Industrialization by Illusion: T&T Today

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
May 08, 2008

Trini PeopleIn his 1972 article titled “The meaning of development”, Professor Dudley Sears argued that “a country which had doubled per capita income could not claim to have experienced development if poverty, inequality, (inflation/ spiraling high cost of living, food shortages, human safety/security, level of crimes) and unemployment had not been reduced.”

In lay man’s terms, this phenomenon can best be classified as “growth without development”; in other words, it represents a scenario wherein an inverse relationship exists between economic, financial and industrial expansion/growth and the Quality of Life (QOL) and Basic Human Needs (BHN) of the citizenry of the country. Today, Trinidad and Tobago resembles such a phenomenon/scenario.

As James D. Cockroft, Andre Gunder Frank and Dale L. Johnson elucidate further in their book titled Dependence and Underdevelopment (1972): ” Real development involves a structural transformation of the economy, polity and culture of the satellite that permits the self-generating and self-perpetuating use and development of the people’s potential.” (p. xvi).

The afore-mentioned speaks volumes as to the illusory nature of the government’s policy to industrialize Trinidad and Tobago. This policy can only be described as Industrialization as if People do not Matter.

The fact of the matter is that Prime Minister Manning is bent on creating, fashioning and molding Port-of-Spain in the image and likeness of Euro-America’s Manhattan, Miami and/or San Francisco.

The “Breakfast Shed” situation is one classic example of Patrick Manning’s Industrialization as if People do not Matter policy framework.

In this specific case, the existence of people, human beings, at the “Breakfast Shed” was only an after thought in the industrialization planning of this area in Port-of-Spain. The people were irrelevant and expendable. The so-called industrialization of this area was done as if the people, human beings, at the “Breakfast Shed” do not matter. This represents typical Euro-centric economic planning whereby the human being, human factor, is non-existent.

Another example is the industrialization of the Queen’s Park Savannah with its replacement by a new National Performing and Carnival Arts Centre. This was also done as if the people, human beings, in the country’s cultural arts fraternity and carnival associations , including band leaders, do not matter. They have never been consulted in this industrialization process.

As a corollary, one finds that the industrialization of the Princess Building grounds with the construction of a Performing Arts Centre plus an illusive 60-room hotel was also done as if the people, human beings, in the country’s arts fraternity do not matter. This industrialization process apparently cost Dr. Keith Rowley his job as Minister of Trade and Industry in the PNM government.

Indeed, one can only surmise that Prime Minister Patrick Manning is repeating Dr. Eric Williams’ historical admonition to his ministers: “If yuh doh like it; get to hell outta here.”

The fact of the matter is that this country’s industrialization process via smelters continues unabated and in a defiant, acerbic public mode as if the people, human beings, of the affected communities do not matter. And the list goes on and on.

The stark reality is that industrialization is not measured in terms of tall buildings and capital expenditures. Human development is the spinal cord of any sensible, sane economic/industrialization policy.

This writer strongly contends that under the rubric of the government’s apparent “Industrialization as if People do not Matter” policy, T&T is experiencing the phenomenon of retrogressive progression.

By way of elucidation, retrogressive progression exists when a country (T&T today) experiences rapid, exponential financial/industrial growth (economic progression) coterminous with rapid, exponential decline in its induced human values stock such as education, health care, safety and crime, Quality of Life (QOL), respect and value for human life, family values, infra-structural amenities, morals, human decency, etc, (retrogressive humanism).

Furthermore, retrogressive progression suggests that in this situation, the government operates under the illusion that the country and by extension the people, are moving forward while in reality both entities are moving progressively and retrogressively backward into self-inflicted human disaster, oblivion, and fatalistic self-destruction.

In other words, it does not follow that just because of economic progression, including T&T’s impending International Financial Centre (TTIFC), the people of T&T are better off and that their Basic Human Needs (BHN) have been met. In fact, the reverse may be true. Indeed, one can argue that the people of T&T are worse off in terms of their QOL and BHN as a result of the Euro-centric, albeit anti-human, genre of government’s industrialization policy. The evidence is omnipresent and overwhelming.

As a result of this government’s anti-human industrial policy, Trinbagonians now judge each other by one’s outward materialism rather by one’s inward humanism. In other words, one is judged by how one looks rather than who one is as a person, a bona fide human being. Today, for example, Trinbagonians do not go out to enjoy themselves with Pal Joey Lewis’ “Pint of wine” music; rather, Trinbagonians go out to “dress to impress.” In other words, the human being/factor/element no longer exists in how Trinbagonians enjoy themselves socially; overt crass materialism is now the yardstick/norm. This is retrogressive humanism.

Today, Trinbagonians judge each other by how they look as in the designer/brand-named clothes they wear, the car they drive and how Americanized they are in their modus vivendi, 24-7-365. This is retrogressive humanism.

