From Colonialism To Neo- Colonialism

by Hubert Pipersburgh

Today some 30 years or so after independence Belize’s administrative, political, judicial, and economic systems remain largely structured as it was prior to independence coupled with a decreasing will and capacity to act, but with increased powers to prevent action by anyone or other sectors.

The state now has more growing power to hurt and very little and declining motives to help the citizens of Belize through direct government action. This is further complicated by a policy apparatus designed for crisis management. Instead of pro-active ,thoughtful, rational policy formulation we have policies designed primarily in response to one crisis after another.

In addition, we have produce bureaucrats not trained to solve problems, but rather to answer to the mandates of powerful government ministers. This has resulted in a stop-gap, ad-hoc, wait and see approach to policy formulation and implementation. The transition from from a colonial to a neo-colonial economy in partnership with a deform political system has done naught, but confuse, exploit, and divide the working class along petty partisan lines.

We entered independence as a bewildered people. Belize like all countries that has had a long history of colonialism are a product of that experience. Reflected at the time of independence were sharp class divisions, dangerous gaps between the haves and the have not, tremendous poverty, a highly privileged elite. An elite that were/are the beneficiary of that period of imperialistic exploitation. Thus, at all times there will always be acute social pressures.

Yet, we fight to maintain a permanently underdeveloped peripheral economy that remains in a state of perpetual disrepair since independence in 1981. We are reluctant to examine alternative ways of expounding our contemporary interpretation of our current system of governance and jurisprudence. Noted Anthropologist Dr, Ivan Van Sertimer once opined that was because colonialism has so captured our imagination it is difficult to perceive any other way.

Similarly , Octavio Paz observed in his poem Labyrinth of Solitude that most humanist takes a primary role as the intellectuals. However, according to Paz to be an intellectual it is necessary to distance oneself from the subject that you are studying or criticizing so that the argument remains critical yet rational and objective. He further argued as the intellectual gets more involve with the political environment, his arguments can often become influence by other factors such as political motivation and pressure to conform.

The underlying assumption being that this is the conundrum that confronts some of us in the literati and those active in two party politics. We are faced with the choice of being a person of the people or a person for the people.

Thus, there remains to this day a lack of resolve to challenge this citadel of privilege or the validity of the status quo. Many of us in the literati continue to defend this system that clearly have been triumphant over us as a people. We cannot expect to develop our country on a faulty foundation. Replacing the colonialist masters with neo-colonialist can hardly be describe as progress. They merely carry on the same functions with new elements. Substituting local functionaries for colonial officials at independence and thereby leaving the basic system unchanged is a sophisticated means of ensuring that the people will actively continue to participate in their exploitation and ultimate demise.

We have to step back and take a comprehensive look at what has happen to the world since the cold war, post cold war, and now globalization and decide what is Belize’s place and role in this new world order. Throughout Belize our people are at the mercy of powerful forces of globalization and privatization that have descended upon us. We are totally unprepared for the competitive production that is demanded or to take the many opportunities that accompany these dramatic changes.

I belong to the camp that suggest a society succeeds where it best articulate purposes. In short, we cannot continue to develop policies in a piece meal fashion to address our social, political, and economic problems through government action. We must have a clear comprehensive systematic way driven by a distinct philosophy that is articulated to the people.

Every regime since independence have pursued neo-liberal economic policies that are concerned only with the bottom line. This concept in practice have left a vast majority of Belizeans marginalize in abject poverty unable to participate in the affluent society. The logical consequences of pursuing such policies is dependency creation. Such policies place the majority in the informal sector where they remain an ever present pool of labor that is not counted.

To be fair many conscious people continually challenge the basic exploitative relationships underpinnings. However, many others perpetuate the mis-education, dependency, non-productivity, divisiveness, and human destruction that they learned so well in the schools of neo-colonialism. Hence, it begs the question, whether our society can rise and overcome the inherited negative legacies of our history? For now, the short answers is it cannot and should not be expected to bear the burdens of a deformed system.

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