Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Yesterday, my boss sent me an excerpt from a book written in 1963 by historian AJ Toynbee. He shared it because he believes much of what Toynbee said about Venezuela in 1963 is still true. This part was the most interesting to me:

Venezuela has the makings of an earthly paradise. It would, in fact, be one if a paradise could be stocked solely with minerals and plants, without needing any complement of human inhabitants. Venezuelan human nature is probably no better and no worse than the general run of the mill. Venezuelan wealth, however, is something quite out of the ordinary, and extra-ordinary wealth puts human nature to one of its hardest tests. Can human nature stand this? That is the critical question for Venezuela.

Caracas in 1963

The excerpt got me thinking about what it would have been like to live in Venezuela before the "golden rain from the oil-fields and the iron mountains began to descend on the capital." There is so much wealth here and it's interesting to think about the effect it has on the human psyche.

Toynbee briefly discusses that idea:

In present-day Venezuela, as in the present-day World as a whole, one is conscious of a tension in the air. Was the atmosphere as tense, I wonder, in the days--still not so long ago--when poverty was the Venezuelan people's common lot, and when even the largest landowners were no millionaires?

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