Give me a child…
I ended the previous article in this series with the suggestion that no one has suffered more because of the presumed ‘inerrancy and infallibility’ of professor Sir Hilary Beckles’ “Western scholarship” than his family, especially his son Rodney.
And to support this claim I cited the seemingly paranoid, perverse reason the prominent Pan Africanist Sir Hilary gave the Barbadian media and public to defend his decision to send Rodney to a well known, predominantly-white-Barbadians-controlled-and-attended primary school: according to media reports, he said it was to spy on white people, basically.
I maintain that this explanation by Sir Hilary when his parenting was subjected to scrutiny predicted or foreshadowed his son Rodney’s later illegal drug usage and killing of his friend Khalil Campbell in January 2007.
To be clear, I am not saying that either Beckles Jr’s illegal use of marijuana, for which he was not tried, or his killing of Campbell, for which he faced a murder charge and was acquitted, were inevitable.
I am simply asserting the widely evident fact that illegal drug usage and extreme violence are part of a pattern or continuum of behaviours and situations that may, in Rodney’s case, legitimately raise questions about Sir Hilary’s and Lady Beckles’ parenting competence.
A similar predictability is behind Aristotle’s much quoted assertion: “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.”
‘Professor’ Viola Davis, Chancellor in the school of life that I am still attending, framed the equation more poignantly, as she commented on short-sighted, petty political machinations by David Comissiong, one of Beckles’ key reparations crusading allies, ahead of the fateful 2001 UN Conference.
Quoting the ancient Heraclitus, consciously or unconsciously, Davis told me “Character is destiny.”
My focus is the kind of seeds of distrust and suspicion that were sown in the infant Beckles’ mind, and how these sour seeds or bitter beliefs may have borne fruit in the tragic, lethal outcome of a dispute which, according to at least one news report of the time, may have begun as a case of good natured teasing by Campbell about the shoes Beckles Jr was wearing.
More broadly, I am not only concerned with the normaliszation but, and more acutely, the ‘domestication’ of what 2016 Labour Party leadership challenger Angela Eagle has called the “politics of grievance” and particularly the mixed messages that rote recitation of such rhetoric sends to ‘Labour children’.
In other words, I am concerned about the conscience corrupting, mind poisoning potency of the economic historian Beckles’ and other Labour ideologues’ insufficiency rhetoric in child rearing, familial contexts.
Labour predictability and self-fulfilling prophecy
In the previous article I noted that like Sir Hilary, both former Labour leader Tony Blair and his prominent Jamaican-descended colleague Diane Abbott have been publicly criticised for socialism-preaching-but-not-practising school choices.
I think it can be reasonably stated that there is some kind of vision blurring blot or disconnect around Labour politicians’ understanding of and attitude toward scholarship.
And while prime minister Blair may be viewed as having sought to address this political-pedagogical disconnect or dysfunction, with his “aspirational” New Labour project, his deputy Lord Prescott’s ambivalent attitude toward education probably provides one of the worst examples of this dysfunction’s tragic efficacy – possibly only surpassed by Blair’s Pentecostal excursions.
In his autobiography, ‘A Journey’ the Constantinian complex afflicted Blair shares details of a visit to a Black Church Conference in Brighton where he got “drunk with the spirit”, in a manner not entirely dissimilar from his son Ewan’s experience with alcohol a few days previously.
But I cannot fault Blair too heavily for integrationist overtures or mixing his drinks, while denouncing Beckles’, Nigel Farage’s, Trump’s, Louis Farrakhan’s and others’ racial racketeering isolationism.
My concern is to draw attention to the pragmatic problems that arise when your domestic, personal pedagogy and parental discourse is out of sync with your ‘political broadcasting’.
This kind of Blott (Blair-Abbott) phenomenon seems to persistently blur Beckles’ and other fundamentalist Labour preachers’ vision.
It seems to restrict their neuro-ideological airways, obstructing the circulation of rational thought in the domestic sphere, where as any sound socialist knows, it matters first and foremost.
