The forever colony of Jamaica

Over the past few years, many Jamaicans have been sounding the alarm about the possibility of us unwittingly becoming re-colonised. These persons, whose cries have reached a crescendo, warn us that the trading partner in question is a brute, a behemoth and has a growing list of nations in which it has seized strategic assets. We are warned by these same people that this trading partner must be watched closely as it has nefarious ways of gathering information. All in all, people have been very wary and sceptical as it relates to doing business with and deepening ties with the PRC for fear of re-colonisation, but their fears are unwarranted as this country remains a colony in chains.

A colony? But we got independence (at least formally) in 1962 so a colony belonging to who? We are a colony of the US, make no bones about it, one only must look at how our governments act in order to see that we are a colony of the empire to the north.

At first read, it looks a bit out there and over the top, but when one digs just a bit beneath the surface one sees very clearly that Jamaica is nothing more than a glorified Puerto Rico (if that). For it is true we have a PM, an FM a MOF and an MICT but it is also true that none of them takes any actions in the realm of foreign policy without the strict approval of the US even if it to our detriment.

One doesn’t have to look far or long to stumble upon these facts. Does anyone, for example, remember the fact that the Chinese were poised to take over the port some decade ago? Does anyone recall why the deal was cancelled at the 11th hour? I do, it was terminated because the US Secretary of State called, read the riot act and made it known that the US did not like it and that US national security trumped Jamaica’s financial well being (that was around the time of the global financial meltdown). Like the colony we are we accepted orders, and two twos a deal was made with a French company for less money.

The same colonised mentality seeps through when it comes to the symbiote scandal and how we have dealt with it. Now it is entirely possible that the head of the company in question may be guilty of breaking the law both at home and abroad, but the question is when has this ever stopped any Jamaican business or business person? Hand on heart, how many of us know or have heard stories of high-profile businessmen who have gotten their start (and start-up capital) from breaking the law both at home and abroad? Are morals really in play here when we all have heard tales of young entrepreneurs selling goods that they never had (see fraud) who have made it big and good?

I don’t think so, I honestly think it has more to do with the fact that this company gets its technology from the PRC and not the US or her allies. We get glimmers of this when we hear individuals show worry about Chinese spy technology. It is true that the Chinese spy through technology, but so does literally every big country. I don’t see people saying don’t do deals with Germany or the UK or Canada or even the US (with its NSA) even though they do the same thing and I didn’t see the US or the locals bawling about colonisation  putting up such a fight in the early ’00s when a person from Europe came to set up telecommunications shop.

This colonised mentality is so deep-rooted, and the rot has set in such a way that we don’t even pretend to be polite to those who have helped us and been our age-old friends or stand for principles we have long held (all while living with the realities of neo-colonialism). The two most blatant and repugnant ones are our actions regarding Palestine-Israel and our actions regarding Venezuela.

How else can one explain us, Jamaica essentially okaying the settler-colonial process which Israel has been doing? That is what the abstention vote in the UN was.  It was us saying we wash our hands of the issue and walk away (interesting since we are majority Christian and that is the holy land, shades of Pontius Pilate). How can that be squared with our long-held position on the colonial question, one which saw us align ourselves with the ANC, ZANU and ZAPU (all of which were listed terror organisations)? How does one square the peg of us, Jamaica, doing deals with a nation (Israel) whose express policy is apartheid and who has no second thoughts when it comes to murdering unarmed protesters? It can’t unless one accepts the fact that we but an appendage of a much larger empire.

Same with the treatment of Venezuela, a nation which we (during British colonialism) aided in its fight for independence, have been doing cultural exchanges with for some 50 years. We have just decided that we will not recognize their government as legitimate, in spite of the many elections (even the most recent one) where observers said it was ok. We decided to spit in the face of the nation which for over a decade has been giving us (and our regional brethren) preferential treatment when it comes to the volatile oil market. We have seen it fit to co-sign a call for a coup against a government whose only crime is to want to see its people empowered and educated (a fate which we befell mind you). One can only explain this (as well as the seizure of Venezuelan assets in Petro jam) by reasoning that the colonial master, the empire up north demanded it and we the humble colony readily delivered.

I’m not sure why we are worried about supposed Chinese colonisation (something I which I don’t think will ever happen for a number of reasons).  We are firmly a US colony and have been since at least ’62 (with a brief interlude during 72-80) and the recent actions just highlight that to a gross and exaggerated extent. True, this government is acting with less shame than others, but all have been complicit (note it was the PNP MP who was at the head of the most recent anti-china political witch-hunt).What is this all about? I’m not a betting man, but I wager that when Petro jam is sold it goes to one of the colonial masters favoured companies and at a pittance (because there is no way in hell, they would allow China to bid for it).

We need to get out of this colonised mentality and realise things for what they are. The US, UK etc have no love for us and to make matters worse are not even interested in the slightest in leaving a positive lasting mark on this nation.  This is something I think we should have picked up on ever since the British gave us to the US during WW2 then buggered off quickly in 1962.

In the brief time we have done business with the PRC and with Venezuela post-Bolivarian Revolution we have seen actual real tangible results. We have roads, schools, medical centres, cheap oil and a massive uptick in regard to cultural exchanges. A base and crass question must then be asked, what have we received from the former? Guns, drugs, the propping up of inept leaders, the dismantling of a government and poverty brought on by crippling debt. I say again the persons who are worried about re-colonisation are barking up the wrong tree. Either that or what they actually mean (but might be afraid to say) is that it is better to be a colony and know where your food is than be independent and ask if it is bills or food.

I do not think like that and I don’t think the majority of us in Jamaica or the world for that matter think like that. What we need though is courage, courage to stand up and be counted, to stand up and say “I will take the high road even if it means taking a hit for it”.  Standing up for the downtrodden and nations whose independence is at risk, is in my opinion worth being in the empires bad books, will we finally act in an independent manner and accept that we will have to take the hits which come with it or will we continue in our status of a forever colony?

