Categorized | Editorials

Structural Violence Matters

Poverty is on the march and this phenomenon is nothing more and nothing less than a type of social death on the installment plan where day by dreadful day more and more of our people find themselves reduced, diminished and humiliated.

It is perhaps this factor – among others such – that might explain some of the rage that currently saturates social life in not only today’s Bahamas; but that of any number of other societies in our region. Indeed as some of this nation’s elite classes now bemoan the fact that things are not as good as they once were, there are very many other Bahamians who are – for the first time in their lives – being introduced to poverty’s harsh lash.

There are those among us who could be categorized as ‘the working poor’ who are being troubled and beset by rising prices for practically everything they must consume. While most Bahamians are today fixated on the extent to which enraged Bahamians are turning their pent-up wrath on each other, there are other Bahamians – ourselves included – who are focused on other matters that seem more germane to the lives of the vast majority of their fellow-Bahamians. While some of these matters are not usually discussed when reference is made to crime and violence, we do believe that there is space in that dialogue for a closer look at the violence done practically everyone by the rising cost of living.

Nowhere is this systems-based [or structural] violence more dreadfully apparent than it is at the level of all those households where incomes are the same as they have always been – even as the cost of essential goods continues to rise.

The government itself is complicit in the violence done so very many Bahamians; this especially because of the government’s monopoly on the production and delivery of electricity to the nation at large.

It is quite clear that a similar thing will ensue when or if government assumes monopoly control over the delivery of water to the populace.

The same principle applies to that slew of licenses and permits that are routinely provided [for a fee] by the public authorities.

Simply put, wherever there is monopoly control, monopoly rents are never far off.

The violence and the violations that do come, will continue to do so as long as things are valued more than living, breathing human beings; all said to be born and shaped in the Image of God Almighty.

Things have become so bad that we now have Bahamians who are fixated on the rate at which Bahamians – especially young black men – are fighting among themselves for whatever it is that such men routinely fight about; whether this takes the form of rivalry for the affection and attention of a love-object; territory or turf.

In truth, the root of the congeries of problems we face is to be found in the system itself; one that is based on inequality, mindless competition and the idolatry of things –all at the expense of living, breathing human beings.

There is perhaps no tableau or scene – staged or not – that can match in sadness and pathos that situation where a mother is bereft of the means to put food in the mouths of her children.

There is today any number of men [yes, Bahamian fathers, no less] who also bear their own crosses as they find themselves quite unable to feed or care for their brood.

In neither case are we referencing some fantasy or the other; some play or the other featuring Bahamian man or Bahamian woman. To the contrary we are noting the agonies currently being experienced by both men and women and their children as they feel the hammer-blows of what is euphemistically described as ‘the cost of living’.

And so, we have situations on our hand where [as UWI Professor Linden Lewis explains] – in the exercise of power – strength is always pitted against weakness, affluence against poverty, capital against labor; and – on occasion – men against women.

In addition, as Lewis also suggests, there are all those other occasions when certain privileged men wield power over other categories of men.

In a sense, this kind of violence can be said to have its genesis in systems that are pervasive and which are routinely obscured by society’s fixation with crimes like murder, rape, robbery and grand thefts. The sum of the matter, remains: – This is precisely what some sociologists, including UWI’s Lynden Lewis have described as ‘structural’ violence or as we would like to describe it:- the way economic resources are unequally distributed so that certain classes of people in society are privileged while others are marginalized.

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook