Thursday, April 18, 2024

ALL AH WE IS ONE: What is to be done

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The enduring nature of the current economic crisis impacting Caribbean society is indicative of a fundamental collapse of the entire social, political and economic framework upon which the post-colonial project in the Caribbean had been constructed. 
It is now time to chart new directions for an alternative future.
However, it is not expected that Caribbean decision-makers and beneficiaries of the existing order will agree either with this prognosis or the urgency of its call. It is in the nature of mankind to cling to the familiar, and despite the overwhelming evidence of collapse and a yearning for betterment and change, the eternal hope always is for things to return to normal. 
“Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.”
Indeed, change cannot be written or wished into reality. There always exist several layers of class and other interests that see change as a threat to past glories and accustomed practice. Like the aged citizen who refuses to seek shelter at the news of impending disaster, those who wish to cling to the old should be allowed their fantasies.
For those, however, whose task it will be to construct the future on the ashes of the dead order, the charting of a future programme has become an urgent necessity. This future programme must be constructed on the basis of a full inventory of past failures and on mature reflection on what is possible and desirable as correctives to the current malaise.
I humbly suggest that the outlines of a future political programme for Caribbean development should include, though not exhaustively or exclusively, the following concerns.
(1) The further democratization of the political process beyond its elitist, inefficient, narrow and increasingly corrupt representative form to more participatory forms.
(2) The broadening of the sovereign basis of the Caribbean polity beyond its limited island form to a more historically natural and politically relevant regional form.
(3) The identification and development of new productive sectors upon which Caribbean economic development can be constructed. These must be deliberately carved around areas that will impact the vast majority of Caribbean citizens, as distinct from narrow privileged groups, and must be built around areas in which we enjoy natural and historical comparative advantages. These may include agriculture and agro-processing, sport and cultural industries, education and learning.
(4) The deepening and widening of tertiary educational opportunities to facilitate the emergence of a new generation of Caribbean entrepreneurs actively involved in the application of science and technology and research and development to all areas of Caribbean life as sources of income-generation.
(5) The refashioning of our foreign relations away from the inherited decaying centres to the new regions unaffected by the collapse of mature capitalism, and
(6) The pursuit of a humane social order with agreed minimum levels of basic social existence.
Forward ever! Backward never!
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs.

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