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Marxism v Liberalism; A brief description on critical differences

Liberalism and Marxism, these are terms which always seem to pop up whenever one has a political discussion. The two have often been conflated, but in recent times as the world goes through political turmoil, the two have become hot-button topics and more and more persons find themselves either comfortable describing a liberal as a Marxist or simply unaware that there are many small and major differences between the two. But what is Liberalism and what is Marxism? Why do persons look at the two as the same and who is it who pushes this train of thought?

In order to answer the last set of questions, one must start with describing both the central tenets and beliefs of the two ideologies and their historical beginnings. Once one understands these, it becomes easier to understand why they are conflated and why persons look to conflate them.

This piece is not aimed at converting the reader to my preferred stance of Marxism, though if that were to happen that would be a great bonus. Rather, this piece is aimed at clearing the air and firmly defining terms and their historical epoch so that whenever a political discussion takes place one at least knows the differences in these ideologies.

Liberalism as in ideology was borne out of the struggles of the enlightenment period which pitted the mercantile burghers against the landed and powerful (politically) nobility and aristocracy. The central tenet of liberalism is the right and freedom of the individual or individualism (bear that in mind), this is so because the burghers while they were immensely wealthy (as they were merchants who traded in spices and cloth and then sugar and cotton even industry such as shipbuilding), they did not control the state and its armed appendages, therefore their individual assets (read liberties) were at the mercies of any whim and fancy of any monarch. The feudal monarchs and nobility knew that the rich burghers were at their mercies and extracted all which they could without any mercy and that as such led the burghers to take up arms against the feudal monarchs (see the French Revolution, American Revolution, and the Glorious Revolution).

The burghers knowing that they couldn’t take power by themselves enlisted the help of the serfs, and together they overthrew the feudal monarchies of the day. The serfs were enlisted with promises along the lines of the end of oppression, low taxes etc, however, to allow for those things would, in the end, infringe on the individual rights of the burghers to make money. The burgher of the day was the one who fitted out the slave ships, who had shares in sugar plantations or (if they were smart) invested in cotton. They were the ones who employed the underpaid spinsters, the sailor who was pressed for years on end or even the plantation overseer (who often times was left footing the bill while the owners ran off), to hold up the promises would, in the end, lead them to ruin. As such, after much toing and froing, the liberal came to the conclusion that they would offer just enough to stave off the rebellion due to them not keeping promises, while at the same time keeping more than the lions share.

That the liberal view of individual rights simply means the right to exploit can also be found in how the liberals views democracy and how the state is run. In feudal times there was the king, his inner court (or cabinet if you will) and the parliament. The king ruled almost by decree, taking advice from his cabinet while the parliament simply petitioned on the behalf of the citizenry (nobles got the upper house while the commoners ‘burghers’ got the lower house. Again, such rule could not work as the burgher had no real power, only a petition and as such, they again enlisted the help of the serfs and gave the parliament more and in most cases total power over the monarch. If the previously mentioned seems familiar, it is because we still have that form of monarchical rule, the burgher (now the bourgeoise) sits at the top with their close aides as cabinet ministers, a senate made up of their ranks and a lower house which in most cases acts as a form of petition (most bills are introduced with the explicit approval of the leader of the party). The promises made to the serfs was one of self-rule, but self-rule would infringe on the individual right to accumulate capital which needs human exploitation. The solution was the previously mentioned, to grant them the power to elect an MP who can only petition, while retaining the real levers of power (party presidency, head of government, opposition and cabinet), to give them just enough to say promise kept while keeping enough to ensure that the collective does not take anything away.

The hard-fought battle for women’s equality shows us as well how the liberal deliberately places a premium on the rights of the individual at the detriment of the collective as to do otherwise would see the system implode. When women were granted the right to vote in the early half of the last century it was a liberal victory, for while women could vote, the property restrictions remained thus immediately doing away with a group (poor women) who would aim to undermine the system while doing enough to fend off the rebellion. Again we see where individual rights are simply in liberal speak a code for the right of capital.

A more explicit and in your face example of liberalism’s slight of hand when it comes to individual rights can be seen also in wage negotiations. Most liberal nations allow for unions and collective bargaining (an outcome of the labour wars in the late 19th to early 20th century) and as such recognise the right to strike. However, as those rights to seek better standards of work can impede on the individual right to profit, most liberal nations allow for scabs in one form or another. The promise of negotiations can be said to have been kept, thus avoiding violent clashes, while at the same time more than enough is kept to ensure that profits continue and the machine keeps whirring.

Liberalism in short puts a premium on the rights of the individual while sacrificing the rights of the collective, and therein lies the difference between liberalism and Marxism in spite of any similarity.

Marxism as an ideology was borne out the struggles of the industrial revolution, when capitalism gained a real foothold, and the serfs were en-masse turned into the proletariat. The industrial revolution forced the land-owning nobility and aristocracy to become capitalists, and as such, they moved their lands from serfs farming wheat, corn etc to forcing out the serfs and using the land to raise sheep (for cotton and the spinning mills) or for the land to be used to build industrial plants. The former serfs were forced (or coerced) to move from the countryside to the town in order to work in the newly industrialised centres and factories. They had the individual right to find work and make something of themselves but were severely restricted in all aspects, as the vote, for example, could only be cast if one had enough land or money, and factories and ideas could only be turned into realities with money, something the newly formed proletariat did not have access to.

Marxists hold the view that the rights of the collective supersede the rights of the individual, the reasons can be seen from above, but more examples will be given. Each individual belongs to a collective and though the individual does exist and have rights, the individual actions have effects on the collective as a whole. A simple example would be, while the individual has a right to a house, one shouldn’t extend that right to mean owning ten apartment complexes while the majority of the community remains homeless. Another example would be, while one does have the right to operate a business, that does not mean one has the right to exploit the community for the profit. A further simple example would be, while one does have the individual right to a profit from one’s seed capital, that does not mean that the collective (the workers) should only receive a pittance of a salary or no stock/share options or board seats.

The fight for the collective right against the right of the individual as it relates to wealth distribution is one which the Marxist and liberal have been at odds against each other for ages. The liberal view of individualism (which led to the mass abandoning of land) is the antithesis to Marxism. Marxism states that the land which the serfs had been forced off of in order to satisfy the whims of an individual instead would have been turned over to them and dealt with on a collective basis. The liberal view of the business, its top-down structure, with the owner of the land and machines making all the money while the workers own pittances runs counter to the Marxist view where the worker owns, operates and shares in the profits of the company.

