exhibited their intellectual cowardice by walking their wasn't much of a feeling of dissappointement - it was expected. Further, a couple of decades from now when they look back on it in shame they can simply say it was a mistake of youth.

But that Hugo Chavez, nor any of his supporters, can go on TV to discuss and debate these very important constitutional reforms that will effect Venezuelans for decades to come is stunning. It is cowardice pure and simple.

This sort of intellectual cowardice from defenders of the old status quo is to be expected. But from people who claim to be revolutionaries it is pitifull.


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