Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Baldeosingh: ‘Capitalism and Slavery’ and history lessons won’t help blacks; deal with their dependency syndrome

Baldeosingh: ‘Capitalism and Slavery’ and history lessons won’t help blacks; deal with their dependency syndrome

“The problems bedevilling the Afro-Trinidadian community have nothing to do with ignorance of history or their ‘true’ African identity.

“Rather, these issues arise from a dependency syndrome created by government make-work, a low marriage rate, and the devaluation of ideas—which underlie the progress of all advanced societies and groups, such as capitalism, individualism, and the scientific method.”

Kevin Baldeosingh dismisses NJAC activist Aiyegore Ome’s suggestion that books like ‘Capitalism and Slavery’ are beneficial to ‘blacks’ and points instead to a checklist in his own essay ‘How to really help Black People’:

Photo: Some spectators enjoy their evening out during Pro League action between Morvant Caledonia United and San Juan Jabloteh at the Morvant Recreation Ground on 16 October 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

In a letter to the editor recently published in the Express and the Guardian, NJAC activist Aiyegore Ome asserted that “Once Africans in T&T and the wider Caribbean somehow become re-acquainted with the ideas in books like Capitalism and Slavery… they will be inspired to do better than they are doing now.”

It is perhaps ironic that Mr Ome’s claim is based on the idea of a dead white man, Sigmund Freud, who invented the concept that human beings have all sorts of subconscious hang-ups which, once brought to light through psychoanalysis, would be cured.

As it turns out, Freud was wrong about that, and so is Mr Ome. The problems bedevilling the Afro-Trinidadian community have nothing to do with ignorance of history or their ‘true’ African identity.

Rather, these issues arise from a dependency syndrome created by government make-work, a low marriage rate, and the devaluation of ideas—which underlie the progress of all advanced societies and groups, such as capitalism, individualism, and the scientific method.

Photo: Movie goers get dressed up for Black Panther.

These factors are never addressed by Afrocentric spokesmen, but, for anyone who’s interested, the topic is treated more fully in my book Fix Twenty-Five in an essay titled ‘How to Really Help Black People’.

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Want to share your thoughts with Wired868? Email us at editor@wired868.com. Please keep your blog between 300 to 800 words and be sure to read it over first for typos and punctuation.

Check Also

Gilkes: Post-colonial or decolonial? How tired racist standards persist in T&T

Wha allyuh vex with St Stephen’s College for? I give them right, full marks for …

65 comments

  1. I see Baldeosingh’s letter to the editor as one that essentially asks this question: “Why does black history matter?”
    Any one of you or anyone else on this thread care to take up that challenge?

    • Baldeosingh might actually be right, in a sense. i am not sure if any books written by a man whose party was financed by the UK home office will help any one’s wholistic self development. We would have to analyse whether Williams tome is from the perspective of the enslaved, or whether he is wanking his colonial masters’ collective menhirs.

    • Spencer, Williams’ book was written in 1944. That is 12 years before the PNM was formed. So I won’t take it for granted that one has much to do with the other.
      Also I’m assuming he wasn’t speaking only about that book but black history books in general.

    • I don’t see that as being his question.

      By way of illustration; “100 pushups daily will not solve the problem of hair loss for men who suffer such.”

      Does that suggest there is no value in doing 100 pushups daily. OR there is no value in solving your hair loss issues?

      And further, it in no way suggests the maker of that statement does not want men suffering from hair loss to not do 100 pushups daily.

    • ok ok understood. his problem was this statement by Aiyegoro Ome “Once Africans in T&T and the wider Caribbean somehow become re-acquainted with the ideas in books like Capitalism and Slavery… they will be inspired to do better than they are doing now.” i do believe there is a lot of black and pan african history that should be compulsory study in all caribbean secondary schools. However, in the 70 odd years since Williams published his book, and the 50 years since the Black power “revolution” what has changed? And the answer is , not much. This is because there are subtle and powerful forces that manage the status quo. History will not help with foes like COINTELPRO, and economic hitmen. revolutionaries should concern themselves with http://www.stopthecrime.net/docs/SILENT%20WEAPONS%20for%20QUIET%20WARS.pdf

    • Spencer a rebuttal to your assertion would be how many have read these books to begin with?
      If thousands of school children were reading this since 1962, would here have been an impact?

