The Challenge of Ideology

By Dr. Selwyn Cudjoe
December 11, 2016

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeNo one who has followed Caribbean history over the last century could miss Fidel’s important role in helping Caribbean people to access their condition. Fidel had his faults.

However, his achievements surpassed his shortcomings and that is the salient point.

Fidel was to the 20th century Caribbean what Toussaint was to the 18th and 19th centuries. CLR James noted: “Castro’s revolution is of the 20th century as much as Toussaint’s was of the 18th…West Indians became aware of themselves as a people in the Haitian Revolution.”

While the Haitian Revolution set in process a motion that ended slavery in the Americas, Fidel’s revolution liberated West Indians from the grip of colonialism.

Fidel also assisted the liberation fighters in South Africa, Mozambique and Angola. Mandela embraced Fidel because he inspired him personally and assisted African liberation groups materially when Western leaders saw them as terrorists.

The leaders of the liberation struggle—people such as Mandela, Amilcar Cabral, Sam Nujoma, Marcelino dos Santos—knew where they wanted to take their societies even though many of them ultimately repudiated the values for which they stood initially. One only has to look at Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to understand the depths to which some of these leaders descended.

The colonial world was full of revolutionary leaders in the 1950s. Any leader worthy of his salt subscribed to a revolutionary doctrine even though these leaders, as was the case of Maurice Bishop and Walter Rodney years later, paid dearly for their ideals.

In 1953 Fidel led an attack on Moncada Barracks. The assault failed, Fidel was sentence to 15 years in prison. A general amnesty released him from prison. He sailed to Mexico. One year later he was back in Cuba storming the barricades. In 1959 he overthrew Fulgencio Batista and ruled Cuba until ill health forced him to retire.

While Trinidad and Tobago’s political trajectory was different, it was still caught in the rhetoric of the age. Even Dr Eric Williams recognised that theory—or the articulation of theory—was an important element of leadership. With the comradely association of James, he marked out his ideological territory.

Although Dr Williams was a nationalist in 1956, he embraced the anti-imperialist dimension of the colonial struggle. In “Perspective for Our Party” (1958) he offered one of his most theoretical/radical addresses to his party. He discussed the relationship between the leaders and the masses, offered a broad party philosophy for its second-level leaders, acknowledged the importance of theory in building the party, and emphasised the need for a political leader and a theoretical leader within the party.

The political leader, Dr Williams noted, must be “the main source of its ideals and of its political and social attitudes”. The theoretical leader “is the source of inspiration, ideas and facts and research for journalists, orators and [others]… who transmit their ideas of the party”.

However, the political leader and the theoretical leader “need not necessarily be one and the same person. They may be two or three persons”. Like James, he acknowledged that the people were always in the vanguard of the struggle. “It is certain,” he said, “no type of West Indian organisation so far has caught up with where the people have already reached.”

James returned to Trinidad in 1958. Between 1955 and 1960 he was instrumental in thinking through these theoretical problems with Williams and other progressive thinkers. Grace Lee, a member of James’s American party of the 1940s, writes that Williams visited while they were in London in 1957. When Kwame Nkrumah, the Ghanaian president, went to London for the First Commonwealth conference of Third World Independence leaders, James, his wife Selma, George Padmore and Lee spent time with Williams at Dorchester Hotel.

The next year James returned to Trinidad after 26 years away from his home. On December 6, 1958, he became the editor of the PNM Weekly whose name he changed to The Nation. James and Williams remained as close as they had been in the 1930s through the 1950s. This relationship was too close for some PNM members. An influential PNM member remarked: “For a year, Nello [James] was number two in the party. In fact, there were times when we thought he might have been number 1.” James left the party in 1961.

On January 25, 1981, Williams presented his last address, “The Party’s Stewardship, 1956 to 1980.” He was emphatic: “The PNM has rejected both capitalism and socialism, opting for State-owned enterprises in which the shares are to be divested to the public ensuring equal opportunity for the small man.” Nine weeks later he was dead.

