“The recent fundamentalist Christian Church – especially in the American South – has identified sinning largely with sins of the flesh – especially sexual sins – though excessive drinking and drug-taking feature in there as well. The Catholic Church has also been in the sin-as-sex business for quite a long time. Whatever the intent, the effect has been to divert attention from money sins to sexual ones. But neither Washington Irving nor Charles Dickens are having any of that. Both Tom Walker and Ebenezer Scrooge are sexually abstemious: their sins are entirely due to the worship of Mammon, he of the golden calf.”
– pg. 97, PAYBACK, by Margaret Atwood, House of Anansi Press, 2008
First Caribbean International Bank used to be Barclays Bank. It was established by two brothers, David and Alexander Barclay, who made their money in the slave trade. What’s the point? Capitalism changes its brands in order to create new images of itself. The philosophy of capitalism itself became “free trade,” privatization,” and “globalization” over the last two decades.
Capitalism was once known as “racism,” “colonialism,” and “imperialism.” This was during the era after World War II when the people of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean were rising up against the said racism, colonialism, and imperialism, and in the United Nations the white supremacist nations of the world, such as Belgium, were scurrying to change their brands. In seeking to change its brand, Belgium hastily gave the Belgian Congo independence in 1960. But Belgium had no intention of giving up the mineral riches of the Congo. This is capitalism. Capitalism does not care about people. Capitalism only cares about money, profits.
In the United States, multimillionaire and billionaire individuals and corporations have poured money into evangelical churches in order to glorify capitalism and material riches. Some of these churches have become foreign policy weapons of the business and industrial section of the American government when they enter poor, Third World countries like Belize and set up shop as if all they are interested in is saving souls.
Some American-financed evangelical churches open radio and television stations in countries like Belize in order to preach Christianity. But, they have a hidden agenda: that agenda involves the protection and glorification of unfettered capitalism, the same capitalism which was responsible for white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism.
The fact of the matter is that in Belize the masses of our people are experiencing socio-economic problems. In 1950, our Belizean leaders rebelled because they understood that British racism, colonialism, and imperialism were responsible for the plight of the Belizean masses. The Belizean people had been working for centuries, but the wealth generated was exported to Great Britain – the colonial masters. The Queen of England was riding in a golden chariot, while the people of Belize, her loyal subjects, stored their feces overnight in their homes in white buckets.
If you believe that all men are created equal and in the image and likeness of God, then you must condemn white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism. But if you believe that some people are entitled to be rich while others deserve to be poor, then you become an apologist for that aforementioned capitalism which changed its brand from racism, colonialism, and imperialism to free trade, privatization, and globalization.
Don’t bring Jesus into this economic discourse. The big evangelical Christian preachers, like Pat Robertson, are in the service of white supremacy and neoliberal capitalism. Robertson publicly called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the democratically-elected president of Venezuela. On his radio and television broadcasts, Robertson claimed that Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake a few years ago because the first Haitian revolutionary leader, Dutty Boukman, had his followers swear a voodoo oath when they began their rebellion against French slavery in 1791. There are Belizeans who swear by Pat Robertson. (Some used to swear by Jimmy Swaggart.) Some of these Belizeans have slave ancestors. We see a contradiction here.
Whatever you see as the socio-economic status quo in Belize is a status quo which is the product of the capitalist system which has existed in Belize from foundation. There was one time in the 1970s when Premier George Price attempted to control rapacious capitalism with something he called the “mixed economy.” But before he lost power in 1984, Mr. Price, under pressure, was yielding to capitalism. None of the three Prime Ministers afterwards have dared to question or confine capitalism in Belize.
The present Dean Barrow government is a capitalist government, one which has sponsored a few welfare programs. The Barrow government nationalized the telecommunications company because its British owner was refusing to pay taxes, and the Barrow government nationalized Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) because the Canadian owners said they were going into bankruptcy. That same Canadian corporation – Fortis, however, held tightly on to BECOL, the hydroelectric dam-owning company where the real profits are. Otherwise from that, check out American Sugar Refining, Green Tropic, Banks of Barbados, Norwegian Cruise Line, U.S. Capital Energy, and all the oil companies. Washington knows that this Belize government is a capitalist government.
Capitalism and its Christian apologists can take credit for anything good that exists in Belize. They must, on the other hand, take responsibility for all that is bad here, especially the violence and carnage raging amongst Belize’s children and youth victims of white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism. Capitalism and Christianity rule in Belize. They can change brands and denominations as often as they wish. Yes, there are some Belizean and immigrant investors who have prospered. The many roots Belizeans have suffered. That is why Belizeans began fighting racism, colonialism and imperialism in 1950. This newspaper continues that fight, come hell or come high water.
Power to the people.