Alvaro Vargas Llosa writes about the return to power of “Latin American Idiots” who are “political leaders who clung to ill-conceived political myths despite evidence to the contrary.” Llosa argues that although young Latin American Idiots are in touch with their time, they are still political ideologues who have no interest in pragmatism or with reality. Latin American Idiots believe that the economic and political situation of their countries caused by the schemes of diabolical and blood thirsty imperialists and this worldview makes them heroes because they believe that they are fighting powerful forces. Sugary excerpt:
For these young Idiots, Latin America’s condition is the result of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism, followed by U.S. imperialism. These basic beliefs provide a safety valve for their grievances against a society that offers scant opportunity for social mobility. Freud might say they have deficient egos that are unable to mediate between their instincts and their idea of morality. Instead, they suppress the notion that predation and vindictiveness are wrong and rationalize their aggressiveness with elementary notions of Marxism.
Latin American Idiots have traditionally identified themselves with caudillos, those larger-than-life authoritarian figures who have dominated the region’s politics, ranting against foreign influence and republican institutions. Two leaders in particular inspire today’s Idiot: President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Evo Morales of Bolivia. Chávez is seen as the perfect successor to Cuba’s Fidel Castro (whom the Idiot also admires): He came to power through the ballot box, which exonerates him from the need to justify armed struggle, and he has abundant oil, which means he can put his money where his mouth is when it comes to championing social causes. The Idiot also credits Chávez with the most progressive policy of all—putting the military, that paradigm of oligarchic rule, to work on social programs. […] The current revival of the Latin American Idiot has precipitated the return of his counterparts: the patronizing American and European Idiots. Once again, important academics and writers are projecting their idealism, guilty consciences, or grievances against their own societies onto the Latin American scene, lending their names to nefarious populist causes.
Llosa’s article puzzles me because the phrase “Latin American Idiots” freezes the debate by debasing it to a third grade level. Calling Chávez and his compadres idiots does not just delegitimate them, but more importantly, it takes them off the hook because after an idiot doesn’t know any better because he follows simply his nature by acting idiotically. Is there injusticein the world? Yes. Are many countries given a raw deal because of the faults of the system? No question, but the real question is whether it means that politics should become religions that should be contended in denouncing the faults of human beings and the sad state of the world, dividing the world between good and evil, without ever being trying to change the world. Marx called religion the opiate of the masses and the fact that Chávez and others are feeding their people ideology instead of governing proves that they are very consicious of it.