Features — 10 February 2018
If you aren’t rich, you should be socialist

Agriculture as the chief means of making a livelihood in British Honduras has not yet been forced upon the people. For the present, thanks to the demands made by the American market for our woods, the country is seeing a return of comparative prosperity. But the evil day will come, and only the more surely because it is put off for a time. The forests are being denuded…no provision is being made by the enforced planting of trees to replace…

Almost all our eggs are, as Governor Moloney worded it, in one basket. When this basket breaks, there will be a return to the evil day of 1901 – emigration to Spanish Honduras, to Yucatan and even to Guatemala will set in, and homes in Belize will be broken up.

The writer proposes that Agriculture is the future, and that it should be done cooperatively, as suggested by Pope Leo XIII, because only so can small farmers have a chance against capital and trusts. Only that way can farmers get a “due return for their labour.”

( – from The Clarion, dated Thursday, January 21, 1904 – weekly newspaper published in Belize from 1897 to 1961; editor Hon. P. Stanley Woods)

One hundred plus years after the article (from which the above excerpt was taken) appeared in The Clarion, the view expressed on “socialism” still holds true. People who don’t have capital must pool their resources with others of like situation so they can acquire the technology and the material to compete with people who have it. People who don’t have capital who insist on going it alone, greatly reduce their chances to succeed.

Pope Leo XIII, the author of the celebrated encyclical work, Rerum Novarum (published in 1891), is the inspiration behind the 1904 vision in The Clarion. According to the Wikipedia, Pope Leo XIII “was greatly influenced by Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, a German bishop who openly propagated siding with the suffering working classes in his book Die Arbeiterfrage und das Christentum.” (Ketteler published his book in 1863)

The Wikipedia says that the Rerum Novarum “addressed social inequality and social justice issues with Papal authority, focusing on the rights and duties of capital and labor … Since Leo XIII, Papal teachings have expanded on the rights and obligations of workers and the limitations of private property.”

It is not impossible that the aggressive Rerum Novarum was an attempt by the Catholics to steer the world away from a total fall into communism. The world – before I go on, please to remember that we people of color were mostly bystanders during this time on earth (the 1800’s). Africa and the Americas had fallen to, and were near 100% under the control of, the savage Europeans – yes, the world at that time was a very difficult place for labor.

The world was ripe for workers to revolt, violently, when Ketteler published his Die Arbeiterfrage und das Christentum in 1863, a little over a decade after Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto (1848). The first volume of Marx’s most famous work, Das Kapital, was published in 1867. The communist bible would bear fruit in 1917, with the Russian Revolution.

The Catholics were not about going so far over to the left, but their hearts surely were with labor, and stability. Pope Leo XIII saw failure in both capitalism and communism. In the Rerum Novarum, he “outlined the rights of workers to a fair wage, safe working conditions, and the formation of labor unions, while affirming the rights of property and free enterprise, opposing both atheistic Marxism and laissez-faire capitalism,” the Wikipedia says.

The idea of poor people pooling their resources to form capital is well elucidated in The History of the Credit Union Movement (ccultt.org/site/historical-background) … as traditional agrarian economies gave way to the onrush of intense industrialization (late 18th and early 19th century), many groups found themselves in a continuous struggle against loss of earnings brought about by the utilization of machinery instead of traditional artisan skills.

Between 1832 and 1854, the Chartist movement attempted to articulate on behalf of the diverse groups of factory workers and craftsmen. On the economic level, each of these groups was concerned about the profit-oriented and individualism of capitalism; the usurious business practices that these engendered and the low wages and long hours at the factories and work houses.

In attempting to unite weavers, craftsmen and the unemployed into a consciousness of their distinction and power as a labouring class, the Chartist movement developed … a new type of co-operative institution, preaching the philosophy of self-help and independence…

The first such organization was officially born in Rochdale, Manchester, in 1844. Here, Robert Owen, an Englishman and a Chartist, inspired a few unemployed weavers of Rochdale to save some 28 pounds out of their few pennies to start the first consumer co-operative. This took the form of a store in which the members bought shares to raise capital and purchase goods to sell themselves at fair price.

