By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
November 09, 2011
Once upon a time, there were two left-wing leading, has-been leaders of the working class movement of Trinidad and Tobago who proclaimed the values of proletarian internationalism and working class solidarity. They also preached the inviolability of people’s civil liberties and the right of people to govern their own affairs. As they explained in their heydays, “Any cook can govern” and those who labor must hold the reins of society.
And then they joined a party – had never heard of proletarian internationalism; couldn’t care less about working class solidarity; and was not even concerned about what the civil rights of citizens entailed. Sure they uttered some of the phrases but in reality they were not concerned if they existed or not. They were important while they were out of power. However, once their people remained untouched, everything was okay.
As a party, everything was seen in terms of race. Thus, they revealed a narrow racial chauvinism; subscribed to the worse form of religious obscurantism; and spoke as though Trinidad and Tobago was entering a new age in which Hinduism was given major prominence which why Patrick Manning has to be thankful that he did not condemn the to hell and damnation.
And so it was on a balmy day in Paris, some weeks ago, UNESCO decided that a long-suffering people called the Palestinians should be accepted into that pristine world body regardless of what two of its most obstreperous members had to say about it.
After all, here was a people dispossessed of their land, fighting manfully (and womanfully) to gain the rights that 194 other nations of the world possessed: that is, the right to speak for itself and lead and autonomous existence. Palestine’s Foreign Minister was so gleeful, that he declared, “This membership will be the best step towards peace and security.”
Such an aspiration for a long-suffering people was too much for the party to which these two left-leading, has-been working class leaders had devoted themselves. In the full glare of the world and in opposition to most of the world’s peoples, this reactionary party decided that it could not support the genuine aspirations of this long-suffering people.
So in opposition to countries such as China, India, most of Africa and Latin America, the people of Trinidad and Tobago decided they could not support such a position which they determined was not be in our best interest.
Such a position, however, was not entirely unexpected. As most people know a country’s foreign policy is always a manifestation of its domestic policy. So that if its domestic policy is racist and reactionary, it follows necessarily that its foreign policy will be racist and reactionary; if its domestic policy is geared towards suppressing the civil liberties of its people then at home, then it follows necessarily that its foreign policy would be geared towards the denial of the civil liberties and legitimate rights of a society that is under colonial domination.
It should have come as no surprise, therefore, that a UNC government of which these two left-leaning, has-been political leaders are a part should have voted in unison with the two of the most intransigent government whose primary role, despite all their rhetoric is to maintain the colonial status of the Palestinian people.
Under the circumstances, it will be interesting to see how a UNC government will vote when the issue of Palestinian membership comes up before the UN General Assembly. Already, we have been assured that the Security Council at the urging of the United States will not vote in favor of Palestine membership to the United Nations. The question then becomes: how is the UNC government will vote on this most volatile issue.
One would have thought that these two-left leaning, has-been working class leaders in their new-found respectability and middle-class status would be concerned about how their comrades at home and abroad see their behavior as they lay in the same bed with some of the most reactionary elements in today’s world and how they found themselves in the company of people who never heard the words proletarian internationalism, working class unity, and a profound respect for the civil rights of the Palestinians.
Any serious politician in his right mind knows that the problem of the Palestinian people is the most burning issue today world both in terms world peace and stability. They know that the Palestinian and the Israelis must find a solution to their problems that will allows the oppressed Palestinians to operate their own state and to enjoy many of the freedoms that we in T&T take for granted but which is being slowly being withered away by a UNC-led government.
And just in case they did not get the message, the UNC government has decided to continue the SOE indefinitely which suggests that it has no problem with suppressing the rights of Trinidad and Tobagonians for a long time to come. But then again, this should not surprise any one since the UNC-led government is trying to refine what it does at home in belief that authoritarianism is always to be preferred over democracy and legal transparency.
Yet, the question remains: how can these two left-leaning, has-been working class leaders find themselves in a party where its leading ideologue is the mouth-piece for one of the most reactionary tendencies in the modern world and whose foreign policy betray any sense of decency and respect for the most progressive tendencies of the contemporary world at a time when even the most torpid countries are fighting majestically to overthrow authoritarian regimes?
And so, like all nancy stories of old we must conclude with the refrain crick, crack, monkey break he back for a piece of pomerac. But coming to think of it, did these two left-leaning, has-been working class leaders break dey back or even their ideological pretences for two doubles and a meager portion of middle class respectability, a shirt, a tie and the opportunity to stand in occasionally as the nation’s acting prime minister?