Thursday, June 30, 2011

Colonial status for Jamaica?

There is a small, but fascinating little item posted on the Powerline blog today concerning a newspaper poll in Jamaica.  The poll found that "by a 60 percent to 17 percent margin, Jamaicans say they would be better off if they were once again a British colony" and that this "is particularly astonishing as generations of Jamaican leaders have portrayed the British as oppressors who subjected the Caribbean to slavery."

Of course it isn't just Jamaicans who've been trained to think of colonial rule as oppressive (if nothing else this post brought back memories of college arguments).  But beyond that, what I find even more interesting is that this represents an at least partial repudiation of democracy.  The 60 percent here are saying more or less you guys are better at this government stuff than we are, and that view stands in remarkable opposition to the spirit of this age.

For instance, I recently read the history of Britain textbook from my college years, and one of things that stood out was the confidence, the matter of factness with which any and all reforms which moved in the direction of greater democracy were written of as progress.  One could almost hear the trumpets blare as the electoral franchise was expanded, and if the sound was somewhat muted that was because the reform was too cautious and still hadn't gone far enough.

That is the spirit of the age, not just in Britain but as much or more here in the states.  As I was thinking about this post Fred Barnes was on Fox arguing that the public should be brought into the debt ceiling negotiations, that they should be in public not behind closed doors.  And so it goes. 

Personally I'm a lot more sceptical.  I don't trust our current elites any further than I could throw them but I don't trust the people either.  Political rhetoric aside, we aren't in our current predicament because our politicians didn't listen to the people.  They did listen.  We've gotten pretty much exactly what we voted for and recognizing that, rather than blaming the politicians, should be part of the cure. 

Jamaica is just Jamaica, and its only one poll.  But there is something in this which is both interesting and important even if the practical ramifications seem trivial.  Thinking clearly is beneficial no?  So extend the idea and ask yourself would you opt to be governed under the old rules of crown and Pitt, or the current ones?  I think I'd go for the former, but then I'm conservatively inclined and live in Chicago, so I don't really have a vote anyway.

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