Although he was not an ideologue, Williams sought to outline an ideological path for the island, always calling on us to remember our uniqueness. In an age of instant everything, it might be wise for party leaders and party members to study the writings of Castro, Williams and James to gauge how far we have come as a society and what we need to do to move ahead.

6 thoughts on “The Challenge of Ideology”

  1. Today’s political parties do not operate from any ideology or philosophical base.
    They practise the politics of convenience. They are motivated by control, power, greed and race. Both existing entities bark and imitate foreign political jargon focussing on the optics rather than the substance.
    T&T is in desperate need of a cerebral leader with a solid and relevant set of ideological ideas relevant to T&T. Unfortunately there is no one in waiting on either side of the divide.


      Self serving elites ,are part of the bigger problem in La Trinity. Folks like yourself , would choose to waste your time, lamenting on how terrible your country is ,while pointing pointing fingers of blame , to every one else , but yourselves, and or tribe.
      You mislead gullible folks , enamored with your escapist pro – everything -White European- is splendid- diatribes.
      In other parts of the globe , folks instead, used the skills they have acquired , from global travels,and work abroad, to develop a better end.

      They attempt to be difference makers, not solely via escapist political ideologies , but through furtherance of Human Security initiatives ,via NGOs.
      Por ejemplo , comedians like yourself ,would lament about about how crime is terrible in your T&T, but because you exist in your little bubble, you’ll see it as solely an Afro Trini problem.
      Then the evidence would not substantiate these bogus claims,as you begin to see the same sort of tragedies ,that were being committed in your own tribal enclaves, by your own ,equally savage people, on your own innocent, defenseless women ,and children.
      You and kind ,would however, still stick your face in de sands, as you expose your butts in the air,akin to Ostriches , but the problem won’t go away . As I said, others prefer to think out side the box , and be difference makers.

      Be a difference maker , mi country hating Pizanna!

      Try and escape your invisible prison!

      Your call!

      1. Neal, you are much too smart to introduce race into this .
        Crime in T&T is not monopolized by any one race. No ethnic group has a monopoly on crime in T&T.The stereotyped are crumbling when it comes to crime and corruption.
        What is even more disturbing is the nature and manner in which these savages are killing people. Everyday we are being introduced to more heinous, abhorrent and shocking killing techniques.
        Time to emigrate to more civilized, Euro dominated lands where five to ten murders a year usually cause the Police chief to account or be fired.

        1. “Neal, you are much too smart to introduce race into this ……Crime in T&T is not monopolized by any one race/ethnic group…..Time to emigrate to more civilized, Euro dominated lands where five to ten murders a year usually cause the Police chief to account or be fired.” TMan

          Well, here is some progress folks. My ‘sly fox, Country hating -Pizanno,’in TMan, has attempted, to ‘flip de script,’ and in so doing, subtly hijacked the view point, of more objective minds , such as yours truly- when he said -Race/ DE TRIBE , does not matter ,when it comes to criminality. Tell us something we didn’t know .
          Indo Trinis , just like their equally uncivilized, Afro Trini counterparts, also have a savage streak, in their souls, that would come out , once the opportunity present’s itself.
          Hey TMan , here is de deal- I’ve being on this forum, since… 2008, and if you can find a single quote , where I indicated ,that Crime, or corruption, in T&T, was monopolized ,by one race,or ethnic group, then I will beg de still generous , Jack- FIFA – Warner,for a million dollars ,and give it to you.

          Now don’t get me wrong TMan. for if at say, 1am ,I am on the road ,hoping to get from point A to B, and I see a Taxi car ,with what appear to be 2 people, and the driver in same ,when it stops , I would opt to walk 10 miles or more , to my destination , and won’t ever get in , based on the observed ,racial/ tribal composition ,of both driver ,and passenger ,therein.
          In like manner TMan , if I have my hard earned money , in any T&T financial institution, and more than 50 % of the employees, and or ,higher management ,belong to a particular – unmentionable -racial gene pool /tribe,trust me , my money is coming out forthwith.
          Since I know you are indeed “SMART” TMan-care to guess why I’m swayed to take those drastic actions ,in both occasions,and more importantly, who are the racial / tribal clans, I am referring to, in the respective situations?
          There it is, and no , this ain’t a contradiction, on my part.

