Why uribistas still consider that Uribe is “El Gran Colombiano”: Deciphering uribista ideology for non-uribistas.
This column is dedicated to my fellow non-uribistas. My heart goes out to them. Any reasonable Colombian should by now have acknowledged and internalized that Alvaro Uribe was much less than a good president, in fact the most basic of analysis will prove how his administration was nothing short of disastrous for Colombia. A deeper analysis will probably send us to psychiatric therapy.
Being a political ally of terrorist groups, using his power within the State to commit crimes, fostering state policy against human rights activists, selling the country to the lowest bidder, and bribing to secure his re-election are just some of the things we should hold Uribe accountable for. If we also take into account that he destroyed relations with our neighbors, and that his big claim to fame, his security policy, wasn’t even that much of a success (if you don’t believe me read la Silla Vacia’s report on how kidnappings didn’t decrease at all during Uribe’s administration), the perplexity regarding his high popularity only increases.
The fact that we know this only makes it more astonishing, confusing and offensive when we hear the foolish, yet irritating news that Uribe was chosen as “El Gran Colombiano”. Apparently, this game is some sort of common-sense popularity contest supposed to establish who the greatest Colombian of all time was. Astonishing, confusing, and offensive….and yet, it is still a bit of laugh.
Of course, the reasonable non-uribista will have a much more difficult time when friends and family which he or she knows, loves, respects and/or admires, also declare themselves uribistas. Unlike, El Gran Colombiano, in this situation, we cannot dismiss this people as idiots or morally deficient, we know them; we know they are good, honest, friendly, hardworking, helpful, goodhearted people…..so why on Earth would they go along with this uribista nonsense?
Political philosopher Slavoj Zizek can truly be enlightening in this regard. He has become world famous by deciphering the thought of today’s right-wing thinking, and how it has become completely uninfluenced by reason and knowledge. It is all based on belief, and when I say belief I refer to what former US president George W. Bush’s administration’s referred to as a “gut feeling”; Remember the famous statement “All these things give me kind of a gut feeling, not that I have a specific threat that I have in mind right now, but we are entering a period of increased vulnerability”, made by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, regarding terrorism threats
Our starting point to understand more about this “gut feeling” will be an example given by Zizek himself. Consider the following affirmation “I know that there is not a small dragon in my room, yet I believe that there is”, or in other words, I have a “gut feeling” that there is a small dragon in my room. There is truly nothing illogical about this statement.
Very well, this small concept is crucial to understanding uribista proceedings. We can apply this example to many situations (but we should we leave that to uribistas). For example, I know that indigenous people are not inferior, but I have a “gut feeling” that they are. I know the poor do not deserve to be poor, but I have a “gut feeling” that they do. I know Uribe is up to his neck in paramilitary activity, bribery, and criminality, but I have a “gut feeling” that he is not a part of any of those things.
But there is more. We know that from a rational standpoint, Catholicism and Capitalism are mutually exclusive. Think of the catholic imperatives, “we are all children of god”, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”, “solidarity with thy fellow man”, etc. Now think of the capitalist imperatives of “my only responsibility is improving my lot”, “the poor are lazy losers and we hurt them by giving them State aid”, “we should not tax the rich”, etc. In spite of this evident contradiction between Catholicism and Capitalism, Uribe a fundamentalist Catholic Opus Dei member, is also the champion of capitalist neo-liberalism in Colombia. This is the same belief that allows certain United States Republican party members to be anti-Semite, pro-Israel Zionists.
So, if Uribe, (and me, and you and everybody) knows that Capitalism and Catholicism are mutually exclusive, non-compatible forms of thought, is he lying to us, deceiving us, playing us for fools when he politically stands before Colombians representing both? Not even in the smallest degree. Uribe might well know, that Capitalism and Catholicism are mutually exclusive, yet he certainly beliefs that they are not. This is the essence of uribista thought. Regardless of the facts at his or her disposal, an uribista’s “gut feeling” is all he or she truly knows.
To find out more about what uribistas know, remember Donald Rumsfeld’s famous justification for the US invasion of Iraq: “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
So there are things that we know that we know (you know that Petro is mayor of Bogota, and you know that you know that Petro is the mayor of Bogota). There are things that we know we don’t know (You don’t know how many people are in living in the streets of Bogota, and you know that you don’t know how many people are living in the streets of Bogota). Finally, there are things that we don’t know that we don’t know (Saddam Hussein’s plan to use WMDs against the US, Piedad Cordoba’s secret plans to emigrate to North Korea and procreate a communist dynasty, Bayern Munich’s secret wish to fire Guardiola and hire Chiqui Garcia). Of course, these are all valid reasons to invade Iraq.
What Rumsfeld failed to note (what a surprise), and Zizek points out, is that there is one piece of the matrix missing. There are known, unknowns. Things that we know, but we don’t know that we know them. Is this not the very “gut feeling” itself?
Uribistas know that Uribe will never spend a single day in jail, but they don’t know that they know it. Uribistas know that Uribe does not make mistakes, but they don’t know that they know it. Uribistas know that Uribe does not lie, but they don’t know that they know it. Uribistas know that Uribe has a right to kill, bribe, etc. but they don’t know that they know this.
And this is why, it is crucial that Santos’ uribista government keep appearances. Yidis Medina is in jail for receiving bribes from Uribe’s men, but they are free (they had nothing to do with it). Uribe’s protégé and former DAS top man Jorge Noguera is in Jail for illegally wiretapping Uribe’s imagined enemies (but Uribe had nothing to do with it). There are convicted people for the disgraceful Angro Ingreso Seguro program, but according to Uribito they, (both Uribe and Uribito) had nothing to do with it.
Of course, they know that they had something to do with it, we know they had something to do with it, the courts know they had something to do with it………most of all Uribistas know that they had something to do with it. They all know that we all know, and yet, the denial goes on.
If you find this silly, you’re completely right (not right-wing of course). But this happens all the time. Again, Zizek provides an amazing example. Think of one Alfred Hitchhock’s movies, Vertigo, filmed at the beginning of the 20th Century. In one of the scenes in Vertigo, there is a woman in bed covered by some blankets. After you see the woman, the next scene shows women’s underwear hanging on a rope. History tells us that what spectators saw as women’s underwear in vertigo were actually cloth rags made to look like women’s underwear.
The reason for this was that a censorship committee forced the makers of Vertigo to use cloth rags instead of actual women’s underwear. Why would the censors do this? Using women’s underwear would make viewers think that the woman in the bed was naked. Of course, viewers would think this anyway, because the hanging cloth rags in fact looked exactly like women’s underwear, nudity was still implied. So who were the censors censoring for? Perhaps it is the same person for whom uribistas must demonstrate that Uribe is “El Gran Colombiano”.