The liberal definition of democracy is also sharply at odds with anything which a Marxists definition of democracy. For again while the liberals believe in top-down, representative democracy via petition while the elites maintain a hold on power, the Marxist sees that a democracy should be inclusive of all members and that all the members have some voice in how policy is reached, and actions are taken. The examples of Nicaragua and Venezuela both show us just how at odds the liberal view of democracy is from that of a Marxist.

 

In the end, the difference between the Marxist and the liberal is a simple one. It is that while the liberal seeks to appease and mitigate the excesses of the system, the capitalist mode of distribution, the Marxist seeks to undermine and replace it. After the smoke clears and the dust settles, the liberal will be on the side of private capital while the Marxist will be seeking its total and absolute abolition.

So why are the two compared and who dares make that silly comparison after the previous explanations? The people who make that comparison, the persons who champion that cause are reactionaries, members of the capitalist class, and they do this because they fully understand that the system as it remains cannot hold for much longer.

There are many members of the capitalist elite who understand that this liberal era is having its swansong. They understand that wages have frozen or are falling while they make profits, they also understand that even the limited power that the people have now could lead to them getting more of their wealth. They understand that the IMF and World Bank have said that as things stand now, nations will be lucky if they experience 4% growth after 2020 because of the way the liberal capitalist system is set up. Because of this, they despise the liberal who they understand is holding them back from uber profits (which are gained by uber exploitation meted against the workers) and they seek to undermine and destroy the liberal system.

The reactionaries are not idiots, they know that the worker is peeved with the way the current system operates and wants a change. In order to divert them from the agents who they would naturally gravitate to (Marxists) they conflate Marxists and liberals, they say both want the same thing ‘freeness’. They use what looks like similarities all while hiding the fact that beneath the similarities are key glaring differences. They do it in short, so that they can undermine the parties and groups which seek to abolish the system and replace it with egalitarianism and foist in its place parties and groups which endorse and preach capitalism of the totalitarian variety with no leash, 19th to early 20th-century style capitalism.

Do not fall for the lies, obfuscations and misleading statements, a liberal and a Marxist are about as similar as those between a dog and a goat. Understand and appreciate that the two are different, and if you dislike either after knowing this, that’s ok. Just know that words have meanings, words are used in certain ways for a purpose especially when it comes to politics. Not knowing the differences in the meanings is not a trifling matter, this type of knowledge is the kind which shapes a nation and its people for good or for ill. Learn the differences between the ideologies in order to have an actual discussion and reach actual conclusions, to simply repeat silly talking points simply ends in nations drowning in a sea of ignorance.

Oppose the Venezuelan coup attempt or accept permanent vassal status

Regional and national independence, sovereignty and the right of self-determination, these are ideas and notions which have run through Latin America and the Caribbean for centuries. Over 200 years ago Simon Bolivar and his band sought to unite Southern America to act as a check on burgeoning US imperialism, and on and off through the 19th century culminating in the West Indian Federation, the British West Indies had toyed with the idea of federal governance for a myriad of reasons. Those dreams were never realised, Bolivars dreams of a Gran Colombia ended in a nightmare as it broke up and the idea of a federalised West Indies remains just that as the federation imploded shortly after its creation.

Grand Colombia and the West Indian Federation may have died, but the dream and the reasons which make them not only appealing but needed remain ever-present. In spite of over two centuries of outside domination through the military (and their local proxies) and almost a century of political domination through the OAS (an arena in which the poor Southern Americans and Caribbean residents must pay homage to the imperial overlord) green shoots of the above mentioned regional and national independence, sovereignty and the right of self-determination have been showing themselves.

These are represented in the ALBA group, CARICOM and UNASUR, intergovernmental groups which have the sole and expressed aim of regional independence, guaranteeing national independence and sovereignty and allowing each country the right to determine its own path. And while these groups haven’t been perfect and are in some areas accused of being mere talking shops, what they represent and some of the things done have gone a long way towards having a strong sense of regionalism. Things which at first you wouldn’t even think of, such as the increase in tourist traffic from Latin America, can be traced back to these groups and policies and MOUs laid out and signed by them.

The tide, however, is turning again, the strength of regionalism and our ability as individual nations to chart our own destinies is again under threat. The usual suspects and culprits have all lined up and are already seeking to divide the region in order to weaken the individual nations and take advantage of them, and in some cases, they have succeeded in taking over the reins of government.

Starting in Honduras, moving to Brazil and now firmly cemented in Venezuela and Nicaragua the power from the north along with its lackeys have been steadily eroding, destabilising and ultimately ousting any government which even hints at going it its own way and charting an independent regional course. This is not the ravings of some despondent socialist, it is simply the clear observation of an individual who is living in the region and watching the most recent iteration of self-determination explode due to malicious, deliberate outside influences.

It is, for example, easy to lambast Venezuela and say that Maduro must go as he has ruined the economy and we have all witnessed the trauma thanks to satellite news. But to do so would be hiding the fact that this crisis is not of their own making and has in fact been forced upon them. With the nation unable to utilise the US dollar due to sanctions, they are facing a blockade in everything but name as the whole world (bar a few outliers) uses the US dollar as the medium of foreign trade. That means if they decide to buy from say, Nigeria, they would be unable to as the medium for that transaction (the US dollar) is off the table. The world understands that this type of action is unconscionable and that is why when the US pulled the same stunt with Iran the EU aimed to set up an SPV (Special Purposes Vehicle) aimed to use exclusively Euros and thus bypass the dollar.

This is being followed up by an insidious form of protest, as groups which can only be called splinter cells of the USAID, NED (National Endowment for Democracy) then take to the streets, joining, or in most cases whipping up large crowds of persons who are already dissatisfied with how things are going due to the sanctions and blockade. The same play is in town when it comes to Nicaragua, a nation also under economic sanction (see blockade) and which has also recently fended off ‘protests’ of the sort seen in Venezuela.

