Venezuela And The Masters of Complexity
A solution in Venezuela seems unlikely so long as there is no credible threat that makes it more costly to maintain the Maduro regime than to dismantle it.
Spanish – The Cubans are heirs of Soviet totalitarianism and experts in manipulating reality. They managed to stretch the cold war for nearly five decades and know well the scope of the phenomena derived from complex systems. Thus, they are skilled in situational contingency management and able to adapt to adverse environments.
The Chavista revolution and its manifestation in the Maduro regime have learned from these teachers to use complexity as one of the most dangerous tools of domination. Their technique relies on constructing multiple layered evasive narratives that stimulate the forces that sustain them. They develop scenarios where they fit some verifiable facts that give them credibility and use those against their adversaries by propagating stories through their counterintelligence networks. As a result, they create an almost impenetrable barrier to the power they hold, thanks to the expert knowledge of the properties of complexity and its application as a protective shield against opposing forces.
Perhaps the best and most straightforward way to explain the technique of the “complexity” of reality is to say that for each proposed solution, Chavistas design multiple problems aiming to discourage initiatives that represent a real threat and favor the most innocuous.
A prime example of using complexity as a control tool is the classical approach of dictatorships to avoid observation by the international community. Maduro, Daniel Ortega, Diaz Canel all appeal to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, as well as in the self-determination of nations’ policies. From there, the autocrats present themselves as victims and warn about the imperial intentions of the United States to appropriate their territory and resources in a masked military intervention.
At the second stage, they introduce the civil war hypothesis to inhibit actions of pressure and external threats. Many unsuspecting adversaries and influencers articulate this well-curated narrative. They believe that they are warning of greater dangers and promote the account that if we were to try and forcefully oust Maduro from power, radical groups that support the dictatorship would actively defend the revolution. They also appeal to the similarities between Syrian and Venezuelan realities in the context of the confrontation that has been taking place in that country since 2011.
Additionally, they propose that a way out that includes prominent figures of the regime would be convenient because it would facilitate a less traumatic or conflictive transition. It is the scheme of cohabitation with criminals as a guarantee of a supposed gradual change accompanied by the hidden threat of latent violence in case the new government doesn’t include them.
However, in Venezuela, the manipulation of reality operates much more profoundly. It is critical to understand that complexity is not a noun. When we refer to it, we are talking about complex systems or, to put it another way: it is an arrangement of elements that operates under specific parameters of self-organization and with emerging properties. More clearly, it is a network of variables whose action is much higher than the sum of its parts.
Currently, the country is a progressive aggregate and in a state of constant modification of what we are. Consequently, in the face of the slightest rupture of the status quo, the regime subjects reality to a game of mirrors whereby it infinitely bounces and distorts multiple versions of the facts until they become obsolete. The most recent case is the story behind 30th April. There are several examples, including the many coups against Maduro, drone strikes, and even the illness and death of Chavez.
Complex systems have two very favorable characteristics of social domination and control. They can be in constant motion and are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment. These, together with the high levels of uncertainty, make it impossible to extrapolate or project an absolute reality. In today’s Venezuela, if anything, we can predict the near future with low probabilities. We do not live in linearity or proportionality, where small changes can produce unimaginable consequences for complexity is in continuous imbalance.
We Venezuelans are jugglers of daily life living in a constant state of emergency since our survival depends on it. Therefore, we need references that are valid here and now like the price of the Venezuelan bolivar against the American dollar. Tomorrow is too far. The facts of today depreciate against those of tomorrow.
In their quest for certainty, citizens sometimes demand rigid strategies. However, rigidly designed plans usually fail because there are too many forces within the system that destabilize reality. New difficulties emerge- as well as new possibilities. The Chavista revolution understands this perfectly and always acts circumstantially. In other words, it adapts to the situation and responds to it assertively.
One last characteristic of the complexity that I have yet to explain and contextualize has to do with the fact that the parts that make up the system react to local information. What it means is that everyone makes decisions from their beliefs, positions, history, and resources, without general agreements. It’s a bit like the neurons in the human brain, each one doing its job, but all together they build consciousness. Thus, we see that some families migrate and others stay; some prefer to survive quietly and adapt, while others are more active and resist.
The complexity of this Venezuela, where materially no cohesion can be built, is joined together. The most evident proof has been the end of usurpation. Evicting Maduro from power, something that in the eyes of many international experts looked like a simple action has become the main obstacle to achieving a successful route. We dream of the Country Plan, but its effect has no significance unless we first break the regime.
The big question that remains unresolved after this analysis is, how then can we build an exit?
The answer, as the reader may guess, is not easy. It is not because complexity does not have simple solutions. What I can propound is that the instability derived from complexity does not exclusively affect opponents; it also impacts the regime profoundly if the government falters on its continuous capacity to generate a situational response. It has to act opportunely to mitigate or minimize the risks inherent to complexity.
This happened to the USSR in 1986 with the explosion of Chernobyl. The very complexity of the system ended up plunging them into the gravity of the accident, and they were unable to cope with its consequences. Some analysts even argue that it was the final blow to bury the model 5 years later.
A solution in Venezuela seems unlikely so long as there is no credible threat that makes it more costly to maintain the Maduro regime than to dismantle it, and complexity continues to serve the interests of the usurpation. Perhaps the conclusion of this story is reminiscent of the struggle of good against evil. It reminds me of Albus Dumbledore in the final scene of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “The time has come to decide between what is easy and what is right.”