[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
9145: Re: 9131: On an iron fist government with good will: Poincy replies to Antoine (fwd)
From: "[iso-8859-1] Jean Poincy" <email@example.com>
Well! Antoine has done a superb job in going beyond
the surface of my term "an iron fist government with
good will" which others equate to "benevolent
dictator". I don't wish to rehash the same heated
exchanges we had before on defense of Dr. Francois
Duvalier regime. However, I will comment on two
points: "Ayitian character" and "Henri Christophe's
failed legacy" as Antoine puts it.
Leaving the collective well-being in the masses hand,
you bound to find this society living in the state of
nature where no one understands that protecting
another's right is protecting his/her own; where
everyone is killing each other over minute things that
can be resolved instantly if the will is there.
For a political system to protect individuals, it
can't be a participatory democracy. While granting
great freedom, it must keep the leash on with
"repressive" laws and forms the character of the
constituents. Freedom, people can't have if they don't
understand that they have to restrain themselves
(individually), respect and tolerate each other, to
have a peaceful coexistence.
One is free because s/he allows the other to be free.
One has the right because s/he gives up parts of his
rights to allow the collective right to prevail. One
must know that s/he is one among many and the many
takes precedence. One must know that the good health
of the many will reflect on his/her health and without
the many s/he is nothing.
Those, a citizenry must learn them. Since they are not
innate, they must be taught to each individual. No
awareness of such deprives the citizenry of its
political character. Ayiti like all society is an
organic entity; one part works, because the other part
on which it depends does, so the whole does. Where
there is no cultivation of good we have atrophy and
bad is the result.
Being part of a society, all those outlined above are
the core of a citizen political/social character. In
their absence there is no character. Because they are
learned, in no way the citizenry will have character
if no efforts are made to inculcate them in the
constituents. Ayiti has FAILED to form its citizens.
We can't even talk of belittling Ayitian political
character, because they have none. One must have
something to "belittle".
Look at the behavior of the political elites past and
present and evaluate for yourself. Point out to me
anywhere in Ayitian history since birth where you find
efforts were made to form citizens (leave aside
Christophe's period). Outline for me any behavior that
you know of you attributable to political character,
taking in consideration what the elements are. You
can't find any. We are not talking of one or two
isolate individual actions, we are talking of
collective actions or the action of one individual
which reflects that of the collective. We can't let
ourselves be crippled with humanism, while letting our
Further, talking of strong democratic institutions
while exempting the very people that gives meaning to
the institutions is hollow. Rules, principles, laws
and traditional ways of life are what makes
institutions. Ayiti has laws to govern its democracy.
There is a hard copy. If it's for that we have
The pertinent question is why the institutions are
weak, if the laws intended to keep them strong are
there? The answer is obvious: the people that are
making use of these principles have flaws. They are
the cause of the weak institutions. It's erroneous to
talk of weak institutions without touching the
political character of those making the institutions
What is a society with good laws, great strong
institutions without the people? Institutions exist
for the people and with the people they become
functional. A society with just institutions is
meaningless. People must start using the existing laws
to breath life into that society. How they do it is
the key and the way they do it, is a pure reflection
of who they are, a pure reflection of their character.
We really need to revise our political concepts if we
are true about getting Ayiti out of where it is.
We can spend our entire life trying to build strong
democratic institutions to never avail if we don't
shift our focus to the people. We must objectively see
that the character is absent in the Ayitian society,
then we can start on getting it going. Until then we
will never have strong democratic institutions. The
worst, we can't wait until to educate (formal
education) all illiterate adults to have strong
democratic institutions. That's an impossible task.
There is a quick fix for that: "an iron fist
government" at least for two generations.
The founders of America did also believe that without
political character democracy would not prevail. They
knew with that much freedom the society would live an
ill existence. They were concerned on how to build the
people's character. They relied very much on the
diverse religions to bring such a character to the
people. They had an outlet if they did not want to
resort to forcing a way of thinking politically on the
people. What outlet does Ayiti have? Everything
capable of backing up the government in forming the
citizens' character in Ayiti is in a degenerative
mode. This is the issue to debate on.
No Ayitian political cell is doing that whether abroad
or in Ayiti. They are all involved in placing the
right people in government and building strong
democratic institutions while the people's character
zooms over their head. They forget that the people
make the institutions and the people's character shape
For the second part of my comment I don't need to wait
for Michel Rolph Trouillot, Alex Dupuy, nor other
historians to bring an objective political analysis
of Henri Christophe reign since Ayitian history has
been so distorted in the past. While doing so I will
also touch on the character issue to support my point
in the first part of my comment.
