06 December 2009

Capturing the State

John Maxwell

When I read that Trevor Munroe and his cohorts are warning about the dangers of baddies capturing the state I remember 1963 when Trevor was a student at UWI and his daddy, Huntley, was quite properly threatening to have me arrested for criminal libel.

In those days people like Trevor and I were exercised about the prospect of the Jamaican state being captured by local elites. In discussions at my house with Trevor and some other members of the Young Socialist League, I mentioned my theory that Jamaica was controlled by about 21 families and that they could be tracked quite easily. Whenever a member of one of these families died, whole swathes of trade and industry were closed down on the day of the funeral and the names of these enterprises were published in the Gleaner to impress the hoi polloi.

One of Trevor's associates took up my idea in a pamphlet which really did not do justice to the theory. It is an idea that is still relevant, particularly when the society is delving into the decision-making behind FINSAC and other manifestations of private sector hegemony. The media and others are asking Omar Davies for answers to question which they already know; rather like a cuckolded husband asking his wife for the name of her lover.
Quite simply, the Jamaican elite threatened to use their money to bet against the Jamaican currency and create political chaos. The high interest rate regime was a socially sanctioned bribe to encourage the rich to behave themselves. Remember how they derided Butch Stewart's campaign to stabilise the exchange rate?
It is my opinion that blaming Omar Davies for the economic debacle that is Jamaica is like blaming the undertaker for the murder.
That is why in 1997 I described the Patterson economic regime as the greatest machine for the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich since the end of slavery.
When the IMF/World Bank Washington Consensus was consolidating its takeover of Western hemisphere politics most of us were unaware of the connections between the pot-banging housewives of Chile and the formation of new private sector coalitions all over the Americas to repel and defeat bloodthirsty socialists intent on such revolutionary anti-democratic schemes as National Minimum Wages, Equal Rights for Women and human rights for Haitians.
One of the first casualties, of course, was Salvador Allende and Chilean democracy. Jamaica soon followed.


Liberté, Égalité, and most of all, Fraternité

The latest casualty is Honduran democracy where, with the help of Jesse Helms' flesh eating political bacteria – Otto Reich & Co – the American right-wing fanatics have finessed the Obama administration into a shameful and humiliating defeat. They are celebrating an election in which no one knows how many voted – held under the auspices of an illegal putschist regime.
This defeat follows the total rout of democratic forces in Haiti, where Obama's Secretary of State and her husband have sold out to the forces of the local elites and their multinational sweatshop patrons.
Haiti will need to wait for its human rights until some new Dessalines is ready to take those rights back from the gangsters and 'businessmen' whose capture of Haitian state power was initiated, aided and abetted by elites in the US, Canada and France.
When Transparency International speaks of corruption they signify, to me, devils quoting scripture; the words are right but the motives are suspect.
Transparency International is the product of World Bank elites and in my view, is intended as a force to delegitimise third world politics. TI does not speak of the massive corruption crises in the World Bank itself, or of the corruption crises involving the former heads of state of Germany(Kohl) and France (Chirac) or the incredible, mind-boggling corruption involving the Iraq war, former US vice president Dick Cheney and Halliburton/Brown&Root, the former UN facilitator in Iraq, Richard Galbraith and a whole slew of elites who have used their positions to grossly feather their nests.
And we do not speak of those I describe as the Komodo dragons of capitalism, whose bite transmits toxic bacteria, flesh eating financial omnivores whose wheeling and dealing has devastated the US car-making industry, laid waste entire communities like Detroit and Flint, in Michigan, or Crewe, Luton and other places in England and elsewhere; whose irresponsible and criminal misrepresentations have destroyed the US working class, extorted billions from the pensions and savings of middle-class Americans and has almost extinguished the concept of a black American middle class.
These Komodo dragons captured modern capitalist states, distorting all concepts of justice and justifying their wicked extortions by preaching about the evils of distributionist policies. We should not pander to the poor, was the message. We needed to comfort the rich in the cause of "Development"..
In Britain and the US at this moment there are incandescent arguments raging about the rewards due to those who have eviscerated their societies. Should they be allowed to further reward themselves with billions looted from the corpses of pension funds, health insurance and social welfare funds?
It's a difficult decision isn't it?
The bonuses Goldman Sachs will be paying to its designated gamblers could feed clothe and govern Haiti or Honduras for a year or two.
It really is a hard call.

Closer to home

    A few years ago I was spooked by the prospect of people destroying the tranquility and amenity of the peri-urban hillside on which I live. When I went to live there, 35 years ago, my friends told me I lived in the bush, too far to visit, too dangerous because of the surrounding remnants of forest. Then, a few years ago there were signs of people wanting to build the new Jamaican paradigm – townhouses in a forest. . Three years ago, almost to the day I wrote:
"Where I live in Stony Hill, the water has been turned off at night for the last 26 years, because there isn't enough St Catherine water to supply the thirsts and toilets of Havendale and upper St Andrew. Although there isn't enough water for Stony Hill, within a mile of the Hermitage Dam, confident developers are even now preparing to put in dozens of upscale mini-mansions with lots of bathrooms. (The Next Bad Thing – 10 December 2006) And about half a year later on the same subject:
"There is only one problem: I don't know where it is in this vicinity that the NWC has discovered a new river or lake, and the hillside road is the width of a domestic driveway.(Chainsaw lullaby – Sunday, June 24, 2007)
I thought perhaps I'd made the boobocrats reconsider their schemes. Apparently not.
They must have discovered a new lake or river somewhere in Stony Hill but are keeping it a secret.
Some developers have apparently got NEPA and KSAC approval to double the population of Gibson Road by building six 3-bedroom townhouses and twelve 2-bedroom apartments on 11,319 square meters of land.
According to some people the development was approved after covenants were varied on three lots of land. As far as I know and speaking as a layman, covenants on property can only be removed by petitions to the courts and all persons whose property is affected by a covenant are entitled to object to the varying or removal of a covenant.
The new development is intended, as I said, to double the population of Gibson Road. Gibson Road is a narrow road cut out of a hillside about a hundred years ago. My home is probably the oldest house on the road, having its last significant reconstruction in 1939. The newest house on the road is about 20 years old and is next to the proposed development. On my side of the road there are four houses; on the other eight or nine.
To my knowledge at least two of my neighbours have been refused permission to subdivide their land on the ground that the water supply is inadequate for the proposed habitations. These people were proposing to build accommodation (in total) for fewer than ten additional souls. The newly approved scheme envisions nearly one hundred (100) new people, with perhaps fifty new cars and 10,000 gallons of sewage daily.
Jamaica has an enviable record in the provision of self-contained sewage systems. Out of more than two dozen in metropolitan Kingston just two are known to work as advertised. Just below Stony Hill, at the bottom of Long Lane, a small development discharges its effluent into the same gully proposed to be blessed by the excrement from Gibson Road. All round Kingston there are these malfunctioning systems, saving money for developers and endangering the health of ther neighbours.
Since that same gully passes through my property (above the probable point of discharge), I have every intention to object. The soil up here is rocky but very permeable .
Where I live the air is clean, perfumed by wildflowers and plants, populated by at least 20 species of indigenous birds. I have photographs to prove that assertion and I intend to protect my own tranquility as well as one of the few places in Jamaica where one can see our country's native glory.

Copyright ©2009 John Maxwell jankunnu@gmail.com

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