Author: Alexander Scott

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.

Leave the oil in the ground

Jamaica has struck oil, black gold, after many years of speculation and guessing it was confirmed earlier in the year that Jamaica does indeed have oil deposits which may be feasible enough to exploit. Normally this would be greeted by cheers of joy and delirium as we in this country continue to suffer under the yoke of exorbitant fuel costs and this oil could hypothetically be used to ease the burden on the budget. This would also be cause for celebration as the oil industry is both labour intensive, specialised and offers big bucks and would, therefore, lead to greater employment and higher incomes.

Normally this would be good news, 40 years ago this would have been excellent news unfortunately in the 21st century this news is useless and the idea of exploiting these deposits is masochistic and insane. The idea of extracting, refining and exporting of oil from Jamaica in this day and age is in my opinion and should be the opinion of the majority, not a good one when the pros and cons are weighed up especially since we see the cons so clearly.

The side of the pros is simple and easy to understand, jobs and money. This would be a windfall to the Jamaican economy and could transform us as it relates to shipping (fitting in neatly with the logistics hub). It is easy to be swayed by the promises of riches and persons showing you the current value of a barrel of oil (coupled with data that oil prices will go high and remain high) but to do that is to ignore the side of the cons which is longer and more impactful on the country.

It should not be news to anyone that the globe is heating up at alarming rates, nor should it be news that human activity is a key reason for this. Most people understand and accept that the use of oil and other fossil fuels exacerbates this global warming and as such countries have come together to try and combat this, one such way being the elimination of the use of fossil fuels. Why then would we even entertain the thought of bringing up this substance? Are we not signatories to these deals? Are we not impacted by this global warming phenomenon and therefore can go about our merry business?

This is a country which experiences droughts on a yearly basis, droughts which seem to be both longer and hotter. This is a nation which experiences storms in seasons when we never used to have them and storms when in season are more frequent and stronger. Both of these affect the nation and the economy in so many negative ways, ways oil couldn’t solve but would, in fact, be the perpetrator.

Leaving aside the impact on the climate, let us look at the impacts on the environment and the fact that everywhere oil companies have prospected and extracted has seen environmental degradation. Parts of Nigeria have been turned into virtual wastelands as oil spills happen and inept clean-up processes fail to catch all the sludge. The Gulf of Mexico and the fishermen there are still feeling the effects of the oil rig which blew out as fish stocks remain low and the underwater fauna struggles to recover from the damage. Parts of the Amazon have been totally destroyed as the search for and extraction of oil continues in that part of the world (and we haven’t even talked about the health impacts).

This is not even mentioning the facts that oil prospecting and drilling has the real potential to turn this already corrupt country into the poster boy of that dreadful art (see the oil curse). Further proof of the insanity of even thinking of this can be found in the new-fangled ways they have of extracting oil. Fracking, as is practised in parts of the US has led to the poisoning of water tables, sickness in the communities surrounding the operations and ecological damage. On top of this fracking also causes earthquakes, some minor and some major but always in the high dozens per year.

We need energy, but we don’t need it at all costs and we don’t need this type specifically, so why are we not having more of a national debate on the issue? Why have we not had serious debates about changing laws to make it easier for solar panels in houses? Why have we not had serious debates about hydro-electricity (we are after all the land of wood and water)? Why have we not looked seriously into bio-waste energy and energy derived from plants (corn or sugar)? Why are we so insistent on utilising this product which will only bring harm to us in the long run (even if we personally don’t use the oil), a harm which the little benefits will not be able to cover?

There should be no debate, the oil should stay in the ground and we should start thinking about alternative energy sources to power our country. We don’t need the drama, both short term and long term which comes along with oil, we need to focus on fixing our environment which has been damaged and preparing for the future impacts of climate change.

The fact is the exploiting of this oil will be a retrograde step especially as nations have set concrete deadlines on the elimination of gasoline. We should not think about it, pretend it is not there and actively seek alternative energy sources, to use this deadly asset will only come back to haunt us in the not too distant future.