The Honduran government was ousted in a parliamentary/military coup in 2009, and  ever since that nation has been ruled by one corrupt and murderous president after another, things have reached to such a head in that nation that persons are fleeing in droves as they seek to escape both the drug cartels (who constantly seek recruits and extortion) and state-backed death squads (who have a panache for killing human rights activists, environmental activists and indigenous activists). The same formula which was utilised in that poor central American nation, seeking to recover from decades of foreign oppression, was turned on the giant in the Latin American region, Brazil.

Like a bolt from the blue, Dilma Rousseff was unjustly impeached, not for graft, corruption, embezzlement, drug trafficking or selling titles, no she was impeached for a budgetary manoeuvre which all governments the world over employ to make it look like their countries aren’t as deep in the red as they actually are. As if to show that it was never really about corruption but simply about enforcing rules from the imperial master, it was almost immediately revealed that the acting president Temer was involved up to ears in the still ongoing massive corruption investigation stretching many countries.

Again, in order to show that this had nothing to do with corruption and all to do with politics, the single most popular politician in Brazil was (in the opinion of many learned lawyers) unfairly tried and wrongly convicted on false charges of corruption, again simply because he was (and remains) staunchly against outside interference in both domestic and regional matters. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the man who followed Temer after the recent elections has already looked into having foreign bases located in his country and speaking with such venom against other regional nations that you would think that it is, he who occupies the oval office.

The counter-insurgency launched and funded by the US and her allies must be condemned and stopped. It is not geared towards the benefits of the citizens in the region, instead, it is hell-bent on ensuring that we revert to our previous status as areas of raw mineral/produce extraction and a readily available market for their expensive shoddy goods. This is not simply geared against the evil red under the bed, it wasn’t in the 50s and it still is not the case today. The sole aim is to destroy any nation which can or wishes to chart its own course, it is all about curbing independence and self-determination.

In 09 they went after the very non-socialist Honduras, for charting its own course, it went after the non-socialist but aiming for European social democracy brazil as it sought to re-kindle the multipolar world (see BRICS). It goes after the very mixed economy of Nicaragua because they still want (and are in talks with the Chinese) to build a canal which would bypass Panama (and thus cripple US domination) and they go after Venezuela because it sits on the largest proven oil reserves and has a strong track record of not only acting independent but also using its funds (and resources) to promote greater regional dialogue and integration (and by extension greater internal self-determination and independence).

All of this has one aim, the aim of wrecking the budding regional integration and most importantly stamping out the growing sense of independence which is more than evident in the region. First, they will go after Venezuela and Nicaragua as they are easy targets, then they go after Bolivia (see the red menace). The embargo on Cuba will stay in place and may even be strengthened, many nations in the region will cheer or keep silent. Finally, they will come after any and everyone who even thinks of dealing with China in an intimate way and in so they will have cemented their stated desire which is to have this region act as both its back yard and personal lake. To think that this is some conspiracy theory is to be blinded from reality. How else is one to take recent pronouncements from the US warning nations from dealing with China coupled with their hysterical reaction to Chinas burgeoning 5g network and global tech/trade push?

This must not be allowed to stand, regardless of one’s ideology, one must make their voices heard in opposition to what is currently taking place, as in the long run, whatever one’s ideology it, won’t matter unless it meshes with that of the US and her cronies. If one is for self-determination, if one holds to the principle of non-interventionism and if one holds true to international law then one must oppose the aggression and machinations being forced upon these nations. Today it is them, and sure as the day is long tomorrow will be us. Maybe not in terms of force (such as this) but definitely when the US starts making concrete fiscally and economically harmful demands of us (the remaining victims) as it relates to China and even, in the end, the EU. Stand up for those in need or be crushed when you are in need, let the peoples voice be heard and listened to or agree to foreign dictate these are our options, let us choose wisely as the consequences for the wrong decision will be awful.

The potentially sad case of Peter Phillips

Dr Peter Philips, Mr dependable, the man who has shone in every cabinet position he has held. Peter Phillips has always been a capable and dependable pair of hands in which a problem can be placed, he has in the past shown that he is more than flexible and able to think outside the box, this is one of the primary reasons why, after the debacle of the previous GE he was gifted, unopposed, the throne of PNP president. But Dr Phillips, the man who has risen to every political challenge and seen them off (even Portia in the long run, but more on that) is failing, and oh so badly and publicly in what is surely his final and greatest test.

For while it is true that Dr Phillips is a capable, safe, and flexible pair of hands, he was given the mantle of power as merely a stopgap. That is, his job was to steady the ship which is the SS PNP, put them back on course, and hand the baton over to the new guard. It is clear he has failed on all counts, and he fails because he is blinded by ambition, ambition for a post which he will not get, a post for which he is at least ten years too late for.

Dr Phillips has not been seeking to steady the ship and renew it both in terms of personnel and in terms of ideology, instead he, in order to stroke his ego is out campaigning as if anyone would want to see the PNP (note not Dr Phillips) back in power. He is so blinded by his ambition that he is willing to condemn his party to a fate worse than that of the JLP in the 90s.

Why is this? When Dr Phillips loses the next election there will be no hope for ridding the party of its rotten elements as they will assume power, and in that same way, the chance for ideological rejiggering will also be lost. The delegates in large part understood that Dr Phillips would/will lose the next election, but the chose him because he alone held the respect and sheer untouchableness that could allow him to jettison the personnel who continue to ensure that persons such as myself won’t even think of voting for them.

Peter Phillips rather, unfortunately, for both the PNP and the nation, is proving to not up to this task. Blinded by ambition which he most certainly will not attain he is condemning the PNP and more importantly the nation to a group of people (both in his party and in the current government) who seemingly have no issues in turning Jamaica back into the 1960s paradise (for those at the top) or Puerto Rico during operation bootstrap. Ideology and socialism/communism aside, his ego is damning the country to a future where the levels of inequality will make today’s truly look like prosperity and the good times.

Most people I know understand that with Andrew and the JLP tacking to the centre it is incumbent on the PNP to drift further left, certainly not in the mould of the Cuban Communist Party (the wounds within that party are still raw) but definitely along the lines of the Labour Party in the UK (a party which they have historically mimicked). Even that he won’t do, as it would mean shunting certain key party members, and in his mind at least, surely doom him at the next election (which he won’t win anyway as all the JLP have to do is say FINSAC and Trafigura).

