Franz J.T. Lee, January, 2005
The United States' destiny to plague America with misery
In the age of Simon Bolivar, the Glorious Revolution of England, the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the British Industrial Revolution had enduring effects worldwide on the political ideas, social morals and revolutionary practice of all great men.
This was the glorious triumph of bourgeois, democratic capitalism over all previous modes of production, especially over ancient slavery and feudalist, absolutist serfdom.
These momentous, revolutionary changes had a lasting impact on political expectations, government and liberty of the respective social classes, but also on the minds of European colonial subjects and subjugated peoples, especially in America and the Caribbean, as can be witnessed by the political thought of John Locke, Thomas Paine, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Simon Bolivar, Thomas Jefferson, etc.
All of them were profoundly influenced by the social and moral, democratic, capitalist principles of the age-old Magna Carta, the famous English Bill of Rights (1689), the American Declaration of Independence (1776), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789), and the US Bill of Rights (1791).
Of course, history has verified over and over again, and now more than ever, that these human rights and liberties were never intended by the capitalist ruling classes to be applied to all colonial and neocolonial peoples.
The liberal democratic ideology that resulted from all these historic events historically led to North American independence; in France ... where Francisco Miranda fought ... it eventually led to constitutional monarchy, to democratic despotism, to the Napoleonic empire. Eventually, virulent, contagious nationalism disseminated itself across Europe and elsewhere ... especially in Latin America ... by means of bloody wars of voracious conquest, but also of national independence, inspired by Hegel's "World Spirit" on horseback, by Napoleon Bonaparte. It was temporarily repressed under the Congress of Vienna and the Concert of Europe, but flowered again in the Revolutions of 1848.
In North America, against the colonial British Crown, the following type of critique was voiced by the "founding fathers":
“Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”
Across history, having the "savage manners" of the Bush clique, of the USA as "chief among plunderers" in mind already, Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 - June 8, 1809) commented:
“... could we take of the dark covering of antiquity [pertaining to the origin of kings and of the State] and trace them to their first rise, we should find the first of them nothing better than the principle ruffian of some restless gang; whose savage manners or pre-eminence in subtlety obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who by increasing in power and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenseless to purchase their safety by frequent contributions.”
( Quoted in Murray N. Rothbard, (1977), "Robert Nozick and the Immaculate Conception of the State," Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 45).
In his "The Crisis" (1776-83), Thomas Paine, marking the beginning of the American Revolution, in general, described the turbulent, revolutionary times.
In tune with the later anti-colonial views of the Liberator Simon Bolivar, Paine was staunchly anti-slavery, was one of the first democratic revolutionaries to advocate a world peace organization, and the establishment of social security for the lower pauperized social classes and elderly. His political views, especially the anti-religious ones, was not especially loved by the other "founding fathers" of North American capitalism; concerning our topic.
He expressed the transitory heart-beat of his epoch as follows: "These are the times that try men's souls."
Yes, in our contemporary time ... especially here in Venezuela ... it tries our bodies, our spirits, our revolutionary praxis and theory. In this revolutionary spirit, across South and Central America, then already, speaking about "miracles" to come, another, completely new, emancipatory voice was heard:
“Is it conceivable that a newly emancipated people can soar to the heights of liberty, and, unlike Icarus, neither have its wings melt nor fall into an abyss? Such a marvel is inconceivable and without precedent. There is no reasonable probability to bolster our hopes.” -- Simon Bolivar.
In April, 2002, in December 2002, and again in August 2004, with the revolutionary resistance against a US-sponsored coup and oil sabotage, ratifying their Bolivarian President in a "recall referendum," the Venezuelans performed three "marvels" in line, confirming the citizen power of "a newly emancipated people".
Certainly, Simon Bolivar was especially preoccupied with the future of mankind, of his preservation under the coming capitalist system:
“When mankind was in its infancy, steeped in uncertainty, ignorance, and error, was it possible to foresee what system it would adopt for preservation?”
-- Simon Bolivar.
