Managing the Culture of Conscience: The Missing Element in Approaches to Development in Jamaica Since Indendence

As the fiftieth anniversary of Jamaican independence approaches, it’s worth reflecting on how aspects of our cultural life, and their intense interaction with our politics, profoundly shaped our development and progress as a people.

Because moral sentiments are a critical dimension of cultural life everywhere, and because such sentiments in their negative form have been such a source of division and disunity in recent years, an assessment of this cultural factor and its role in our national development seems in order. In addressing the multi-faceted challenge of development Jamaican leaders, like their counterparts in developing countries elsewhere, exhibited a laser-like focus on economic planning and development. Managing economic forces and harnessing economic resources was largely seen as the optimal route to national power and national development. Of far lesser interest to the nation-builders in Jamaica and their successors, it seems to me, was an interest in managing conscience, managing political power and managing culture and values. Attending to moral conscience - in a word, giving purposive attention to matters of moral culture among the people, was sadly neglected in favour of focusing massively on economic planning for growth and development.

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