Cultural Penetration Hindering Caribbean Development
"Today popular culture is under siege by US television networks and the current battle against US cultural penetration is even more formidable." Gregory Rebess- Popular media and Cultural Identity in the Caribbean. www.waccglobal.org
During the late 1960’s and early 70’s, progressive Caribbean thinkers, were warning about cultural penetration and the effects it would have on the region.
By the end of the 60’s, the most developed islands: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana and Barbados, had gained independence, and with this wave of nationalism, the expectations of the populations grew. This wave toward nationalism and independence continued into the 70’s as more islands sought to be politically independent. With political independence, came the responsibility of fending for ourselves in the world of international diplomacy and trying our best to be recognized as ready for the world stage.
As the tourism industry sprung to life and the need for industrial development became the focus of governments, there was also the need to attract foreign investors. However, those who had escaped delusional thinking knew that the best way to forge our way in the world was to moderate development with a dose of realism. Unfortunately, the political managerial class saw development as mimicking the so-called developed countries.
This refusal to plan made us look to external forces for our salvation. And by the time we caught ourselves, sometime in the mid-80’s, we were virtually all on the way , cap in hand, begging international predators, such as the International Monetary Fund(IMF) to loan us money and run our economies.
As mentioned, in a previous article, our emigration opportunities have all but dried up and we are now hearing about “restructuring our economies”; the need for foreign exchange and we seem incapable of solving our own problems.
However, we believe that the cultural penetration, we allowed in the name of development, is perhaps the biggest stumbling block to solving our problems. Being signatories to many “international” agreements, have opened the region to a vicious form of competition that we cannot conquer. Our people have become consumers of goods and services that cannot and are not produced in our region.
The American fast food establishments;media (television) the music; forms of dress and how we seem to be dealing with each other, have combined to ensure that we are now more in debt and beholding to others ,than we ever were ,since the abolition of slavery and the emergence from colonialism.
It is a great challenge to change what we have allowed to ignore for the better part of four decades. Like a stranger trying to exist and acclimatize, in a strange land, we are being forced to change our personalities and habits in order to survive.
Call us dreamers or say that we are relics from a past era; we still believe that the only solution is a vibrant, unified Caribbean Nation. In order to save future generations, from a new wave of imperialism, we must first save ourselves.