The We vs Them Syndrome

 

I am going to try and keep this simple.

 

Our society has, since the arrival of Europeans, and even before, been based on hierarchies. Having different people fall into categories of importance is crucial to how we operate. And in order to create these categories we have to find the ways in which we differ and capitalise on them.

 

So, Columbus would have landed and the Spanish would have decided that because they had guns and swords that made them superior. But you see, you cant justify to people that having superior weaponry makes you fit to dominate and rule them. No, you have to find something more palatable. An ideology that is people friendly and in our current age media friendly. So in Columbus' time the story given was that we have come to bring salvation and civilisation to the Amerindians. Not because they didnt have a religious or political system, but because in order to rule the Amerindians and take their land and resources, they needed to impose Spanish rule. What made the story work, was the weapons they had. Because if there was any opposition to their system of rule, well you could be killed, your family destroyed.

 

As you fast forward through our history you see how the use of hierarchies, or "we vs them" theory continues to work. Other things are added, skin colour, ethnicity, education levels, political affiliations. It's all there to see and all very apparent. How this place has been governed since Europeans arrived hasn't changed at all in 500 years. And we are still fighting amongst ourselves for the same things: land and resources.

 

As you make your way through our history the cries and claims of oppression, marginalisation and discrimination are heard over and over again. It  first started with the Amerindians, and they were well within their right. Their homes were invaded and taken over and they never got one cent of rent, not even an instalment. The Spanish managed a quiet and systematic takeover and today you wont hear any of the descendants of Spanish landowners acknowledge their past. Let's please move on.

 

The Africans brought here whether enslaved, freed or indentured (yes, we had Africans here who were bond servants, not enslaved, they came before East Indians), all lay claim to being marginalised and oppressed as well. And you have to ask yourself why exactly the free Africans, or as historians refer them, the free coloureds, could think they were marginalised. After all many of them were land owners, professional men and some even owned slaves themselves, so why did they feel discriminated against? Well, simply put, they didn't have political power and were denied access to it until the 1920s. Interestingly enough, these free coloureds, didn't see themselves as part of the black working class. Again, "we vs them". They were education professionals and landowners, they had nothing in common with black labour. Black labour became important to the free coloureds in the 1950s, when everyone over 21 could vote.

 

East Indians were marginalised by both whites and blacks here. But to look at our current dynamics you would swear that it was the Afro-descended population that imported indentured labour and then exploited Indians on estates. You'd swear too that ethnic stereotyping of all the groups here started within the labouring groups of Africans and Indians. Not so. Those stereotypes were often introduced by the ruling class and then expanded on. Stereotypes are useful tools for establishing differences where there are none and creating rivalry. If you had to run a place where the labour force larger than management, wouldn't you use divide and rule policies? Wouldnt you create stereotypes to assist you? Unfortunately the war of words where race and racism is concerned has become so convoluted no one can trace its roots, so now it boils down to a confusing "we vs them" finger pointing and name calling as we all fight for land and resources.

 

The other groups that literally make up our 1% have all faced their fair share of marginalisation because of their small numbers here. We tend to generalise and think they are all wealthy. But we have low income Europeans, Arabs and Chinese here and our general resentment over how little our wealth is distributed makes us lash out. Again, "we vs them". And in this instant, it's the poor majority lashing out at what they think is a wealthy minority.

 

The real anomaly in our matrix folks is that despite all the clear as day "we vs them" policies, we still talk about every creed and race finding an equal place. Given how our country was developed, that is a pipe dream. And the "all o we is one" lie gets perpetuated with Carnivals, festivals and funding for the arts. Everybody is quick to point out how mixed and unified we are. But we are really not.

 

And that's why Kamla Persad-Bissessar can tell her supporters "get in yuh section". That is why all politics before her has been about get in your section. In "we vs them" ideology, the minority rides the back of the majority to remain successfully on top. Kamla, understands only too well, having followed the example of past regimes, that you must never completely satisfy your voter base, because then they wont need you; but you have to keep your financiers ecstatic.

 

You see, a contented voter base means people have jobs, adequate income, good services and amenities, decent quality of life. The minute your population is that happy, they stop voting based on tribe, and vote based on issues. So, in fact, political life here depends on keeping the status quo of "we vs them" in tact.

 

The sad thing is, in "we vs them" ideology, is not Europeans vs Amerindians anymore, but we fighting with weself.

 

De Vice Cyah Done!