National liberation and socialist change under “working class leadership” was a dream of many islanders but in fact created the biggest problem for Caribbean Island States.
Working class leadership’s inability to generate intellectual and ideological alternatives for the opportunistic, anti-intellectual, narco-economies, crippled all islands’ political systems and administrations.
Colonialism would be expunged by “peasant-led insurrections,” had Frantz Fanon of Martinique prophesied in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, but independence movements were far from “peasant-led.” Instead, they were dominated by sections of the middle-class intelligentsia, the bourgeoisie, so hated by Fanon. It was this intelligentsia, not peasants, who quickly formed a new nationalist, “black elite,” replacing European colonials.
Most of the fifteen Caribbean States are electocracies, where only elected individuals can participate in government. Note: An electocracy is a political system where citizens can vote for their government but cannot participate directly in governmental decision-making and where the government does not share any power. Active participation by citizens on all levels of government and sharing of power, as in a democracy, is legally excluded on the islands. Thus a ruling, closed elite of profiteers emerged.
Briefly, hope glimmered on the horizon with the very successful, and aggressive, proselytizing of Evangelicals on the islands. Marching behind the banner of the Born-Again Gospel-faithful, layman’s simplicity would bring “justice for all” and fill the “absence of ideology.”
The Vatican lamented loudly that Gospel based layman’s churches had stolen wandering sheep from their herd, but the Mother Church offered only a grand and lofty Concilium, without any alternatives on the ground. Soon, it became apparent that neither the Vatican nor Evangelicals managed to guide the “wandering sheep” back to the herd. Populations of poverty fell into indifference and moral and economic apathy. Nothing could ignite productivity. From their perspective, everything was outperformed by the narco industry. Soon they found out that they only formed foot soldiers, ready to be sacrificed and catering to yet another closed elite.
The absence of ideology and intellectual alternatives are not filled by elections every 6-10 months. The next ones in power will have the same problems as the previous. And instead of administrating and seeing to the islands’ urgent needs, they will vie for the most lucrative positions for their friends and families. Favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism have woven a closely-knit fabric that is nearly bulletproof.
The solution is as simple as the question: break the power of the ruling, closed elite. Move the electocracy into a democracy.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle