Culture and Caudillismo

The Fururist ponders the Culture of Success in trying to figure out why third world countries seem stuck in that world and why economic success and personal vitality reside where they do. A case study is at TCS Daily describing the The Culture of Caudillismo which is trying to figure out what happened to the Venezuelans.

The Futurist shows a Human Development Index map and asks

The first question we can ask is why Australia and New Zealand are wealthy, while Haiti and Liberia are among the world’s poorest. All four are countries that are inhabited and governed by people who have been there for under 200 years. Let me also provide the disclaimer that the reason is not because of the skin color of the inhabitants of those countries.

Then, on TCS, Alvaro Vargas Llosa asks

I am often asked why a government as authoritarian and corrupt as that of Hugo Chavez wins elections. In my five trips to Venezuela since Chavez took office eight years ago, I have come to a conclusion that many Venezuelans suffer something akin to Stockholm syndrome, that state of psychological dependence that the victim develops with a kidnapper.

“Cultures of specific ethnic groups are formed over the the course of centuries, not just decades.” – You have those who have “developed the intellectual or philosophical foundations of science, legal institutions, or productivity” and those that haven’t. And there is a third type of culture, the wheelbarrow culture.

“When using a wheelbarrow, a person can move greater weight than without the wheelbarrow. But when the person stops pushing it, the wheelbarrow cannot move at all. If a person were analogous to a wheelbarrow, such a person would be capable of greatness if guided by the right people, but would achieve nothing without such mentorship. This characteristic can even be seen in entire cultures. “

But where is Venezuela? Why are people like Chavez able to kidnap an entire country? “Like all “revolutionary” strongmen, Chavez has built his legitimacy by discrediting the past.”

Millions of Venezuelans have come to depend on government programs known as “missions” for their livelihood. These programs have placed the welfare recipients at the political mercy of the authorities. Many people are convinced that their personal future depends on handouts rather than wealth creation. Anybody who opposes the government is seen as an agent of the old elite determined to throw the poor to the wolves.
But there is something more — the culture of “caudillismo,” that is, the identification on the part of many people with the larger-than-life strongman who is a father figure to them: They interpret the outside world through his eyes. The politicization of Venezuelan society through the suffocating intrusion of the government has reduced the people’s sense of space in the way the kidnapper reduces the space of the victim. Nothing outside of that relationship can possibly exist for the victim while the kidnapper is in control. Until internal or external factors begin to weaken that dependence,

Sometimes even a wheelbarrow can be a heavy load. Perhaps Venezuela, as a culture, is showing a preference to let ‘father’ carry the load and leaving that wheelbarrow alongside the road for sometime later.

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