The PNP, the party known across the Caribbean for moving with the times, is a lame duck. Peter Phillips, the man who, if we are honest, was supposed to pick up where Patterson left off (see a doer instead of simply a gifted politician) is a total disappointment, regardless of one’s political standings. For the JLP it surely sucks, because they will fall into the deadly slumber which affected the PNP (89-06) and it is happening already as there is no real opposition to test them. For the diehard comrades, it means a feeling of embarrassment and bewilderment as the once dominant force rapidly recedes and they become the butt of all jokes (who remembers JLP = Jamaica losing party circa late 90s?). And for those in the middle who support neither, we are left to watch as the opposition readily cedes elections and the all-important framing of the issues ‘contest’ to one select group of people.

Again, regardless of ideology, that scenario doesn’t end well, and we got but a mere taste of that in the 89-06 period. If you want corruption to remain entrenched, then we are on the right path. If you want no real answer to the crime problem, then full steam ahead. If you want the economic question and land question to remain just as puzzling as the Irish question, then we only need to keep doing what we are doing. What the PNP and Peter Phillips is doing is bigger than him and his party (which has almost no respect), their renewal was supposed to be a check on the JLPs grand vision which they have not been hesitant in laying out.

It is evident that he has thus far failed, and any further failure not only negatively affects the party but also the nation as we are left with no viable alternative and no voice (with power and influence) to act as a check on the government and even proffer alternatives. He still has time, but it is very limited. If Andrew is half as bright as he is made out to be, he will also know this and will be now pondering on when is the best time to call the early election and bury any opposition to his agenda. Go back to being Mr dependable, go back to Mr flexible and the realist, once you do this you will see that your place in history is not as the PM in waiting, but as the man who saved his party, gave it a renewed sense of purpose and creating a space for the next generation to chart a course which can compete with what the JLP has on offer.

Hopefully, he gets it and soon, it would be a sad end to the careers of one of Jamaica’s best politicians (in terms of portfolio, all including himself have failed at constituency representation). If he cant then he must be pushed, for the longer he stays and dithers is the longer the cancer has to set in and then it becomes all the more painful if not impossible to cure it.

Beware of the friends you keep

Birds of a feather flock together, you are the company you keep. These are phrases and sayings which go back centuries and something I’m sure we have all been told at least once in our life. As trite as those statements may be, as generalising as the may seem, they do hold many truths especially when it comes to politics and statecraft. The company heads of governments or nations keep says a lot about what they hold dear and what values they are willing to go to the mat for, as such the responsible and active citizen watches like a hawk the company their leaders keep.

With all of that being said, it is notable both the absence of criticism laid at the feet of this administration and persons leaping to their defence as they continue to rub shoulders with some rather unsavoury characters. Most recently the PM has been seen rubbing shoulders in the US with Sen Rubio and Sen Cruz, both of the ruling Republican party. Now I am not going to say that the PM should not have gone to the states, I am not even saying he shouldn’t have met with members of Congress and by extension members of the ruling party. I am saying however that his choice about who to meet is utterly disgusting, maddening and should be questioned and looked into further.

Both men are not only members of the ruling party but represent some of its most insidious and odious factions (which up until a few years ago were the attention of the world’s hatred until the advent of Trump). Both men represent what can only be called the vulture arm of capitalism and this is something they have never hidden. These men’s economic policies consist solely of mass privatisations, an elimination of any semblance of a social safety net, massive tax cuts to the wealthy, heavy tax increases to the poor and middle class and finally state handouts to golden calves in the private sector. Their stance on foreign policy is equally reactionary as both men seek to oust the governments in Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, by violence if necessary, in short, these men represent the very same factions of a foreign power which brought destruction to this island. This says nothing of the fact that both these men have little to no leverage in the cabinet and may as well be dead as far as the president is concerned.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the PM and his entourage then went on to meet with Mr Kushner the president’s son-in-law (who may very well be under investigation when the new US Congress is sworn in) who is known to operate a company which practices slum-lord tactics while employing robber-baron means to avoid paying taxes. The meeting with Mr Kushner, however, should not come as a major shock as Kushner is a bosom buddy of the nation, we seem to be hellbent on getting in bed with.

The budding relationship between Jamaica and the state of Israel must be the reason why the PM met Mr Kushner and that relationship above and beyond all else needs to be looked at. For while one can get away with saying either of the two senators may be the next Republican standard-bearer (and the US is the imperial behemoth in whose shadow we quake) there is no such excuse for cosying up with this nation which has no respect for anyone, anything and any nation which does not tow their line (apart from the oceans of blood they are responsible for shedding).

What reason could be given as to damper the fire raging in persons like me who read this and see these images? We are told it is because the Israelis are the masters of national security, have an awesome irrigation management system and a booming tech and pharmaceutical sector (all areas we have an interest in), but all of these could be got elsewhere and without the shame which this association carries.

They could have, for example, received all of the aforementioned from the same persons in the US who they are chummy with now. They could have gained this from the French, or Italian or German or even British (if they wish to avoid the Chinese route) but instead they choose the last nation in the world which openly supports apartheid tactics and policies. The party preaching prosperity has gone and made friends with nations and individuals whose modus operandi is to impoverish and rachet up rates of inequality. The PM and his crew have chosen to align themselves with persons and states who feel that every problem is a nail which must be met by the hammer, pardon me if I then re-state that you are the company that you keep.

The recent SOEs, ZOSOs and the marked increase in the police clear up rate (see the death and arrests of suspected criminals) must be looked into in the light of these bourgeoning relationships as both of these new friends have a long track record of using policies such as these with awful human rights consequences. In the light of these friendships, the entire economic plan which this administration has brought forth must be looked at carefully, as both these nations will be closely advising us, and both of these nations have gone rather ironically from prosperity to a deracinated middle class with the kind of persons our ruling party now calls friends in charge.

