Venezuela and the United States (2001-2010): Morality, the political regime and justice as fairness. Part I

Jo-ann Peña Angulo


The relationship between political and moral regime has been postponed from historical analysis in Venezuela. Such being important, in 2013, we considered reinterpreting justice as fairness – justice as fairness – of the philosopher John Rawls , to study this relationship and from it, analyze the foreign policy of Venezuela and the United States, during the period 2001-2010.


In this way, the Ralwsian model allowed us to study the priority of the just over the good, which defines the public conception of justice , in the politics of both governments, which, when conceived as moral entities, possesses two fundamental capacities: 1. To act from and not only in accordance with the principles of justice and 2. To review and rationally pursue a conception of good; they condition the political, moral, ideological and doctrinal values, on which the public conception of justice of a given society is based.


Preliminary study: morality, the political regime and justice as fairness


John Rawls affirmed that human beings as «moral persons are able to put their conception of fairness before their conception of good, that is, they are willing to be reasonable rather than rational.»[1] , according to this. it is worth asking: if the governments of Venezuela and the United States as moral entities, would they be able to act in the same way? That is to say, will they be able to put right before their conception of good?


These questions are fundamental especially when it comes to such different governments, one under the aegis of what we have called Chavismo-Bolivarianism and the other under neoconservatism . These differences involve dissent and consensus, regarding the conceptions of good and justice within the historical, political and doctrinal particularities of both governments.


Knowing that the justice model as fairness comprises: 1. The well-ordered society, in which the priority of the right over the good is given, that is, the public conception of justice – 2. The position original, the original position – intermediary between both – and 3. The moral person, moral person , we will study the moral conception of the foreign policy of both governments in their reciprocal relations taking into account the Rawlsian postulates .


Starting from what Rawls points out: «good must be understood not in the narrow sense but as a conception of what is valuable in human life»[2]  will correspond to each government, depending on the conception of the good it possesses, to achieve its ultimate goals in the search for the most valuable. It is understood then that when we try to study the problem of regime and morality, we face the eternal dilemma of confrontations and cultural, ideological and moral contradictions of the various countries


So, with our analogy of justice as fairness[3] , we tried to combine the ideas of the moral entity – government – with the public conception of justice , understanding the latter not as one mutually accepted by all, but dependent on particular conceptions. Thus the moral entities must connect their ideas of justice and good with the public conception of justice of the well-ordered society, – in our case of study, the international community as a modified ordained society – because it does not meet Rawlsian requirements : a) possess A basic structure, b) seek not only the good of its citizens but also establishes the priority of the just over the good.


Consequently, the international community called by us modified ordained society , will seek harmonious coexistence, from the establishment of statutes, norms, official regulations, international treaties and International Law. This society must prioritize according to Rawls , the fair over the good, that is, the public conception of justice. No However, this we must add, moral conceptions of each country that give way to the primacy of the good over the right.


Given that we start from the political and moral regime relationship, and that there is no notion of international good, we must also recognize the impossibility of such international jurisprudence, being mutually accepted by all, as Rawls conceives . Even so, this does not restrict the possibility that consensus be defined then in terms of plurality, freedom and equality, understanding that moral entities – government – are free by virtue of their moral powers and that they are equal by virtue of the same differences. That is to say, they are the same, not because everyone thinks the same, but because everyone has the possibility of thinking differently, said in contrast to the definition of the veil of ignorance set forth by Rawls .


Therefore, the modified ordered society – international community – based on formal, non-formal international treaties and the moral value that governments attach to institutionalism[4] international, should always ensure the preeminence of the right over the good. No However, this international institutionalism allows on the one hand, the United States and Venezuela meet in organizations Comune s like the UN[5] , OAS whose statutes seek the «common» good, while admitting that both countries establish other agencies, and not necessarily under the preeminence of the right over the good. About:


… Evaluating and measuring the behavior of a State in international politics is ceteris paribus , more difficult than analyzing that of individual members of a single organization, in the most restricted arena of national politics. In addition, the number of influences on the behavior of a State in international politics may be greater than that which operates in conventional domestic politics … [6]


Thus, in the practice of international politics, it is logical that the ideas of justice and good of moral entities – government – do not coincide or be shared. Such admission again raises the problem of moral particularities and of the preeminence or not of fairness over the good of the political regime and the moral conceptions of foreign policy.


At this point, being the original position, space for consensus and dissent, unlike Rawls in our proposal, governments and states as moral entities, free and equal in the original position, will not ignore its advantages and disadvantages. Well then it is worth adding to the previous questions the question: Can two moral entities as dissimilar as Venezuela and the United States, for the period 2001-2010, try to reach a consensus, which ensures a fair and good understanding for both parties? These are the questions to answer with the proposed research, which we will break down by parts.





[1] Requejo and Gonzalo, John Rawls : Achievements and limits of the last Traditional Political Liberalism , (Spain: Tirant Lo Blanch, 2009), 95.

[2] Ibid., P. 32

[3] 3In the words of the author himself, it was presented as 3 readings at Columbia University in April 1980. The first one entitled » Rational and full Autonomy «, dated April 14; the second: «Representation of Freedom and Equality » of April 15 and the third » Construction and Objectivity » of April 16. All are part of the «Fourth Readings on John Dewey.» It is important to clarify that although John Rawls proposes the study of international politics in his work «The Law of People,» we prefer to consider the study of it, based on the model of justice as equity.

[4] “The usual criticism of international institutions is that their norms cannot be enforced externally, as is the case with those of other governmental organizations. In the absence of the use of force, there is almost no means of ensuring that the norms and guidelines of international organizations are enforced. On the other hand, its norms are as viable as those promulgated by other structures, and the internal impact of the norms tends to be the main defining characteristic of the institutions. ” Guy Peters , The New Institutionalism. The Institutional Theory in Political Science, trad. by V. Tirotta . (Barcelona, ​​Spain: Gedisa , 2003): 189.

[5] “For the United Nations, the concept of the rule of law occupies a central place in the mission of the Organization. It refers to a principle of government according to which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are subject to laws that are publicly promulgated, enforced equally and applied independently, in addition to be compatible with international human rights norms and standards. It also requires that measures be taken to ensure respect for the principles of the primacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability before the law, equity in law enforcement, separation of powers, participation in decision-making. , legality, non-arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency ”. Un. “The UN and the Rule of Law”, (1948 [cited June 14, 2010]): available at

[6] 6 Guy Peters , The New Institutionalism. The Institutional Theory in Political Science, trad. by V. Tirotta . (Barcelona, ​​Spain: Gedisa , 2003): 194.



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