          Yeah we know , crime isn’t limited to race / tribe, but we don’t need a Phd in anthropology , or need to be forced to listen to the tripe ,as uttered by our local, glorified Criminologist, turned lifetime Senator , Dr Deosaran , to know ,that certain groups in La Trinity, have a propensity/ predilection to…. well, you get my drift,si?
          Tell me something TMan , was anyone charged – especially Florida based , crooked CEO-who made out like a typical,White color bandit-Harie Harinarie-for the demise of the HCU, or better yet, what’s the latest, on that murder affair,by EXTRA Foods CEO Mrs. Naipaul,vis a vis ,her Esposo , and his ever , adoring step hija, vs, dem illiterate ,Behind de bridge, criminal bozos, who were suckered into doing , and were eventually convicted,for said crime?
          Don’t answer dat, ‘unless , you have jail clothes’- as we like to say on de streets.
          Oh , and by de way TMan , as far as running away to some more civilize, White Euro fiefdom, where criminality is taken more seriously?
          Be careful on that score, Y por que, tu preguenta? Well, a certain T&T demographics, is,….ummmm…. ‘stinking up de joint,’ so much so, that pretty soon, there’ll be a moratorium on … ummm… their entry, into such Euro fiefdoms of choice.
          Am I right, or am I right?

          Miz San Fernando ,Annie Sadiyya Khan, might have evolved into a high end ,MA Chemist , but deep in her DNA , is just ,a not too closeted criminal streak, awaiting an opportunity to show it’s true colors. Others perception of folks like her , is a whole different story, that would take more than a mere Trini Center Nation cyber joisting exercise, to analyze , si? More so, an entire UWI Sociology Graduate Study Seminar?

          Translation :- Race matters, but ‘one’s perception of the other , ‘would explain away , why some folks , elude detection , for so long,while others are negatively profiled in such hasty fashions. Comprende?
          Not so me TMan. My antennas ,are always up- when it comes to prospective criminality- and no, I don’t give a rats behind ,as to who is commonly involved.
          1. A beautiful young lady drops her two kids off, and suddenly disappears in broad daylight, driving her 2 million dollar Infiniti , or is it Lexus?
          2. An elderly grandma is clobbered to death, with what appear to be a rock. How much acres of lands Grandma has, and who stood to benefit most, from her demise, is what I wish to know?
          3. A dedicated male, private school teacher ,simply vanished ,after it was known that his 15 year old student ,accused him of sexual improprieties.His wife , swear he is loyal , and let’s know know every where he goes,and when – even to de toilet.
          4. Girl shoot’s stepdad with his own prison officer gun, allegedly ,because he was beating her mama. Her Mama then commit suicide, and you know de rest of the story- she likewise attempted, but lived, and was married by a considerate Hindu Priest, or maybe an caring Islamist Imam,a mere 24 hrs ,after she is released from the hospital. .
          5 Millionaire heiress shot to death by estranged husband , who was previously given millions to leave her alone , by Papa , who as a one time kidnapped victim himself.
          6. Son of high end chicken farmer, shot to death , while preparing a birthday dinner for amigos .
          Stay vigilant T&T,and you too TMan, for these same ugly criminal behaviors ,aren’t limited solely to our T&T, but any where – even White Euro dominant enclaves, you and kind ,have this obsession for, naively thinking ,’you alze ,’are more safe.
          Always complaining about your country of birth, pointing fingers at those who you think are the cause for it’s numerous problems , while looking excitedly at other countries , you naively think are doing better- all because the majority of folks are WHITE Europeans.
          Then here you are , with de temerity, to come on TrINI Center Nation ,and lecture to yours truly as to race , and crime.
          Take that nonsense to members of de Prince Edward Island Isle Kiwanis club, or gullible blokes, from Northumberland PTA .