    • well that is it. ask here. Has anybody here read Williams “capitalism and Slavery”?

    • i have it home and never read it, and i LOOOOVE reading.

    • Spencer that doesn’t make it less important though. Akins Olatunji Vidale sent me a copy just last week. I’m reading something else now but that will be next.

    • real questions in my mind now yes! if people in this forum have not read such an important book, what is the probable percentage of the population that has / can? 5%? 2%?

    • Spencer Crouch, I’ve read it!

    • I’ll admit though that I read it as part of a US college course on Williams and CLR… not as part of any education I got in this country. Lol.

    • Chabeth Haynes Word! could you say though, if it inspired you to defeat or worship capitalism?

    • Definitely not worship. But I wouldn’t say defeat in the annihilation sense of the word defeat because I do believe in private ownership. But at the same time I believe the State can always step in to right where capitalism is going too wrong.

    • Spencer I won’t say I’m the best example of what the group has read, particularly as my trade is sport and there are several here who are immersed in history and social sciences.
      But it is a good question all the same.

    • Lasana Liburd but is that what he has said? I don’t interpret it that way. “The problems bedevilling the Afro-Trinidadian community have nothing to do with ignorance of history or their ‘true’ African identity.

      Rather, these issues arise from a dependency syndrome created by government make-work, a low marriage rate, and the devaluation of ideas—which underlie the progress of all advanced societies and groups, such as capitalism, individualism, and the scientific method.” In no way does that ask whether it matters. In fact he does not take a position either way. What he makes clear is that the problems we face today have to do with entitlement etc and not an ignorance of our history…… Frankly he might have a point.

    • Brian Harry check this excerpt:
      “In a letter to the editor recently published in the Express and the Guardian, NJAC activist Aiyegore Ome asserted that “Once Africans in T&T and the wider Caribbean somehow become re-acquainted with the ideas in books like Capitalism and Slavery… they will be inspired to do better than they are doing now.”

      It is perhaps ironic that Mr Ome’s claim is based on the idea of a dead white man, Sigmund Freud, who invented the concept that human beings have all sorts of subconscious hang-ups which, once brought to light through psychoanalysis, would be cured.

      As it turns out, Freud was wrong about that, and so is Mr Ome.”

    • Brian, if he says it is wrong to think that Africans ‘re-acquainting’ themselves with black history would inspire them to better, then how is not that a knock on the value of black history?

    • Lasana the fact that he challenges Ome’s view using the cryptic Freud comment, I don’t interpret that as a statement that studying or re-acquainting ourselves with our history is wrong. I don’t think that he’s knocking the value of understanding out history

    • Lasana so no worries we can agree to disagree on that point

    • Lasana Liburd I saw that. But we interpret that differently

    • I’ve read it for pleasure and in doing the course “Capitalism and Slavery” in my final year at UWI St. Augustine. In fact, the lecturers Dr. Selwyn Carrignton (RIP) and Dr. Heather Cateau facilitated a Fiftieth Anniversary Publication Conference at UWI in 1996.

  2. I don’t believe reading any book/s will be a cure-all for our situation because most of what ails us would require a radical personal change that few are willing or capable of making…that includes all peoples, not just us

    That being said knowledge of our true history and a clear road map of how we have come to this juncture in time will greatly aid all Afrikans on the continent and in the Diaspora to critically assess, question and accept who they truly are and make resolutions about how we would like to take our next steps….it would benefit all peoples….Afrikan history is world history….also if that knowledge wasn’t going to be impactful then they wouldn’t have systematically distorted it and continue….with much dedication….to distort it

    i think too that the author is out of place…as a non Afrikan it is rude to presume to know what is best for us and how we should traverse this space and time…his opinion is rooted in a racist presumption that we are incapable of self-evaluation and self-correction because we are plagued with the offsprings of systemic racism, colourism and capitalism more severely than all others….

