By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
November 02, 2015
The 27 October 2015 (191-2) vote/resolution passed by the UN General Assembly that called “for an end to the decades-long US embargo on Cuba” brings to the fore the contemporary modus operandi of the 15th century European plantation system of governance in two aspects, namely, the Euro-British-imposed Westminster system of government on then colonies in the Caribbean and Africa in the 1960s and the United Nations system in 1945.
By way of elucidation, in the 15th century European plantation system, only the slave-master had veto power over the operation of the plantation. All power control was vested in the slave-master’s mansion.
And in order to secure, maintain and perpetuate that supreme plantation power control, the European slave-master divided the slaves into two categories, namely, house-servants and field-hands. This policy overtly manifests the European successful Divide & Rule system of governance.
Simply put, if there were 1,000 slaves on the plantation, the European slave-master separated, divided, designated 100 as house-servants and 900 as field-hands. In other words, the house-servants were the chosen few (minority) while the field-hands were in the majority.
Thus, this two-tier plantation division automatically created inherent, acerbic hatred, mistrust and antagonism between these two entities.
On the one hand, the house-servants were treated as protectors of the slave-master’s interests while on the other hand, the field-hands were treated as destroyers of the slave-master’s interests.
As slain African-American nationalist Malcolm X aptly surmised in a speech delivered at Michigan State University on 23 January 1963:
“… during slavery, you had two Negroes. You had the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negro usually lived close to his master. He dressed like his master. He wore his master’s second-hand clothes. He ate food that his master left on the table. And he lived in his master’s house— probably in the basement or attic— but he still lived in the master’s house.
So whenever that house Negro identified himself, he always identified himself in the same sense that his master identified himself.
When his master said: ‘we have good food’, the house Negro would say: ‘Yes, we have plenty of good food’. When the master said: ‘we have a fine home here’, the house Negro said: ‘Yes, we have a fine home here.’ When the master would be sick, the house Negro identified himself so much with his master, he’d say: ‘What’s the matter boss, we sick’? His master’s pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself. When the house started burning down, that type of Negro would fight harder to put the master’s house out than the master himself would.
But you had another Negro out in the field. The house Negro was in the minority. The masses-the field Negroes — were the masses. They were in the majority. When the master got sick, they prayed that he’d die. If his house caught on fire, they’d pray for a wind to come along and fan the breeze.”
Ipso facto, it was this Divide & Rule plantation policy that permitted the European enslavement of African people to last from 1 August 1516 to 1 August 1834(38) in the Caribbean. The model worked to the max.
Hence, it need occasion no great surprise that when the descendants of these ‘freed’/emancipated African slaves were demanding political independence from their former slave-master and colonizer, the Euro-British government (Mother Country) stipulated that before political independence was granted, the colonized in the Caribbean and Africa must meet the basic “criterion of eligibility for independence,” namely, “a full-fledged two-party system in operation.”
In addition, the Euro-British government insisted that independence was not automatically a right of those who were nationally distinct. It was rather a right only for those who were capable of maintaining and perpetuating Euro-British liberal democratic institutions.
The Euro-British government termed this “full-fledged two-party system in operation” as the Westminster model of government for the newly independent nation-states in the Caribbean and Africa in the early 1960s.
The salient geo-political truism/reality is that the Euro-British two-party system of government under the rubric of the Westminster model is nothing more than a new and improved, modern-day version of the successful plantation model of governance in the 15th century.
In other words, the members of the ruling government in the 1960s in the Caribbean and Africa are the descendants of the house-servants in the 15th century plantation system. At that time, for protecting the slave-master’s interests they were called house-servants. However, under this so-called new Westminster model in the 1960s, they are now called Prime Ministers and/or Presidents. The salient key is that they have continued the tradition of protecting the interests of their former slave-master/colonizer from the 1960s under the system known as neo-colonialism.
On the flip side, the descendants of the field-hands, that is, the leaders of the violent slave revolts are now promoted to the status of leaders of the Opposition. Division, as in neo-colonial Divide & Rule, exists today and counting.
And this stark contemporary geo-political reality is reflected not only by observing which governments in the Caribbean and Africa are subjected to a friendly versus hostile policy by successive American administrations since the 1960s but also those who receive foreign aid/foreign economic assistance.
In addition, one only needs to look at those governments who have been either destabilized, overthrown or militarily invaded in order to ascertain the reality that the 15th century pro-anti-European plantation policy mind-set still exists. Today, this mind-set is called foreign policy decision-making process.
The second aspect of this analysis focuses on the United Nations system. At the outset, it must be stated quite equivocally that the current United Nations system is nothing more than a new and improved, modern-day version of the successful European 15th century plantation system of governance at the international level.
For example, when the United Nations Charter came into effect on 24 October 1945 (but signed in San Francisco on 24 June 1945), veto power was assigned to five permanent members. Today, they are China, France, United States, Britain and Russia. In other words, then, whereas only one person (European slave-master) had veto power on the plantation in the 15th century, today, that number is five; moreover, it must be explained that in order for any binding United Nations resolution not to become international law, only one permanent member has to cast the veto— not all or any number thereof. In essence, therefore, the 15th century plantation unilateral veto power still resides in the United Nations system today.
The fact of the matter is that the 15th century European Divide & Rule plantation policy is now the spinal cord of the United Nations system. For example, whereas there are now 193 members of the United Nations system/organization, only five are designated, divided and separated as permanent members.
Furthermore, whereas there was a two-tier institutional division of the 15th century plantation system of governance, namely, the European slave-master’s mansion and the general slave population, the same, albeit divisive, Divide & Rule model, exists in today’s United Nations institutional schema. As such, today’s United Nations institutional framework reflects of the same two-tier framework, namely, the Security Council and the General Assembly.
In the final analysis, analogous to the ineffectiveness of the majority membership (slaves) on the plantation, except through slave revolts, the membership of the UN General Assembly who comprise the Organization’s majority have also been totally ineffective to the extent that since 1992, the UN General Assembly has been passing resolutions annually for the United Stated States to rescind its economic embargo against Cuba.
As an addendum, whereas the European slave-master was the Chief Operations Officer of the 15th century plantation system, today, the Secretary-General is the Chief Operations Officer of the United Nation system.
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is Professor Emeritus, Kent State University.