This chapter returns to the Independence struggles and the surprising turnaround whereby, at least in Caracas, in the initial phases of the conflict the coloured masses switched from supporting Independence to siding with the Crown. After reviewing how, by and large, Venezuelan historiography has answered this question by insisting on the masses’ superstitious attachment to the monarchy, the next section focuses on an 1815 dispatch to the king from Venezuela’s Captain General which suggests, first, that Venezuela’s coloured masses were as modern and revolutionary if not more so than their leaders; second, that it was this modernity “from below,” not any atavism, that ushered Venezuela in a cataclysmic mimetic crisis: With all hegemonic identities up for grabs the colony drowned in violence. After addressing the implications for the state of Lacoue-Labarthe’s theory of mimesis, the final sections focus on the “politics of exemplarity” that, not just in Venezuela but both in Europe and the Americas, was the response of an early republicanism to the irruption of the masses. If in places like Venezuela the “politics of exemplarity” of an early republicanism went haywire this is because, different than in Europe, the passage from ‘politics’ to ‘biopolitics’ never quite happened there.
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