The Venezuelan educator, historian, and essayist Augusto Mijares (1897–1979) was referring to an idea expressed by Bolívar in his letter from Jamaica of 1815 [see 1052872], when he defined our world as being “old, in a certain sense, in terms of the customs of our civil society”—that is, as a defender of the rule of law. The essayist defends his critique against the pessimistic view of mankind posited by the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes because the figure of the “Necessary Gendarme” (proposed by Laureano Vallenilla Lanz) was more of an accident than a fundamental trait of our people. The fact that many of our countries are now organized into republics (having thus progressed beyond the caudillo stage) inspires the optimistic hope that the tradition of a civil society will ultimately take root here as it did in European countries where development was stimulated by stability, tolerance, freedom, and the peaceful transition of governments. In proclaiming his ideal of liberal humanism, Mijares joins authors such as Arturo Uslar Pietri and Mariano Picón Salas who also spoke out in favor of adopting colonial values and liberal modernization.
This essay is interesting for its reference to the new generation of artists and intellectuals who, following the end of the Juan Vicente Gómez dictatorship in 1935, advocated for the reform of the Academia de Bellas Artes and the founding of the Museo de Bellas Artes, promoted the art market and the establishment of political associations and, overall, championed middleclass and democratic freedoms.