Friday, July 1, 2011

Colony status better than independence

So say the people of Jamaica:
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence from the United Kingdom, but a new island-wide poll suggests most residents of the tiny Caribbean nation believe they would be better off had the country remained a British colony.
The survey, conducted for the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper by Johnson Survey Research, found that 60 per cent of Jamaicans think the country would be better off today if it was still under British rule. A mere 17 per cent said they believed the country would be worse off. The remaining 23 per cent of respondents said they didn’t know.

The results speak to weak economic progress Jamaica has made in the last 50 years compared to neighbouring states and other developing nations, pollster Bill Johnson told the Toronto Star on Wednesday from Kingston.
“The point obviously is that people’s main concern here is the struggle to survive, finding food for the bellies of their children,” said Johnson, who has worked as pollster for 35 years.
“It seems to me most people don’t care if there’s a monarchy or dictatorship. They’re just trying to survive.”
The results were remarkably consistent across all age groups, with a majority of those old enough to remember independence and young people born long after saying the country would be better off as a British colony. Two-thirds of respondents 65 years of age or older said the country would be better off under British rule, while nearly that same proportion of respondents in the 18-34 age range agreed.
But Audrey Campbell, president of the Toronto-based Jamaican Canadian Association, questioned the entire premise of the poll, saying many Jamaicans can in no way compare life now to what it was like under British rule because they were born after independence.
“That’s like saying, ‘I kind of like the concept of slavery. Who needs self government? Who wants the right to dictate their future? I’d rather have someone come in and tell me based on what they think.’ Seriously?” said Campbell, who was born in Jamaica after independence and came to Canada as a young girl.
“It’s such a broad statement . . . there are different contexts for each age group. What is so appealing about British colonialism that we’d want it?”
The country of 2.8 million has struggled for decades with rising inflation, a falling dollar, crime and high unemployment.
The very un-PC reality that people like Audrey Campbell cannot accept is the majority of former European colonies, especially British colonies, would have been better off today if they had stayed colonies. 

The United States is an obvious exception, and there are others, but, geez, what about Zimbabwe? Pakistan? Congo (both of them)?  Iraq? The Solomon Islands? Even Egypt, to an extent, as the British would never have built the Aswan High Dam and thus avoided the disastrous consequences that came with it.

The same is true especially of certain countries formerly ruled by the US, namely the Philippine Islands and Cuba.  Cuba is a pretty obvious case.  The Philippines got independence and ultimately threw out the protective US military presence (with a major assist from the Mount Pinatubo volcano), the latter over the objections of its people.  Now the economy is a complete disaster, poverty and corruption are rampant, and the country cannot defend itself from Chinese bullying.

Whatever the problems of US territories Puerto Rico and Guam, and they are many, those places are Paradise compared to the Philippines and Cuba.

Before anyone gets up in arms, let me state unequivocally that this is NOT an argument about ethnicity, race or anything of the sort; it IS an argument about a system of governance and its development.  It is not to say that there weren't great Asian powers like Persia, the Indus, and China, or great African civilizations like Kush, Aksum and ancient Zimbabwe (after which the current nation of Zimbabwe is named). 

But over the centuries the Western system of governance (whether its Athenian democracy, Republican Rome, British and French parliamentary systems or American federal republic), whatever the faults it has had over the centuries (its periods of brutality, corruption, dynastic rule, absolutism and, of course, the Holy Roman Empire), has developed into and proven itself to be more effective, more efficient, more humane and more responsive to the needs of the people than any other system on earth.

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