SPECIAL ARTICLE FOR EL UNIVERSAL
The institutionalization of theft -kleptocracy- is why Venezuela's
market democracy has collapsed. Theft is institutionalized
by monopoly plus discretion minus accountability -the equation
for corruption. This is the way it is.
Monopoly over capital and production in the economy, plus
monopoly over participation and information in the democracy,
is a fact of life. Monopoly does not tolerate separation of
powers, checks and balances, or independent actors in either
political or economic life. Monopoly eschews competition,
and this is why the National Assembly, the Supreme Court,
the military, the police, opposition political parties, private
property, the news media, education, and the Church have been
or are scheduled to be squashed.
Discretion is the practice of monopoly. Unfettered discretion
is unilateral by nature, and does not tolerate relationships.
There are no true partners to any constitution, agreement,
treaty, law or understanding, domestic or foreign for he who
enjoys absolute discretion. Everything is subject to the unilateral
discretion of the sovereign, and the sovereign is not the
people, it is he who controls the monopoly. External challenge
to the discretion of the sovereign is a crime, as is clearly
stated in the Penal Code. The only appeal to discretion is
subservience. Human rights are neither inherent nor self-evident,
but granted at the discretion of the sovereign, to whom one
owes respect, the lack of which is also a crime.
Accountability is an invention for those who do not enjoy
monopoly and discretion. The facts about crimes, deaths, history,
scandals, conspiracies, war, missions or even banal matters
such as the number of barrels of oil being produced, or the
names on the voter registry, are the private business of the
sovereign, and need no accounting to anyone else. Reporting
the sovereign's business can put the reporter in jail, as
Kleptocracy is not new - it is the way it was in tribal life
for everyone on earth for thousands of years. In recent centuries,
kleptocracy was reformed by democracy, law, and markets -
while global development soared as a result. But in Venezuela,
where forms of it have existed from Bolivar's time, kleptocracy
is being applied as a reform of market democracy, while poverty
and corruption increase. A twist of irony has sealed the nation's
Rowan's column is published every Tuesday.