The Heart of the CSME

First Published: 2005-06-02

An intensive effort has been made to educate the citizens of the Bahamas on the benefits of CSME. In all the dialogue, however, the central and over riding issue is being overlooked. Characterizing the CSME as an economic arrangement is only part of a more aggressive agenda. The vision is for a political union, a Federation of Caribbean States, with the political machinery in place to oversee activities in the individual countries.

Dithering over the details of the Chaguaramas Treaty is causing many to miss the central issue, that the government of the Bahamas will, to a greater or lesser degree be “managed” by non-Bahamians from a location somewhere in the Caribbean.

A remote parliament comprised of appointees to manage, oversee or somehow interject itself into the economic and political affairs of the Bahamas, as we know it today, is simply inconceivable.

Once understood, Bahamians will reject political domination of a Supra-State which Margaret Thatcher describes as an empire unto itself with “committed elites employing skills and stratagems to sustain or expand them. The fact that they are ultimately based on force not consent (though culture may supply some bonds of time) makes them supremely the fruit of artifice” (Statecraft. Strategies for a Changing World – Harper Collins 2002).

The question uppermost is how will our cherished democracy work when the government we currently elect to protect our life and property becomes responsible to an unelected body of representatives from different states with historical differences and traditions. Racial homogeneity cannot be excluded as a motivating force. If so it negates democratic principles and is no better than the notion that a Proxy vote is a democratic one.

If the visionaries for a Caribbean Federation have the European Union as any kind of model, then Lady Thatcher’s insight into the prevailing EU style of politics is worthy of examination. She describes it as “an unusual mix of the authoritarian, the bureaucratic and the interventionist on the one hand, with the compromising, the uninspiring and the ineffective on the other”. Lady Thatcher’s insight into the dysfunctional behaviour of the Eurocrats is confirmed in March 2005 edition of The Economist under the headline “OUTLOOK GLOOMY” for the EU. “Last week’s European Union summit in Brussels might have been worse. But it is quite hard to see how. The purported “relaunch” of the Lisbon Agenda of economic reform left it saddled, as before, with too many empty promises and too little genuine action. The assembled leaders told the European Commission to rewrite (ie, substantially withdraw) its planned directive to liberalise trade in services, the most important remaining single-market proposal. They tore up the euro's stability and growth pact, adding so many exemptions” ….and so on.

Is it possible that Mr. Mitchell imagines a Caribbean Utopian state without the typical human frailties that underlie the European problem? They are all too evident in our own government, but they are “our” government, and we can vote them out.

The Bahamas enjoys the wonderful opportunities for trade anywhere in the world at our own discretion without meddling by superficial “partnership” commitments. Bilateral Agreements as required could be negotiated by “our” own representatives who are answerable directly to “us”.

The decision to stay out of CSME is fully in accord with the Principle of Subsidiarity which is “nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization that can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization” In other words, any activity that can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be.

The Subsidiarity Principle is the bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy that describes idealized Super-States.

The decision on Independence and Nationhood was made in the polling booths in 1972. The polling booth is still the proper place for a decision that is set to weaken “Nationhood”. Set the date, and let the buyer beware (Caveat Emptor).

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