Readers will recall what I first shared in article seven of this series (and quoted in article eight) about the “impracticality of a dualistic, ambivalent British manners matrix that can only ever assure a fragile peace.”
Note also that the “‘too polite’ Norwich-based, lifelong Labour Party supporter” I referred to in that connection is “working in the education field”.
That individual, a head teacher, voted for Clive Lewis on the basis of his proficiency with Labour’s rhetoric of the marginalized, I believe.
In fact, as I recall, when I asked that educator why he/she was voting for Lewis, he/she simply said something like “Ooh, I could never vote Tory!” (I use the gender referent ‘he/she’ to protect the individual’s identity.)
And I seem to recall that top level educator shuddering as those words were spoken, clearly showing deep revulsion at even the idea of voting Tory.
This apparent instinctiveness or automaticity of response underscores the point I am making here about the rote-like, robotic or Corbottic (inspired by the political collaborations of Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott) character of Labour discipline and indoctrination.
Or, in a word, its predictability.
And I should note here that in my mind Aristotle’s prophetic formulae is associated with Roman Catholic indoctrination more than ancient Greek philosophy.
Perhaps that is one reason why in April last year I told Dr Michael Nibblet of the University of Warwick that I see little difference between some universities’ and churches’ pedagogy.
Indeed, from my perspective, even the antagonistic, fundamentalist atheist AC Grayling’s New College of the Humanities project can be construed as a psychologically self-alienated and socio-linguistically short-sighted and ill-fated religious venture, possibly having less to do with that Western scholar’s academic ambitions than with childhood trauma suffered in Gambia or Malawi.
But more pertinently, my preoccupation with the Roman Catholic Church (lets call it a preoccupation for the moment) has to do with Catholicism’s links to Sir Hilary, my local MP Lewis, the University of Illinois and the previously mentioned Barbados-sown, globally grown criminal conspiracy in which they and other persons and institutions are implicated.
Actually, as with the Labour Party, through a letter before action sent to its London-based Bishops Conference, I have informed the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales that I am considering legal action against it.
Sadly, like the Labour Party, the Bishops led by Cardinal Vincent Nicholls have so far spurned my proactive attempts to address the issues undermining authentic, frank and mutually respectful Christian fellowship between them and I, and in turn, between myself and other believers, especially in the local Catholic community.
I am particularly concerned about the state of relations between myself and members of Norwich Justice and Peace, especially longstanding members Pamela Lowe, Colin Allen and Isabel Ingram, as I informed the Catholic Safeguarding officer for our diocese, Michael (Mick) Thurley.
And the behaviour of the Catholic Bishops has only intensified my concerns for J&P members and other Norfolk Catholics’ wellbeing, because unlike the Labour Party, the Bishops have so far failed to even formally acknowledge letters before action that I began sending them by both post and email in June last year.
The Bishops seem instead to be banking on silence, which as Verene Shepherd, one of Beckles’ academic colleagues has pointed out, is one of the deadliest weapons in the arsenal of an assassin.
They seem to be banking on the killer instinct that makes Donald-Trump-like demagogues treat politics, religious or otherwise labelled, like a zero sum game.
And I feel obliged to note the silence here too of Unite the Union General Secretary Len McCluskey.
He too appears to have decided that the best response to my proactive attempts at constructive, conciliatory dialogue is a party political, placebo-like non-engagement policy.
But I and other silence scrutinizing alchemy assessing semanticists are mindful that where silence can be curative and healing in one social context, in another it can be destructive of civilized engagement.
As science writer Jo Marchant and others may attest, it can lead to a poisonous, communicable continuum of death.
And I have been tracking such a semantic series of deaths (including the sudden death of Norfolk County Council executive Harold Bodmer and the similarly ‘unnatural’ death of Labour MP Jo Cox), in Barbados, England and elsewhere, for some time now, and very carefully.
And my heart’s desire is to prevent any more mad Maox (Thomas-Mair-killing-Cox) misanthropic, misinterpretation of ‘the times and the seasons’ (Acts 1:7).