Predicting the immensity of the emancipatory tasks of the Bolivarian revolution, he stated:
“It is harder to release a nation from servitude than to enslave a free nation.”
-- Simon Bolivar.
The socio-political thought of the Liberator Simon Bolivar
Like so many "Third World" revolutionaries, for example, Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna, also Simon Jose Antonio de la Santisima Trinidad, Bolivar was of aristocratic, upper class origin, born in Caracas on July 24, 1783, to don Juan Vicente Bolivar y Ponte and dona Maria de la Concepcion Palacios y Blanco. He died on December 17, 1830.
Like in the case of Mahatma K. Gandhi, for the sake of philosophic, historic comparison, here very generally we will just underline Bolivar's social. political and moral views.
According to an article of Miguel Centellas, "The Bolivarian Republic" (Mount Pleasant, 1995) published online in the Virtual Library of Simon Bolivar, the historical heritage and political essence of his social philosophy can be described as follows:
"Simon Bolívar was a declared republican. Borrowing from the ancient Roman Republic and Anglo-French political thought combined with his own original ideas, Bolívar established his vision for republican government which blended the Enlightenment ideals of civil liberties with the Greco-Roman vision of civic virtue and restraints on the popular will."
Like Chavez today, and the current Bolivarian Revolution in its totality, Bolivar categorically condemned hegemonic, imperialist world empires:
"Bolivar rejected monarchic or empirial government as both unsuited for Spanish America and inconsistent with the principles of liberty and equality. Republics, as opposed to monarchies, 'do not desire powers which represent a directly contrary viewpoint, have no reason for expanding the boundaries of their nation to the detriment of their own resources' (Jamaica Letter). American monarchies, Bolívar argued, would fall into the trap of European-style wars over territory, succession, and power."
What a precise Bolivarian, scientific, social analysis, what a transhistoric vision of truth, of our contemporary world crisis!
Of course, like Miranda, Bolivar affirmed the French revolutionary ideals, the tricolor: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. The great Liberator was a child of his era, being influenced by the bourgeois social order of his epoch, for example, by the capitalist views of the Enlightenment on civil liberties such as political equality and freedom of religion, as they were presented by Rousseau, Stuart Mill, Bentham, Locke and others. Not only this, many of his views on civil responsibilities can be traced right back to Plato and Cicero.
Inspired by his tutor, Simon Rodriguez, in the field of education, especially in his "Essay on Public Education", Bolivar already gave the guidelines for the current educational "Missions" and other government projects, understood as government measures intended to reeducate the masses to their true social responsibilities of participative democracy in public life.
Like in the case of Gandhi, what are the basic principles of Bolivar's republican, political philosophy?
Basic principles of Bolivar's social philosophy
Miguel Centellas summarized Bolivar's political principles, as follows:
1. Order as most important necessity.
2. Tricameral legislature with varied and broad powers composed of
2.1. A hereditary and professional Senate.
2.2. A body of Censors composing the state's "moral authority".
2.3. A popularly elected legislative assembly.
3. A life-term executive supported by a strong, active cabinet or ministers.
4. A judicial system stripped of legislative powers.
5. A representative electoral system.
6. Military autonomy.
Now, just a few remarks to some of these points. In his Cartagena Manifesto, Bolivar underlined the main task of a revolutionary government, that is to restore social order, at all costs, "without regards for (moribund) laws or constitutions," that is, until true happiness and real peace are established. Precisely this was and is the current primary role of the Chavez government in Venezuela.
He was convinced that "without order and stability the ensuing chaos would destroy what the heroes of the revolution had fought to establish -- political sovereignty" (Centellas) -- this also applies to the current critical situation in revolutionary Venezuela. Bolivar argued that future Latin American nations will need "the care of paternal governments to heal the sores and wounds of despotism and war" (Jamaica Letter) and later added that "[w]ithout responsibility and restraint, the nation becomes chaos" (Message to the Congress of Bolivia).
Contrary to Gandhi's active pacifism, as elaborated elsewhere, as a soldier of "citizen power," in defense of the sovereignty of Latin America, Simon Bolivar favored the "use of force in order to liberate peoples who are ignorant of the value of their rights" (Cartagena Manifesto). According to him, after gaining independence from Spain, the next phase of the revolution is to conquer real political power. Surely, true social independence can only be accomplished within the context of a Great Colombian economic integration.
Within this framework, the new Spanish American states have to organize the popular forces and train them morally in civic virtues. Here Bolivar and Gandhi meet each other; furthermore, it is the social essence of all the current Bolivarian social projects.
Based in Platonism, in this field, Bolivarism logically underlined the social summum bonum, the common good, but contrary to Gandhi, this is mainly a social issue, beyond the individual; the "unrestrained democratic expressions that harmed the general well-being of the State and nation must ultimately result in the loss of freedom for the individual." (Centellas)
Derived from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Stuart Mill, concerning human happiness, Bolivar stated:
"The most perfect system of government is that which results in the greatest possible measure of happiness and the maximum social security and political stability ... we must hope that security and stability will perpetuate this happiness" (Angostura Discourse).
He argued that this would "mold the character of a nation and can set it upon the path to greatness, prosperity, and power" (Essay on Education).
Many ideas concerning the form of government that he proposed came from Plato's Politeia, for example the following:
The future senators of the Republic were to be educated in "a colegio designed especially to train these guardians and future legislators of the nation ... From childhood they should understand the career for which they have been destined by Providence" (Angostura Discourse).
Concerning moral authority, Bolivar referred to the "Censors", as a . special legislative body, in his Message to the Congress of Bolivia.
"The Censors are designed to act somewhat like the Supreme Court of the United States although it is not a judicial body. Bolívar's censors "are the prosecuting attorneys against the government in defense of the Constitution and popular rights" (Message to the Congress of Bolivia).
Although not fully elaborated, Bolivar saw this body as a new State power, that has "to exercise the most fearful yet the most august authority" (Message to the Congress of Bolivia). It is programmed to protect the people, the sovereign and their civil rights from immoral abuses of any possible corrupt government.
This branch of the legislature works to maintain and "safeguard morality, the sciences, the arts, education, and the press" (Message to the Congress of Bolivia). While the Tribunes create laws and the Senate holds the keys to republican virtue, it is the Censors who protect the people and their civil rights from government abuses. Also it is intended to protect the people from the psychological damages that disinformation campaigns and infowars could cause, to safeguard social morality, but also "the sciences, the arts, education, and the press" (Message to the Congress of Bolivia).
Definitely, very carefully studying Bolivar's theory of the State, because of his occasional reference to Montesquieu, one can detect his acceptance of the possibility that there are no classic recipes for laws and political institutions. Thus, they, including social revolutions, may be different in different places and in different times for different people.
This is also valid for the current Bolivarian State and its social revolution.
We could continue, writing volumes about Bolivar's human genius, political thought and social philosophy, but the above should suffice to throw light on the transhistoric magnitude of his liberatory visions, on his thoughts and philosophy, on his emancipatory relevance for the contemporary eternal revolutionary struggle against world fascism. For further factual information, please consult: Bolivar, Simon. The Hope of the Universe. Paris: UNESCO, 1983.
Criticism should honor any great mind, any great statesman or stateswoman, but it must be sublime, must come from the scientific and philosophic heights on which a liberator finds him/herself. To criticize Bolivar's titanic work constructively would detonate the very limits of this short article. Already another historic titan Karl Marx has tried to achieve this, and ended up editing a purely descriptive, misinformed article for "The New American Encyclopedia", Vol. III: "Bolivar y Ponte."
In conclusion, in his own, original words, to demonstrate the transhistoric theoretical power of Simon Bolivar and of the current Bolivarian Revolution, led by President Hugo Chávez Frias, we will just quote his serious warning of more than a century and a half ago, with reference to the coming imperialist, corporate, fascist plaque of North America: "The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty."