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7166: Dialogue on haiti (fwd)

From: Gene Lafontant <lafontant3@usa.net>

Dumas wanted me to send this document to you as text:This is MsWord

Haitian society is becoming itself
Dumas Fils Lafontant
© 2001

The Convergence Democratic, a fifteen-party opposition alliance, organized
under the title of ?General States? in order to nominate a provisional
president because it is challenging the legitimacy of Jean-Bertrand Aristide
who was elected president on November 26, 2000. However, the Constitution of
the Republic of Ayiti stipulates for a person to become president, s/he must
be elected by universal suffrage. Thus the opposition made the rule of law of
no use through the provisional president, which it handed down. Does not the
opposition therefore err, because it nominated a provisional president? 
My view on this latest situation is that we can not form intentions except on
the basis of what the situation means to us and if we miss the mark on what
the situation means, we will form the wrong intentions. However, the question
remains open for dialogue. I would suggest though the focal point is the
significance of dialogue in which, meaning would be essential. 
Remember before the fall of Duvalier, the nation was marred in mistrust, the
people were tongue-tied; for a father, a brother, a cousin could be part of
the regime. The year 1986 began a new period of dialogue, the people's mouths
opened, freedom of expression ensued. Signs of this liberation appeared in the
graffiti on the walls throughout the nation. "Di sa ou vle! "Say what you
mean." The demands, which this statement illustrated, lacked clarity since the
word ?vle? could be translated as will or need. I would say the position, of
the people, was ambiguous. Or Ambiguity is a lack of well-defined meaning. So
the people, at least tacitly, brought in the notion of meaning as crucial to
the understanding of the content of the situation. However, the epicenter was
coopted by proponents of the politics of democracy, who shifted the momentum
for meaning to a fixed idea. 
A Constitution was overwhelmingly voted. "Bourik chaje pa kanpe!" declared
Alvin Adams, former U.S. Ambassador to Ayiti; it is necessary to have
elections. Otherwise, Ayiti would be isolated from the so-called democratic
countries. Well, the significance of democracy is that political plurality is
necessary. Assuming, we buy into this idea, we must discover the possibility.
This is what allows room for freedom because whatever necessity there is, it
is possible. For example, The people elect the president, but depending on the
conditions, a person can become president by nomination. 
So each time, you install a provisional president, you have pulled back. It
does not get better from one provisional president to another, right? Now you
must conclude that you have missed the mark, therefore you must stop. 
Far from promoting discord, I am merely suggesting that the form, democracy,
must be molded to our objective reality. Otherwise, we will be reenacting the
famous neologism "lugubrer" (gloom). "Le nom Francais lugubre encore nos
contrees" (the French name glooms our countryside) shouted Boisrond-Tonnerre.
This paradox made Boisrond-Tonnerre a self-torturer. For the writer of the act
of independence, the French (collective person) was indeed a terrifying
monster and the french name (sound or word), a sound that sowed terror. Yet,
he wrote the act of independence in French (Laroche, M., La Literature
Haitienne, pg., 32).
It is this rupture in our history that I wanted to raise the many instances of
pull back, dating back to Boisrond-Tonnerre. Besides, Ayiti exist
independently of democracy. Her liberty is the foundation upon which we, Folk
of Ayiti, grew up. The point to keep in mind is that the movement of liberty
has no definable aspect that is absolute fixed. 
Haitians know too well the price of unity. Therefore, I am not proposing a
model to be accepted by all, I intend nonetheless to suggest that we agree on
the basis of a just and general strategy. The Organization Fanmi Lavalas
(OFL), which holds the reins of government and the Convergence Democratic (CD)
both have a reality. They both arise from the state. They are not really
different. They interweave. The main point, though, is they are part of the
state it is possible for them to have a rationally comprehensible
relationship. In this way, we can leave open the possibility of acknowledging
the differences that may be found between them without falling into dualism.
But I am making an assertion that the state is primary while both OFL and CD
are secondary in the sense that what they are and what they do can be
understood only in the light of the state. Here I must be careful not to
assert the state too strongly, or I will just simply condone authoritarianism.

Moreover, OFL and CD are correlative categories, that each implies the other.
This correlation is thus understood as an internal relation, rather than being
externally related and isolated. This internal relation is most directly
experienced in consciousness. According to the content of our consciousness we
act, whether right or wrong. So, the content of the situation is abstracted
from a wider context, which is so closely connected with the content, that the
meaning of the former is not properly defined without the latter, for example
democracy in Ayiti. The point is Ayiti is treated as a content in a yet
broader context, the United States, the world, and so on. 
Now, the point is the social order is split apart, OFL and CD, each of which
have proponents and opponents. It is clear actually that the nation is not
separate. In fact, you may consider that when the social order is not broken,
each part is a superposition of the fundamental law of the society, and you
may then comprehend the relationship is flowing. That is why, to overcome the
current situation, it requires a concrete explanation, such as a clear limit
in the sense that we could observe a bottom level of reality. In accordance
with currently accepted contemporary views it might be a fundamental standard,
or set of standards, that is the bottom level. This could be, for example,
some set of elementary necessities out of which we could act. What is of
crucial significance is that its meaning would be in principle unambiguous.
These meanings would be exactly what they were, and anybody who looks
correctly could find them. They would be a reality that was simply there,
independent of what it means to us. I will site for example, Cite Soleil (Sun
City), the sordid of Ayiti. You might choose to ignore it because you do not
know anybody there, and so on, nonetheless, it is real.   
Or there is tacit knowledge among Haitians that dialogue could dissolve the
present situation that lingers on, making us the object of the world derision.
Beyond this view, lays the common aspiration to find a mean to sow our history
and to let the society of people unfold. How to proceed with this dialogue is
therefore of great significance. According to the dictionary, finding an
accord is the essential meaning of dialogue. However, the word "meaning"
indicates not only the significance of something to us, but also our intention
toward it. If we all have different meanings, if the situation means something
different to each Haitian, then we are not going to be able to work together.
Based on a certain amount of trust in working together, we can establish an
environment in which each individual embraces the other. It is a movement back
and forth. In Unfolding Meaning, David Bohm wrote: to think differently, this
thought must enter deeply into our intentions, actions, and so on, our whole
being. We must mean what we say.
Indeed, I have borrowed from his model to write this text. Most important, I
was able to identify his proposal of the law of the total implicate order, a
mode of thinking that starts from the most encompassing possible whole and
goes down to the parts as sub-wholes in a way appropriate to the actual nature
of things, to a moment in the history of Ayiti. It is a story, we all know too
well. One night, a multitude of rebels gathered in the woods of Bwa Kayiman.
Darkness added to the horror of the scene. All the people saw the thunderings,
the lightnings, and the noise of the branches. Suddenly, a priestess drew a
vèvè (cryptic writing), and whereupon plunged a knife in the neck of a pig.
Then appeared Boukman, who pronounced the sacrament (Price-Mars, J., Ainsi
Parla l'Oncle, pg., 40). 
Without a doubt, Bwakayiman was a blood pact, the offering of the pig, which
is a discreet animal that walks head down, symbolized the pact among the
rebels: not to reveal their secret attack and never to bow down to the
colonialists. That is why it is said: "if Dessalines betrays a hundred times,
it is to trick them a hundred times." 
Boukman mediated the passage from a band of maroons with raw military skills
to the indigenous army led respectively by Jean Francois, Biasou, Jeanot,
Toussaint L'Ouverture, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines that made the soldiers of
Napoleon bite the dust. On the day of 18 November 1803 where took place the
battle of Vertieres, this decisive battle of the war of independence of Ayiti,
the french army suffered its first Dien-Bien-Phu. On the hills streaking the
city of Cap-Haitien, that day and not after a philosopher who ventured in the
vicinity would have seen the spirit of the world straddling with the general
Francois Capois-said-the-death, messengers collapsing without as much stopping
their triumphant run. "Only such change, which the passage from French to
Kreyòl provides an example, can permit us to see the march of history with a
new eye. This history to a certain extent results from a Caribbean effort and
not just Haitian whereas Toussaint L'Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines
were born on the land of Ayiti, Boukman, the precursor of Toussaint
L'Ouverture, came from Jamaica and Henry Christophe successor to Dessalines
came from the island of Grenada (Laroche, M., La Literature Haitienne, pg.,
Louis Joseph Janvier, Antenor Firmin, Emile Nau, Jean Price-Mars, Felix
Morisseau-Leroy, Aime Cesaire, Edouard Glissant, Leopold Cedar Senghor, C L R
James, Frederick Douglass, James Wendell, et al said it is in Ayiti that Folk
of Africa, burnt of skin, for the first time arose to say he believes in his
Now, the advent of dialogue makes it possible for us to explore the conveyance
of meaning from one person to another and back through sound waves, through
gestures carried by light, through books and newspapers, through telephone,
radio, television and so on, linking up the whole universe. This activity is
what makes society. Without it there would be no society. Communication is
this activity. That is to say, whatever happens has to be disseminated. It
helps to bring about a different reality, one that is more harmonious and
orderly and creative. Through communication people come to one mind. That is,
to one meaning. The best illustration of this point is Dr. Price-Mars' view on
folktales: the folktales are the works or spontaneous products that gushed, at
a given moment, from a genial thought. Adopted by all because they are the
loyal interpreters of a common aspiration, which became dear to each one and
changing, in short, to original creations by the obscure process of the
subconscious (Price-Mars, J., Ainsi Parla l'Oncle, pg., 172).
Now, we have learned from philosophy, the system is that which is perishable,
rightly so because it emanates from an imperishable need of the human spirit,
the need to overcome all the contradictions. You see, on 29 March 1987, when
the people voted the Constitution, they did not know the impact it would have
on them. So, the blocks come from the program. And what is crucial for Ayiti
is easy and free communication without blocks. Politics would effectively end.
Our history would be told as the society of the Folk of Ayiti unfolding.   


Alexis, J. S., La Presence de Jacques Stephen Alexis. CRESFED. Port-au-Prince,
Bohm, D., (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. Rutlege. London, England
Bohm, D., (1986). Unfolding Meaning. Rutlege. London, England
Laroche, M., (1981). La Literature Haitienne. Editions Lemeac. Ottwawa,
Price-Mars, J., (1998). Ainsi Parla L'Oncle. Imprimeur II. Port-au-Prince,

Dumas Fils Lafontant is a researcher at Ayiti Vizib, a communication center.
He is also a commentator on the weekly radio program, Caribbean Forum, 90.3
fm, WZBC, Newton, Massachusetts.

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