By Denys Springer
“It is a defect in language that words suggest permanent realities and people do not see through this deception. But mere words cannot create reality. Thus, people speak of a final goal and believe it is real, but it is a form of words and the goal, and as such is without substance. The one who realizes the emptiness of objects and concepts does not depend on words. Perfect wisdom is beyond definition, and pathless is the way to it.” (Prajnaparamita).
I ponder on these words aware that the prime minister of Saint Lucia seems invariably to use words he does not understand and make unfounded statements commonplace with a flawed mindset.
As an academic, I am at times truly lost why such utterances come from the mind of a country’s leader. Is it to lead people astray — part of the European experts unable to understand the culture of the country and therefore uses phrases to pacify and appease?
I, therefore, put forward a statement that was made by the prime minister in terms that “colonialism had a conscience”. I am of the view that any West Indian leader with such an ethos — his followers should immediately differentiate themselves from such. Here we are celebrating Emancipation Day when according to those words only the chains have been removed from hands and feet but the majority of minds are still suffering from mental and economic slavery while persons of such echelon perpetrate servile and submissive practice.
Guided by the examples that Saint Lucia has a wonderful destination called Rodney Bay named after the English Lord — Sir Walter Rodney. Yet how many have gone into his background in the era of “Black Lives Matter”?
Sir Rodney was a vicious, pernicious slave owner. A proponent that slavery should not be abolished. Yet, we hear that “colonialism had a conscience”. Where are the historians, the academics or learned people among us to refute such a statement? This must not be allowed to be washed over lightly as if it was a passing phrase.
Yes, it was not too long ago I heard a historian making it clear that African leaders were against the abolition of the slave trade. Yes, that is true because in their wars they took slaves but what she failed to tell the world is that many so-called slaves rose to be chief of that tribe (she studied African Civilization) but took out what suited her xenophobic mind. Not only that, but until the Portuguese arrived with their guns, tribal wars were fought with bows and arrows. The guns were given to a certain tribe to go into the interior of the west coast of Africa to bring out captured blacks to become slaves for export. Facts are facts if we are prepared to look and to learn from it.
So if “colonialism had a conscience” here we have a United Workers Party (UWP) government in Saint Lucia who made that statement, and is it not ironic that it is now a country where public opinion does not influence government policy whatsoever.
Saint Lucia has a prime minister who is intent on pursuing his ambitions and interests and does not have to care or worry for five years. Public opinion supposedly part of the democratic system, in effect only counts superficially close to an election as we are witnessing at present. The public has been reduced to becoming a reason for justifying the use of resources and a target of media manipulation instead of a nation reflecting the fundamental values and goals of a democratic system.
This government leads by suppressing public opinion, by instilling fear of external pressures rather than listening to learned public opinion
I have said time and time again that the UWP government is a source of democratic dictatorship. Saint Lucia’s democracy has degenerated into a means to obtain power and the dictatorship is expressed in the rush (unnatural high) the government gets from its arbitrary use of power.
The recent ‘Fresh Start’ incentives are a classic case for blatant illegality and presumptive corruption, however, the Cabinet Secretary who is purportedly an astute professional in the public service and should have advised the Cabinet is himself left wanting, on the wrong side of the Fiscal Incentives Act. Wilful blindness to laws and regulations has become a staple of Saint Lucia’s democracy. A lot of work is needed to put things back on track.
Moreover, I say to all Saint Lucians “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. Here we have a government hell-bent on borrowing and have even made fun of the former prime minister for his fear of borrowing.
How do they have the nerve when the nation’s economic outlook is so gloomy? Is borrowing the answer to our plight and suffering and in latter years accumulate debt for generations? Can we not feed ourselves when we have such excellent volcanic land?
By most indication, employment prospects remain unfavourable post-COVID-19 and this government does not have a clue how to tackle the nation’s economic woes. The issue of natural resource (talent shortages) in Saint Lucia has become a hot topic for many years however this government is not interested in developing the skill sets of the future. This government should be nurturing a higher quality workforce by removing regulatory barriers to technology and innovation and assist SMEs scale-up production.
There are no quick fixes to decades of mental anguish and false doctrines; but there are many increment steps to solve Saint Lucia’s economic woes such as investment in education, innovation, and infrastructure.
I, therefore, refer this government to Carl Jung writings many years ago, that “study your theory; practice your techniques inside out, and when in the presence of a living soul, respond to the soul”. This current dialogue, in my mind, reflects an effort to address the second challenge.
When a government uses an election to secure control of the legislative and by a weird constitution control a senate that was not elected and uses this majority to implement policies that run counter to public opinion, while the system lacks the tools to counterbalance these actions, then there is something wrong with this democracy. That is why the prime minister “colonialism has a conscience” becomes his colonial world in a convoluted mind.
And when society abandons logic, reductionism, history, and science; and becomes mired in mysticism that sinks into sentimentality and naivete’ and lose the parts of resolution which rely on reason, science, strategy, technique and planning. It is from thinking that we develop that critical political virtue, common sense. It is a faculty we need if we are to be able to live with others and with ourselves in this real pristine land of ours.
I hope and pray that this article will be a lesson to the powers that be coming from the heart and not one that is colonized. Many years ago; I was released from mental slavery and colonial masters; therefore, let a thousand flowers bloom and turned into thousands of those released from mental slavery.