    All plagues that each non-white and labouring class are struggling with worldwide but due the same historical manipulations that he would so easily disregard ours is more severe and apparently visible because when we respond it seems portrayed as so much worst

    Like Alana, i would so love to leave this contributor in 2018 however too many people that look like Sandy think like Baldeosingh and are in charge of policies

  3. Are we saying that successful black people of TnT:
    1) learnt about black history first and that inspired or caused them to be successful; OR
    2) acquired marketable skills, set goals, planned, delayed gratification; all this supported by conscientiousness which lead to success;
    3) OR both?

    Is it possible to be a successful black person by pursuing 2 alone?
    Does 2 naturally flow from 1?

    • Lasana Liburd

      I don’t think two naturally flows from one. But one might make two more attainable all the same. As the great US philosopher Chris Rock once said: ‘you can drive to work with your feet, doesn’t mean it ought to be done that way’.

      • I suspect Baldeosingh would certainly love to see the data showing that knowing black history improves, marriage stability, conscientiousness, financial independence and an appreciation of the scientific method and thus generally a better prospect in life.

        However there is ample data to show that children regardless of race that come from a stable 2 parent home do better than those that don’t in every sphere. Similarly, children with strong academic backgrounds or sound marketable skills also do better than those that have neither. And finally all groups regardless of race that depend on the govt as provider do worse than those that are independent.

  4. Things to leave in 2018: Kevin Baldeosingh and his dog whistles, racism and .

  5. #WhyDoesBlackHistoryMatter you asked Lasana Liburd. It matters, because it is for black people, the only way, we would find the cure to our to our collective downfall as a race. All the answers are there in our history. If not exactly, a road map to arrive at it. We just need to go and look for them. It is like when you go to the doctor,the first process he goes through with you is a history of when you experience the discomfort in what part of the anatomy you experienced it, plain & simple.

  6. A man who doesn’t learn his history is doomed to repeat it. Only a fool thinks that the pages of time has no lessons written on them.

  7. As a matter of interest, what does the Emancipation Committee do in any community to ’emancipate’ it? Do they do anything beside a parade on Emancipation Day?

    • For years they have been doing work very quietly in crime-ridden areas such as Laventille, often with no support from the relevant authorities. It’s just that they don’t go about publicising it.

    • A Corey Gilkes They need to advertise because then they might get some support from other people who may be able to help and also get support from the relevant authorities or the MPs. Unfortunately ‘crime-ridden’ could also deter people from going into the areas to offer assistance.

  8. I am not surprised by this person’s article my brothers, because no other group collectively, wants to see African people collectively as a group prosper and develop. Why? It is because, if that happens, their position of prosperity and economic superiority would diminish very quickly &, most importantly, when African people learns somethings, we become masters of it and dominate. Why you all think this person doesn’t want black people to learn their history? Because if we do, we would learn who are the first & original inventors of the world, where most of the inventions have been stolen from our ancestors. This Writer of this article clearly doesn’t want black folk to know this.

    • It seems that way. Why don’t he try to tell his own ethnic group that they don’t need to know their own history? He probably would be quickly disowned and would have to make a public apology to get accept back into the clan! 🙂

    • & there i say to you sir, correct! For example, in the “jewish” community, if the white jews don’t work for & give back to the collective of the community, that jew is immediately ostracized.

  9. I disagree with the fundamentals of Mr. Baldeosingh’s assertions. Capitalism and Slavery is not the be all and end all, it is only a start to the realization and consciousness of the African population to understand why we ended where we ended up, not only in T&T, but the world over. To get over the dependenxy syndrome he casts as the problem is an excerise of self realization, consciousness that is lacking within our population. This is wider especially with our history of colonialism. Governments and the system can only don’t you what you allow them. A conscious individual would use those same system to excel, once they realize what is the objective of that system. So, put Mr. Ome’s assertion into perspective. Familiarization if such literature is only the beginning of the journey by which we can overcome dependency.

