Friday, April 12, 2024

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Royal dissolution


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Typically, when the lay person thinks of social and political change, he imagines moments of sharp, rapid, and dramatic collapse. In reality, however, the normal process of change is not through revolution, but through slow, gradual and imperceptible transformation.  
But such transformations, though less dramatic, have the same consequence as revolutions, which are the overthrow of old, archaic, failed and irrelevant orders and their replacement with structures of greater currency and relevance. Thus British colonialism in North America came to an end via revolution, while that in Barbados has been coming via gradualism, and is still incomplete.
These reflections on revolutionary versus evolutionary change have been prompted by the happy realization that the British monarchy as the formal, emotional and spiritual source of the legitimacy of Caribbean government has fallen like a leaf in autumn. Like many such collapses, the outward structure of the building may still stand, and the institution may remain visible to the naked eye.  
The fact, though, is that it exists merely as an empty shell that continues to fool its believers into denying the reality of the death of its own inner substance.
It is like an old senile man: dead, but not quite dead.
There is no clearer evidence of the reality of the slow death of the British monarchy than the sense of “nothingness” attached to the recent visit by a representative of the Queen dispatched to the region to mark the Jubilee Year Of The Coronation of the sitting monarch. Indeed, the sense of insignificance attached to the visit by the mass of the population was too obvious to ignore.  
Thus, the Queen’s representative was forced to openly acknowledge it in his address to the joint sitting of the Barbados Parliament.
Whilst he was wrong, and perhaps clever, in attributing the lukewarm response to his visit to the fact that he was a “poor substitute” and not the real McCoy, he was no doubt correct in his assessment that his visit had been ignored by the Barbadian public. Indeed, in acknowledging out loud what the society had already decided for itself, the speech to Parliament may very well be recorded as a long delayed formal death announcement of a long decayed corpse.
Years ago, when the Caribbean consciousness was still numbed by the hard drug of colonial conditioning, the entire society would have been mobilized to pay homage to the living fossilized specimens of the medieval age. Today, what emerged was an open debate about the “cost” of supporting such a relic of the past.  
Indeed, it was embarrassing to watch the mock enthusiasm of the bottom residue of the old local planter class, dressed in silly Mardi Gras costume, putting on a brave face – in the face of public disinterest.
It is time for our constitutions to match reality.


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