In our part of the world, capitalism has been linked with God and Christianity. One reason for this is that the leading theorists and proponents of communism, the antithesis to capitalism in the first half of the twentieth century – Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, et alii – were outright atheists. They believed, in the words of Marx, that religion was the opium of the oppressed masses and that belief in God served no useful purpose. Capitalism, which had brought slavery and colonialism to Africa and America, was able to project itself in the said Africa and America as the defender of God and religion because its most important philosophical opponents were so completely opposed to God and religion.
The natives in Africa and America who were victimized by the European conquest more than five hundred years ago, in the main had been engaging in various kinds of spiritual rituals and ceremonies as a relevant part of their lives. Africans and Americans, then, were religious peoples. European conquest also took place in Asia, but in this newspaper we usually focus on the European conquest’s effects on Africa and America, because Africa and America are from whence the vast majority of our Belizean citizens are derived.
The philosophy of capitalism, which produced the enslavement and colonization of indigenous Africans and Americans, was and is a philosophy which believes in raw human competition to the point where predatory instincts and behavior are tolerated, even encouraged. By its very nature, capitalism is hostile to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as we have read and interpreted those teachings in the New Testament. Christ taught that we are our brother’s keeper: capitalism teaches that our brother mostly exists in order to enrich us.
But, as we have said, capitalism was able to co-exist with Christian churches in capitalism’s slavery and colonialism days. In the beginning, this was because the capitalists, in their capacities of slavemasters and colonizers, absolutely had all the power over indigenous Africans and Americans, and this is how they structured their slave and colonial societies. You worked and were exploited during the week, and on Sunday you prayed for better on earth and for eternal salvation in one of the Christian churches sanctioned by the slavemasters and colonizers.
After the Europeans “refined” slavery and reduced its brutality in a new system called colonialism, the first half of the twentieth century brought two so-called world wars which featured those European colonizers fighting amongst themselves for control of the world’s natural resources. It was during the said first half of the twentieth century that atheistic communism experienced its first spectacular successes in Russia in 1917 and in China in 1949.
When slavery was “refined” and its brutality reduced in the colonial system which ruled Africa and America in the beginning of the twentieth century, Christian religions, which had built most of the schools in the colonies, reached the height of their acceptance by native Africans and Americans. Native suffering under colonialism, as opposed to slavery, was perhaps more mental than physical. Technically, natives were free to move about under colonialism, the slavery chains were off their feet, but it was difficult to find a decent, dignified job, so mental frustration and apathy became the hallmarks of colonialism.
The bottom line was that after the two world wars and the first half of the twentieth century, after Russia had become communist in 1917 and India had become independent of colonialism in 1947 and China had gone communist in 1949, colonized, colored peoples all over planet earth began to fight against colonialism. In British Honduras, our colonial masters were British, and our religions were Christian. We Belizeans began to fight British colonialism in 1950. And, like almost everyone else, we ended up achieving political independence.
In independent Belize today, capitalism and Christianity remain in full effect. Belize’s is a bastard capitalism, we submit, because it is controlled by cartels in key areas of the economy. Prices are set by the cartels, so that the benefits of business competition which should accrue to the consumer public, are reduced because of cartel conspiracy. In an area like media, it is clear that there are entities involved in the media market place which are subsidized by special interests such as political parties, foreign-controlled religions, and billionaire capitalists. The market is skewed because the competitive reality of a pure Belizean capitalism is not really in effect. The intention is to drive the authentic, indigenous voices out of the media, whereupon the media game would change. Belize has seen how this worked in the chicken and egg business, which was a completely native field fifty years ago. The prices for these commodities were artificially reduced until the small farm natives fell out of the business. Once control and dominance were established by the predatory capitalists, prices shot up countrywide.
Communism has not been an attractive philosophy in Belize, because the majority of our people are God-fearing. Capitalism in Belize in the post-colonial era has, then, essentially gotten a free ride. The result of this is that there has been no kind of economic liberation in Belize, and what our productive activities in Belize do is enrich those capitalists who control the international markets instead of developing the economy of Belize. Recently we have seen this play out in the case of our two most important agricultural products – citrus and sugar.
Europe, to repeat, introduced Christianity into Africa and America over five centuries ago. In 2013 Belize, European and neo-European capitalism still controls our Christianity, in all its denominational diversity.
Presently there is a split in Belizean Christianity over the UNIBAM and other gender issues, but that dispute has no bearing on financial and economic issues. Unless we Belizeans liberate ourselves religiously by practicing a Christianity which is not controlled by European and neo-European capitalism, then we have no hope of liberation.
As things stand, the European and neo-European capitalists, through their control of religion, have convinced us that our immortal souls are more important than our physical needs. It is for this reason that some Christians can look at the daily human suffering of our Belizean brothers and sisters, and seemingly discount this in the eternal scheme of soulful things. Christianity here has become an apology for a status quo where we Belizeans remain exploited, and worse, marginalized.
Power to the people.