Jamaica seems 'principled out'!

Alexander Scott

Sunday, February 11, 2018

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Recently , with Jamaica conferring honours upon the president of the nation that practises open and blatant racist policies — the Dominican Republic — and our 'fence-sitting' when it came to the recent United Nations vote on the US's stance on Jerusalem, people have asked how is it that a nation that gave us so many giants can now act like such a 'yes man'?

How is it, they ask, that the nation that was one of the first to spit in the face of Apartheid, to snub the US embargo on Cuba, that poo-pooed the International Monetary Fund, and embraced the Third World and partook in all its struggles can now become such a tool? What of pride? What of principle?

It is my theory that Jamaica is principled out, that we (our political masters and their sycophants) are weary and beaten and no longer have the stomach for principle. Principle and pride, though similar, are words that actually give off a totally different meaning and will lead one to do different things. And that is something that we must understand. Because I think when we look at recent Jamaican activities, when it comes to global events, we come up wanting.

Principle is defined as a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning, while pride is defined as consciousness of one's own dignity, and it is with these two definitions we can fully understand why the Government and both political parties have acted in the ways that they have.

We have had a long history of standing on principle, having a fundamental truth that we would not move from; a red line that we would not cross, so to speak. In the 70s, for example, both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and People's National Party (PNP) took principled political positions. The PNP, whether you liked it or not, took a principled left-wing position in a time and climate when such a position came with stiff costs, the JLP, on the other hand, whether you liked it or not, took a principled centre-right stance — again in a time and climate when such ideas came at a cost. These principles led to what was our mini civil war. These principles have, in a major way, led to the proliferation of guns and gangs and as such we, some 45 years since these parties made these principled stances, are still paying the bill. The bill, in this case, is the rampant crime/murder issue that we have, whose genesis can be directly linked to the principled stance which both parties took.

Economically, we have also been footing the bill. It is well known that whether by accident or design — I leave it up to you to decide — loans and grants from international agencies and governments come with strings attached. And for many a decade both parties took principled stances and had certain red lines. Edward Seaga, for example, kept the bauxite levy — this after insisting that such a thing would be the beachhead for communism — and as such major investors have been wary to deal with Jamaica because, on principle, we wouldn't go cheaply (Note that even the free zone workers, who were paid a pittance, were well paid by the standards of similar workers in other countries.)

Times, however, have changed, and we have ditched our principled stance for one of pure pride, thinking way too highly of ourselves if you will. Now we have a Government and two parties that will do anything for the perceived 'good life'. Now we have a Government that simply has no moral compass or overarching principle. How, for example, can one square the circle that is Jamaica conferring honours on the president of the Dominican Republic? Simple, we need them financially, with Jamaica Producers having a major interest there, with Dominican Republic being a major money spinner for a merchant bank, and with countless local businesses salivating at the Dominican Republic market, it becomes painfully apparent that the cash has become more important than the principle; that pride has replaced the principle of racial solidarity.

The case with the UN vote is even sadder when one truly examines what has gone on. The vote to abstain — which is just as bad as a vote against the motion — is explained in many sectors with the logic that the US didn't want us to vote for this; the US was 'taking names', as it were, for its bad book; and the US is going to economically hurt those who went with the motion.

Another reason given is that the Palestinian issue is not our problem, not affecting us, and therefore we shouldn't bother getting involved as we have our own issues. That is pride, nothing more and nothing less than pure disgusting pride, and to hear and read Jamaicans saying things like that is stomach-churning. With that logic, where would South Africa be now. Because using that logic no European nation, no Latin American nation and no North American nation would have called for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that was a key nail in the coffin of the apartheid machine? Lest we forget, Europe and North America had little to gain, and a lot to lose ,(especially economically) by supporting this BDS for black people in a continent no one really cared about. With that logic, we should stop this insisting on reparation for slavery, for why would Asia, etc, support such a move that would hamper relations with economic partners? Why should they care, as it isn't and wasn't their problem?

The truth is, the last semi-principled thing Jamaican politicians did was extremely costly to the nation. For one reason (I don't for a minute think it was the primary or even the fifth reason, but still a reason) why former Prime Minister Bruce Golding was hesitant to give up Christopher “Dudus” Coke was on principle. And we felt it. With at least 70 dead, with a party that totally collapsed and imploded at the following elections, and with a party that is still viewed with suspicion, it is easy to understand just why the Government is tired of principles and wants to save pride, take the easy way out, and survive.

Jamaica's two parties are prideful and have no real principles regarding foreign policy, and if they do have one it is that of prostituting us and our vote so we can eat the leftovers from the imperial banquet. The Third World has always had solidarity and love for Jamaica, and we have always punched above our weight, and this is just a further blow to Jamaica's already battered reputation.

We avoided the UN vote in order to help (or at least not harm) our ailing economy, and we confer honours upon racist presidents in order to secure our local companies; however, there is more to life than money and pride. When the history books are written we, in this case, will be on the wrong side, and not for any principled reason, not because we believe Israel is the home of Jews, or because the Dominican Republic is only white, but because we chose to put pride above all else.

Alexander Scott is a political and social commentator, legal clerk, sports enthusiast, and proud graduate of St George's College. Send comments to the Observer or alexanderwjscott90@gmail.com.



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