Wed | May 24, 2017

On nationalism and the need to swap rulers

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2015 | 4:00 AM

Below is an article published by the late Morris Cargill on January 10, 1991.

Ever since I can remember, I have feared nationalism, and of course, its posturing relations, patriotism. Especially too, the kind of narrow nationalism that has recently become so virulent. Nationalism, even though of comparatively recent growth, historically speaking, it has spawned more wars than religions although it has not done so in the West Indies. Chiefly because we haven't anyone we could possible go to war against and no armies to fight it anyway. It has caused a lot of unnecessary trouble by encouraging us to grow inwards rather than outwards and confirming certain kinds of barmy insularity.

Can you imagine, for instance, our accepting a non-Jamaican prime minister? Indeed, we accept a non-Jamaican Queen only reluctantly, and largely out of force of habit yet up about two or three centuries ago, hardly any country in the world thought of its rule in nationalistic terms.

Even British, and even if you regard the Norman Conquest as something special, though nothing as recent as the 18th Century of having kings who were Germans. Some of whom could hardly speak English, if at all, and even more recently during the First World War, Britain was led by a Welshman which to English is the nearest thing to foreigner and nobody has ever said that a Pope should be born in the Vatican.

 

Succession

 

These thoughts popped into my mind when I heard that Mr Lee Kuan Yew, prime minister of Singapore, since Adam was a boy, had finally resigned or at least was about to having turned the succession over to his son.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who speaks fluent English, has won two first at Cambridge would make most admirable Prime Minister of Jamaica, even though to be sure the speaking of fluent English will soon no longer be required of our prime minister. Mr Lee Kuan Yew is the sort of no-nonsense prime minister Jamaica needs. Not only would he pass necessary laws, but he would enforce them. Taxi drivers, for instance, would all have to have working meters, or their vehicles would be crushed up and thrown into the sea.

I doubt, however, whether Mr Lee Kuan would accept such an insignificant post as prime minister of Jamaica, even were he offered it, he would have been better fitted to be prime minister of Britain had Attila the Hen (as a friend of mine to call her) not been so hastily replaced by Mr Major's father was un-English enough to be a trapeze artist.

And what about Mrs Thatcher? The Tories may have rejected her, but she is enormously loved elsewhere. She could quite easily make a president of the United States (US) except for the fact that the US has taken the odd step of declaring that a president must be US born. That same thing applies to Mr Mikhail Gorbachev, who is immensely and deservedly popular in the US could he stand for election there, nobody could touch him. It is a pity that the US nationalism has deprived that great country of two splendid potential leaders as it is. Bush, who would in turn make a fine Prime Minister of Japan, if only because a Japanese prime minister is not expected to make any decisions at all.

 

True vocations

 

And what about the photogenic and relaxed Mr Ronald Reagan? One does not mention Mr Nixon or the born again Mr Carter. Both of whom I think missed their true vocations when they became Prime Ministers, the former as the head of the General Motors and the latter as a truly honest televangelist, a role which incidentally could have been magnificently filled by our own prime minister who has more talent accumulating treasures in heaven than in the Bank of Jamaica.

But Mr Ronald Reagan would surely be the choice if the Russians should they be unwise as to unseat Mr Gorbachev. He would do the Russians a world of good and they him and his wife would do much to create a fashion revolution among the dowdy Russian women.

There is nowhere for Fidel Castro to go after Cuba kick him out. He is far too passÈ to be prime minister of anywhere these days. The best that I can think of him would be for Mr Issa to give him a job in one of his hotels. Mr Issa is, of course, Jamaican revenge for Mr Estrada.

Yet in spite of all the difficulties, it seems to me a great pity that we, in Jamaica particularly, are unable to take an international approach to our governments. As it happens, we are quite happy with Mr Michael Manley (I am anyway) who is doing nothing to harm anyone, and it would be unkind to send him to Guyana, a country which has never in recent years enjoyed the luxury of sanity in high places.

But if we are thinking internationally and for the moment at any rate putting patriotism aside, what would be best for Mr Seaga who is not obviously happy in his present role? World forces having done, I hope something very unpleasant to Saddam Hussein. We'll need a leader for Iraq in the same way the US sent General McArthur to Japan after that nation's defeat. Perhaps, Mr Seaga would ideally fit that position. He is efficient and tough and taps telephones and doesn't allow friendships to stand in the way. Surely, the Middle East is his métier?