  10. 3…2…1….Let the lynching begin….

  11. So you mean our colonial masters were wasting their time bending history to their narrative?
    I think Baldeosingh definitely underestimates the importance of knowing your place in the world and the link between history and self-worth, which is bound to be a factor to me.

    • lasana…………… u actually respond to this racist idiot? Why does wired868 even publish this drivel

      • Lasana Liburd

        Good question Tunde. In fact, right now I’m reading History of the Peoples of Trinidad and Tobago by Dr Eric Williams (late I know) and I absolutely think it should be mandatory reading for all high school children. And I think I’ve really benefitted from some of the historical blogs that Dr Claudius Fergus, Corey Gilkes and Akins Vidale posted on Wired868.
        So I choked when I read Baldeosingh’s piece. But my feeling is that we shouldn’t be afraid to have our ideas challenged and essentially that’s what Kevin is doing.
        I decided to look at this letter as a question, which is: “Tell me why black history matters?”
        My hope is that someone answers it definitely before the comments dry up.

        • Every single book from Dr Eric Williams should be mandatory reading bro. I understand the challenging part, but Kevin Baldeosingh constantly insults Caribbean intellectuals who have done the region yeoman service. His article insulting Norman Girvan, world renowned political economist……and that after he had died showed me the sort of insecure troll he is. Capitalism and slavery was so influential in rectifying the history of slavery that it has been translated into Russian and most other major languages. We are talking about almost unprecedented scholarly influence here man

          • Lasana Liburd

            And that’s the challenge thrown out. To say why we think books like this help (at least more than Baldeosingh’s no doubt splendid: “How to really help black people”…)

            • \Well remember Capitalism and Slavery was written as a University doctoral thesis at Oxford in the late 1930s, a period when racism was rife and very few persons had access to history books and thus we were told that, for example, slavery ended because Britain was heartbroken at the fact that a few of their citizens like Wilberforce had sided with the slaves and thus ended it when now, as a result of C&s, we know know that it was primarily an economic decision because of advances had been made in the industrial production of cotton and sugar like the spinning Jenny. Its like asking Jamaicans why novelists have recounted the Morant Bay rebellion in Jamaica. That is the importance of books like C&S or Bury My Hearty at Wounded Knee

              A book like C&S published in TT when everyone has access to education and most persons in the country have a reasonable standard of living might be inappropriate.

              Also some of the same behaviors that assail the Afro-Caribbean community can be attributed directly to slavery. For example, Baldeosingh mentions low marriage rates among black people. CLR James wrote in The Black Jacobins that it was the intention of the slave masters to turn their slaves into what he calls “Human Cattle”. A great part of this process involved one slave male mating with multiple slave females so as to create a production line of slaves to extend the life of the plantation. Granted The Black Jacobins is about slavery in Saint Domingue, the story of slavery is virtually the same throughout, with the only difference being the severity or variances in the level of sadistic intent in the punishments. We know the story. For example, using vats of boiling sugar were popular in the dutch colonies and Saint Domingue. Marriage forms an integral role among most tribes in Africa, even the most “primitive” like the San and the pygmies so it stands to reason that if slavery had not occurred, most of the people who are “shacking” now would have been married.

  12. I don’t agree with the premise of this article if they are trying to argue that Afro-Trinis knowing our history will not help us to advance. Knowing your history helps you to know who you are, what your real culture is and helps you to unite to forge your future with confidence and a long term goal to rise again to your rightful place in this world.

    • Ian, that’s not what I take from the article. I did not read it as an either or. He didn’t say that understanding your history is not important or relevant. He said, and I paraphrase, ‘the current problems facing the Afro-Trinidadian’, has more (my emphasis) to do with entitlement, low marriage rate etc. I didn’t take his comment as dismissing the value of us knowing our history

    • Brian Harry my only comment is this is horse crap….no one is more entitled than those who hang from the tits of the coffers of the government and they are not the 99%…ah gone

    • Wendell that too is true but the two views are not mutually exclusive