History is not an Act of God. History is a human, demanding the abandonment of forlorn prospects and writing new plans through Acts of political choice.  Once British immigration policy had migrated to Brussels – Brexit was inevitable. Joseph Brodsky admitted that a declining Soviet Union did not even try to evade, simplify or disguise the fact that the Union was a vestige of a previous era. The great advantage of being last, is that the West Indies still has a chance to complete many great tasks ahead of it. The void of the region’s absurd past, its historylessness as Walcott describes it, is a chance for the castaways to craft a common destiny.

The sigh of history gathers over the ruins of the Coliseum in Rome but we remain haunted by the moans from great houses of slavers and deaf cannons in deserted forts. On July 4th 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject to the monarch of Britain and were now united and independent states. On July 4th 1973, The Treaty of Chaguaramas established the Caribbean Community and the Caribbean Common Market that replaced the Caribbean Free Trade Association.

The Treaty established the Caribbean Community as a separate legal entity from the Common Market. This arrangement facilitated states joining the Community without being party to the Common Market regime. Forty-six years later- if there was ever a universal question, it must be: Are we there yet? Donald Trump is the 45th President of the independent and united American states. The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) serves to remove restrictions allowing the free movement of goods, services, persons, capital and technology and it confers the right of CARICOM Nationals to establish a business in any member State.

The dream of creating a uniform state through Federation that presupposed a mythical fusion of markets, culture and territory has faded like a Hing Wan on the veranda. To understand the difficulties that we have so easily created for ourselves we must first recognise that the economic axis of the earth has shifted. Fukuyama backs the universal human desire to live in a modern society configured around a market economy and democracy. But what foreign policy flows from this thesis remains blurred. Lewis’s model of the dual economy changed the world. However, today few leaders in the West Indies have any appetite and affinity for building a post-historical West Indies. They seem satisfied with things as they are and have abandoned the struggle to transform the state-space.

Putin and Xi do not see the EU as the final form of the political and economic order of Europe. China is looking West. But Russia is not looking East. The destiny of Asia is not in Davos. St. Petersburg demands the sharing of power to create and set the rules at the heart of world order. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has not opted for a common currency like the Euro nor have they built a headquarters like the European Union in Brussels. In the EEU, important decisions are not left to independent technical bodies managed by non-elected civil servants. Probing these diverse models of governance is important if we are to avoid another Windrush exodus of talent and capital. One new direction might entail a West Indian Growth and Stability Pact configured around a kit of tools rather than a set of rules.

This toolkit can foster co-operation on principles of free trade and compatible regulation systems. The innovation would be to craft these principles and tools with features that allow them to be disseminated through third parties like the Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO) and regional institutions that will allow merchants and manufactures to dock into European platforms and funding mechanisms. For these precise reasons, Istanbul is exploring its relationship with the Shanghai Corporation Organization as an alternative to EU accession. The Lisbon Treaty may have carried the EU as far as it could and the Chaguaramas Treaty may be a souvenir of a bygone era.

Political innovation is part of the digital economy and digital politics. A post-historical West Indies must revisit the constellation of beliefs, techniques and tools that sustain old paradigms. A growth and stability pact will lead to a procedure for increased policy surveillance: specific penalties to be imposed on countries with excessive deficits, and the automatic imposition of those penalties. This will bring states to focus on harnessing regional production chains and bolster notions of a common destiny.

Ages after the triangular trade, we see today that there are as many pasts as there are possible futures, and like never before, the future is wide open. We cannot repeat. We must invent. To limp along inside a bureaucratic arabesque of our past reality is not a choice. Any political innovation in the West Indies like Brexit in Europe will be a decision that is hostage to fortune. The clearer it is, the easier it will be to show that it was a bad choice if things go awry and those who took the risks will pay the price. But that too is history.