Rastafarians apply the theory of Babylon to Jamaican society as well as to the rest of the world. In Jamaica Babylon encompasses the concerted efforts of various agencies representing the power structure, those who have a stronghold on available resources. One of the most important characteristics of this group is that it excessively emulates Western culture. The culture of the oppressed, consequently, is relegated to a second-class status. Western culture is seen as the measuring rod to demarcate that which is superior. Babylon in this sense entails “part of a world view and cultural perceptions” which degrades anything African. Transcending such perceptions, the Rastafari idealize Africa.
The Rastafarian critique of Babylon transcends Jamaican society and includes denouncing capitalistic systems as well as certain communistic regimes.
Rastafarians refer to these systems as “anancy regimes”, oppressive systems based on shrewdness. International Babylon is represented by the industrialized nations of the world, spearheaded by the United States, as well as key religious institutions such as the Vatican. According to the Rastafari, international Babylon has a long history with a succession of oppressive eras. They note that oppressive regimes such as those of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, British, and Americans have dominated world history. From the Rastafarian perspective, all of these regimes were inspired by the activities of “Nebuchadnezzar, the infamous king of the Biblical Babylon“. It is within this
overall historical context that the Rastafarians explain their experience and ultimate mission, the overcoming of the oppression of Blacks and humanity at large.
Social Movement Endurance: Collective Identity and the Rastafari
by Alem Seghed Kebede, Thomas E. Shriver, J. David Knottnerus.
in Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 70, No. 3, Summer 2000, 313-37