• Maibort Petit

Spirit of Poverty

Manifesto on the causes of material and spiritual poverty. Poverty affects millions of people, being able to eat and have health involves educating ourselves, and this is seeking the common good without prejudice. It's thinking.

José Rafael Herrera and Carlos Enríque Ñañez

"Understanding without reason is blind.

Reason without understanding is empty."

Immanuel Kant

"Understanding without reason is something.

Understanding cannot be relegated."

G.W.F. Hegel


According to Spinoza, living fully, living with justice and freedom, being partners in the most authentic equity and harmony of the material and spiritual wealth of the Ethos, depends on the effort to conquer the Supreme Good. However, in order to conquer it, it is necessary to walk along the path of the True Good, for which it is essential to abandon prejudices and, with them, fictions about what is presumed to be the "authentic and positively good", namely: the accumulation of enormous wealth, the insatiable ambitions of power or the exacerbated sexuality. If one really wants to conquer the Supreme Good, it is essential to overcome such presumptions, those forms of alienated projection, which are characteristic of the behavior of idiots, that is, of those who do not deal with public affairs but with their private interests. The poverty of spirit is, in fact, the consequence of the loss of the republican virtues. Perhaps that is why idiots serve as an emblem of Spirit's poverty. In an age of weak thinking and cult of the private, as never before, it becomes unpredictable to resume the path, reveal the morbidity of estrangement and penetrate the various degrees of knowledge, proceeding from the "knowledge of hearsay or by vague experience" to the "knowledge that goes from the causes to the effects" and, once conquered the latter, to resume the journey, that is, to reconstruct the process that goes "from the effects to the causes". Because, as Spinoza pointed out, it is not possible to separate the good from either the aesthetically beautiful or the actually true. And that is why the path of the True Good is the only proper way to conquer the Supreme Good.

Goodness and beauty are intimately related to truth. They are the foundation of authentic spiritual wealth, the basis of all authentic citizenship. They constitute diverse expressions of the same substance, of the same organic totality. Knowing is more than knowing, because while knowing requires separation from the object, knowledge decrystallizes, fluidifies and reunifies. Knowledge is productive. Knowing is reproductive. To know means to make the Spirit concrete, recognizing oneself with the whole. If knowing is conceived as the guiding element of existence, the light of truth is bartered in darkness and the wealth achieved becomes systematic, chronic and endemic poverty. The poverty of spirit is not an accident, nor the fatum of a natural evolution of the history of nations. The poverty of Spirit is the necessary consequence of domination, dictatorial hegemony, abstract understanding and its "armed wing", the instrumental ratio.


About the Author

Maibort Petit is a Venezuelan writer, researcher and political scientist specialized in Transnational Organized Crime. Based in New York, she works for various Hispanic media outlets and as a consultant for various firms in New York and Washington DC.


Germany ceased to be the country of the great classical philosophy from the moment in which its investigations began to abandon "the third degree of knowledge" spinozista to concentrate on the development and empowerment of abstract understanding and instrumental reason, profusely stimulated by neo-Kantianism. They abandoned, since the time of Frederick William IV, the fertile ground of ethicity to promote the institutionalization of a rationality of "causes and effects" without return. Of course, his achievements for scientific, technical and industrial development were relevant and of the utmost importance. But the result of all this was the barbarism of National Socialism, which ended up impoverishing the German spirit to its foundations. Venezuela, from the moment it concentrated on the construction of a democratic republic, attributed a special significance to the development of philosophy and the so-called "sciences of the spirit" in general, which it itself had treasured, even, not infrequently hiding it from the montoneras that during the long night of the caudillos had persecuted it. From the '60s of the twentieth century, the newly inaugurated democracy put its efforts into recovering and developing it, and did not hesitate to offer shelter to the philosophers fleeing Europe, so that they could contribute to the strengthening of the Spirit in Venezuela that was finally beginning to rise.

