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Haiti: Do it now!
Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2004

by Bukka Rennie

It makes you tired. Haiti, the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere, the only society of African slaves to have completely freed itself with blood, iron and guts, is now 200 years old.

She, Haiti, since then became the pariah society of the West, to be isolated, boycotted, blockaded trade-wise and even forced to pay compensation in gold to masters from whom they freed themselves.

Haiti freed itself but the world was not yet ready for such a Haiti and that has been to date Haiti's great tragedy. No society can develop in isolation. Isolation enhances stagnation.

Much like a family that is incestuous, blocking out or resisting in every which way the influx or injection or intrusion of new strains, such a family's tree of life is severely weakened and is thereby placed in jeopardy.

The analogy is not tight because whereas the incestuous family's isolation is voluntary and self-inflicted, Haiti's isolation was quite the opposite. And whereas the resulting weakness of the incestuous family is biological and genetic, the weakness of Haiti is structural and socio-economic.

What depths of reality do we have to plumb before we can come to understand that we owe it to Haiti, the flag-bearer of Caribbean freedom and self-determination, to have stood in solidarity with her since the very initial days of political Independence?

Did we have to wait until Bush told us, just as we seem to be waiting on Giuliani for a strategy to deal with crime? What manner of people are we?

I refuse to accept any suggestion that we are impotent because of some peculiar accident of history or because of some flaw in our cultural matrix from which we are yet to escape. Or because of our legacy of dependence and "unresponsibility" that emanates from our rites of passage that took us on a journey from being slaves to proletarians to clerks. And in the process instilled in us some uncanny, extremely unique, weird and peculiar inability and incapacity to fathom how this place works.

We living here, existing here, managing and negotiating the complexities of numerous daily relationships, creating all kinds of things out of nothing, making space where there is no space, yet we are told in the same breath that we are incapable of comprehending Caribbean reality. How can we be located at such extreme poles at the same time? What a contradiction!

True to say if such were indeed the case then we would have to be the dumbest sons of bitches to have ever walked this planet, Earth. I cannot be party to any such postulations. I have great difficulty with this and I must say so. Probably those who engage in such histrionics and captious sophistry, do so because of some driven obsession with the desire to be eternally "original".

In fact there is nothing wrong with such an obsession. Seeking to be original and to think divergently are diamond assets that are not very common and should be complimented wherever they appear. Such thinking is exactly what our schools and campuses require urgently.

Yet one must acknowledge that there is much to this world that is universal precisely given the fact that, in the last 500 years, capital and capitalist relations comprise the dominant objective socio-economic force that have structurally pulled the globe into a tight whole.

Still the original question has to be answered. Why are we yet to embrace Haiti as a responsibility?

During the years of Caribbean slavery, no revolt was isolated, and the action always spread to other islands in the chain. That exhibited the height of consciousness and the level of preparedness of slaves for combat, notwithstanding the cases of sell-outs on the part of house-slaves.

And when, at the turn of the century, the agenda of the "proletarians" was on the front burner, no one had to tell Caribbean workers about the necessity for regional solidarity. In fact the demand for a Caribbean nation is in fact a proletarian demand.

Ask the female traders and hagglers of the Caribbean who do business from one end of the chain to the other for the survival of their children. It is though a systemic problem for the "clerks" who inherited power after Independence, programmed no social transformation and became the new "governors" with a morbid fear of an empowered people.

What reality is there to be plumbed? The system has to be rooted out lock, stock and barrel. Only the "clerks" do not know or do not wish to know that. The people from below will have to push up for their voices to be heard. It is the only way to get Caricom on the road and for Haiti and Cuba et al to be embraced fully.

According to CLR James, the reality is that our people were mis-educated and our political consciousness twisted and broken, our sense of self-confidence and political dynamism poisoned and corrupted by imperial schooling in the immediate 50 years before Independence.

The "Kingdom of Clerkdom" has been the result. The settling for zones of comfort, basic cowardice and the lack of will to get up and do what is necessary, the fear of engaging and challenging the people, the constipated fear of fear itself, are all hallmarks of "clerkdom".

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