The Sociologic Of Political Silence: Explaining A Discourse In Jamaica’s Society

The hegemonic categorization of the Jamaican landscape is primarily the justifiable reason for the sophisticated demonstrations and social hemorrhaging. Many of those happenings are caused from the lack of monologue of the business constituents. This group of elitists has exponentially benefited from playing the proletariat class. They have not offered their clientele the respect of voice on matters of social concerns or political mismanagement. The present government’s socio-economic policies are chiefly responsible for the erosion of much of the social fibre and economic livelihood of the Jamaican people. The poor are not only suffering but they are also hemorrhaging while the business class offers the society stillness as a tool of needed social change. PIOJ (2004) report, Economic and Social Survey Jamaica, report confirms that the national poverty stood at 16 per cent. Of the 2, 650,900 inhabitants, there are 424,144 poor people, which absolute valuation seems not to perturb the hegemony of this society. In order to attain that social society that we all desire, justice through actions and deems must be a hallmark of the leadership.

The categorization of Jamaicans as poor has been declining (Henry-Lee, 2001) but the economic indicators of growth are not impressive as our Caricom counterparts. Looking at the absolute figures, the social realities of the peoples are not marginally measured or understood. Despite the fluctuations in economic growth valuations, rural poverty continues to be higher than the national figures and of those for other towns and cities. Coupled with the economic hardship of poverty, rural Jamaica over the last six months is seeing a dwindling of economic activities. As a social scientist, I believe that the current tidal waves of price increases are eroding the economic livelihood of many of the poor. This situation means that the economic hardship of the people within the context of the hegemony – silence, is destroying the moral and other social fibre of the poor. “What are poor to do?”

‘Once economic growth was taking place, it was that poverty would be reduced’ (Henry-Lee, 2001, p.202) but this orthodox phenomenology may be changing in Jamaican as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at constant prices have been increasing (PIOJ, 2004, p.3.1) with a simultaneous change in economic hardship of the poor while the hegemonic class expand their physical surroundings and amass European amenities. To date, the constant salary, the MTTP (Ministers Tricking the Poor), the minimal bus fare increases (only 67 % – what!), the huge increases in prices of basic foods and increase in political leadership are making the ‘poor’ poorer. Those hurdles are not the challenges of the poor as they wrestle with ‘prince’ and ‘guards’ for sanity. The electricity increases, instructional materials increases, the last blatant disdain by the Prime Minister, ‘Rt’ honourable Percival James Patterson, for the intellectual mindset of the ‘black’ academic is frightening and speaks volume of the private sector’s silence.

The private sector, despite ‘recognizing’ the challenges of governance and policies formulation of the government, continue to hemorrhage in silence, which, I construe, indicates the tenants of the PNP over the economy. I realize that there is no longer a unified Jamaica but a PNP, a JLP group and a business class. This situation was unfolded to me over time as there is not core concern that may create unison in order that Jamaicans can forge around with the interest of all. Instead, we are ‘Ps’ and a ‘B’. The socio-political arena has changed globally and nationally for the JLP but the reality is, the average citizenry of this society are still clamouring for hegemony and social transformation though development.

It is the business class that is the engine of growth in all societies and not the public sectors. This group dictates the terms of economic activities and stipulates the atmosphere of governance but the Jamaican group is hemorrhaging from fear and political conformity. Hence, the present proletariat class, the underclass, is left to view the heavens for a haven. When the business class fails to provide that leadership for the society, the ‘labourer’ class will gradually venture in deviant acts as a medium of grappling with political mismanagement. ‘Too many people are comfortable with the present affairs (Bourne, 2005) and silence of the ‘underclass’ is becoming increasingly deafening. If the business class continues with this dialectic silence, the poor may resort to revolution in an effort to understand and come to a rationale of their social space.

The old philosophical construct of poverty is primarily food consumption of the poorest quintile but this definition fails to recognize that poor people are social beings with children. One researcher (Henry-Lee) forwarded a slant that; the poor spend the largest proportion of their earnings on food, which means that the business class must begin to offer a position against any erosion of their economic base. If there are presently 424, 100 absolutely poor people any increase in food prices will see them living how?

According to Rapley (1996, p.7), “state interventions to relieve poverty would inhibit initiative, and would stifle investment because they would rely on increased taxes.” Dr. Rapley’s cited perspective is a clear indication of the stance taken by all traditional economists. This stance sees development as solely an economic growth phenomenon that is driven by the free market but many post World War II economists differ on a theorizing for this construct. Lewis concurred with classicalists like Smith and Keynes that development is primarily economic. Rapley (1996, p.16) stated that, “Lewis argued that in a Third World economy, the wage rate was set at a constant level as determined by minimum levels of existence in traditional family farming.” This ensured a virtually unlimited supply of cheap labour, which has an advantageous factor in industrial development (Rapley, 1996 p.16). As a social scientist who is concerned with development and its determinants, the researcher is cognizant of the different discourse on the issue but will analyze both schools of thought before coming to a consensus.

The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS, 2002) wrote, “while material poverty affect a large number of households, the Report points to the impending dangers of more widespread and subtle forms of poverty that include poor health, inadequate levels of educational attainment; lack of economic assets or access to markets or jobs that could create the unsafe physical environment; and various forms of social exclusion.” This report forwards the core of the post-1950 scholars’ viewpoints on development that is broader than the Classicalists theorizing that was once the epistemological framework on development thoughts. The article points to other non-economic growth theorizing such as health care, education and other psychosocial conditions. Hence, the author will not seek to continue in the pre-1950s epistemological mindset as it is a one sided theorizing but will seek to quantify any validity of the contemporary developmentalists’ perspective on the issue as this include social, political and economic factors. This paper surrounds the social aspect to development in the form of expenditure on health care and expenditure on education with the intention of using those two (2) determinants of contemporary development in order to ascertain any causal and/or associational relationship between expenditure on social programmes and their influence on levels of development.

Spikes (2002) posits: “poverty can be regarded as the inability to obtain the essentials of life; for others it is a matter of low income; for others a problem of social inequality”. He goes on to say that “poverty can be explained in terms of material conditions, that is basic needs, food, clothing, and shelter; however limited resource interfere with the ability to acquire the essentials. Poverty can be seen as exclusion; the European Union defines the poor as persons whose resources (material culture and social) are so limited as to exclude them from the minimum acceptable way of life in the member state in which they live depending on benefits as equivalents as claiming social assistance”.

It is frightening to say the least that despite efforts within the technological age people are living in abject poverty that retards the process in which many of these issues should have been addressed. Haralambus (1995)”poverty implies an undesirable social problem that a solution should be found. Basic amenities, for examples, shelter health and nutrition: the latter according to Drewnowski and Scott in Haralambus “is measured by factors in relation to the amount of calories and protein consumed by the individual. Shelter is measured by the quality of living arrangements (dwelling etc.) and health is measured by factors such as infant mortality and the quality of medical treatments available.

When individuals are malnourished, the health of these individuals would affect them in terms of their physical and mental states. A medical practitioner, Dalzell-Ward (1974: 23), commented that “The deprivation of energy foods’ will result in excessive fatigue which will in turn diminish social and work performances and interfere with well-being.” There is however, the indication of a level of development, where as if an individual is not in the best of health, this will contribute to fewer hours worked and reduced production. The economist Adam Smith states that this would be an indication of reduced economic growth. Professor Todaro (Todaro, 2000) from his perspective, that development envelope social, political and economic changes in peoples lives. Another medical practitioner concurred with Dalzell–Ward (1974) when she said:

In fact many of today’s problems with students are actually health related. Kids are not able to learn sufficiently if they are hungry, tired, hung-over from alcohol, or worried about violence. We need to eliminate barriers that affect students’ readiness to learn. A variety of physical and mental conditions impact students’ attendance and their ability to pay attention in class anger, and restrain from self-destructive impulses.

Eurocentric beliefs have so conquered the epistemology of world ideology that it becomes difficult even for the ‘honest’ advocate to be effective. Individualism-profiteerism drives the engine of social existence that humans only protect themselves, even if it appears that another is being helped in the process. Christianity is a by-product of the Eurocentric system and so helps to explain its true tenet. Europe in an effort to corner all epistemologies of the ontology of man’s existence and creation offered spiritualism. Christianity operates as though it has the sole authority to the ontology of creation. Despite its stance, the ideological phenomenology of Christianity subsumes individualism. Unlike the other traditional epistemological construct of man, humanitarianism is a tenet of their doctrine but they are not the iconic thought because they were fashioned prior to Europe’s delineation of world ideology. The social reality is such that we cannot afford to mute a position, the people are being ‘Saddomized’ by the political structure, and it is in the hegemony’s best interest to ensure that the poor and less fortunate are protected as they have nothing to lose in the event of a revolution.

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