But the introduction of the subsequent "developmentalist" educational model, which basically sought to incorporate the country into competition with international markets in those "strategic areas" in which it could compete, set aside the formation of the Spirit, which was already underway, to promote, more and more, the study of technical and productive areas or, as then they began to be called, "scientific": economics, administration, engineering, chemistry, agribusiness, pharmacy, systems engineering, in short, areas undoubtedly of supreme importance for the industrial, commercial and financial development of the country, and that are, without room for discussion, fundamental and irreplaceable, if one thinks of the growth of the material wealth of a nation, especially when it comes to their legitimate aspiration to be placed at the height of their time. But the grave mistake of dismissing citizen formation was made and, with it, the sciences of the Spirit fell into disgrace, which were already beginning to be defined as the "soft sciences". Rather, over time, the "exact", "undoubted" and "indisputable" methodological criteria of the "hard" sciences progressively served as support for humanistic study. If those sciences were absolutely unquestionable and, moreover, productive, then their foundations could also be "applied" to the "soft sciences", in order to provide them with some epistemic rigor, which, according to that generalized criterion, they lacked, and thereby justify their permanence in the different degrees of the pens of academic education.


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In this way, the forms, deliberately sterilized of all possible content, ended up replacing it. What matters is "following the method", the "how it is done". Rather, the "scientific method" became the only possible content. Their "laws" replace reality. In the end, nominalisms always end in crude materialism and this in the greatest spiritual poverty. Still in Descartes' "Discourse" one can feel the properly speculative, ontological aroma that underpins his revolutionary modern philosophical interpretation. But it was not following Descartes but Mario Bunge or the theorists of his own stripe, that the inspiring model of the very new teaching of the application of the technical reproductivity of knowledge was obtained. Wondering about "the first causes" meant wasting time. The creations of the Spirit are a luxury for the amusement of the foodies, which is a way of saying "to waste time". And then, for example, "Didactics" derives in a discipline that consists of learning to teach regardless of what is taught. It does not have any content or object of study. You don't need it. And it does not matter what is taught as long as "the pattern" is followed, the corresponding methodological steps, to "teach to learn". The "pure" formulas -in fact, abstract- were occupying the universe of teaching transmuted into "teaching", with absolute independence of their adequacy to the social being, to their determinations and specificities. Then the path of the amazing situation was progressively opened in which most of the social body of professionals and technicians of the country, as they became more and more efficient, more competent and productive in their respective labor areas, to that same extent they were showing a more growing and successive degree of ignorance and a sustained loss of the republican virtues. With this, the death of the Venezuelan Ethos was decreed. It no longer mattered whether or not the accused in a trial had the right, whether justice had the obligation to prevail: what counted, now, was the strict follow-up of the positive law, the strict imposition of its formulas, its "methods" and "application", not infrequently transmuted into traps. It is the right emptied of law. A politician who doesn't know what he says and says what he doesn't know. A full professor of mathematics, doctorate in a European university, without lexicon, lacking vocabulary, who absolutely suffers from the slightest notion not only of syntax or diction, of what is said and how it is said, but of what can neither be said nor can be said in the strict sense. A scholar of the social sciences, with the highest credentials, a specialist in methodology, who becomes a university rector, but who, in his speeches, when referring to the institution he presides, speaks of it not as "the university", but as "the university". An experienced teacher in the field of Social Work, who directs the Center for Women's Studies, talks about "spaces and spaces." The expert in "teaching education", vice-rector of a university, refers to the need to "acquire" new "bus units". The examples could be endless. In short, it is that the sustained loss of language accounts for the tearing apart of forms and contents, of the absolute inadequacy of being, doing, thinking and saying. Now the gangster can exercise its functions with full freedom.

