Social behaviour is culture, and culture decides the destiny of a society. Therefore, the destiny of the Virgin Islands primarily depends on its culture more than any other consideration.

Culture, of course, is a word used loosely. It can denote many things. For example, culture is the customs, traditions, and way of life of a society as depicted in the society’s geography, history, art, learning, technology, law and governance.

Culture is omniscient, omnipresent and even omnipotent. Because it is also difficult to change, changing a culture can take years.

A society is wise to recognise the power of culture. Investing in culture and related subjects such as folklore, theatre, music, writing, cuisine and so on helps define and enrich a society. I like to think of culture as the software that drives the hardware of a country or territory.


Capital and culture

One reality that this writer has been asserting in recent months is the power of capital and the management of capital to drive up wealth and prosperity. What he omitted was the even greater reality that a society’s culture is crucial in wealth creation. Culture decides the value of the capital mix.

History reveals that a society that possesses a rich culture — that adopts effective values such as honesty, good work ethics, and a zeal for arts and learning — prevails over others in terms of its prosperity.

Culture type decides capital mix, and culture can increase or decrease the value of the capital mix. In other words, culture drives social and economic growth.

Culture also drives national power. A people with a rich culture — and the wherewithal to use that culture to achieve a national purpose — rarely fail. Culture and unity of purpose play a part in economic and social success.


‘Culture of freedom’

The VI possesses a rich culture of freedom that is a broad reflection of the freedoms enjoyed in the wider Caribbean. This is a freedom derived from a tragic history: slavery, the plantation era, post-slavery colonialism, nationalism, and independence. The preceding are the ingredients in the cauldron that has shaped the culture.

The VI’s culture, coupled with its geography, is what increases the value of tourism and the offshore services industry — and other aspects of the society’s capital mix. That capital mix is what pays the wages and drives up profits and balance-sheet values.

We must never fail to understand the power of culture to improve all our lives. Art, learning, cuisine, community, sport and more push up social and economic productivity. Investing in culture in creative and intelligent ways is necessary for any society that hopes to become an El Dorado.