Don’t insult the mob, it’s the only thing that will save us

Who is the mob? This may sound like a silly question so for clarity I do not mean organised crime, what I mean is who or what is this mob people speak of and which constantly pops up throughout history? If we are to believe the illustrious historians of past and present the mob is a bad thing, the mob, this amorphous thing is made up of the dregs of society who only wish to bring ruin and destruction. This is the image of the mob, rancorous, unstable and fickle, persons such as Plato, Cicero, Gibbon and Churchill have all depicted the mob in this light and this image has stuck into the 21st century it seems.

This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth and it is my strong suspicion that those who spew this classist nonsense know this and that is why they double down with their demeaning behaviour and language. The mobs spoken of in the days of Plato were (wait for it) the Democrats, who were pushing for a democracy as opposed to an oligarchy which was then in power. The mob so ill spoken of was made up of Helots and Hoplites (slaves) who were seeking to remove the corrupt government and install a democracy in which all free men took part.

The same thing is seen with Cicero and gibbon, the mob they are so quick to condemn and make fun of were in fact made up of all the guilds in Rome. This mob again was pushing for greater inclusivity, their champion Julius Creaser empowered these people and as such he is remembered as a despot who cemented his power by bribing the easily fooled mob.

The mob Churchill writes about in his sick history of his time in govt etc were always people protesting the imperial yoke of the United Kingdom. The mob he speaks of is the people of British India, they are the bombed and gassed protesters in mandate Iraq demanding independence, they are the Mau-Mau in Kenya and they are our very own Frome protesters.

The mob in almost every recorded case is made up of the backbone of the society. It is made up of the middle class and the masses of urban and rural poor. The masses are made up of people such as OT Fairclough, St William Grant, heck at one point in time the mob consisted of Manley and Bustamante. The mob gave us the Russian revolution, the mob gave us the Haitian revolution and led the fight against apartheid. The mob in almost every case is formed in order to combat oppression or right a wrong which the state does not wish to remedy. That is the mob.

So why do we use the word as an insult? Why do persons deride these people and look to lump them as simpletons grouped together by a charismatic charlatan? The word is used in such barbed ways because persons know what the mob wants, and they are scared to death that the rest of society may listen to and agree with the mob. What does the mob want? The American founding fathers (who were as classist and elitist as it comes) called it levelling (see diggers and levellers), we in the modern days call it the destruction of class and class barriers. The mob wants self-rule, majority rule, justice and equality and that is why the mob is insulted and derided, that is why people hurl insults towards members of the mob.

Truth be told, any half-decent human being belongs to the mob or finds themselves in the mob at one point or another. Persons in power often times got there on the backs of the members of many a mob and as such know what they want and how dangerous they are to their new-found power. That is how you can then get a Hugh Shearer labour leader and mob member at times breaking up the Rodney riots and banning the man who embodied the wants of the mob.

If they label you a member of the mob or great unwashed wear it as a badge. Those who use those words as insults know where the power lies, and it does not lie with those in power. They insult and degrade us just as they did to the slaves because they are so scared that if the mob decides then those in power would very quickly find themselves with nothing but the shirts on their backs. Pay them no mind, don’t let their barbs get under your skin, remain with the mob, maintain the mob mentality which is, in the end, one single-minded determinedness to achieve a fixed goal. Be the mob which marched from Morant bay and be the mob which in 1938 won us universal adult suffrage and let them remain in their ivory towers because when they start bawling for justice, they will, in the end, turn their eyes us, the mob for help as they have always done.