The question that should be asked, in this sense, is the following: what is the relationship between the division of form and content, the misuse of language and the increasingly accentuated poverty of the Spirit of a society? Poverty begins in the Spirit. Or rather, it begins when the Spirit becomes strange, alien, not only with respect to himself but with respect to the material, effective activity that configures his objectification. In this sense, alienated labor is a continuous source of spiritual poverty production. As The Sophia fades, the Techné feeds its impoverishment, and then the dialectic of hope and fear arises in it. There is a fear that what is expected will not happen. There is hope that what is feared will not happen. Or vice versa. The surrender and submission of the Spirit to techné – the technocratization of the Spirit – is, in fact, the origin of the subjugation of hope and fear. Its unequivocal symptom and, at the same time, the effective confirmation of its presence, is given by the increasing inappropriate use of language. Precarious, impoverished, poorly spoken, poorly written and poorly structured language is not the cause of the spiritual poverty of peoples but its necessary consequence. But, in turn, the sustained impoverishment of language reproduces and stimulates the poverty of the Spirit. It is a cancer that gets stronger as it feeds back. It's not just about spoken or written language. It is also about the gestural, corporal, figurative, musical language, that is, the entire system of paralinguistic representations, including their meaning, meaning and symbology. Physical appearance, haptic appearance, proxemic, kinetic appearance, etc., are its expressions, premeditated and treacherously promoted by the mass media and the so-called social networks. A population of the destitute, dependent, heteronomous in all aspects of its existence, poor in the strictly material sense of the term, has in the impoverishment of its Spirit its greatest guarantee. And just as the cartoning and dryness of the technical ratio submerges the working day of individuals in an inevitable condemnation -whose best simile is that of the "eternal return" of the Fordist "assembly line" -, mechanical, aseptic, colorless and tasteless, "methodological", devoid of surprises, enthusiasm and emotions, in the same way -and at the same time- the calls to "stop suffering" multiply to infinity: superchery, astrology, pornography, drug addiction, "sensational Saturdays" or "giants", "we are not alone", "bombs", "surprising" contests, statistics - the "scores" !-, films "awarded by the academy", music that is not, if it is true what Plato said about it: medicine for the enrichment of the Spirit. In short, being as mere existence on one side and duty as mere desiderate of the other. Schizophrenia brought to paroxysm by the cultutal industry. The absolute loss of the productive imagination, as the original unit of subject and object. The absolute suppression, as Spinoza would say, of the "third degree of knowledge".

It is evident that a society that has been forced not to educate itself aesthetically, ethically and ontologically, and which has rather been instilled with contempt for knowledge, has to end up kidnapped by a gangster group, in the name of an impudent populist and rentier system, which today, by the way, is bankrupt. Not learning to fish, but only to receive the product of fishing, has its consequences. Forced to be part of the so-called "missions", the great majorities have been trapped in the networks of the harshness of necessity, of fear in the face of the overflow of the latent threat, of the oversaturation of violence as a paradigm of life and of the use of a language as devalued, as impoverished, as its monetary sign. All of which makes it possible to understand the cruel manifestation, sometimes, of hope as an inversion of reality and, other times, of fear as a reinvestment of fiction.

The imperative need to overcome, from its roots, the eaten up national educational scaffolding and, with it, the mediocrity, unscrupulousness and cynicism of profit that animates the mass media and information, in order to raise not only the quality of their programming, but that of their language, is imposed. Cultural recovery, bearing in mind the enrichment of the Spirit of the whole society, involves the creation of a teaching system that contemplates instruction and aesthetic, ethical and truth-seeking education, in which forms and contents are adapted, being with thinking, saying with doing. An education system in which democracy, freedom, solidarity, responsibility, commitment, respect for diversity and dissent, are the supports that manage to put an end to violence, aggression, barbaric, destructive and self-destructive forms of social being. Philosophical, literary, aesthetic, historical production are priorities. It is about giving them back their rightful place for the sake of enriching the Spirit. Overcoming the poverty of Spirit depends on the transformation of the general education system. We must overcome the illusion of the method. There will be no material wealth in society as long as spiritual wealth is not cultivated with tenacity. And it is very likely that it is a task that requires a lot of patience over time. But only she will make possible the qualitative leap from the misery, in which Venezuela is submerged today, to the Venezuela of peace and citizen prosperity that its inhabitants deserve. Today's Venezuela has nothing to lose but itself. The Venezuela we urge you to build has a whole world to gain.

"No society can be happy and prosperous if the greatest

sum of its citizens are poor and miserable."

Adam Smith

"Poverty analysis should be focused on an individual's chances of functioning, rather than on the results they get from that functioning."

Amartya Sen

Poverty in Venezuela

The degree of humanitarian catastrophe that Venezuela is going through is the necessary result of the concentration of a model of approach to power based on populism and clientelism as mechanisms of political instrumentalization. While it is true that in the period known as the Fourth Republic, which we will qualify as a republican and democratic period, the country showed democratic solidity and undeniable levels of progress, in which life expectancy rose from 53 years in 1958, to more than 72 years of age by the end of 1998. Exhibiting more than 98,000 kilometers of roads and increasing the number and quality of university institutions, from three universities in the mid-twentieth century, to more than 400 university institutions at the beginning of the twenty-first century. With the democratic system emerged a modern Venezuela, with an enviable per capita income, making the country a real refuge for Europeans and Latin Americans fleeing wars, dictatorships and hunger in their countries of origin. This despite the presence of serious problems that were already noticed, based on the hypertrophy of the State and the tropical symptomatology of a kind of "Dutch evil", where the sudden increase in income altered social relations and the State multiplied its powers.

The crisis became inevitable. It came hand in hand with poorly managed prosperity. During the first government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, the nationalization of the iron, aluminum and oil industries was undertaken. The sudden increase and concentration of economic power led to a harmful correlation between exponential revenues and corruption. Both President Pérez and his successors strengthened the populist mentality. The population became dangerously accustomed to waiting for the State to solve their problems instead of building individual capacities. Thus, the problem was not one of economic production but of distribution. The second arrival of Pérez to Miraflores imposed seriousness in finances and opting for a necessary plan of economic adjustments, which meant encountering the barrier of gnosis of a population accustomed to clientelism. His internal and external detractors never forgave him for the man of prosperity deciding on austerity. The result led to the street riots of February 27, 1989.

However, the adjustment plan and the recovery of oil prices began to bear fruit in economic growth, but the population had a terrible image of this program, and on the fourth of February 1992, a population that lost its democratic pulse, showed sympathies with a group of coup plotters who tried to overthrow President Pérez.

The result was the departure of Pérez, accused of dark handling of a secret game. The interregnum of Ramón J. Velásquez and the second presidency of Caldera, who came to power with a fiercely populist discourse, after separating from the social-Christian party COPEI and surrounding himself with left-wing groups, which had to give in to the application of the same adjustment measures proposed in 1989, in light of the disastrous results in terms of inflation, in addition to the effects of a very serious financial crisis, which devastated 70% of the banking industry. This lesson in humility is usually given by economics to those who intend to approach it without the knowledge of its slogans and axioms. Thus, the foundations were laid for the irruption of Hugo Chávez in national history.

The caudillo, with a painted face, came out to Venezuela as swallows sprout to patients affected by a severe infection. Naturally, it would plunge the country into horror and violence, but the fictitious representation of building the figure of an avenger against the status quo, led an entire society hypnotized by this demagogue to allow him to abuse economic, citizen and political rights.

In the idiosyncrasy of Chávez, violent and barracks, there were only atavisms extracted from the Latin American mythology of the mid-twentieth century. In a country dependent on statism, Chávez would raise the contours of the state to unthinkable levels. In addition to imposing absurd economic controls, it was possible to replace any constitutional vestige, and in a country where the rule of law is an accommodating illusion, it was possible to establish the thesis of Dr. Hans Frank, a notorious Nazi who came to manifest that the constitution of the Third Reich is the will of the Führer. The constitution of Venezuelans is the will of Chávez. And it is that the caudillismo is that: a blind transfer of powers. The resources of the State were used, in form and fund, to finance a personal project, something similar to what Mussolini and Hitler did in the twenties and thirties respectively to dilute the institutions.

Chavez suddenly entered and exited our history. But his imprint was marked like a keloid on the institutional face of an entire generation, and of a country that prevented him from entering the twenty-first century and defenestrated him to the anachronistic and violent caudillismo of the nineteenth century. Thus, Chávez managed to copy the recipe dictated from Havana, by a model of Stalinist revolution, which managed to dilute the institutions and mutate them into others conducive to their avid ends. The bonanza of Chavismo, that trillion of dollars received by the sustained increase in oil prices, were wasted, used in all kinds of unspeakable corruption and in the establishment of an unrepentant kleptocracy and financing of the expansion of its failed model that began to demonstrate its unviability since 2006 and was sustained until the sudden death of the caudillo in 2013, leaving the foundations of a threshold of hyperinflation aggravated by its offspring and political heir.

