Politics of the colonized versus colonizer

Dr. Kwame Nantambu
January 02, 2009

ParliamentThe recent call by leaders of both the Congress of the People (COP) and UNC-A for a co-operative accommodation/dialogue with the ruling PNM government to tackle the thorny, intractable crime problem in TnT will always remain a classic exercise in futility.

The fact of the matter is that since the 15th century, the European colonizer has successfully pursued and implemented a Divide & Rule policy towards the colonized. Today, as a result of the inherited/imposed Euro-centric education system, the colonized has now perfected this policy among itself in the era of putative political independence.

By way of elucidation, the European slave-master separated the slaves on the plantations into house-servants and field-hands. The former not only sought to protect the slave-master’s interests but were also treated much better than the latter in terms of education, living conditions, etc. On the other hand, the latter not only opposed their enslavement but also engaged in revolts.

It was this clear, distinct division that facilitated the European rule and control over all the slaves. This 15th century European plantation division instilled in the psyche of the slaves that co-operation among them would never be a viable option—fierce, acerbic competition among them will always be their common denominator.

This 15th century European competitive/divisive plantation variable was then implanted and implemented in the 1960s when the descendants of these slaves were granted political independence by their former Euro-colonizer, Britain.

Indeed, historiography indicates that before Britain granted political independence to the leaders of the English-speaking Caribbean colonies, it was stipulated that they must meet the basic “criterion of eligibility for independence”, namely “a full-fledged two-party system in operation”.

Translated, this meant that the British government insisted that the 15th century Euro-colonizer’s division must continue to exist among the colonized in the 20th century, namely, the government versus the opposition enshrined under the rubric of the Westminster system of government a la the 15th century plantation system.

In essence, then, the Euro-British Westminster system of government is nothing more than a 20th century plantation system of governance.

Ergo, under this Euro-British political conceptualization, the members of the ruling government are the descendants of the 15th century plantation house-servants, while the members of the opposition are the descendants of the field-hands.

Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that leader of the UNC-A opposition Basdeo Panday once remarked that the role of the opposition “is to oppose.” That’s the exact, same role, mind-set the field-hands inculcated/acted-out on the 15th century plantations.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. The Euro-colonizer’s system of slavery and colonialism has changed but the divisive/competitive mind-set of the colonized has remained the same. That’s the problem.

Ergo, the politics of divisiveness and competition is the hallmark of the colonized, while the politics of co-operation is the hallmark of the colonizer.

By way of elucidation, during their bitter 2007-08 presidential campaign, then Senator Barack Obama contended that his fierce challenger Hillary Clinton had “no foreign policy experience.”

Now, as President-elect, Barack Obama has chosen this same opponent Hillary Clinton as the chief architect of US foreign policy. Another campaign opponent Bill Richardson has been appointed Secretary of Commerce—these are all fellow Democrats.

On the political flip side, Democratic President-elect Barack Obama has asked Republican Robert Gates to remain on as US Secretary of Defense; moreover, during their last presidential debate, Republican candidate Senator John Mc Cain referred to Barack Obama as “that one.” Now that he is US President-elect, Senator John Mc Cain has vowed “full co-operation” and is “ready to work with (Ptresident)Obama.”

The obvious question that comes to the fore is: Can any one imagine that after the November 2007 general elections that Prime Minister Patrick Manning of the PNM would ask Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj of the UNC-A to become TnT’s Attorney General?

Such political anomaly would never happen among the colonized. This unique denouement was skillfully and surreptitiously designed and implanted in the sub-conscious mind-set of the colonized by the European since the 15th century and counting.

In the final analysis, until and unless the inherited, imposed Euro-British Westminster system of government no longer exists among the political fabric of the Caribbean, then, true, total political independence “will remain a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.”

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.