Don’t blame China, blame local governments for the perceived bad deals

Jamaica has had a long history with colonialism and economic exploitation, be it slavery and the British or the neo-colonialism imposed by the US, Jamaica has had a horrid experience when dealing with outside powers. With that in mind, recently over the past decade, we have been hearing an ever-increasing warning that the Chinese who have been heavily investing in this country may have sinister motives and that we are blindly walking into a debt trap and neo-colonialism as seen in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

These seemingly paranoid persons have some sound arguments and in many ways are correct to sound the warning bell. The Chinese after all, do have deals in which part of the payment they receive is a parcel of prime land, and it is also true that in some cases where the host country can no longer manage the venture that the Chinese step in and legally seize the asset (be they ports or hydro-electric plants). The Chinese also as is readily evident have no problem making deals which are clearly one-sided or on the shady side but I think that these persons (who are doing a service by keeping us vigilant of a possible debt trap) are missing something which differentiates the Chinese and their practices from those of say the British in Argentina or the US in Central America.

The key thing here is that though the Chinese may negotiate one-sided deals if the chance arises, they will also re-negotiate said one-sided deal if the other nation so wishes. A matter of fact, most projects which are done by the Chinese are not borne out of the Chinese imagination but are simply funded and built by them. Example, the Chinese did not think up the proposed highway between Harbour View and Portland, but they are funding it and building it. If the highway is unprofitable or ends up being a white elephant that’s not on China, that is in fact on our local planners who would be responsible for China getting even more of our land as is the case in Sri Lanka.

Greece, while it was going through the depths of its economic trauma, sold many state assets (including ports) to foreigners, Chinese included. After SYRIZA swept to office their finance minister had a look at the contracts and realised that they were one-sided, and in a major way. After informing the Chinese counterparts that the deal was a no-go China re-negotiated the deal. Think about that, rather than sitting on a legal contract which gave them an unfair advantage in a key economic zone (economic imperialism) the Chinese chose to re-negotiate the deal to something more favourable to Greece.

That does not strike me as the kind of behaviour a budding empire would display, rather it would seem to be the kind of behaviour a businessman displays. You have something to sell, they want to buy it, let’s do a deal and if you don’t like it re-negotiate, that is a pattern seen in many countries where the Chinese have done business. The Chinese have renegotiated with Greece, Malaysia, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa and literally dozens more nations, so if they are willing to renegotiate these deals and shy away from economic imperialism what really is the problem?

There are two problems so far as I can see and both are rather disappointing when one really thinks about it. The first is that China, the PRC, governed by the party which gave us Mao and Deng is more than happy to do deals which are blatantly one-sided and at times engage in shady deals. This is disappointing because I would expect China to behave better as many nations and persons look to it as a beacon of third-world rags to riches and revolution and this behaviour tarnishes that reputation. The second factor which is most disappointing (if it does indeed pan out) is that our government or any for that matter wouldn’t attempt to re-negotiate these deals especially in light of the other nations who have.

The problem on the Chinese side is both out of our hands and being dealt with by the Chinese authorities (see the heightened and extended crackdown taking place now), what we need to do on our side, the side of the person taking the money, good, service or infrastructure is to ensure that the deals are made in a transparent way void of pork belly, and actively push to renegotiate deals which are potentially more harmful than beneficial. If we go about making deals in that manner, then it would be extremely difficult to end up in unfair deals or fearful of the debt trap while also enjoying much needed foreign infrastructure investment.

With the MOF recently coming out and stating that the debt owed to the Chinese should be repaid within a decade one can only hope that the GOJ continues to strike balanced deals with what can thus far be called a most reliable partner. This news, while it should be welcomed by those who have consistently warned against the debt trap should not be the end of it. They should remain vigilant, continue to warn against the very real dangers of the debt trap and ask for transparency with ALL contracts and deals done with foreign governments and companies and demand renegotiations of the deals when/if they are found to be to our detriment.

So make the deals where we have to and ensure vigilance, that’s all we can and should be doing. Haranguing the Chinese for looking out for their own is pointless and condemning our government without demanding renegotiations is fruitless. Let’s aim for that as we seek to finally upgrade the country in ways it hasn’t been for some time.