Addressing the issue of material poverty imposed by Chavismo, once the oil bonanza has been exhausted, of the years of cadivism or "the happy poor", leads us in an obligatory way to use the work of Phillip Haslam and Russell Lamberti, which contextualizes the harmful effects that the destruction of money as a social institution entails, the fact of splitting qualities from this essential instrument in everyday life destroys the institutional essence of any Republic. Thus, Venezuela, once the paradigm of the developing world, exhibits the worst economic performance on the planet.

Our realities ceased to be Western and have become the realities of the nations of impoverished and unstable sub-Saharan Africa. We are no longer a country with economic realities comparable to the Western Hemisphere, of which we are part and of whose cultural contextualization our executioners and architects would like to get us out of this singular damage in economic matters, which is measured beyond mere guarismos, vacuous interpretations of econometric models that fall against a reality similar to that of a wall built with the mortar of the old hyperinflationary, that has been installed like a vulture in our nation, seeing how the explosion of price and cost structures are fading an entire nation that today seems to have been ravaged by a natural cataclysm or a war conflict.

Venezuela consolidates forty months in a bitter and fierce hyperinflation, superior to that experienced by Zimbabwe, an African nation destroyed by this phenomenon and ruled by a tyrant, Robert Mugabe, whom Hugo Chávez invited to the country to give him the sword of Bolivar; in that frantic mental tara of trying to split from the West, the phenomenon of hyperinflation in Venezuela, which causes this peculiar and unique poverty that today exceeds 80% of income poverty in an extreme way and that, in gross figures, makes more than 92% of the population poor, the direct reference implies the lapidary fact that for every ten households nine, on average, they are poor and eight are unable to eat. The crisis is superior and by far to that of the African and distant Zimbabwe, because to the national phenomenon we must add the issues of the links of the State with irregular groups, violence as a locus of interaction and the infinite capacity for repression assumed by the coalition installed in power, so that each one determines the figures, both the observatory of finance, and those managed in the professional performance of the economy, are trivial and a vacuous exercise from the scientific point of view. In particular, it is necessary to consider this phenomenon of multifactorial crisis of the economy as the cause of the accelerated and violent process of transition to misery and the impossibility of giving answers from pure economism to the dynamics that the disorderly and primitive transactional process of dollarization that the country is experiencing today has assumed, and that imprints a face of inequality and inequality incompatible with the ideological and dialogical offer that Chavismo offered to a stunned society that decided to confer all the rights, starting with the economic one, on the megalomaniac personality of Hugo Chávez.

Venezuela has endured for forty months the abandonment of all logic in monetary policy and has imposed de facto a monumental disorder from the fiscal point of view, causing a hole in public finances close to 30% of gross domestic product. This fiscal gap has been financed by means of the manirrota monetary issue, making the cause of Venezuelan hyperinflation elementary primitive, unicursal and epiphenomenal, and pivoting on the audacity of a hegemony that has kidnapped the State. The national oil industry, the technical and efficient "Petroleos de Venezuela", was the initial victim of this red beast of tropical neo-fascism, because the revolution needed resources and, for this, this oil company had to be purged, in Stalin's manner, of its human talent; thus it went from producing 3.5 million barrels of oil per day on average, during the period 2000 to 2012, to begin to boast figures of 1.5 million barrels per day, until reaching the hyperbole of ruin and miniaturizing our crude oil production to just 400 thousand barrels per day, a figure comparable to the decade of the forties. That is, Chavismo took the country by the hand eighty years ago.

Today's Venezuela exhibits a contraction of its GDP of more than 80%. A challenge for macroeconomic understanding. Making the exegesis necessary to make such a contraction intelligible, it would be necessary to affirm invariably that the leadership of the State by this coalition, with a neo-totalitarian vocation, has been more harmful than a natural tragedy and that it collides with the most elementary texts of Clausewitz's polemology. It is necessary to clarify that there is still talk without any qualms of an "economic war" against the country, this demonstrates either the poverty of gnosis or the audacious capacity of manipulation of those who usurp power. But in any case, they have been unable to notice the difference between causes and effects, perhaps with the treacherous and premeditated desire that chaos allow them to perpetrate themselves.

Venezuela is a country without money, demonetized and with a national monetary sign absolutely repudiated and repudiable by the bulk of its population. Faced with the primitive phenomenon of dollarization, only as a unit of exchange for transactions and not as a unit of account and pattern of value, an army of technocrats is added who only settle for the quotient between Monetary Liquidity (M2) and exchange rate, to indicate that there is muscle for the repurchase of deposit. But, of course, they resist the analysis necessary to explain the viability of this process of dollarization over time, without resolving the distortions that since hyperinflation have been attributed to the currency, which increases prices measured in dollars, due to the effect of appreciation and exchange rate lag together with processes of distrust and tearing of the social fabric. Expectations, all of them negative, have led to the emergence of an economic phenomenon called dynamic inconsistency, the breakdown of confidence that economic policies will achieve stability and well-being. Demonetisation involves desalination and, of course, destruction of individual productivity. There are no motivations to be salaried in a country where the minimum wage does not exceed 3 dollars a month, four dollars for the public sector and unattainable and meager seventy dollars for the private sector, which are insufficient to buy a food basket valued at more than 280 dollars.

The banking crisis describes a country on the verge of a breakdown of the entire banking industry. The ratio "Bank Reserves/ Public Collections" is less than one percent, and illiquidity produces insolvency. Hence the inevitable breakdown of the banking system.

Our gross domestic product is lower than Haiti's. We displaced this unfortunate French-speaking island country as a reference for poverty. The population has been reduced to a needy and unworthy existence, without public services, without education, without access to justice, education, health, that is, it is a population from which the qualities of agency have been extirpated, which imply capacities for development and freedom. That is the basic thesis of nobel laureate in economics Amartya Sen. Indeed, Venezuela would not pass the inequality test proposed by this Indian economist.

In maduro's frenetic and impoverished Venezuela, poverty is a necessity created by the regime, to the ends and means of instrumentalizing a needy propensity and prone to continue being the cause of the fiscal disorder that drives macroeconomic deviations, from the origin of a policy of transfers that does not guarantee the reduction of poverty, it builds a pasty and sticky environment, in which it is impossible to breathe any halito of progress.

Finally, material poverty becomes drinkable, tolerable and generates an aesthetic that prevents society from aspiring to its own well-being, compatible with human dignity. This poverty, which is coldly measured in terms of four digits of inflation, the destruction of the bolivar and a painful fall in economic activity, pave the way for depersonalization and disable capacities, promoting any regressive atrocity that can occur from the ontological plane.

It is then demonstrated how there is a transition from material poverty to servitude and other forms of precariousness. Ludwig Von Mises and Friedrich Hayek had already warned us about this unviability of socialism, the first in their work Human Action and the second since their contributions in The Fatal Arrogance - the Errors of Socialism. In short, the Venezuela of the present suffers from a catatonia of praxiology that prevents it from moving from this status of displeasure towards levels of progressivity closer to human existence. Material poverty only produces the need to escape, as in fact more than six million nationals have undertaken, because the misery of the entire population is so hellish and terrible that those who were born between 2015 and 2020 will live on average four years less than the average life expectancy of the Venezuelan born in previous years. This grisly fact is extrapolated from the commendable research efforts of the Central University of Venezuela, Catholic Andrés Bello and Simón Bolívar.

Material poverty has disabled eudaimonia or capacity for progress, virtuosity and flourishing of the human being. As simple as that, it has gone to other levels of poverty and precariousness, which must be approached from other perspectives than those merely limited by economistic doctrines, as worthy representatives, at the level of economic study, of abstract understanding.

At this moment, it can be said that Venezuela suffers from the poverty of poverty. It is the concurrence of material poverty with the degree of rudeness and impoverishment sustained in language, the damage in the way of thinking and, finally, in the spiritual detriment, already warned in the philosophical approach, which must and must be adapted to the economic description of the crisis, to allow to build and reconstruct the causes and effects produced by material and tangible poverty, with the inescapable, intangible and immaterial poverty that is consolidated in a painful anthropological damage that, of course, will prevent a return to the immediate and reductionist past of Venezuela kept in memory. The challenge of this Venezuela lost between Scylla and Charybdis, between violence and improvisation, implies the imperative need to estimate and value citizen formation and the empire of virtues, in a stable balance in which Bildung and Techné can necessarily coexist.

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