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Ending the cycle of reprisal

The Haitian Revolution is largely credited with being the trigger that ended slavery

Albert Einstein, in the early 20th century with his theory of relativity, was credited with changing the outlook on science; in particular, how we view time and space. Not that relativity was new because Sir Isaac Newton also talked about relativity with things in motion. However, on a very basic level, with a human society and political movement uncovering its motive, rarely do we think in terms of relativity.

Let’s take for example the idea of freedom. Does freedom have the same meaning for all people? Or is the idea of freedom a relative term? What does freedom mean to an enslaved person? Then can we ask the same question of what it means to those who are free?

This may be subjective, however. Freedom to a slave may mean relief from the whip and harsh treatment or from having no choice in affairs as basic as the right to rear their own children. In a more contemporary setting, it could mean things such as having the right to participate in civil society, such as the right to vote and be elected to office. In such cases, the goal in the most extreme circumstance is to be treated as more than chattel, and in the less extreme circumstance to have the power that once held them in bondage as a tool that they now own. I posit the theory that those goals in the enslaved mind represent freedom.

When we look from a 30,000ft perspective at the evolution from a state of slavery, we will see that evolution moving along a line consistent with immediate relief and not an evolution founded on a direct principle of what it truly means to be free.

For those who were born free, the view of what human freedom is and looks like is different. To them, the first fundamental question is, why should there be a government or any sovereign? Why should mankind, which is born free, give up its individual freedom and liberty to a sovereign that has power over its freedoms?

Equal to that question for a free mind would be, if there is a sovereign how does every person retain equality under such sovereignty? Would it not become a rational deduction that the sovereign needs to be impartial and cannot have any preconditioning to a bias — through family or class association, religion or any polarity including sex — that becomes a barrier to equality?

Between the 17th and 21st centuries, we have seen the evolutionary arguments that have emerged from free minds about what it truly means to maintain individual freedom under sovereignty.

Naturally, human society could not be complete without an understanding of how the economy, commerce and trade impacts the ideal of individual freedom. Two ideals emerged as to how utopia is achieved in a progressive economy where there is technological growth and ingenuity at work. The huge question of who should own the means of production led to the classic 20th-century argument over the Marxist approach towards a communist state through a class struggle of the lower-working labour against its capitalist owners where the working class wins the battle and establishes a socialist dictatorship that destroys capitalism and replaces it with a socialist economy, leading towards a utopian communist state.

Or is it through a capitalist economy that turns benevolent and through charity and the emergence of the working class as shareholders that we can arrive at a utopian state?

The sad phenomenon of a slave revolt towards freedom is the tendency to replace a tyranny once directed towards them with one directed against the slave master, oligarch or whatever the name of the original oppressor may be. In this case, it need not be a race struggle, as exemplified in the Russian Revolution of 1917. To develop a society along the lines of a normal free society, there needs to be an intervention to end the cycle of reprisal.

In a biblical sense, not necessarily an historical example but archetypal based on the character types, the story of Moses is instructive. Moses was actually born in the house of the Pharaoh and treated like a son, and legend has it he would have inherited the throne of the Pharaoh. In short, Moses was not a slave; he liberated the slaves and had the wisdom to provide a new pathway forward. His education into the wisdom of the Pharaoh was an intervention.

In some measure, the Haitian Revolution had some similarities. It was the gens de couleur that led the revolution and the enslaved persons who followed and created the masses that overthrew the French and others. The great achievement, even though stymied, was that in 1805 it was the only country in the world that was free of slavery. Even the United States with its glorious constitution, did not end slavery until nearly 60 years later.

Bermuda to be truly free must adopt human models of freedom based on the ideal of freedom as learnt by freethinking minds over the centuries. Being pegged to the idea of owning the whip that once was tyranny to Blacks and holding them down, or holding the seats of power once sat in by their overlords, is only maintaining a vicious cycle where the new overlords become a semblance of the old.

Society and all of our citizens must discover equality among themselves — Black, White and others — so that the issue of authority becomes the consent of the populace and a body of law, which we may term as a bill of rights that protects the individual freedoms of every person regardless of their ethnicity or who is in power. Until we arrive at that plateau, we will be only a reactive slave society by whatever name one wishes to call it, and will not rise above the status of neocolonialists.

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Published February 06, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated February 05, 2023 at 4:07 pm)

Ending the cycle of reprisal

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