Volney/CJ Conflict: Separation of Powers?

Justice Minister Herbert Volney and Chief Justice Ivor ArchieTHE EDITOR: The essential issue re: the latest Volney-initiated kuchoor is not about all these pretentious concepts of independence of the judiciary; separation of powers; the judiciary being a “bulwark of democracy” etc.

These constructs are the curtains behind which material conflicts involving class, clique and personal interests are being fought. We always couch the pursuit of our interests in noble, ideological terms, which we assume others have bought into. So when businessmen want taxpayers to provide them with protection and subsidies they speak of the “national interest”. When governments want to spy on and victimise citizens they talk about “national security”.

The most sordid personal vendettas are presented as selfless struggles in defence of philosophical principles and the invocation of the names of past philosophers who the invokers have scarcely read or understood and hardly anybody else has heard of (Montesquieu anyone?), is par for the course.

What is clear is that when fault lines within the economic and political system become yawning chasms it means that the centre can no longer hold. The judiciary is central to the vital task of keeping modern capitalist civilisation from imploding.

The judiciary is an integral part of the structure of repression. Like the political system, it was constructed to facilitate the exploitation of labour for the purpose of accumulating capital. In the eyes of working people and the poor, the judicial system is a monstrous, alien power which utilises strange and macabre rituals to cow and intimidate the ignorant, the financially challenged and those who lack “contact”.

It is not necessarily the criminal who ends up in prison; it is not necessarily the innocent who “win their case”. Working people and the poor are quite aware that the surest route to acquittal is to be able to pay the best and most expensive lawyers.

The judiciary has very little to do with justice, but a lot to do with class. As calypsonian Luta said, “The system works for the rich. It doesn’t work for the poor”. Everybody does not stand equal before the law. The law does not protect the citizen from infringement on his rights etc. Those noble sentiments obscure the real function of the judicial system.

Along with the police and the prisons the judiciary carries out the essential function of the state which is to guarantee the dominance of ruling groups by having the capacity to apply severe sanction to those who cross the line.

But as important in maintaining that dominance is the idea of the judiciary as an impartial referee standing above the day to day fray (the class struggle). Any damage to this image forces the state to resort to repression more so than persuasion and exposes clearly to the masses the hypocrisy and deception at the heart of capitalist civilisation.

The judiciary has been a battle ground over the last few years precisely because the legitimacy of the political, economic, social and cultural dispensation has come under and continues to come under fundamental scrutiny.

It is nothing if not clear that a new social settlement is in the offing. The only questions are who are going to gain what, who are going to lose what, and under what socio-political conditions this new settlement will be imposed, negotiated or emerge. The very emergence of the People’s Partnership government attests to the search for a new modus vivendi.

People are not fooled by formulations about “the separation of powers”. Our crown colony system never had use for such undergraduate textbook constructs, which actually were not intended to describe British-influenced political systems. After all, a restless, rebellious working class had to be kept in its place and, when necessary, put firmly back in its place.

The blinkers are coming off. The institutions of repression and exploitation are quickly losing their mythical value. The factions competing for the economic and political crumbs of the offshore economy are in a desperate struggle to “reform the constitution” which is just a code-phrase for the imposition/negotiation of a new social settlement to advance their factional interests. Of course, they will appeal to the masses for support for their respective positions.

Struggles within ruling classes for reform and, thus, preservation of the neo-colonial capitalist system have a nasty habit of developing into revolutionary struggles for the abolition of the system itself.

All those who think the upheavals in the judiciary have to do with the “defence of democracy” the “upholding of the rule of law”, “the separation of powers” and other such tiresome, time-worn propaganda phrases are in for a nasty surprise. Keep up the good work, gentlemen: your internecine warfare is, objectively, in the interest of the abolition of our colonial/capitalist arrangements. I won’t mourn the system’s passing. What about you?

Gerry Kangalee

Hibiscus Drive
La Romaine

5 Responses to “Volney/CJ Conflict: Separation of Powers?”


  • PatriotRik [Rick Maharaj]

    [Ccn Tvnews; Law Association President Martin Daly rejects Volney’s apology]
    Patriotrik; What did M Daly do about the rogue elements within the judiciary as LA president? He and the inefficient CJ should clean up their act and bring efficiency, accountability, equity and decorum to the judiciary before making pronouncements about the prudent and revealing admonitions of Minister Volney.

    [Ccn Tvnews; Justice Minister Herbert Volney apologises in the Parliament and says his statements were never meant to bring the judiciary into disrepute.]
    Patriotrik; Volney did not bring the judiciary into disrepute it was done by many of those political parasites who undermined the integrity of the judiciary by making corrupt land deals and abusing their powers to attack, terrorize and persecute individuals who were opposed to their bigoted, greedy and egomaniacal social agendas.

