The death of self-reliance
Back in the seventies the term self-relianc was used by the People’s National Party (PNP) as a political rallying cry.
Unfortunately, the result of politicising the term is that it has drummed out the true meaning. That being to be independent and not in need of foreign assistance or even trade.
Of course, it means more than that, but in the seventies it came to be associated with the communist doctrine of the time.
Now I get it. The seventies was a really negative part of out history. Yes. Good things happened, but no period that increases your murders by hundreds of percentages in eight years can be considered a positive period.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that every concept that was introduced was rubbish.
This is not to say I am making any excuses for the irresponsible conduct of the Government of the seventies and the Opposition.
Both were living examples of the type of erratic garbage that occurs when you allow young people to lead in totality.
Political leadership is for older, sounder and experienced minds blended with an interjection of youth. Not the other way around.
Notice that Prime Minister Andrew Holness didn’t kick all the old guard to the kerb. Maybe he learnt from the issues created by the party politics of the seventies.
Despite my obvious and often vocal criticism of the seventies politics and politicians, and the cancer of the culture of killing they birthed, I don’t condemn every aspect of the era, or the philosophies.
Self-reliance is one I believe in; being able to produce your own food, your own energy and to be able to manage your defence.
It is hard to achieve in a world of specialisation and open markets. Even the mighty United States relies on Asia and South America for its manufacturing.
However, I believe that as much as possible we must strive to achieve self-reliance.
So our food. Can we feed ourselves if we are cut off from the outside world? I don’t think so, but if we really tried I believe we could achieve it.
Our energy? That’s harder, but with solar power in abundance we could also achieve it. However, similar to our food, achieving self-reliance would have to be an ambition we work towards. That may not be the most economical solution in the short term.
Defence. Well, we think we are because you don’t see foreign armies here, but we are not remotely self-reliant in the defence of our nation and its citizens.
Our army officers are trained overseas, primarily England.
Our weaponry and ammunition is supplied only by the United States, and only if we do as we are told. They can cut us off in a minute.
Remember that era when we couldn’t get guns to buy and we had to buy ‘Tanfoglio’ pistols. Well, that was a period when the supply from North America was cut off.
Why is it so hard to envision a gun manufacturer operating out of Jamaica. I doubt it would be an American or European one, as that would make us harder to manage (rather like your teenagers buying their own car).
Brazil has gun companies. Why not encourage them to set up a factory here and we buy our armed forces’ guns from them?
I know what you’re about to say: “This could put more guns in the hands of criminals.”
This is a misnomer. Registered guns are never the problem. It’s unregistered weapons that are and they are flooding our country like illegal cigarettes.
Gun companies can control their manufactured stock. This is one thing they can do well. It’s when they sell it to the dealers that the rubbish starts, and not Jamaican dealers either.
We must also alter our conduct to align to our reality, not the reality of countries 100 times our size.
Why do we destroy some of the greatest weapons in the world that are recovered on our island, whilst many police officers carry rifles older than their wives.
Why do we have millions of recovered rounds of ammunition sitting in storage to include the Firearm Licensing Authority, whilst our police and army could use it to train?
Let me tell you a story. Many years ago during the eighties, I was working for a company, a large very profitable one by the standard of businesses of that era.
That entity had as a subsidiary, an enterprise that sold rocks with businesses cards embedded by some process into them. This was a novelty item that could be used as a paper weight.
They had a small staff of maybe six people, all with vaunted titles and responsibilities. I wondered as I saw them launching that it was a lot of structure for a few people selling rocks. Well, they didn’t last very long.
I sometimes view Jamaica in the same way. We are part of North America, politically speaking, and a proud member of the world community.
The fact that we associate with large countries doesn’t mean we are a large country. We are a small Caribbean country with a population of a small to medium-sized state in the United States of America. We have a smaller population than Iowa.
We cannot afford the many excesses that wealthy countries do, this to include having perfectly good recovered or seized cars rotting down for years, being stored for free whilst our police force struggles with mobilisation issues.
After a year, if not exhibits they should become State property.
Back to self-reliance. It didn’t work out so good when this concept was first introduced, I get it, but communism is dead on planet earth so we have nothing to worry about.
Totalitarianism still exists and where they have it, it works for them. I don’t like it for my country, but if it works for others I understand.
We need to reintroduce the concept of self-reliance. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us why.
We need to be able to stand alone as a nation if required, and if we choose to.
It no longer means anything else. It simply is a state we wish to be in so that we can do as we desire without facing starvation and total collapse.
If this bothers any other country then we need to know why.