And honestly, in the light of these friendships, any and all contracts signed with companies from these nations must be scrutinised intimately, as both of these nations are well-known havens and bastions of corruption and graft (how many Israeli PMs have been locked up for graft?). The PM and his group in light of his choice of international friends must be watched carefully as their actions could very well presage his, maybe not in the exact form but in spirit. Will he invite Mr Liberman of the racist Yisrael Beiteinu to visit if he becomes PM? Will he after meeting Cruz and Rubio now further condemn our ally Venezuela? Will the security measures become more draconian? And will we begin to see a private sector free from any fear of state intervention or regulation? Some of these questions have in some ways already been answered and it doesn’t look good.

We need to watch these friendships as they could very well end up harming us the citizens. Maybe its paranoia and maybe I am too much of a bleeding heart, but I find it nigh on impossible to trust these people if only because of their friends, however, the population by and large seems cool with it. Time will tell if our ‘prosperity’ PM emulates his new friends or simply uses them for the cash and though both options are atrocious I pray that we haven’t burned our international goodwill for nothing and the citizens will see some rewards for keeping such awful friends.

Two debts we can never repay

This January marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and the 215th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution and I for one am joining in the revelry. Cuba and Haiti, far from being the basket case and the dictatorship that they are portrayed to be in international media and by many a politician are in fact the heartbeat and the in the vanguard of every third world revolutionary and romantic and it is for good reason. For while it may be true that Haiti has and continues to experience extreme poverty and rampant corruption and that Cuba does not enjoy the plethora of amenities that we ‘free world’ enjoy it is also equally true if not truer that were it not for these nations, we in the third world would have nought.

That last statement may sound extreme, but I assure you it is far from hyperbolic, to go one step further I would say that we in the third world have an unpayable debt to those two nations. Why do I say that?

Well, have a look at Haiti and its impact on the world. This is a nation which not only saw its slave population launch the only successful rebellion, but they also went on to cripple both the Spanish, British and French imperial armies thus making life easier for would be plotters in their realms. After winning independence, Haiti then embarked upon liberating the entire island of Hispaniola (and freeing the slaves in the Dominican Republic) and on a campaign of sponsoring slave rebellions and anti-imperial revolutions throughout the Americas, from the US all the way to the Bolivarian republics (hence Colombia, Venezuela etc having the red and blue in their flags). It is no overstatement or oversimplification to say that the Haitian revolution was the weight on the scale which ensured that slavery, in this side of the world at least was coming to a fast end just as it is no overstatement to say that Haiti played a principal role in the dismantling of the Spanish American empire.

The Cuban revolution also has had a profound impact on the world and the third world in particular. It is often forgotten or downplayed just how in the grip of the US Latin America was pre-1959, how the US literally viewed these nations as plantations and areas of extraction. It is also often forgotten that almost every politician or group who even tried to liberalise society (make it 70% American rather than 100%) met a rather grim end at the hands of US sponsored thugs or the US Marines. January 1, 1959, marked the first time that the US had lost in this side of the world, in its backyard if you will. But more than that, the Cuban revolution showed that a nation in this side of the world could chart its own independent course and survive if not thrive (as the Cubans have done in the areas of engineering and medicine). As if leading by example weren’t enough, the Cubans followed their Haitian revolutionaries of lore and sponsored revolutionary movements the world over while also offering education and medicine to their third world brethren.

Again, it is hyperbolic or an exaggeration to say that all land reforms in Latin America, education reforms and economic reforms are a direct result of the Cuban Revolution. All of these came post-59 as the US was rightly scared that their repressive local representatives (see the local presidents and upper classes) would fall as the populations of those countries saw the miracle of social prosperity which Cuba was seeing.

But these nations are much more than simply political touchstones, they are also hubs of cultural innovation. Actual independence allows one to think freely and as such create new things, it should, therefore, be of little wonder or surprise that these nations and their people have always been on the cutting edge of art and music and remain cultural meccas in spite of the decades (and in Haiti’s case centuries) of caricaturing and demonising.

Let us join with these nations and people as they celebrate and let us all reflect upon the sacrifices they made and the collective debt we owe to them. Let us defend them from the attacks and sniping from those who would wish to see us return to a variation of bondage of some sort and let us rally around them to ensure that their revolutions remain intact. Let us also take the time during the celebrations to reflect upon the fact that liberation is possible, and it can be achieved even if it seems improbable for their revolutions remain incomplete so long as we remain within the empire. Provide constructive criticism when necessary but also remember that they must chart their own independent course.

Long live the Haitian and Cuban revolutions, that should always be the mantra of those who say they love freedom and liberty. If ever you find yourself amongst a person who dares speak ill of them, you know they are not your friend and a person of low moral standing. For no one with any morals or any decency could bring themselves to sully those who have given so much and received nothing in return. May the blockade end and may Haiti be left free form foreign machinations so that the children of their revolutions can continue to move it forward and that we the benefactors and students may further learn how to truly win emancipation and independence even if the kitchen sink is thrown at you.

Of hypocrites and political parties

People loathe politicians and for the most part, refuse to take part in any political process, proof of this can be seen in our last two elections (local government and parliamentary) with both having record low turnouts. Many reasons have been given for why the people are so turned off and almost all of the reasons given are correct. The people withdraw because they see corruption, they see liars, they see persons who talk about belt-tightening and yet live the high life and they see people who know the answers, speak the answers but refuse to implement them.

More than anything though, the people are turned off because the politicians in this land are nothing but hypocrites who constantly seek to put point scoring and party cred above nation building. The most perfect example I think would the recent utterances from Sen Samuda, a member of the young generation which is supposed to rescue us from the politics of the bad old days. He recently made pronouncements that politicians have been hugging up criminals (colour me shocked) and that at the appropriate time they will be exposed.

Lovely words and a policy the people can get behind, but he then goes on to lose everyone by exposing his true agenda by saying that he is solely talking about the opposition and that they must clean up their house. This man and that statement typify why Jamaicans do not take the political process or politicians seriously. Has he forgotten about the criminal friend of his Government MP who was just killed? Did it slip his mind that that majority of the cabinet (PM included) were leading government officials during the Dudus saga?

No, rather than forgetting about his party’s sordid past (and tainted present) he chooses to point his righteous anger towards the equally sordid and tainted opposition as if the people in the country genuinely believe that if one of the two corrupted parties is cleaned up then the nation will prosper. Sen Samuda is a hypocrite, his words have exposed him as such. He is no nation builder, he is simply a man after the trappings of power and in order to maintain his current status (and elevate it) he must act in the same manner as politicians before him, in the same manner, these young politicians said made them sick and ashamed.

