Last week, The Economist published an article articulating how globalization will be the solution to Jamaica’s economic, social and environmental woes. It’s a short read; one gets the sense that the author wanted a tropical vacation and so pitched a few interviews in order to get work to pay for the travel. The punchline is typical:”It [globalisation] has not been kind to the country in the past: Jamaica served as a fulcrum of the slave trade and a haven for pirates. Yet today four global forces, the IMF, mass tourism, the communications revolution and social entreprise, promise something much better. Taken separately, none of these would put an end to stagnation; taken together, they just might.”
I’m not an economist, nor am I an expert on globalization. I have such a basic understanding of how these four global forces – the IMF, mass tourism, the communications revolution, and social enterprise – work that I cannot really argue for or against their effectiveness, either alone or in a magical, interdependent combination (is it just me, or was evidence of their interdependence missing from the article???) . But I do know that it takes much more than money to solve problems like violence and illiteracy. And I know that no global force can be successful if it tries to proceed without an understanding or respect for history and the forces that made things the way they are today.
The thing about this article that really irks me is the inference that Jamaicans created the problems they face due to their own ineptitude, and that foreign solutions and “a connection to the outside world” are the best way to fix things (I know the article uses local business leaders like Chris Blackwell, Butch Stewart and Henley Morgan as examples, but it implies their success comes from applying ‘foreign’ business sense and techniques). When I look around, the problems I see are because of a long history of outside abuse (slavery, colonialism), and the solutions are coming from hard working, compassionate Jamaicans, not “the English language and a time-zone shared with America’s east coast.”
There is so much more being done to “put an end to stagnation” here than what is covered in this article. Maybe the next time someone from The Economist pitches an article about change happening in Jamaica, they will consider visiting Durga’s Den or Paint Jamaica instead of a resort that costs $1000 US/night*. I, for one, think a story about socially or environmentally driven economic value would be fascinating to read in that publication.
*DISCLAIMER: I totally want to stay at GoldenEye, I just think it is an exceptional luxury, not a place to start when writing about a developing country.