Editorial — 05 July 2011
All men (and women) are created equal, but as soon as they are created, they begin to become unequal. This is the real of things on planet earth. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the communist system dreamed of an utopian equality based on “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Communism was a philosophy which specifically tried to correct the gross and inhumane inequalities which had become characteristic of the industrial revolutions in European societies.
When societies become dominated by an elite few, and the masses, as a consequence, feel pain and suffering, societies experience revolutions. On Wall Street, they refer to “corrections” in the market, when the figures come back to earth after flying too high. It is always the case in unjust societies that the elite few at the top become corrupt and decadent. Sometimes, the sufferers rise from the bottom and correct such socio-economic situations. This is called revolution.
Belize is experiencing all kinds of turmoil presently, in large part because there is a fight between different development philosophies. Remember, Belize had problems becoming a nation-state, the biggest problem being the Guatemalan claim, and Belize did not become independent until 1981. Mexico and our neighboring Central American republics all became independent way back in 1821, while most of the Caribbean nations became independent in the 1960s. Haiti had become independent way back in 1804 after a successful slave rebellion. Cuba became independent in 1902. Belizean nationalism is fledgling: we’re still not sure where we are going, or how we’re going to get there.
You should understand that there are massively powerful forces in the world which pay scant attention to national borders. The Vatican, for instance, does not see the differences among nations. They only see their Roman Catholic faithful, spread all over. Wall Street does not see where one country ends and another begins. They only see financial opportunity, wherever and whenever it exists. So, the national pride which Belizeans are trying to nurture, is, to some extent, meaningful only to us, under the shade of the tree – sub umbra floreo.
There are Belizeans who see that they can make a lot of money facilitating global financiers in their exploitation of Belizean resources. Generally speaking, these Belizeans are intelligent, ambitious, and energetic people. They are also selfish. But, that selfishness does not matter in the worldly scheme of things. The worldly scheme of things features, as it was described in the Bible – wars and rumors of wars. Dog eat dog. The strong survive.
Belizean nationalism is young, and Belizean nationalism is weak. One of the reasons Belizean nationalism is weak is because of our many ethnic differences in Belize. But, we have been making steady progress “amalgamating.” The thing is that there are talented Belizean individuals who would have to sacrifice some of their self-aggrandizing if they were to practice real nationalism. That is why they subscribe to philosophies like globalization and privatization, philosophies which enable selfish native individuals to get rich, and quickly, off their own country.
Great inequality between the rich and the poor has historically contributed to instability in social systems. The native globalists, who care about themselves more than they do about their nation-state, argue that money and development have to come from outside Belize. If political conditions are created which cater for foreign investment, they argue, Belize will become wealthy and the people of Belize will become prosperous. This is a fallacy. Unfortunately, students in Belizean schools are not taught about the Mexican Revolution and the Porfiriato which preceded and sparked it. Between 1884 and 1910, the Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz did everything in his power to facilitate foreign investment in Mexico. A few Mexicans became very wealthy. The people of Mexico were the sacrifice. So, the people made a revolution. They corrected things.
In Belize, we had the local equivalent of a Porfiriato between 1998 and 2004. Belize, however, did not experience a revolution, because a partial correction was made inside the Porfiriato itself. Because that correction was not complete, the people removed the Porfiriato in 2008, by ballots instead of bullets.
Now, there are Belizeans who want to bring back the Porfiriato, with a different face. We don’t think they will be able to fool Belizeans, but we don’t know the future. What we believe is that government exists to provide a modicum of protection for the poor and powerless from the rich and famous. The rich and famous don’t need governments to assist them. It seems logical to us that any government of Belize must have as its first priority the welfare of the people of Belize. We have already seen the local Porfiriato. Just like the original one in Mexico, it didn’t work.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.