Created: Apr 26, 2021 8:01 AM
This is not an anti-party opinion of the parties, but rather to provoke thought and hopefully develop a sense of responsibility for the truth of the effects of partisan politics on Bermuda.
Sir ET Richards (photo courtesy of the Bermuda News Bureau)
It has been stated and even repeated that many of our ancestors and political pioneers warned us not to embrace party politics because they feared it would be its divisive effects on Bermudan society. What was not said is that they were right.
It is understandable that in life we also have to deal with what is, rather than what could or should have been. However, reason gives us the space to critically examine where we are, what the goal was, and what was or was not achieved. This is a position that every human society has, and if the truth is to be verified or maintained, then a necessary exercise must be systemically placed in our processes as an essential part of our conscious activity in the future.
Having remembrance marches and Founder’s Day celebrations as ritualistic behaviors may be good traditions, but often when we look at the roots we find less to celebrate and more to ponder.
We all now know that the black community of 1960 was much stronger and more united on fundamental political issues than we are today. It wasn’t just providence; it is hard work and advocacy that has given us the beginnings of a full educational construction, we have just completed the development of primary schools and built the Bermuda Technical Institute. But for a college or university, we as a society were on the right track.
We had strong churches, strong workers’ clubs, lodges, two unions, and an abundance of very strong businessmen. Adult voting was underway; this battle had already been won, paved by figures like WL Tucker and many others. Here in the early 1960s is the inflection point, which really shows whether the outcome of what you decide to do brings more or less value to the table.
An honest assessment would be to ask what the 1960 society needed. We can make it even more personal by asking what people like Herbie Simons, Reg Raynor or Reginald Burrows needed. Of course, we could ask the same of people like “Cheese” Ray or Benny Sousa.
Ask churches, sports clubs and lodges what they need. The answers can come back: a friendly banking system, health care benefits, scholarships, sports academies and a range of what you might call “development tools”.
So far, all efforts within parliament and political activism have effectively contributed to providing development tools. That’s why we had enough schools then, which was certainly an improvement over 30 years earlier.
Can we imagine how foreign a party was to our social and intellectual fabric in the early 1960s?
If we have a hard time understanding this gap, imagine this: a party is formed in 1963 and in 1968 has independence in its platform.
Or imagine this: society is based on free enterprise and mercantilism, and a group emerges with socialism, nationalization and anti-capitalist rhetoric. Was it a consensus-driven movement? Or a completely arbitrary movement compared to what existed? It was indeed foreign to the glorious thoughts of a party of deliverance or liberation
Judgment does not enter into this question of whether socialism is or was good or bad, or whether capitalism is right or wrong. The question is, by whose authority? Who calls the shots? Is it the Bermudan people until then? Or a small group with a new idea? A new group with the idea of telling the majority in which direction it should go or be headed?
No one on this planet has yet been able to convince me that the party proposal of 1965 and beyond was not against the grain of Bermuda, which had made tremendous progress at this point.
Black Bermuda became a divided society from this point on in 1965; there was or there is no other reason. It’s as clear as the murder of George Floyd. George would have survived without the 9min 29sec where a knee was on his neck. Merchant Bermuda and political Black Bermuda would have been alive without the knee placed on their necks by the Progressive Labor Party and also the oligarchy standing on their backs for an entire decade.
The divisions started in 1965 still persist today and are celebrated as a victory. So Dr. Gordon was right, AND Richards was right. I can go on and name a bunch of people, who were right, including Eva Hodgson – party politics alone is responsible for dividing the black community. It is an inescapable reality.
Added to this is the question of who should take responsibility for the division. Ultimately, who should lead the change to heal the division.
We cannot blame the white man for our disunity; it did not trigger the divergence. We had an enthusiastic group bent on reaching for power that could not estimate the damage done to a community that was not involved and that would become the victims.
There’s nothing new under the sun; most things have their equivalent somewhere on the planet. The issue of fleeing party politics can be resolved by connecting the community to the parties through progressive reform that gives people more voice above and within the organization.
Unfortunately, as predicted by Sir Henry “Jack” Tucker, who feared that a black party would develop and resemble its oligarchy. It was the bane of his lifelong struggle, and if it happened, the new oligarchs would be toothless – that is, without the backing of a financial machine. He too was right because it would appear that this group is resisting any attempt to broaden the leadership base to include “the people”.
For them, apparently, “the people” are the Gombey and those who come out and march in the streets on their behalf, but not on behalf of the electorate whose involvement they deny.