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Of cads and Cromwell

EditorialOf cads and Cromwell

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-Paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea …
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England …
– John of Gaunt in Act II, scene I of RICHARD II

The working basis of parliamentary government in Belize is a lie, and that lie involves Cabinet members who swear that they are honest, working along with and testifying for Cabinet members whom they and many members of the public know to be criminal in their intent and in their behavior.

The basis of the legal system in Belize is a lie, and that lie involves trained counsel using all their skill to have citizens they know to have committed criminal acts, be released into the society as free, exonerated men/women without being punished for their evil deeds.

The legal system in its operations exposes the fact that, despite its portrayal of itself as impartial through the metaphor of the blind lady holding the scale of justice, the legal system is unequal and unjust in its decision making. The inequality and injustice are derived primarily from financial realities. Some accused cannot afford an attorney to defend them: they are doomed. Those accused who are wealthy can afford attorneys who are so skillful that it is functionally impossible to convict them, and when there is such a thing as a conviction phenomenon in their matters, these issues are resolved in their favor in higher courts of law. The rich become richer; the poor go to jail.

When we Belizeans began seeking and fighting for political independence, we did not really know the complex, core nature of our colonial masters’ society in Great Britain, and we knew even less of the history of our colonial masters. In the transition from colonial status to political independence, Belizeans adopted the machinery of government and administration which we had seen the British colonial masters use here in the first half of the twentieth century. In British society itself, however, there was more than machinery: there were unspoken, unwritten codes of conduct. In Britain, if you behaved like a cad, you did not always go to jail for behaving like a cad: the society merely treated you like a cad, ostracized you, and such a treatment was sometimes almost as bad as a jail sentence.

It is because Belizeans did not know of these unspoken, unwritten codes of conduct that when cads began to be elected to executive office, as a consequence of their roles in the organized political parties, we really did not know how you dealt with such people. Cads are filthy people, no matter how high the office they may hold, and filth is, needless to say, something we should avoid. Belizeans were confused when the first cad was identified in 1963; Belizeans didn’t know what to do. There was no provision in our collective consciousness to inform us what was to be done. We let the matter slide, and because behaving like a cad was so enriching financially, once we let it slide it was only a matter of time before there were cads all over us and all around us, and thus it was that our independence, when we finally achieved it, became a travesty and a failure.

The British, like the Germans and the French, were merely barbarian tribes a thousand years ago, and they fought with each other until kings and royal families began to emerge, along with a class of nobles. At first the king’s rule, supported by the Roman Church, was absolute, but then the nobles began to demand rights for themselves. Thus, the Magna Carta was framed in 1215. Families (or houses) continued fighting for royal power, and so by the latter part of the 1400s, there were civil wars in England, the Wars of the Roses, between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

Henry VIII, who ruled England in the first part of the 1500s, came out of the victorious House of Lancaster, and he was the one who first broke with the Roman Church, headed by the Pope of Italy, in the 1520s. Kings in Europe in those days were ruling by what they referred to as “divine right,” which is to say, the king declared and increased his moral authority, with the support of church leaders, by claiming that God blessed his kingly rule and made it righteous. The king ruled in the name of God. This was why, once Henry VIII broke from the Roman Church, he had to establish an Anglican Church so that he could continue arguing that God was on his side.

In her monumental reign from 1558 to 1603, Henry VIII’s daughter, Elizabeth I, sponsored pirates and slave traders whose criminal exploits on the high seas enriched England. As England began increasing in wealth, a strong middle class emerged which practiced a more evangelical religion than that of the Anglican Church, which Henry VIII had patterned off the Roman Church. Remember now, in 1517 a German priest by the name of Martin Luther had begun a roots rebellion against the Roman Church, a religious roots rebellion which spread all over Europe. In England, these religious rebels were called Puritans, and it was they who sailed to America in 1620 in the Mayflower to begin the colonizing thereof.

The middle class Puritans who remained in England were the ones who started the push for parliamentary government: at the height of their power in 1649, under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, they beheaded King Charles I. And so, Great Britain eventually ended up with a monarch who is the richest woman in the world, but who is a figurehead who must take orders from the British people as represented by their leaders elected to the House of Commons, the lower House of Parliament.

The bottom line in all this is the intense nationalism of the British people, their love of England and their empire, and their willingness to fight for their rights at home and their interests abroad. Respect, Great Britain; you must give respect. They do not tolerate cads, that is, cads being those Englishmen who would sacrifice their country for their personal, selfish interests. Cads are condemned in the motherland. Check stats.

In Belize, we had no such history. In confusion, we Belizeans began celebrating cads, cads who were the undesirable products of political parties, and it was in that climate that we achieved political independence in 1981. Because of the lies built into our system of government and administration, and in the absence of unwritten, unspoken codes of conduct, we Belizeans cannot punish our villains and traitors. This is a reality of our situation which you cannot deny. So, what are you going to do about it?

Power to the people. Power in the struggle.

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