No real freedom right now
One hundred years from now, how would historians have characterised this period we now call today. In the perspective of black history, how or in what context would this current period be labelled amid the 400 year travail, and assuming one hundred years from now, there is real progress and justice?
I am going to make the prediction and allow the future historians to judge my comments. History will show that the black diaspora spent 350 years in chattel slavery, 100 years of “Jim Crow” then another 100 years of self imposed ideological slavery under systemic kleptocracy.
We all fully comprehend the brutal chattel slavery that existed from North to South America and all the islands in between. We also, in different degrees depending on one's understanding, having varying interpretations of what it means to be a full citizen enjoying the rights of a human being. We understand the effects of Jim Crow-type laws, under a variety of jurisdictions, which became a huge impediment to progress. Again, depending on education and experience, suppression was felt differently by many sub groups.
Few, if any, understand the current malaise and less recognise how the very ideology that informs our manner of thought, is as effective on the minds and mobility, as the chains that were taken off in 1834 and as much a hindrance as the Jim Crow Laws. The only difference is the first two were imposed by others and the current is self imposed. Which of the two is worse, one may ask? Each are as effective, both cripple progress and sap the human potential and retard generations.
Someone is saying right now, “Oh he is talking about the ‘Willie Lynch Syndrome'”; nope, perhaps similar, but this mental block as an ethical persuader, was not squirted in our psyche by an outsider seeking to control, it's a home-grown phenomenon that does much the same.
If one is old enough to remember, they would recall neighbourhoods both in the American cities and certainly in Bermuda, when life although not fair or even, was certainly difficult, but the black communities were very self sustaining with business and services catering to the communities. Like the name of the book written by Eva Hodgson, First Class Men, Second Class Citizens, that was a fair description post slavery and of the early 1900s up to the Sixties. If she was to title a new book for 2020 it would not be wrong for her to say instead “First Class Citizens, Second Class Men”.
How ironic, how could it be that 60 and 70 years ago the black community had less rights but more prestige and, dare I say, more power. They built churches, sports clubs and the Provident bank, also Kirkland's Bank, that aside, all the gift clubs, grocery stores, movie theatres, bowling alleys, insurance companies, those without having to mention the dominance in the construction industry.
Have we ever asked why? How come when we had no civil rights we had everything but now, having those rights including political power, we have less commercial power and looks like the needle is pointing downward, possibly resulting in even less if the trend continues? A little journey to our past will show a culprit. In life there is a natural struggle, no one and no people have escaped it. We may hear the term industrial revolution, or even class wars or monarchies and oligarchies and aristocracies. Then came along what was supposed to be the saviour's voice of Marxism, later to be interpolated as communism, socialism generally referred to as the “Left”. It was popular during the Sixties to be considered a leftist. How else could you be a revolutionary or liberator if you were not a leftist? Eric Williams was a brilliant leader for Trinidad but the poor fella was not a leftist. All the good he did or attempted, would be dismissed because he wasn't a leftist.
Recently, I had to rush to the defence of Nelson Mandela because of a commenter who said he doesn't think very highly of him as a liberator because the people are no better off now. The commentator was right, Ah Ha! Ah Haa! Here comes the new entity that grew up like a weed between them all. I responded and said to him: “Did you notice the following leader and all his ministers became multimillionaires, if not billionaires, some living in castles bigger than the ones they knocked down on their way to liberty, while the people were still in shanty towns?”
Kleptocracy, a rarely used term, grew like weeds between capitalism and socialism under the pretext of liberation. Freedom movements grew this weed that eventually spread over politics as an invisible agent or byproduct. On the surface was the genuine struggle between the have and the have nots, industry and labour, mega corporations and free enterprise. The weeds truthfully represented neither; the weeds represented themselves, truthfully, their real aspiration, was to fill their own pockets while riding on the back of the reputation of being liberators.
I had to tell a friend recently who complained of a European leader, calling him an anti-business leftist. I said no, a leftist is one who wants to level the economy, they (leftist) have an ideology. I asked the friend show me the ideology, because that leader referenced does not have an ideology, or an end game of levelling the board. The leader he described just wants the power to manipulate whatever power construct is in place to put money in his own pocket and needs to control the public mind in order to achieve it. That's not leftist that's kleptocratic. So it's not a monarchy, an oligarchy, a capitalist, a communist, or leftist, it's a kleptocracy.
In summary, the future historians will call this period of continuum in black evolution, which began in the late Fifties as an unfulfilled revolution and liberation movement, because no true ideology emerged detailing freedom or what it meant, it will be known as the era of kleptocracy. We will have had 350 years of chattel slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow and 100 years of kleptocracy before we are finally free.
This idea of kleptocracy is not geopolitical or nation specific, like slavery was a system that engulfed the entire west, so did the Jim Crow period similarly engulf the entire region. Kleptocracy as a new form of governance, has become normalised and is global likewise, Russia is a kleptocracy, Croatia, the United States under Trump, is now threatening to become a kleptocracy. The only effective remedy against kleptocracy anywhere is an open participatory democracy. In the words of James Jackson: “Eternal vigilance is the cost of liberty.”
We will not have true liberty, until we are brutally honest on the path towards a real participatory democracy, all else under whatever guise, is “sinking sand”.