By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 24, 2017
For the past seven years the two Ks (Kamla and Keith) have ruled the land. On Tuesday they introduced two other “Ks” to the unsavory mix: Kamauflage, another kamikaze-like maneuver designed to hoodwink our people. Basdeo Panday, characterizes their approach as “playing smart with chupidness.” One could also use the French aphorism to describe their carryings-on: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose: the more things change, the more they remain the same.
These maneuvers remind one of a condition that Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist, refers to in his Prison Notebooks. He says: “The crisis [in Italian society] consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born: in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Zygmunt Bauman argues that an “interregnum” is a term that was used originally “to denote a time-lag separating the death of one royal sovereign from the enthronement of the successor. These used to be the main occasions on which the past generations experienced (and customarily expected) a rapture in the otherwise monotonous continuity of government, law, and social order” (“Times of Interregnum”).
When one surveys the present political condition under the guidance of the second K, one gets the impression that he does not know where he wishes to take his people. Like, Little Bo Peep, he seems to have “lost his sheep, And doesn’t know where to find them.” One is not even sure if the sheep “will come home, Bringing their tails behind them.”
Crime is out of control but he says that it is not his responsibility. He argues that the police service is responsible for controlling crime, a mantra that his ministers repeat ad infinitum. But if the control of crime is the responsibility of the police, why did we elect a government in the first place?
The first K is just as bad. When she was in power her government paid a lawyer half a million dollars to write a legal letter, a half page long. Her government spent about 1 billion in legal fees (Guardian, October 13, 2015) yet did nothing to improve the function of the judiciary. Today, her party uses the law as a bull-pestle to beat the government into submission.
UNC says it uses the law to enhance our democracy. Unfortunately lawyers understand laws, not ethics. Lawyers have dismantled societies under the guise of law without flinching. Timothy Snyder reminds us: “Lawyers were vastly overrepresented among the commanders of the Einsatzgruppen, the special task forces who carried out the mass murder of Jews, Gypsies, Polish elites, communists, the handicapped, and others” (On Tyranny).
Snyder believes if professionals had followed the ethics of their profession “the Nazi regime would have been much harder pressed to carry out the atrocities by which we remember them.” Sadly, professionals confuse the ethics of their profession with the politics of the moment which allow them to do things “they might previously have thought unimaginable.”
Neither the PNM nor the UNC has responded to the country’s problems in a creative manner nor, for that matter, have they shown us a way out of our impasse. One party is too insular; the other is too racial. The Africans are afraid of the Indians while the Indians don’t trust the Africans. This allows the Syrians to fill the breach. Recently Keith Subero argued against the government’s attempt to dismantle CLICO. We should listen to his plea (See “What CL Financial Means,” Express, July 17).
Indians and Africans must move beyond their racial enclaves and the false security they find in their communities. They must stop being afraid of one another. We must start with the realization that our staying apart maximizes the possibility of allowing the smallest group to increase its disproportionate control of the country’s wealth.
Indians and Africans ought to unify themselves for their own salvation. They must begin with Machiavelli’s proposition: “The aims of the people are more honest than those of the nobles, the nobles wishing to oppress the people, and the people wishing not to be oppressed” (The Prince).
Their coming together does not presume any antagonism against those who enjoy a disproportionate piece of the economic pie. It only demands that we recognize that we work against our best self-interest when we build up artificial walls of distrust.
As our country has lost respect in the eyes of the world; criminals have become more daring in their attacks against fellow citizens; lawyers use the law against the general interest; businessmen are more unscrupulous; bureaucrats suffer from continuous vertigo which make them useless; and our representatives are disdainful of those who elected them. Citizens need to decide if they wish to be complicit in their own destruction.
I am not too sure if the old has outlived its usefulness or what the contours are of the new. However, I feel despondency in the air and a sense of déjà vu happening all over again as Yogi Berra is reputed to have said. Neither the PNM nor the UNC can save us from the damnation that is approaching.
Maybe it is time to look for something new.