We all know that politicians hug up criminals, we have eyes, ears and a modicum of common sense, his statements are neither new, ground-breaking or even the first-time statements to that effect have been made. The public knows that politicians are in criminals back pockets and the public also know that whenever they hear a politician talking about the link between politics and crime, they always know that the person speaking means the other. That the other must change and that the other is the worst thing on earth.

Mr Samuda (and his ilk) can continue to make his stupid hypocritical statements, and they can watch as the people both retreat further from politics and eventually away from the two hypocritical criminal parties. The people don’t ask for much, simply honesty (as all else flows from that in the end) and taking them seriously. To stand up and (rightly) condemn one party for the same thing your party is also doing is neither honest nor is it taking the people seriously, it tells us you think we are a bunch of rubes and that you are more than happy for a 48% turnout in a GE.

Every garrison in this country was founded by and remains politically aligned to one of the two major parties. Both parties at events such as conference or leadership meetings have in their entourage known criminals (drugs, guns, sex trafficking, money laundering) and both parties even after the dust settled from the Dudus fiasco still accept donations from the criminal underground.

Nothing serious will come from this, no change will be made and that is already evident in the way the argument has been framed. Either we acknowledge that both parties are rotten to the core and must be dealt with, or we leave it as is and let the corrupt dogs lie. Either we totally clean up the political system and re-think our blind allegiance to the PNP/JLP or we accept it for what it is and work around it. There is no point in destroying one corrupt political party and leaving an equally corrupt one in existence, especially in a country like Jamaica where new parties (even with big names and oodles of cash) haven’t even made a dent. That scenario does not end well, that scenario ends with a kleptocracy (see Ukraine) and social upheaval and nobody in their right mind should be pushing it.

Both parties with their as you were attitudes should be ashamed of themselves, and the young politicians in whom so much hope has been entrusted (if only because there is no one else) must be called out. Infrastructure is meaningless if the land is stalked by corruption and crime, a booming economy means little if profits are syphoned off and people are left to suffer. To pin criminality on simply one party is something that will not work (that is, solve our problems) and will simply result in the status-quo remaining as both parties begin to hurl accusations and draw up the ramparts. In the end, it just becomes another 9-day wonder soon to be forgotten as both parties continue on their merry way.

Those statements and that mindset is a mirror reflection of the same warped mindset which afflicts may Jamaican citizens. This mindset which has us believe that if we clean up the act of others then our bad actions won’t matter must end. The belief that it is the other who has the major issues in need of fixing, or that my crimes are smaller in comparison must be put to an end. The hypocritical politicians understand that it must change on a societal level and such preach that (even though they themselves don’t change), they are then surprised when the people don’t change (and why should they if their leaders don’t).

When an aeroplane or a boat experiences issues, regulations state secure yourself before attempting a rescue. It sounds selfish until one understands that a drowned person can’t save a drowning person, just as a person passed out due to lack of oxygen can’t save the person about to pass out. The PNP won’t change because the equally bad JLP wants it to or threatens to expose it and vice versa. They will only change, and the nation will only be saved, when the JLP and PNP individually acknowledge their links and other issues publicly and deal with them. Until that day, we continue to live like persons in a doomed vessel, vainly trying to save the other before we even have the life vest on thus dooming us all.

Why Christianity is dying

What’s going on with Christianity? More specifically, what is going on with the major traditional sects of Christianity and why is it that they are visibly dying? Why is it that this religion of two millennia, the major sects which count billions as their members, the religion which seemed to survive everything, seems to be faltering?

Is it because of the scandals? Is it because people have suddenly become less religious as technology and science advance? Some of those points ring true, but I do not think that they fully answer why the religion and the major sects especially are seeing stagnation and even decline.

A major reason why the religion and the major sects are dying is because (and I say this as an avowed atheist) the religion is no longer a lifestyle. That may sound odd or even very simplistic, but I think it holds more than a grain of truth when really looked at…

Click here to read more…

We need to get to grips with our history

Jamaica is a land rich in history and yet its people have no knowledge of it. This total lack of knowledge of both distant and more recent history has led to many in this nation to run around spewing partisan talking points and barefaced lies whilst at the same time lamenting the fact that the nation seems to stuck in a sick loop. This lack of historical knowledge has also led many a Jamaican who ostensibly wants change to follow and ultimately believe some backwards things which upon closer examination are revealed to be lies crafted to hold both the individual and the nation back.

There are many historical lies we hold dear as a nation, some of them so strange you get cramps after doing the mental gymnastics keeping up. Some of the best lies we love to believe are; the nation was a crime-free paradise before the madness of the 70s, that the CIA never laid a hand on Jamaica and that the guns simply came in because of our naughty politicians, that there wasn’t a real growing communist presence in Jamaica, and of course that Mr Jones in a bout of sleepwalking fell off a multi-storey building (through the closed plate glass) coincidentally during the conference to fill the then-vacant premiership.

These historical lies we tell ourselves and perpetuate through traditional history only does harm to the country as we seek to extricate ourselves from the chaos we find ourselves in. These lies have caused us to believe that the starting point for our madness is the 70s when in fact any true historical analysis will tell us that our problems stem back to 1838 and that we are living with much the same problems. These lies we tell ourselves have caused many to believe that the answer to our current violent epidemic is the SOE and mass state violence against criminals, but any true historical analysis will tell us that it was precisely those measures used in the 70s (to nip the mass violence in the bud) led to a mass proliferation of violence and death.

The lies we tell ourselves allow us to believe that mere economic liberalism will see us succeed, but the past (namely the 80s) shows us that direct route to poverty. When will those in control realise that regardless of what one thinks of the historical actions or actors, unless and until the whole truth is told then we are literally condemning ourselves to a future of self-harm and repeating destructive behaviours of the past? We need to realise that by lying to ourselves we are actually hurting ourselves in ways we can’t begin to fathom.

