I have a particular interest in the First World War, 1914 – 1918. Just before the guns began to speak, in August 1914, the British, French, German and other empires were at their imperial peak. There were over fifteen European monarchs, and the Tsar of Russia. The working class knew its place; though it was beginning to get restive. The middle class was growing but was helping to keep the working class in its place. The upper classes were disporting themselves as they had for centuries. All non-whites were ‘savages’ and almost all were subjugated to one or other European or American colonial power.
By 11:00 am on Monday 11th November, 1918, when the angry guns fell silent; that whole world had changed. Through each of the Empires, the concept of independence had gone from separated sperm and egg to the miracle of the foetus. Many of the kings and queens who had survived the Great War were living on a short slice of borrowed time. The biggest to disappear was Tsar Nicholas ll, Autocrat of all Russia.
Amongst my collection of WWl documentary DVD’s, there is one dealing with the end of the Russian monarchy. The narrator relates one of the Tsar’s comments in which the Tsar is reputed to have said [in Russian of course]: “That fat Rodzyanko has again sent me some nonsense to which I will not even reply.” Digging deeper, it seems that the year was 1917 and people were trying to tell the Tsar that revolution was imminent. The Tsar’s expression almost equates to our current English language expression “some idiot’s trying to say something to me.”
Clearly, from the Tsar’s – reported – comment, the mighty Tsar of all the Russia’s placed little credence in the message – or the messenger.
What happened to the Tsar? Soon after, a bunch of ‘Rodzyanko’s’ actually turned up at his Palace gates, took Tsar Nicholas II and his family prisoner, carted them off to some peasant hut somewhere in Russia, and later shot them all; though there has long been a story that one little princess – Anastasia – escaped death at the hands of the Red Revolutionaries.
‘Tis a sad, but true, tale of a vanished royalty.
Bermuda’s independence debate is – for the moment – in a silent phase. The ‘referendum’ people are quiet. The opponents – the Pragmatists – are quiet. The proponents – the Absolutists – are quiet. After reacting to Charles Jeffers comments, the seniors have settled down and gone quiet.
The electorate is still mulling independence pros and cons. More and more people are quietly settling into one or other of the two corners. Either the corner of the Pragmatist or the corner of the Absolutist.
Under ‘thirties’ seem more concerned with their ability to move and work globally. Once upon a time Absolutists – Julian Hall for one – are changing corners; sliding out of the corner of the Absolutist, crossing the floor, and settling into the corner of the Pragmatist. The polls are showing, consistently, that there is no upwelling of new and fresh support for Independence. Overall, it appears that as time has passed, the ranks of the Pragmatists have grown and continue to grow; while the ranks of the Absolutists appear to be thinning – certainly, are not growing.
More and more people are weighing the concrete realities of Bermuda’s overall economic and social situation against the more ephemeral and intellectual certainties of continuing the existing relationship with the UK. Mostly everyone understands that just as Bermuda will not and should not become a full member of the EU; Bermuda will not and should not become a full member of CARICOM. Neither shift is in Bermuda’s best national interest.
Most Bermudians understand that Bermuda’s high standard – and very high cost – of living results from ‘platform’ Bermuda’s ability to attract capital and investors from North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Bermuda’s strongest economic links are North, West, and East. But not South. Bermuda’s only Southern link is ethnic and familial. However, ethnic and familial links don’t provide capital and investors. Bermuda, in fact, is a source of capital. This is shown by BF&M’s buyout in Barbados, Argus’s buyout in Gibraltar, Butterfield Bank’s presence in the Caribbean, and other Bermudian business investments.
The consistent poll results combined with constant and consistent anecdotal evidence are reflecting the public’s growing awareness and understanding of national strategic realities.
Like “some fat Rodzyanko …”, is the reality of the non-growth of support for Independence sending a message?