Democratic socialism uncut; the plain truth


Democratic socialism uncut; the plain truth


Friday, August 16, 2019

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Have you read Das Kapital by German philosopher Karl Marx or The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by J M Keynes? Some say the best way to hide something from black people is to put it in a book.

So many Jamaicans think Fabian socialism; national socialism, aka Nazism; democratic socialism; scientific socialism, aka communism are the same. Some spout mimicry of democratic socialism, but not capitalism or communism, why not all?

Norman Manley did not prosper us, nor did arch-capitalists Alexander Bustamante or Edward Seaga; neither system worked for us! Was it ideology or management? The People's National Party, founded in the 1940s as a democratic socialist party on the British model, has not set out its stall recently, so modern youth lack know-how. What is fascism, communism, capitalism, socialist variants? Will the academy provide some thought leadership?

These philosophies are of Europe. Do they work in black cultures; caveat emptor? Name one great black capitalist or communist state? A rich, black democratic socialist nation — where? The old Jamaica Labour Party trope — “a tek dem want fi tek weh people things, divide it up, and gi it weh” — is dead, as rich people live in Denmark, Britain, Germany, and social justice prevails as well.

Do you know communist from democratic socialist nations? Both are built on “common purpose”, but in communist states, North Korea, Russia, China, common purpose is by decree — one don! Democratic socialist states rely on consensual common purpose as Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway, Ireland affirm — some even have coalition Cabinets. Venezuela fails, but capitalist states fail too; system or management?

Our teachers love Finland. Was free education, health care, a four-bedroom house for refugee families a policy of British capitalists? No! Boysie lands with a grip full of pills, Viagra, injectibles for Auntie Roachie, as prescription drugs are free in democratic socialist Britain — what?

Communism is State control with large committees as echo chambers. Democratic socialism is people control, but Lord, it can be messy! Europe's common purpose was rooted in two things: Wars every decade which took millions of their 19-year-old sons; and sub-zero winters made growing and storing food and house-heating crucial. They created League of Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and European Union to end carnage and tax all to pay for a democratic socialist safety net. Jamaica had no such imperative to common purpose; I wish we had winter! We “wash cyar; pick ackee, run a boat; man free”. Rampant “Imanism” of rich and poor was at odds with common purpose and the risk profile of Michael Manley's democratic socialism adverse, so it bombed. Yet, Bustamante's and Seaga's capitalism did not work either, and in 2019 poverty grows and 700,000 squat in Andrew Holness's world. Assuming good faith of all leaders; what's wrong with us?

I grieve for Jamaica! My left-of-centre stance is from a Christian upbringing; baptised, confirmed as a poor youth by Bishop Gibson at St Andrew Parish Church, and I keep the faith as best I can. But I want every child to attend a Wolmer's or a Campion close to his home; good education, a marketable skill, values to take the world full-on and win! I want business to make big profits, pay bigger tax; earn more, give more; the masses productive; $25,000 pay minimum; pay tax to get free education, health care, means-tested rent subsidy as our diaspora in Britain. They were not rich at the start; let's start small!

Life is a bitch as Jamaicans in Jamaica buy into the American dream. Champagne expectations on cream soda pocket! Communist China has a formula for success; it empowers a few to venture and disempowers many to provide cheap labour. Capitalist America has its own recipe too. Investors venture; offer easy credit; zero interest mortgage, no money down on a flash car or 66-inch TV; irresistible — gotcha! The masses then work to pay bills; some default, abscond, but identification systems, intrepid skip-tracers mean they are caught and jailed. Most Americans work as they must. Easy debt, a swift, certain catch made America great long before Donald Trump. Different strategies, same result!

Andrew Holness, Sir, do you know there is consonance of capitalism and democratic socialism on subsidy to farmers? Where do you stand? America passes a Farm Act every three years to affirm farm subsidy, and as the five richest European Union members are democratic socialist farms, all 28 members get subsidy. Sir, both systems value farming, but you expose our farmers to perils of weather, prices, imports and bankers. Repent! Use the European Union or USA model to entrench farm subsidy so we can reap rural development and food security.

Finally, friend, don't allow Jamaica Labour Party, People's National Party, or me to define democratic socialism for you. Read visit Norway, Britain and make up your own mind! Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or

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