Óscar Reyes-Matute
Philosophy, kabbalah, screenwriting...

Give me my money back!

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To my friend Tom Hilde

A deeply rooted custom in North American capitalism is that if you don’t like a product, you can return it and they will refund your money. You can also use it for a while, pay a kind of rent (leasing), and when you desire, return it, because those bonds of love do not have to last forever.

This also works in American politics.

Another thing is the war of political propagandists who earn good payments for scaring people by saying that if they do not vote for their candidate, the other is going to remain in power forever. Whoever believes this nonsense is thinking of Russia and not the USA.

But that propaganda war, in an old and mature democracy, is normal, and if there were not, the show would even be boring. Nobody freaks out about it, except a bunch of Venezuelans just re-stablished in Florida, or the new Inquisition of the social networtks.

Even accusations of fraud became usual or “normal” (I didn’t say “good”). Democrats denounced “fraud” in the Gore vs. Bush Jr. election, there were “fraud” accusations in Hillary vs. Trump election, and again we hear the word “fraud” in Trump vs. Biden.

And they went to the courts, and no one accused Gore of being a troglodyte for exercising his right to judicial review. The judges will see if there is merit for a review or a recount, not necessarily for a new vote.

Is there a real danger that a President will remain in power in the USA indefinitely? I have the impression that before Michael Moore, other Americans a little more enlightened than him in philosophy and politics considered this peril, studying Roman and European history in general, and creating a very innovative system to avoid that risk, the check and balances one.

How many terms can a President govern? In reality, the very short US Constitution says nothing about it.

When Papa Washington was asked to run for a third term, he replied, “Two terms is enoguh”.

This was taken as a customary rule, until Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, was reelected three times and died in office, in 1945.

The Americans got lucky with FDR, who overcame the Great Depression, established the New Deal and led the United States and democratic nations during World War II in their fight against fascism … But they thought with a negative anthropology of the kind: ” If we were angels we would not need governments, ” they said. What if FDR had been a psychopath murder like Hitler, Stalin or Mao?

To avoid that human lottery, they passed the XXIIth Amendment, which allows only one continuous and immediate re-election. If you lose that re-election, you go home, thank you for your work and dedication, but we don’t owe you anything.

USA is the country of programmed obsolescence, and the Presidency could not escape from that sacrosanct value. Either we are capable of producing a new leader every 8 years, or we end up as a nation, my colleagues at NYU told me …


Nothing, that 53% of voters more or less think that the values of identity, progressivism, internationalism and political liberalism (what some tend to call center-left), are better: black live matters, metoo, LGBT …

But it turns out that 47% think that tradition, family, property and America First are better (center-right) values, that they tend towards stability, and they do not understand why they should feel ashamed of falling in love with someone of the opposite sex, wanting to get married, have children and prosper, because it seems to them that this is not demonic …

I have the stupid impression that this matter is being settled through a record vote, which has not been seen since 1900, and in the middle of a terrible pandemic … Sorry, guys: but I don’t see a new civil war anywhere …

There is no revolution (God forbid), nothing happens, on Monday the stock market will rise at least 3%, but the contagion of Coronavirus will not fall. Nor do they want to cure it, since vaccines are much better business than an effective treatment.

As Javier Wolcoff (trained in the USA with Philip Berg at the Kabbalah Center) has pointed out, the business of pharmaceutical companies is not to cure but to alleviate symptoms, and in the case of Covid, if they cure the virus, the business ends, because you have to take two vaccinations every two years …!

The Venezuelans? I pass…

When I started to study philosophy at the Jesuit’s University in Caracas (UCAB), Father Virtuoso, the current rector, was my professor of political philosophy, and he immediately understood what I was looking for in the academy.

But in general, the other teachers and students laughed at me when I told them that politics was going to become a basic necessity, of survival, in Venezuela.

Politics? Shame! They told me with contempt, and they looked at me with compassion, like someone who was sick.

They only believed me in the USA, in NYU, in the Fulbright program at the Embassy, friends like Thomas Christian Hilde believed me…

After so many years betting on anti-politics, my country went to hell, and when my countrymen realized the imperative of the democratic debate and the political reflection, it was getting too late, as in Antonio Tabucchi’s novel.

But now that we have 28 million political analysts in Venezuela, at home and abroad, it is time to change businesses, I told myself, so goodbye academia and political consultancies.

If we are going to sell lies, it is better to earn the salary of a Hollywood scriptwriter than one of university professor in Venezuela, debating with a group of geniuses who failed miserably defending the democracy in their country, and who now want to correct the democratic homework to Americans.

One final piece of advice: never look at America with the eyes of Venezuelans, or with analytical categories imported from Europe, however prestigious they may be.

America is exceptional, in the sense that they are different from the rest of the world’s democracies, they are the oldest democracy on the planet, the one that has lasted the longest without a coup d’etat, the one that has survived four and a half assassinations (Reagan was saved by two centimeters), a civil war and two world wars, always making their elections every four years, and it may be a a reason why.

What happened in the USA? Nothing, simply that political clients said:

-We did not like Trump, he is too crazy and very violent … Give me my money back …

So the shopkeeper took his blonde muppet, put it back on the stand, opened the box, he was going to return the money to the customer, but first he asked:

-Don’t you want this other one? He’s quite a bit older, but that’s why he doesn’t fight so much.

The customer smiled, resigned himself, grabbed his totally platinum-haired muppet and left out the store.

And that’s all folks, end of story…

About the Author
Óscar Reyes-Matute (Matu / מאתו), lives in Caracas. He's a philosopher graduated at Andrés Bello Catholic University, with a Master in Political Science at USB. He has been Fulbright Visiting Scholar at NYU on American Studies, and professor of political philosophy at UCAB and UCV. He has published academic papers in universities of Venezuela and Europe, and articles in several newspapers. Since 2008, he is dedicated to study Kabbalah at the Bnei Baruch Institute in Petaj Tikva, while works as writer of cinema and television screenplays. He's liryc tenor. Be aware, after a glass of wine, he suddenly can start to sing "Nessun Dorma!"
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