Our Readers' Opinions
December 23, 2005
We must rid ourselves of our negative culture

“Politics are the opium of the people.” – V.S. Naipaul

EDITOR: I don’t want to sound cynical, but there is no hope for St Vincent. Okay, there may be some hope but not in the places we think. After all, they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result; and we’ve tried a lot of stuff.

What about constitutional reform? I think it is extremely important and worthwhile, but I don’t think it reaches the root of our problems. {{more}}

What about overhauling our fiscal policy? Let’s give handouts to all the poor people! Well that may be an intriguing notion but I don’t think throwing money at our problems serves much good in the long run. As a matter of fact, if we want to fix our malformed society, I don’t think our main problem is our politics.

Actually, I think our problem is our culture. Yes, that very same thing we are so proud of and cherish so much is what keeps us down. Our culture is the concrete in the bucket in which our feet are stuck. Thus, for us to really move forward, we’re going to have to rid ourselves of our culture.

Culture by definition influences every aspect of our lives from what books we read, if any, to the clothes we wear, if at all. Thus, culture is the sum total of human activities while politics is just part of it. So if our politics is sick, it’s probably symptomatic of an even larger problem.

Politics helps to form a smokescreen that distracts us from the real important stuff. In a sense, it’s easier to fall back onto our primitive tribal instincts than to actually think constructively, if at all. Some of our most impoverished citizens, in fact, some impoverished communities would blindly support the same candidates election after election, even though they never actually benefit.

Politics based on emotion means that often parties are voted out instead of in and we end up with lopsided election results, emotional politics, which encourage politicians to spew nothing but incendiary comments to rile up their supporters into a frenzy. It surely can’t be a coincidence that political events are always accompanied by blaring music and lots of free alcohol.

Considering the heightened emotions, suicidal loyalty, deification of politicians and general spiritual fervor surrounding our elections, one could conclude that in the Caribbean, maybe politics, and not religion, is the opium of the people. It essentially serves the same function to some people.

But of course, all of this brings us back to square one. Since it’s obvious that there is something wrong with our politics, then by extension, the culture that spawns this politics must be flawed.

Of course, people who are divisive, elitist and irrational aren’t going to want to build things, because they are already comfortable in the rut they’re in. But, no problem. We always have a cadre of local intellectuals who are willing and able to enlighten the public on these deep reaching issues and help foster meaningful change. Right?