  • We have a saying that was passed on to me from perhaps the wisest woman that ever lived in Granny L.’It states as follows : “Show me your companions, and I will tell you who you are.’ Notice a pattern between dem UNC folks, and the political, national adopted upstart, that feel’s inclined to throw pot shot at ‘ah we bouy,’ CJ Archie , our young respected , and learned Judicial head?
    Oh yes, both were ably assisted through the decades by the loving kinky head folks , that came originally of the African continent in chains,packed like sardines on unhealthy ships , by European savages , but would discard, and drop them like a hot Irish curry, or bake potato ,when convenient ,and when they fail to remain useful, yes?
    ‘This writer GK said , and I summarize ,“who think the upheavals in the judiciary have to do with the “defence of democracy” the “upholding of the rule of law”, “the separation of powers” and other such tiresome, time-worn propaganda phrases? Keep up the good work, gentlemen: your internecine warfare is objectively, in the interest of what ,… you?”
    I say in amusement, poor souls , they made their beds in the barbarians devil backyards , and today lack the courage to stand up to the encroachers to our democracy, led by a revengeful foreigner with absolutely no interest in our country,but merely one that remains a puppet for skewed thinking, tribal elites, who believes that an African from the Tobago island ward, is undeserving to be the CJ of our Country in the wake of the sudden , embarrassing end of the Justice Shama’s public legal career.

    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/Volney_s_bad-mouthing_of_the_Chief_Justice-103220899.html

    These mind you, were the same character who laughed like constipated baboons -as they felt, like the late alleged father of the nation ,Eric dada Williams , that Tobago was underserving – and so threw their resources behind the pseudo Islamist Abu Bakr, and used him as a tool ,to get rid of another ANR Robinson, via an ill fated attempted coup in 1990- after the latter had served his purpose.
    Get real guys , and ask yourself why you believe that a second rate judge was plucked off the bench on a Sunday, joined the PP political party on a Monday, ran for national office on Tuesday, and on Wednesday -before the ink is dried-is showing the symptoms of ‘foot in mouth disease,’by making bogus, and incendiary, and some would dare say ridiculous statements ,left , right ,and center, across the nation, while playing to the audience as Good Cop / Bad Cop, along with Madame Kamla his boss , about the T&T Justice system that he help create , via his subpar performances first as a legal aid lawyer, next as state attorney, then DPP, and finally a senior Judge, since becoming an ungrateful citizen in ‘Sweet, Sweet, T&T aka Rainbow Country?’
    How about starting a conversation as to the merits of ending the costly British Privy Council , that only a few of our citizens can actually benefit from any way , and instead push to get T&T assume it’s rightful place by becoming a member – seeing that citizens tax dollars are been used for being the host country , and pay the bulk of the upkeep , daily operations,and salaries of the fine Caribbean legal luminaries that are part of the Caribbean Court of Appeal? Oh, I forgot , it is not represented enough , since it is saturated by Caribbean Africans , who can never be objective, and or efficient , as our Minister of Justice, and or, similar pro Europeans , self hating others.

    http://guardian.co.tt/news/crime/2010/09/24/court-orders-new-trial-after-volney-s-error

    Now if the folks in charge are serious about T&T assuming a leadership regional and international role, as proclaimed on the grand stage ,opposed to having borderline ,failed states , and resourceless upstarts , continually lead the way, then action is need now on this and other fronts .
    Go to any part of the globe and mention the names , Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica, and Barbados , and see where underachieving , mismanaged , Trinidad place, in the opinions of others far and wide.
    There is absolutely nothing more despicable in my view , than frauds masquerading as decent nationals , and the conniving agents that encourages them to ply their wares. Ok , there is worst,namely a clueless, comatose, 1.3 million or more folks in a country ,who possess a more lofty, and obviously faulty opinion of themselves ,than they deserve.

    I stand corrected,so what say ye Gerry, hummm?

  • Trinidad now needs a hand of God as in Haiti to weed out the immense evil that continues like slime to stain the country. I loved Trinidad once upon a time ago. This article is well put together. Why did we all fail our country?

  • Ok Jerry , do what you cowards have done for centuries, run for more peaceful pastures, once the going gets tough.When Mahatma could not take the heat in the South African kitchen ,he too ran – back to peaceful India to eventually ride the backs of low caste indians to power until the elites cut him down for daring to change the status quo, remember?
    We the true T&T patriots ,that fully appreciate what nation building is all about, is prepared to remain in the trenches, fighting for equal rights, justice, respect for all citizens, economic empowerment for all, political transparency, and other ideals, aimed at enhancing sustainable development of our loving country.
    You can run, but can’t hide my friend , as your 400 acres is at stake, and a George Street /Guyanese vendor, or Febeau Village / Vincentian Baptist might be the beneficiary.
    Your call.

  • neal
    You seem to be doing plenty with your mouth and pen. Perhaps you should show more action …ypu walk your talk. Anyway, you seem to know all my struggles …or do you really. Talk for yourself not others whom you do not know. Lets get one thing clear though I did not run from my country ….I was forced out of my country by the PNM regimes. I contibuted over 30 years of my life to my country. What I got in return was a big fat kick.

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