"Out of a state of slavery, is a state of virtual
slavery the price to pay for progress in the world?
As difficult a proposition as that is already, I
should also point to Poincy that in fact, Henri
Christophe's legacy failed, for not having any
permanence. And so, perhaps, because he did not win
the hearts and minds of the people he ruled over. "
How can we talk of failed legacy when after his death
his opponents engaged in structural destruction of
whatever he has established? Again, destruction is the
element taught to the citizenry as part of its
political character. What did Ayitians do after
Duvalier's departure? Have we seen what burning tires
are doing to the roads? Do we ask ourselves how
Ayitians' health will be affected in ten years or so
due to those burning tires?
If "he did not win the hearts and minds of the people
he ruled over" would that be because he failed to win
Petion's Papa Bon Coeur title by not making every
former slave proprietor of some plots of land of poor
quality while letting them work as they pleased and
when they pleased, and to remain uneducated like it
was under Petion? Please tell me if Petion's way was
the alternative since it respected so much their
Rigaud, former Toussaint's enemy and Petion's
commander was furious against Petion for the way he
brought down the country to its knees. As a result he
pulled the southern portion from the western portion
to divide the country in three republics.
Another element of Ayitian character is not to make
any sacrifice. Ayitians were not taught to make any
sacrifice by giving up some of their rights or freedom
to allow others and their generations to live better?
That's quite a way to build the citizenry character!
There is no difference today from the way Ayitians
behaved after the independence. A saga of almost two
centuries and you are talking of character. Let's not
delude ourselves and be objective. We must accept
there is none and we can begin to work at it. If we
keep on saying that they do when they don't we will
never work at the problem.
You know that Henri Christophe faced serious
continuous opposition from Petion's camp. The latter
had resorted to the total destruction of the country
to undermine the performance of the former. That was
mean spirited from Petion's part to let the economic
structure of the country in the hand of former slaves.
That was hatred on the part of Petion and his clique
not to educate the former slaves while building a
secondary school to which only their children had
access as an exit to go to France to further their
When you have a group of people living a subhuman life
and you tell them to choose between freedom to leave
as they please and continue to work as harsh as before
for the sake of rebuilding the society destroyed from
the war of independence, of course they would choose
Who would not? Unless one would engage in a complex
calculation to determine the costs of today compared
to the benefits of tomorrow, the choice would be
freedom as they please. This is a human characteristic
to dismiss a remote benefit to enjoy today's one
regardless of how small today's one is. The reason
being is that they don't know if they will live long
enough to enjoy this long term benefit. The distant
future is not a guarantee. If I promise to give you $1
today or in 5 years when would you prefer having it?
If this cost-benefit calculation is too complex for
contemporary Ayitians to decide to make sacrifices
today. How would one expect those just come out of
slavery to accept to make it? The only way that could
have been done was to coerce them to make sacrifice.
That justified Henri Christophe's approach. That was
brilliant from his part.
But when he had inferior minds like Petion and his
clique who vowed to use all vicious ways to outdo him
at the risk of destroying the country itself, then he
had a serious problem. Had he not become sick and had
he regained the rest of the country, the result would
have been different, the people political character
would be well formed and we would not have this
His achievements are tangible, that's what I call good
will, you can't attribute the sabotage/destruction of
his legacy as failure. That's a big mistake. Objective
analysis must be made. His only success on the
northern part of the country has no match when
compared to the performance of the entire country
combined after his death and even today.
Political institutions were strong, the society was
well disciplined and the economy was on its feet.
Everything was going well but libertinage was not
there. Allow me to pose you these questions: do you
prefer Petion's approach or that of Christophe?
Objectively, and for the sake of speculation do you
think Ayiti would have been better off under
Christophe or under Petion's clique if you consider
things the way they were going?
When evaluating Henri Christophe's reign don't make
the mistake of evaluating him in isolation. The way he
conducted his government was relative to the political
opposition, the destructive society he had to rebuild
from ashes and the psychological state of the former
slaves. We can't leave these variables out of the
equation and talk of Christophe failed legacy.
Ayiti has lived, lives and will live
Do You Yahoo!? -- Un e-mail gratuit @yahoo.fr !
Yahoo! Courrier : http://fr.mail.yahoo.com