Humpty dumpty populism theopolitics and the retreat of the politico-theological in Venezuela (a...

Rafael SáNCHEZ

This article analyzes Venezuelan Chavismo as an unstable formation gnawed by the unsolvable contradiction between, on the one hand, the politico-theological ambition to totalize sociality as a visible 'people' collected around the invisible 'Spirit' of Venezuela's 'Founding Father' Simón Bolívar and, on the other, the non-totalizable theopolitical energies of a social field suffused with myriad globalized 'spirits' that admits no clear-cut demarcation between 'visible' and 'invisible' or 'material' and 'spiritual'. Incapable of totalizing sociality as a discrete 'society', the political logic informing Chavismo, as with other recent populisms, shifts from hegemony to 'dominance without hegemony', a situation where, à la Humpty Dumpy, the 'people' is whatever is 'lovingly' decreed as such from above, always in tension with a host of deconstructive, often theopolitically imbued agencies and spirits.