“Nationalisation & Internationalism” – Part One – Outline of the Economic Situation

NB – This continues the ongoing transcription of a 2002 ‘Manifesto for a Democratic Socialist Bermuda’, which I wrote for the purpose of initiating discussion about organising a democratic socialist (DS) Party in Bermuda. I am reproducing it here for it’s historical interest, it’s role in the genesis of this blog itself, and for the purpose of stimulating discussion in the future.

Part One

Central to the DS programme is the nationalisation (socialisation) of the means of production (the economy), and a recognition that democratic socialism cannot be achieved in one nation alone, but must be global in order to be successful. Before expanding on these statements in greater detail it is necessary to first analyse the general economic structure of Bermuda.

The economy of Bermuda is more or less wholly based on two economic pilars; Tourism (and its related spheres, i.e. restaurants, taxis, moped rentals, attractions, hotels, etc.) and International Business (along with its related spheres, i.e. law firms, auditors, chartered accountants, brokers, banks, insurance firms, telecommunications, etc.) [and there is overlap between the two].

These two ‘pillars’ account for perhaps 80% or more of the Bermudian economy, with International Business (IB) growing in the 1990s to the primary economic pillar. Tourism has declined, not only relative to IB, but also absolutely (with reduced capacity, and tourist numbers – a trend that has accelerated since the events of 9/11), to a much less important economic pillar. This trend is set to continue further with increasing numbers of the working class joining the IB industry as accountants,lawyers, clerks and associated occupations.

Two other important industries are those of Construction (though the ‘boom’ of the 1990s appears to be declining) and the Civil Service (the largest absolute employer in Bermuda). Other, albeit minor industries, are Pharmaceutical and Paint Manufacture, some Food Production (agricultural, fisheries or ‘blending’ of imports, such as rum and sherry peppers), Education (the Bermuda College) and Energy Production [and the local Retail Sector].

Bermuda possesses virtually no raw materials other than limestone, some agricultural and fishery capacity, its natural beauty, hospitable climate, location and a relatively highly educated population. Only tourism, agriculture, fisheries, education and (some basic aspects of, at least) construction and the civil service may be regarded as domestic and potentially sustainable. [The next chapter coves self-reliance and sustainable development more fully.]

The strength of the IB sector has already been shown several times, especially during the 1995 Independence Referendum, where the sector felt threatened and reacted by threatening to kill the Bermudian economy by ‘evacuating’ (capital flight), and thus dealing Bermuda its worst ever disaster (natural or artificial). The referendum was thus defeated and Bermuda remains a Crown Colony of the UK. [In truth the reasons for the defeat were more complex, with the PLP boycotting the vote, amongst other factors – including confusion relating to a hurricane – but it cannot be denied that the ‘fear factor’ induced by IB’s threats were significant – and remain so.]

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