ALL AH WE IS ONE: Fascism vs democracy
IT IS SIGNIFICANT THAT whilst the ruling groups in the Caribbean have been busy pursuing an anti-people free market neo-liberal approach to “development” since the 1980s, in North America there are clear signs that neo-liberalism has failed so miserably, that it is now giving rise to a crude, racist and backward fascism, best exemplified in the politics and personality of US presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
Fascism is also on the rise in Europe as a “migrant crisis” is threatening to destroy the unification project and is legitimising the far right.
Our deep Caribbean thinkers like C.L.R. James had always warned that the option facing the world was either “socialism or barbarism”.
Similarly, following World War II, Aime Cesaire had warned that the very rise of Hitler was the proof that Europe’s ideological claims to global supremacy had lost all legitimacy since Europe could no longer justify itself either “before the bar of reason or before the bar of conscience”.
Today, with the rise of Trump, we can make a similar claim that neo-liberalism has lost its legitimacy since it is being abandoned in exchange for fascism.
It is on this basis that the progressive sections of the Caribbean population have been insisting for a very long time that our region needs to reclaim the historic social democratic perspective which had shaped the post-colonial order. It was social democracy which gave birth to the modernised social infrastructure, created the context for effective labour-relations systems, widened the education, health, housing, public transportation, sanitation services, and generally corrected the deficiencies of the colonial order, which was concerned only with oppressing and exploiting native populations, rather than ensuring their advancement.
It is therefore a shocking indication of deep levels of intellectual laziness, coupled with heavy doses of political opportunism and individual greed by a new generation of politician whose aim is to enjoy power for its own sake, that they have abandoned the tried and tested social democracy as a result of their inability to think beyond the imposed hegemonic world view. The rise of fascism in the North should be a clear signal that they should return to common sense.
A clearer signal can also be seen in the rise of Bernie Sanders as a dominant player in the US. He has been insisting that the US is ready for a Scandinavian-type social democracy, and he has tremendous support amongst the youth, who are refusing to accept the ideological claims of free market capitalism. Similarly, Jeremy Corbyn, a social democrat and peace advocate, has been elected the leader of the opposition in the British parliament.
The current moment in which we live is therefore one in which the battle between fascism and social democracy is most acute, and neo-liberalism has lost its appeal. The backward, opportunistic and intellectually lazy Caribbean leadership should rouse themselves and take note.
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: [email protected]