My main concern here, as indicated previously, is to prevent any further assassination of character or shipwrecking of human potential through deliberate or unintended distortions of faith or ideology.
It is to prevent the predictable destruction of life and distortion of ‘intellectual property’ by the globally influential, presumably well-meaning but deeply flawed and fallible scholar Beckles, my local MP Lewis and others implicated in the afore mentioned decades old criminal conspiracy against me.
And as I indicated in a Facebook post recently, while no doubt causing some strain in relations between myself and members of the Catholic Church, the Labour Party and other entities, I expect my crusade for justice to benefit those entities ultimately.
Responding to predictably snide, cynical comments by one of Lewis’ supporters in the local Muslim community I wrote “And the really great thing about this is that not only will a stronger, more unified Labour Party emerge when our work is done, THE WHOLE LANDSCAPE OF BRITISH, BARBADIAN, AMERICAN, CANADIAN and other national political-ecological systems will be transformed for the better.”
Sadly, that selective silence supporting Muslim skeptic seems too infatuated with Lewis, who he claims to have interacted with personally, to grasp the idea that like Beckles’, the Norwich South MP’s ‘scholarship’ (such as it is) could be wrecked by his human fallibility.
Like others in Norfolk’s Jewish, Christian and other religious communities who have endorsed the veteran trade unionist Lewis, his Muslim ally seems intent on portraying me as a ‘crank’ and my fight for justice as a “grand delusion” and exercise in futility.
That Islamist agitator’s insults are to that extent reminiscent of Lewis’ former BBC colleague Mike Liggins, who contemptuously undermined my efforts to have the light of public scrutiny shed on capitalist ‘scholar’ Surinder Kandola, the UK’s largest and possibly most politically influential Domino’s Pizza franchisee.
But discerning readers will agree that like Liggins’ clearly prejudiced view of me, that Muslim detractor’s attitude merely exposes his commitment, conscious or unconscious, to Beckles’ and Lewis’ self-fulfilling prophecies about me.
Like Beckles and others who see the world through a perverse blacks versus whites and vice versa lens, that Muslim will probably continue to see what he expects to see – perhaps until a deeper revelation of Allah’s party politics transcending ways sets him free.
Reaping and sowing globally and inter-generationally
As previously stated, I view Sir Hilary as a tragic hero.
A man for whom I once had such high regard that I asked him to write a foreword to my book, The Bible: Beauty and Terror Reconciled, I now view with a mixture of modest admiration, suspicion and embarrassment.
Not surprising if you accept my historical perspective, which implicates him, along with ‘publisher emeritus’ Harold Hoyte, broadcaster Vic Fernandes, journalists David Ellis, Kaymar Jordan, Julius Gittens, politicians Donville Inniss, Mia Mottley, Owen Arthur and other influential Barbadians, as key catalysts in the conscious or unconscious, direct or indirect propagation of mind poisoning, character defaming pedagogies, the fruits of which are suspicion, cynicism and social volatility.
I have focused on the fallibility of ‘Labour’ politics and scholarship here.
But the catholicity of justice and peace perverting politics, whether labelled ‘Conservative’, capitalist, Democratic or any other denomination is not lost on me.
Coming from Barbados, where capital and labour, truth and falsehood, faith and doubt may merge imperceptibly, I have earned ‘First Class Honours’ in the study of political complexity.
That is why in 2001, with a prescience not unlike that of the economist Pettifor, whose education at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa enabled her to predict the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis, I warned my Pan Africanist colleagues of the folly of pushing a reparation for trans-Atlantic slavery narrative without serious consideration of the role of Africans as slave traders, not just as slaves.
And while I had no direct contact with Beckles during Barbados’ preparation for the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), it seems clear to me that I was a target of his indirect aggression.
Looking retrospectively, I see traces of the anger Sir Hilary unleashed on me at a University of the West Indies reception, in the reasoning he offered for sending his son to a predominantly white private school, rather than a government run one.
The UWI reception followed a public lecture at the Cave Hill Campus, possibly delivered by former British Prime Minister and cricket enthusiast Sir John Major.
