Fictitious Caribbean Integration Imperative
Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2003
By Stephen Kangal, Caroni
Bukka Rennie's permissively wild and unsupportable generalisations on the existence of a "specific and unique", distinctive Caribbean civilisation that is the legacy of a common history and of a geo-political Caribbean reality (entity) are a manifestation of the unsustainable emotionalism that is driving the current Eastern Caribbean voter-padding, political integration agenda (Guardian, April 12, p.24).
His is an intellectually distorted, Afro-Caribbean, blinkered, view/definition of the Caribbean.
Rennie's false hypothesis is that because there is a homogenous Caribbean civilization (?) that flows from a non-existent geo-political entity called the Caribbean ( Anglo-Hispanic-Dutch etc) the way to Caribbean political unification ( the elusive El Dorado) is paved with gold, silver and myrrh.
What, Mr. Rennie are the overt/covert elements of this distinctive, nay imaginary Caribbean civilisation of which you pontificate so misleadingly? Is it calypso cricket, reggae, soca/chutney, liming, political insularity or Caribbean diplomacy/statesmanship? Can a distinct Caribbean civilisation be forged from forty years of political insularity/ one-upmanship? Is the Caribbean peopled exclusively by a homogenous Afro-Caribbean people?
The Wider or Anglo-Caribbean is not a geo-political reality that you seem to take for granted because colonial history/rivalry reinforced by the disintegrative effects of the Caribbean Sea has carved out the Caribbean archipelago into distinct political/cultural enclaves and gave form and function hitherto to insularity/ independence/ sovereignty. We have neither a Regional Air Carrier nor a Caribbean Shipping Line to bridge the vast nautical miles of Caribbean maritime space that divides and insulates us.
Rennie seems to suggest that Caribbean peoples brought with them a philosophical frame of reference that enabled them to tune Anglo-Franco-Hispanic (European masters) culture into indigenous finer notes that they can now claim as their own invention. You will recall that Naipaul termed this Mimic Men. We need be reminded that the indentured Indo-Caribbean people, save in Jamaica, preserved and retained their own, distinct, 6,000 years old cultural roots/values with functional modifications and refused to be assimilated indiscriminately into a decadent, relatively cosmetic Anglo-Saxon culture as easily as our African brothers and sisters were made to. But I think that Rennie deliberately excluded us from his paradigm as does the traditional Afro-Caribbean intelligentsia.
On the claim that the Caribbean is the first product of globalisation ( unrestricted trading across national frontiers) do we not agree that such competitive trading pre-dated and in fact was responsible for, thanks to Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus being discovered in the island of San Salvador in 1492 in search of a new trade route to India?
Mr. Rennie, your bases for political unification is riddled with many other fabrications. Where is the evidence that the Caribbean is the architect of its own destiny/independence that we can "... be whatever or become whatever in that creative whirlpool of constant flux…". This is the misrepresentation of the 21st Century. We must be the only social/ political utopia in known history. We have been in a constant state of dependency pursuing mendicant foreign and domestic policies for US DFI dollars, tourism, preferential access to European/US/UK markets for our sugar and bananas, air/sea travel as well as for siphoning off our large cadre of the unemployed.
Where then is the power that Rennie attributes to the Caribbean that is to all intents and purposes in the sphere of influence of Uncle Sam? If anything the Caribbean is noted for its powerlessness and dependency (PM Gonzales of St.Vincent).
The monopoly for defining/determining the way forward for the Caribbean cannot and should not be the sole preserve of the Caribbean intelligentsia. They live in cloistered arm-chairs. Look at the non-paper they produced for the last Inter-Sessional Heads of Government Conference on Options for Governance.
The people must be brought into the mainstream and drive the engine of change with the active participation of the mercantile/entrepreneurial class who are the real creators of wealth, employment and business opportunities.
Send page by E-Mail