10-10-15 retrospections may have been cathartic but will philosophical reveries breed launching pads for successful new chapters? The question remains: Are Curacao and St. Maarten’s sovereignties, as nation-states, sufficiently viable to offer its citizens welfare and wellbeing, that would outdo being part of a larger entity?
Historically speaking, nationalism is a relatively new phenomena, especially romantic nationalism, the brand realized in Curacao and St. Maarten on 10-10-10. The father of romantic nationalism was Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803). He argued “that each people, defined by language, motherland and folk culture, had an original genius" and was, therefore, entitled to self-government. Nationalism rooted in Europe in the 19th century, after Napoleon, only after about a hundred years, challenged by new empire builders, like Russia and Germany in WW I and WWII.
Curacao and St. Maarten's 10-10-10-nationalism, 160 years after the abolition of slavery, was in many ways an anachronism, a romantic notion born out of colonial frustration, hate and craving for revenge. Its founding fathers ignored the new world order of economy, commerce and trade, of mass short-and-long term migration and instant communications of the digital age.
Almost immediately after the magic date of autonomy, the islands' extremely feeble, vulnerable social-economic infrastructure fell prey to opportunists, mostly emerging from shadow economies. The security situation has become so dire that island people are wondering in despair whether this can ever be remedied?
How will administrative and political corrections effect the newly found identity as nation-states? And can it be done?
Resistance to change by politicians in power, and sluggish apathy of the population, terrorized by an elusive criminal underworld, are no ingredients for rapid implementation of any social, political and economic adaptations. Therefore, the chances for self-correction and modification remain very slim. Rather, Curacao and St Maarten's future will be determined by ulterior forces, not by its present sovereign populations.
Mass migrations, short and long term, reshaped the population composition of many Caribbean islands beyond any expectation. A large number of Hispanics and Europeans found social and economic environments of Caribbean islands to their liking. Also, tens of thousands of Islanders moved to Europe in search of a better future for themselves and their children. The migration waves are well beyond any idealism of romantic nationalism of nation states, like Curacao and St. Maarten.
Therefore, the dream of nation states based on a middle class benefitting from thriving production economies may inevitably have to make place for a consumption service model. In a service economy there will be little or no transfer of wealth to the lower and middle classes; widespread poverty, as we know it today, will remain as it is.
This bleak reality may be far from the utopian romantic nationalism, that so many locals dreamt off. But political idealism is a powerful and ruthless intoxication, as history teaches us. The level of intoxication will determine the ultimate price that will be paid for such follies.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle