The question is how we react to this great prejudice against women. The rule of law and social activism certainly are crucial. But no matter how...”
If I were to offer a small criticism of Bonds of Empire, then, it is Rush’s acceptance of this supremacy of Britishness over alternative cutural forms. This also influences the language she uses when describing historical events: passive word choices remove the horrors and violence of the colonial encounter. The title Bonds of Empire itself, which suggests linkages and an echo of fraternity, might be equally understood to refer to “bonds” in the financial sense: a debt to the Mother Country where ownership over local development and self-determination are directed by foreign cultural ideals, or what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called cultural capital. That is how empire works, as imperialism socialises those it makes war on and conquers their inner world — their “biopolitics.” Empire enforces itself inside the minds and cultures of ex-colonies. Hence when Rush writes of decolonialisation she masks the process of neocolonialism and the personal politics involved in such a relationship. Her tale omits the cultural disciplining that such “bonds” demand as payment for success, and presents them instead as free choice; what’s more, as the best choice for all. I would venture that such choice eroded authentic forms of Caribbean self-determination and independence, rather than the other way around.
Empire is based on the theft and accumulation of wealth. This power tries to hide its tyranny by claiming to leave behind positives — in many ways, Rush implies that independence and democracy were such gifts. This is problematic because of what it hides: entrenched poverty; wealth in the hands of a few; private enterprises and public industries still run on a plantation mentality, with their surpluses leaving the country. It is quite clear that the populations of the urban slums of the Caribbean and ex-colonies further afield refute the notion that “bonds of empire” have done anything to transform poverty. Instead, one might argue that Britishness and bonds of empire have helped entrench global class inequalities