Page 1 of 1
Cult of personality?
Posted: Sun May 23, 2004 5:28 pm
Can someone explain Article 7 of the Haitian Constitution to me?
"The cult of the personality is categorically forbidden. Effigies and names of living personages may not appear on the currency, stamps, seals, public buildings, streets or works of art."
What was the rationale behind this article? It doesn't seem like people pay attention to it.. pictures of Aristide are plastered all over Port-au-prince.
If we had a similar provision in our constitution the whole country would collapse.
Posted: Mon May 24, 2004 1:19 pm
Justin, several articles of the 1987 Haitian Constitution were written in reaction to previous excesses or abuses of power from the Papa Doc and Baby Doc era. Papa Doc in particular named the international airport, schools and other public institutions, and even renamed a town after him. His image appeared on coins and bills of national currency. His self-propaganda books were distributed to state employees, whose pay was forcibly deducted to compensate for the costs of production, distribution, and blessed receipt of His Presidency's words of revolutionary wisdom. Catholic prayers were modified and carnival songs were routinely composed to celebrate the name of the good Doc who art in Haiti. Living in Haiti during that period of time, I can ascertain that it was virtually impossible to escape even for one day the glorification of Papa Doc, which assaulted every one's senses in every which way and form.
n continued in pretty much the same way... though I am less qualified to speak about it.
I hope that this sheds some light on what Article 7 of the Haitian Constitution was supposed to prevent. That it was not fully respected by the Aristide government is of no surprise to me whatsoever, though it can be argued that a certain liberalization of the media (in spite of all that you hear from the I-do-not-know-or-have-forgotten-everything-about-Duvalier crowd) served to counter the excesses of Aristide's cult of personality with their own brand of excessive and obsessive anti-Aristide garbage.
What I do not understand fully is your claim that "If we had a similar provision in our (U.S.) constitution the whole country would collapse." Would you care to elaborate?
Posted: Mon May 24, 2004 1:38 pm
I was just referring to the way the cult of personality is such a huge part of our culture in America. People are obsessed with celebrities and other public figures. Just look at the magazine rack in any grocery store.
I wasn't aware that the Duvaliers went that far in self-promotion. Dictators inevitably engage in that sort of thing, but it sounds like they took it to new heights. I can see why people would want a provision like that in the Constitution.
Ultimately though I don't think any government could enforce such a rule. It's hard for me to imagine a society nowadays not having a cult of personality of some kind.