The Chávez Theorem

I looked for the word “theorem” in two of my favourite dictionaries, the DRAE of the Real Academia Española, establishes that it is a “demonstrable proposition that logically comes from axioms or other already demonstrated theorems, through accepted rules of inference.” It’s a bit nebulous of an explanation that is in contrast with that of the María Moliner dictionary, an example of transparent Castilian: “affirmation susceptible to scientific demonstration.” For the purposes of this article, I want to use both of the definitions, beginning with that of the DRAE, which insists upon the deductive aspects of reasoning.

The media that we are surrounded by habitually empty some indispensable words of their content, and that is for the purpose of inducing the unreflecting citizen to continue to accept them as if they still had the original meaning. I have here two examples which all of us meet up with in the newspapers: “democracy” and “left”. In the Spain of my adolescence, those who abhorred the policies of Franco dreamed of those two words. Time passed, the dictator died, the transition took place, democracy was established and with it, even the left came to power. But have those dreams come true?

In conformity with the DRAE, if we start from the double linguistic axiom according to which the Greek root demos means people and crazia stands for government, a hypothetical Democracy Theorem should be defined as follows: “Democracy is a political system in which the people are the government”. That which escapes the wisdom of the academics is that many post-modern think tanks today deliberately alter language and so, just like the dead civilians of some imperialist war are now collateral damage, the word Freedom on Bush’s lips means Slavery in Iraq, or the respect for minorities isn’t the same thing for a white leader of either the Mexican PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) or PAN (National Action Party) and for a Zapatist Indio, so then, with “democracy” the same thing happened: every similarity between the elite who control our bourgeois democracies and the people that they presumably represent is pure coincidence; that changes the definition of the DRAE of theorem into something useless for its scarse deductive applicability on the terrain of contemporary political praxis.

Let’s examine the word “left” as well, After the French Revolution, the masses of the capital collocated themselves on the left side of the Legislative Assembly, while those who offered unconditional support to the Constitution of 1792 went to the right. This was the origin of the political adoption of the term “left”, thus received in inheritance for the parties of Marxist orientation that had succeeded it up to the 21st century. Let us se how the Left Theorem sounds, still following the indications of the DRAE: “Left is that which tends to substitute capitalism with socialism.” Is this still the truth in our democracies? The Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) renounced Marxism during the rule of Felipe González and now it is Social Democrat, which means that it submits to capitalism and aspires to give it a human face. It is not socialist any more, and yet, it continues to define itself as left, much in consonance with its fellow parishioners, that seem to lose their plumes as they move along: the French, Portuguese and Chilean Socialist parties are becoming Neo-Liberal so as to increase their votes, the Labour Party in Great Britain is losing in the land of Iraq what little honour that remained; the Mexican PRD (Democratic Revolution Party), as Gilberto López y Rivas says well, abandons its founding principles and the International Socialist survives, with more sorrows than glory, after having accepted an economic system that its forefathers refused with vehemence.

The arguments exposed justify my reservations on the definition of theorem offered by the DRAE. I prefer the sobriety of María Moliner, because it mentions science (“affirmation susceptible to scientific demonstration”) introduces a measurable difference, near to the mathematical exactness of the theorems of Pythagoras or Euclid.
Let us look at how this definition applies to the political trajectory of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a man that is adored by his people, but who is victim to the ire of the most rancid right of Venezuela and the West, and the verbal disgust of many “leftists” who today crowd the media and the parliaments of America and Europe. If we apply to Chávez the axioms so unassailable such as the overwhelming results of all of the elections that he has won cleanly or the numbers in millions of the poor Venezuelans who, for the first time in the history of their country are provided with medical care, access to culture and the hope of prosperity since he arrived in power, it is simple to conclude that in Venezuela the above cited theorems of Democracy and of Left (as much in the deductive point of view of the DRAE as the scientific one of María Moliner), that permits me to formulate, “through rules of inference”, the definition of a Creole theorem that, to my mind, has the double virtue of unmasking the imposters of the left as it renders justice to a generous man who is providential for the future of Latin America. I have called it the Chávez Theorem and it goes thus: “A leftist is anybody who defends Chávez.”

MANUEL TALENS is a Spanish novelist, short story writer and columnist. His columns appear mainly in the Madrid newspaper El País and the electronic alternative site Rebelión , where he is also a frequent translator of both Francophone and Anglophone leftwing writers and activists. He has also translated works by authors like Georges Simenon, Edith Wharton, Groucho Marx, Paul Virilio, Derek Walcott, Geert Lovink, James Petras and Donna J. Haraway, among many others. His website is

This article originally appeared at
English translation by Mary Rizzo