Oblivious to the protocol dictating room temperature for the intake of red wine, I made the churlish ‘mistake’ of asking for a few blocks of ice to chill mine.
Well, you might think that I had insulted his mother (or poked fun at his shoes?), the way the goodly professor responded.
He could hardly find words to express his distress and outrage at my socialite’s offence!
I thought he was on the verge of an apoplectic fit.
And as the look of embarrassment on one of his colleague’s face expressed, this overreaction said more about the character of the man than my plebe-like faux pa said about me.
Like the explanation of his school choice for Rodney, that outburst exposes the predictably self-destructive perversity of professor Beckles’ pedagogy, and point not only to a corrupting of Rodney’s conscience by his father from a very young age, but to the corruption of Beckles’ own conscience over many years.
It points to or predicts the cynicism of that sage.
And following this familial economic forecasting lead, it is difficult to see the thinking Beckles outlined for his school choice as anything but a rationalization of abuse of the infant Rodney’s conscience.
I see it as a cynicism inducing, deeply damaging manipulation of Rodney’s moral compass, much in the same way that fundamentalist atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews Muslims, Socialists and other inflexible ideologues brain wash children and adolescents, making them Jihadis.
Moreover, I believe that the innocence violating, pessimistic priming of a child to see the world through a divisive, paranoid racial lens that is implied by Beckles reasoning, is no less child abuse than the sexual grooming or priming that perverted, predatory Catholic priest paedophiles have excelled in.
In either case the innocence of the child is corrupted and his or her life blighted by assaults on their youthful openness and optimism, the basis of social resilience and wholesome socialisation generally.
And in prefacing a lecture that he gave at Harvard University last year with the assertion that he is an optimist, Beckles at least concedes optimism’s social utility.
Still, what we have here, basically, is evidence of professor Beckles’ poisonous pedagogy poisoning his own son’s mind, possibly irreversibly.
And the possible finality of such damage is indicated by Rodney’s age.
He would have only been four or five years old at the time, the standard ages of primary school entry in Barbados, as in the UK, the US and indeed most countries.
And I have certainly seen the fruit of such insipid inoculation in religious settings, where believer’s are bound-in by distrust of any but those in the upper echelons of their own doctrinal edifices.
The “Fear Factor”, as Barbadian businessman Dick Stoute has called it, operates cyclically, like ‘Labour discipline’, to deny both young and old desired relief.
Beckles jaundiced journey
Now, am I saying that the socialism preaching Sir Hilary and Lady Beckles set out to shipwreck their son’s social conscience and maroon his life chances?
I am saying that on a balance of probabilities, the tragic events of January 2007, when Rodney Beckles killed Khalil Campbell in a reputed Jamaican drug den was predictable because of the kind of fundamentalist, anal retentive, anti-social programming that Rodney was subjected to by his probably well-meaning, possibly over-protective daddy.
Moreover, I am saying that the negative, suspicion breeding racial programming that produced that particular instance of privately catastrophic black-on-black violence for the Beckles and Campbell families is characteristic of Jamaica’s labour party dominated political discourse generally.
It is part of the ‘ambient terror’ that many Jamaicans have come to accept as part of their everyday existence.
And I am saying that the ‘whites blaming’ that professor Beckles and others in Jamaica’s, Barbados’ and other Caribbean countries’ educational and political directorates excel in prevents them from addressing the black-to-black trust deficits that are a key component of that climate of fear.
In “The Destruction Of Black Civilization”, Chancellor Williams addressed this kind of trust deficit, albeit on a ‘macro economic’, continental scale.
In his “Overview” he wrote about the consequences of conflict and environmentally occasioned social fragmentation and isolation in the Sudan and elsewhere in Africa.
He wrote “Disunity and mutual suspicion became an African way of life. Small chiefdoms sprang up everywhere, often no more than a village of one or two hundred people.”
What I would have readers note here is how this same description of, lets call it, the political landscape, can be transferred to other parts of the world with little or no modification.