The co-operative concept quickly spread through Europe during the 1840s. In 1850, a German Civil Servant, Herman Schluze Delitzch, established the first Co-operative Credit Union Society, creating the prototype for what later came to be known as, “The People’s Bank”. In 1864, another German, Friedreich Wilhelm Raiffaisen, established the first Credit Union.

Thomas Malcolm Milne, a devout member of the local Catholic Church laity, was responsible for introducing Credit Unions into Trinidad and Tobago at around 1942.

Belize’s Holy Redeemer Credit Union website says that their institution was established by Fr. Henry Sutti, S.J. in May 1944.

Hmm, it took me a while to get to where I launch my thoughts about socialism (cooperatives, credit unions) in Belize, so I’ll put those thoughts on hold until next Tuesday, breath (in my body), ink (in my pen), and space (in the newspaper) still aplenty, of course. See, I have a couple other stones on my “to hib list”, the primary one to sling being at those dangerous Armageddonists that we met in the story, “How Christian Zionists got their man into the White House” (see last Friday’s Amandala). You know they don’t hold back when they have liks to troa.

If they’re serious about 1,000 years peace

Anyone who is serious about a thousand years peace should be looking to Baha’u’llah, not Armageddon. If it’s Armageddon there’ll be peace, alright. It will be so peaceful no one will know it.

The Evangelicals (Christian Zionists) are tired of waiting for the return of the Christ. In their minds He is beginning to lose some of His luster, because of His staying away so long. They point to children of this generation being disillusioned with the Christian church. They notice their children becoming tolerant, even embracing the gay lifestyle. They see these things and they’re getting real antsy.

We really must not lose sight, stray from the reality that people who call themselves Evangelicals are not people who take Christ wholesale like they take Moses. They are not too comfortable with any “turn the other cheek” and any “go and sin no more” business. These are people who like the smell of blood.

They want to force Jesus’ return. (See the story by Morgan Strong, “How Christian Zionists got their man into the White House” (an excerpt in Amandala #3152))

Ha, similar to the Jews’ rejection and murder of Jesus, they reject Baha’u’llah. As the Bahai’s will tell them, Jesus don kom bak aredi. And they can show you enough prophecies (at least 13) that were fulfilled. (Read biblepropheciesfulfilledbybahaullah.blogspot.com)

And there’s this. Baha’u’llah claims membership to the Abrahamic line through Abraham’s third wife, Keturah. Really, who better to put an end to the interminable quarrel between Isaac and Ishmael, the bad blood between Sarah and Hagar, than one of their faamli?

Please, if we are seriously looking for a thousand years peace on earth we shouldn’t be looking for more war.

The meaning of abstain

There are people who are not church people who say that Belize, if we couldn’t vote yes on the move by the new US government to complete the displacement of the Palestinian people, that we should have abstained. There is this famous instance when Jesus pushed what appears to be an abstain button. That is the time when He said, “Render unto Caesar what is his”, mas o menos.

In this instance, Jesus was being asked to opine on the relationship between a subjugated people (the Jews) and a ruling people (the Romans). This is a political question put to a man who insisted from the time He came into His ministry, that His kingdom was not of this world. Jesus’ abstention in this instance doesn’t apply. (NOTE: Jesus’ followers are called to action because they are definitely of this place we call earth)

The response of the very disappointing Cain when God asked him where his brother was (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”) applies to the US/Israel Jerusalem matter. There are countries which didn’t vote for apartheid to end in South Africa. They abstained. What did abstain mean in that situation? It meant, let Mandela rot in prison, carry on business as usual.

If I were Jimmy Carter, and Belize had played the abstain game, I would have been very disappointed. Belize came into existence as a nation because countries DIDN’T abstain.

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Deshawn Swasey

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