In addition, the government’s Euro-centric industrial policy mind-set has propelled Trinbagonians to overtly identify with the culinary values/habits of Euro-America via KFC, Church’s Chicken, Mc Donald’s, Subway, Pizza Boys, Blimpie, Royal Castle, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Ginzanos Sub, Popeye’s Chicken & Seafood, etc.

Put simply, the culinary habits/values of Trinbagonians have now been totally and irreversibly Euro- American Kentuckyfried, Subwayed and Mc Donalderized.

Trinbagonians’ culinary habits/values operate as if people, human beings, in the country’s culinary fraternity do not matter. This is retrogressive humanism.

Ipso facto, it need occasion no great surprise that a mammoth Euro-American KFC screen now overshadows/overpowers/predominates the statue of this country’s premier national hero, Captain Andrew Arthur Cipriani , on Independence Square in Port-of-Spain.

Ergo, the most poignant questions that immediately comes to the fore are : Does this Euro-American industrial structure smack in the middle of the nation’s capital represent the true independence of a people or does it speak volumes as to a people’s voluntary Euro-American re-colonization?.

The presence of this Euro-American spectacle represents the most blatant, unconscionable, egregious and vicious insult and disrespect for and complete defamation of, the sanctity of Trinidad and Tobago’s independence, national identity, pride and sovereignty.

It is also very interesting to recall that during the era of Euro-British colonialism, Salvatori building made “Cipriani look like ah lil boy”; today, in the era of Euro-American re-colonization, the mega Euro-American industrial, culinary structure is once again making “Cipriani look like ah lil boy”.

This industrial insanity compels the following question from the lyrics of social commentator Morel Peters (Luta):

“Tell me
How free
How free
Are we
Could somebody tell me?”

In addition, it is no small wonder that as a result of this Euro-American re-colonization, young Trinbagonians have absolutely no respect/value for human life and will kill another “youth man” for a pair of designer sneakers. This is retrogressive humanism.

The stark reality is that young Trinbagonians are now under the subliminal indoctrination /sway/magnetic force of instant gratification and have deduced that since the fruits of government’s industrial policy will not trickle down to them, then, their obdurate propensity is “to get rich or die trying” a la the African-American rapper “50 Cent’s” philosophy of life.

Instead of being responsible/respectable members of society, government’s anti-human industrial policy has compelled young Trinbagonians, particularly males, to conclude that they have no option but to live their lives as a “gangster for life.” That’s their comfort zone. This is retrogressive humanism at its zenith. In this specific case, one can only deduce that there is a direct relationship between government’s Euro-centric, anti-human industrial policy and human values/interaction and moral decadence in Trinidad and Tobago.

For while the government is wallowing under the illusion of attaining “developed country status” in industrial, financial and economic terms, human misery, moral decadence and inter-personal self-destructive behavior are the stark realities on the ground for the average Trinbagonian.

In the final analysis, Industrialization as if People do not Matter conjures up memories of the 15th century Euro-colonial mind-set/world view that contended: “the colonizer knows what’s best for the colonized.” This colonial, historical mind-set towards the colonized is now been repeated by Trinidad and Tobago’s neo-colonial government.

In sum, the government’s anti-human industrial policy has transformed Trinidad and Tobago into the ultimate impersonal society that is wrapped up in the swaddling clothes/trappings of a failed state.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

5 thoughts on “Industrialization by Illusion: T&T Today”

  1. But didn’t the PNM voting tribal supporters, aided by the racially-jerrymandered electoral boundaries of Trinidad, ‘poot dem dey??’


  2. Trinidad and Tobago has a very strange democracy. We are not experiencing the part of democracy that deals with government by the people.Patrick Manning is dragging Trinidad and Tobago to reach developed country status whether we like it or not. We will be the richest poor country in the western hemisphere. Mr Manning could care less about the people factor.Maybe he intends importing some robots from China.

  3. I am puzzled as to why “the government’s Euro-centric industrial policy mind-set has propelled Trinbagonians to overtly identify with the culinary values/habits of Euro-America………..” etc. Is this really the government’s doing? I live in New York City where I can purchase food from all over the world including T&T, so what values am I identifying with? Let Trinis be what they want to be and eat what they want to eat.

  4. “We see a type of philosophy of development that has nothing to do with people”, (Daivd Abdulah).

    Source: Sunday Newsday, Section A, p.13, 3rd August, 2008.

    I guess someone didn’t get the message conveyed by this well written article. The contents therein has nothing to do with not wanting Trinis to be what they want to be nor for that matter eating what they want to eat. These areas merly highlight the extent to which government policy has allowed for the erosion of local cultural values and by and large our sovereignty.
    GLOBALIZATION here is that economic phenomenon that has really opened the gates for “Euro-American recolonization”. It has infected the minds of our leaders who seek only to make our nation look like the ‘1st World’and in that transition human development and well being do not matter. This phenomenon has even infected the minds and philosophy of the people, a la, “get rich or die tryin”.
    The country’s present murder rate would clearly show that there is in fact a growing lack of love and respect for life.

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