Letters — 27 October 2015
Colonial mentality Part 1

23 October, 2015

Dear Editor Amandala,

In these remaining days before the November 4 general elections, it is worth noting, despite calls of “power to the people,” that it is a colonial mentality that has been driving Belizean political leadership. The fallout is erosion of national consciousness, nationhood, Belizean unity, self-determination and quality of life for the masses. Colonial mentality is upheld where there’s no revolutionary spirit, no drive for rooting out the cause of the people’s distress, no real transformation in which the leadership commits to follow the aspirations of the people for a total move away from the colonial order of business to nationalization and nationhood. Nationalization is by definition revolutionary: it is the organizing of the state on the basis of new social relations.

The colonial way, the old social relation, is dressed up in a cloak of paternalism. This is an effort to pass off what would otherwise be called straight-out violation of human rights and human dignity as acts of caring for the people who are deemed incapable of thinking or of taking care of themselves; in short, idiots and imbeciles. The colonial way is condescending; comes from a superior attitude. The campaign party atmosphere since the announcement of early elections, the home delivery of gift bags and the various handouts, conjures up for this writer the image of slaveholders’ occasional benevolence to their slaves to assuage their misery just enough to make them not think about the reality of their situation. It’s a strategy to keep the masses off balance and dependent. It’s a move to cement power.

What we have witnessed in Belize is a homegrown bourgeoisie, in class only, which took over power from the colonial masters, getting its hands on the positions and privileges it inherited from the colonial period and using those to its own advantage – to accumulate the capital characteristic of a genuine bourgeoisie. It picked up where the colonial masters left off in its relationship with the people. They are the lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, high-ranking civil servants, the businessmen, agents, dealers, tradesmen, landowners and their various associates and from whose ranks the political leaders emerge.

These leaders have kept some of the language of nationhood but an empty shell of the notion of nationalization. Nationalization is not a takeover, not of the people’s minds and aspirations, not of the people’s dignity and power, and in Belize’s case not even of the businesses and firms previously held by the colonialists, or at this point in time, the neocolonialists. Taking over the latter’s businesses can set off a backlash because the country’s economic clout is zero. Belize does not have the material and financial means and adequate intellectual resources such as engineers and technicians and must turn to the very former colonialist or would-be neocolonialist. Moreover, much of what is taking place in Belize at ground level today is through foreign-funded NGO’s, foreign grants and loans, United Nations funding, etc.

The irony is that it is the leadership that is incapable. When questioned on their economic agenda for the nation they are incapable of giving a well thought-out answer. In fact, they seem clueless, to be playing it by ear. Their idea of a national economy is one based on consumerism, export of raw materials and local products, cottage industry and tourism; not creativity, not invention, not re-investment of capital, not industries and factories for finished goods. Whatever economy existed in pre-independent Belize developed outside of its control. Nationalization is putting control of the economy and the land in the hands of the nation, the people; putting in place the machinery of development. Instead, the leadership has assumed the role of facilitator and manager for companies and business enterprises of the West, and the Far East in recent years, getting considerable help from them. They continue to turn the country into a playground for the decadent West, tourists seeking eroticism and the exotic–jungle expeditions, deep sea diving and fishing and casinos in new and faraway places.

Because it is self-serving, cut off from the people, lacking in ideas, lacking foresight, this bourgeois (read “neocolonial”) leadership has come up short in evaluating issues on the basis of the nation as a whole, come up short in fostering national consciousness and unity, self-determination and nationhood.


Beryl Young

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