If we get the truth we can then actually start finding solutions which will actually work rather than acting as a band-aid on a six-inch wound. Why is it for example, that we have such a high rate of squatting and persons without land titles? Is it simply because people are lazy or that politicians in a cynical ploy were only looking votes? Those are the lies we tell ourselves about that situation and as such the remedies we employ constantly fail in spectacular fashion. If we accept the truth that the squatters and title less are the descendants of emancipated landless slaves, then solutions become more realistic. They become even more realistic with the historical truth because persons in the past offered solutions (such as Bogle and Gordon during the Morant Bay massacre).

If we go in with the lie that one side is simply dirty communists not able to control the purse strings while the other merely represents the plantocracy and industrial elites then, of course, the nation is going to suffer as the lie takes root. If the truth is told, that in fact post-independence the capitalists wanted to borrow and spend hard but were reined in by the dastardly spendthrift reds. The lie we tell ourselves is that the two parties, if only they got along, could bring the country through the rough times as they house our best and brightest. But if we get the whole unfiltered truth, we find that but for a brief period (and we all know that period) the two parties have been working hand in hand to both enrich themselves and destroy the nation’s fabric.

Persons in power don’t want to hear these truths even though they are the first ones to holler and cry out for change. Persons without power know the truth as it is passed down through the ancient art of storytelling and reasoning with the elders. They know the history we have been taught is garbage and they more than many know the truth (even if it is fragmented), unfortunately, they don’t hold the power and as such we find ourselves doing the 60s all over again (booming economy and lots of poor people in crap jobs) and possibly reaping the same consequences.

Bob Marley said it best, ‘tell the children the truth’, and it remains the case. We need to tell the truth about our history, and not only so the ‘common man’ can better understand it but in order to hold people accountable and stop the metaphorical haemorrhaging taking place in the nation. The best doctor in the world with all the latest machines and medicines will kill the patient if no accurate patient history is given and it is the same thing with countries and their national histories. Everybody and every nation has their sacred cows and icons but the second one starts lying about past events or why past events took place then there is no way to realistically fix the problem. Germany believed the lie that the war could have been won but for the dastardly Jews, and that lie in no small part led to the extermination of countless of millions, it is a lie which if not told and propagated would have made life hard for the Nazis as it relates to assuming power. History is power, it in many ways shapes the future, until we get to grips with our long, storied and yes, dark history (especially post-independence) not one thing will change and like blind moles, we will continue to aimlessly try and claw our way to progress.

A coffee coloured world alone won’t save us

A coffee coloured world alone won’t save us

The melting pot and a coffee coloured world, dreamy words reminiscent of the 60s, a mantra held by many who believe that through integration and cultural melding the world will become a better place. It is a lovely sentiment, one which I’m sure the majority of the world hopes for, unfortunately, that is not the reality and the truth is a coffee coloured world alone is no guarantee against evil, racism, oppression and other ills based on human differences. The unspoken truth is that a homogeneous country or world is equally apt to create forms of discrimination against the ‘others’ that eventually will be found.

A coffee coloured world will not solve anything and would in itself not be a paradise, in fact, we need not make up examples but can look at the world as is. The most coffee coloured country in the world is Brazil. This nation with its mixture of Amerindian, European, East Asian and African peoples has the highest proportion of mixed people. Almost everyone in that nation, no matter how white can trace some mixed blood in their lineage. This is also the nation which has elected the outrageously racist Bolsonaro who rails against the Amerindian population and uses not so subtle language to demonise blacks.

Brazil is also a land of immense violence and poverty, a land stalked by corruption and inept crony governors.  This coffee coloured land which exists, in reality, is in fact no better and no worse than what we currently have elsewhere and is probably a true reflection of what those lovely but naïve dreams would look like. The real world shows us that what is needed is more than looking like each other, rather what is needed is for us to look out for each other. What is needed is not mere melanin similarity but communal solidarity.

Communal solidarity and a sense of society, that is what is needed, but that is what seems to be mostly absent when these starry-eyed dreamers speak of a coffee coloured world.

Why is this, why is it that we hope for some quick fix or a utopia where our troubles will all melt away? Part of it is the longing for homogeneity, for sameness, something we all have, but part of it I think is that while we long for similarity and sameness we also battle the desire to let loose the individual and one up each other. We feel that if we look the same we won’t be as selfish but can still be a bit selfish. If we are all similar it is, they think harder to hold prejudices on ethnic grounds which they believe are at the centre of our troubles, but then the issue of who wields power (class) exists and is not touched.

A coffee coloured world alone won’t save us, we need to also tackle the hierarchy issue in all their forms. This means class, gender, sexuality, religion, issues which are not touched on when persons speak of this utopian world. Rather than striving for this goal which in the end would achieve nothing in and of itself, we should be looking to deal with the previously listed issues. An end of classism and religious animosity would, in the end, lead to this coffee coloured world dreamt of.

A world where a woman is free to make her own decisions (sexual and all) is one marching towards coffee colour. A world where the place of birth is utterly insignificant is a world heading towards coffee colour. Truth be told, until human rights, justice and egalitarianism are the norm the dream of a coffee coloured world is one which is doomed to end like Brazil or Israel, homogenous but still oppressive as hell and most open to reactionary policies.

Brazil and Israel, homogeneous in their own different ways (one ethnically and the other ethnoreligiously) are living proof that sameness alone is not enough. Brazil with its deeply ingrained classism (mixed with racism as many try to flee from their African and Amerindian roots) and patriarchy has historically and continues today to be a leader in violence and oppression against its own people. Israel is constantly paranoid about the ‘demographic threat’ posed by the Arab-Israelis (who are almost always Muslim) and has never been afraid to use brute force to keep demographics in check. Amongst the Jewish population animosity and oppression is meted out to the Russian emigres by the Ashkenazi’s and the non-military serving ultra-orthodox.

Let’s aim for a just society before we start dreaming of a homogeneous society, let us think of a society where the other is treated as the same before, we dream of a world of bland sameness. Let us aim for a world where the stigma of class is abolished before we aim for a world where we all look the same. To aim for homogeneity and not justice and equality is a world similar to ours today and as such not one we should be aiming for. Think big, dream big and aim for a truly changed world, don’t aim for the same world with mere (literal) cosmetic changes.