Is the End of Ideology Good for Jamaica?

The ramp from Highway 2000 to the Mr Nelson Mandela Highway near Kingston, Jamaica.  Photo by Glendon Caballero
The ramp from Highway 2000 to the Mr Nelson Mandela Highway near Kingston, Jamaica. Photo by Glendon Caballero

The present generation knows very little of the post-WWII Cold War ideological tussle between Russia and USA. And I doubt that social science departments in Jamaican universities are now besieged by either liberal democratic or socialist tendencies.

Ideology is dead. This is the postmodern age.

Nothing is absolute anymore. All that matters is the achievement of worthwhile group and individual goals. Politics and religion no longer anchor their existence on dogmas, but on existential philosophical hybrids so typical of the New Age Movement.

The absolute global propositions of neo-Marxian and liberal ideologies have been replaced by fragmented but poignant ideas on building capacity for local and global market.

Shocking rates of crime, illiteracy, and unemployment remind us that despite the plasma TV and iPhone, we are still swimming in the dirty currents of post-colonial political economy, that is, rotten terms of trade, flight of capital, exploitation of workers, But our exposure to communication technology and liberating philosophies mean that we know more about Digicel Rising Stars than we know about Marcus Garvey and Sam Sharpe.

Forty years ago the puppet masters manipulated us with Cold War rhetoric, now they manipulate us with mass media, consumerism, and an education system devoid of gentleness and respect.

Political philosophy, like art, is really a search for the beautiful and the good. How do we organise the power relations of society so that humanity can enjoy peace and prosperity. Concepts like the nation state and class struggle appealed to us in the premodern and modern times.

Today, we exist in the era of globalisation, perhaps the single most defining feature of postmodernism. And I contend that vulnerable small island economies like Jamaica need strong leadership in order to navigate these mysterious waters that are filled with international and local sharks. Leadership must rally a nation around a common purpose. Whether we call it ideology or vision, it's the same thing, a cogent philosophy of where we are going and why we need to commit our better natures to that grand task.

I propose therefore that the task of postmodern Jamaica and especially for any progressive political party, is to engage in an exhaustive study of viable political options and construct a political platform which will generate the vision, the new ideology for 21st century Jamaica.

The tragedy of postmodern Jamaica is that both major political parties, the traditionally left leaning PNP, and the once conservative JLP, have so incestuously stolen each other's identities in the amorphous shadows of the looming death of ideology, that they are both devoid of cognitive and charismatic appeal. And lurking in the background, or rather, slowly filling the vacuum, are the guns and drugs of men who fear not God, angels, or anything a democratic society can throw at them. God help us!

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