Is not what Williams is describing here a feature of all human society?
We will have disagreements from time to time, and these may lead to a parting of ways and leave lingering doubts and fears.
Some disputes will be explosive, and like the Beckles-Campbell bust-up in 2007, end fatally.
Grudges may even be held in seemingly less serious cases and, as between the sons of Abraham, Jews and Muslims, be sustained indefinitely.
What is Brexit, if not a manifestation of Britain’s perennial discomfort with its European neighbours’ proximity.
What about Scottish longing for independence or Anglo-Irish conflict?
Then there is the fragile peace between Indians and Pakistanis?
Do these conflicts differ from those among Africans fundamentally?
Are black people more tribal than any other people?
Are we less appreciative of the benefits of unity?
I think not.
Indeed, as I explained during a talk I delivered at the University of East Anglia some years ago, as part of a project called Aftershock, it seems to me that black people give other races credit for our strengths and weaknesses with equal ease.
And in doing so, we rob ourselves of agency.
I cite the notorious letter of the British slave owner Willie Lynch to explain what I mean.
Many blacks, especially American blacks cite Lynch’s letter to explain black-on-black distrust and mutual destruction.
They see black-to-black suspicion and violence as an outworking of Lynch’s advice to plantation owners to set father against son, daughter against mother, husband against wife and so on.
But as I asked my audience at the UEA’s Sainsbury Centre, don’t those kinds of disagreements and divisions occur naturally?
Why then exalt the infantile sociopath Lynch to the status of an evil genius?
Small children in the home and school playground can run rings around parents and teachers, demonstrating proficiency in Lynch-like divide and rule strategies to a polished degree.
My children play mummy against daddy and vice versa naturally.
The point I want to impress on readers is that if we truly develop the cognitive and affective composure and flexibility needed to resolve conflict peacefully, rather than just aping or rotishly reproducing the external forms (especially the words) of that composure and flexibility we cannot help but use those social cohesion building skills with everybody.
We will not differentiate between persons of varying colours, classes or creeds when we are mindful of the fallibility of all human beings.
Empathy, our salvation always: empathy
I can understand why Beckles who spent his crucial, characteristically volatile adolescent years growing up in England, where he was a part of its minority black community, might feel such “mental toughening” of his infant son had some validity.
However, Beckles was then living in Barbados, where the majority black and minority white populations had over centuries, with some difficulty, crafted a kind of mutual accommodation.
There has long been a kind of ‘unofficial apartheid’ on the island, that both sides tolerated, and even exploited, for their own ends.
A rough outline of the arrangement is evident in the domination of politics by black Barbadians, while white Barbadians dominated in the commercial field.
That is a simplification, of course, because in addition to slave ownership by free Blacks like Joseph Rachell and Rachel Pringle, dominance politically or commercially is a matter of perception.
Political office and commercial wealth, like pretty much everything else in life derive their power from the faith we put in them.
And it seems clear to me that faith, whether defined in religious or secular terms is one of the “fundamental forces”, to quote Pettifor, that drive economies at both the macro and micro levels.
This is the power of the ‘placebo affect’ that is evident both in the fields of physical and mental health, as Marchant, author of the book ‘Cure’ may agree.
And the Marxism minded Beckles seems to have put an extraordinary amount of trust in political and commercial dominance to the detriment of his family – especially the wellbeing of his elder son Rodney.
And let me be clear, again, that I am not without sympathy for Sir Hilary.
Heaven’s knows what he may have gone through as a child in the rural parish of St Andrew at the hands of whites there.
Likewise, I can only imagine how challenging life may have been for him when, at 13 years old, his family moved to England.
But if the goal of scholastic attainment is to maximize individual human potential and in turn the collective enrichment of society, something is sadly amiss when the Vice Chancellor of the Caribbean’s foremost university shows signs of malevolently nursing childhood and adolescent injuries.
Something is sadly amiss when an internationally celebrated educator appears to suffer a Trump-like deficit of empathy.
Why would anyone model UWI or any other educational institution on the ill-fated “Trump University”?