          I luv dis land, Y tu?
          I wish you well!

  2. Fifties, sixties, seventies were the golden era of post colonial governance. Nations were release from the British albatross call colonialism and allowed to chart a course forward. Leaders were revolutionaries in their thinking, some were idealist, others chose the part of people subjugation, and nationalism became the modus operandi for many. The Caribbean had all of them. A careful study of nationhood will expose the “cutting stones” that either paralyse ideas or release them in ways that afforded betterment for all.

    Casting a huge shadow over all was Western American imperialism. If you show any inclination towards Soviet style communism you could become a victim of Macartism or worst MI6 and the CIA could fund opposing forces to spell your doom. Cheddi Jagan found out about this too late as he sought to introduce communist ideology in Guyana. The CIA funded the unions and that allowed for the Caribbean’s worst dictator Lyndon Sampson Forbes Burnham to assume the mantle of power and plunge Guyana into an era of gloom and doom as 300,000 citizens fled for green pastures.

    Trinidad saving grace was “black gold”, Eric had at his disposal billions of dollars that was throw all across the Caribbean over $500 million US in oil credit to Guyana and over $300 million US in money to Jamaica. Yes he was the quintessential Caribbean man well before Manning’s date with destiny. More could have been done to make Trinidad insular to external dependence on oil prices. But all leaders have their limitations and sometimes surrounded by mimic men and takers dry up the ideological vision that they may have.

    Fidel was a revolutionary, not a dictator as the American media choose to depict him. Castro forbid cult worship and sought to navigate some of the most difficult waters facing an enemy who was relentless in trying to annihilate him. They American kept Doc Duvalier in power and consign Haiti to fail nation status. They could not do the same to Cuba where 97% of the people are literate, where the health care system is one of the best in the world, where the national debt is a little over $2000 per Cuban. Most of all it is a very safe nation to visit, unlike Tobago where ever so often tourist are killed, rape or robbed.

    Williams shadow as an intellectual change the future of TNT. He charted a diffrent course which can all be lost if we plunge back into pro colonial thinking (massa/slave). We have seen the current PNM heading in that direction but good citizens are keeping a careful eye on their behaviour. If they continue to put a yoke on the people the people will revolt, the social revolution has begun. It will morph into physical resistance against the insanity of our leaders. Yes we do have revolutionary blood in our system. The government cannot take us for granted.


    Apples & Oranges Reverend! Such a callous attitude , with respect to the use of words, is nothing short of unpatriotic.
    Sometimes I sit in my shoes and wonder folks- which is worst for the World at large, Religious, or Political ideology?On second though , they are on par/ have the same debilitating effects , and have contributed to equal economic devastation,neo tribal mayhem, Social backwardness/non development in the Global South / North (alike ), environmental degradation, and overall beat down of poor ,desperate people , via the efforts of self serving elites , such as these.
    It’s simply unbelievable , the idiocy , that some irresponsible people ,and in this case Civic leaders,are allow to utter, with absolutely no consequences/ fear of backlash, whatsoever!
    I’m almost certain , this was one of the religious comedians, who benefited from a 2015 pre election handout,from -what he would claim with a straight face -his more crime savvy, PM Kamla, and so , was silent as a mouse, during her sub par reign-where criminality ,was just as rampant.
    Population size notwithstanding -but comparing 300 plus murders in la Trinity , with broader based , criminal savagery across the globe? What folly!

    Now if , more spiritual leaders , would focus their attention on caring for desperate citizens,as opposed to expanding their financial war chest, just think how much better our country would be Rev.
    The suicide , attempted murder ,by your fellow Brother in Christ, is symptomatic ,of 99.9 % of the murders that is common in T&T.
    It emanates from a dog with ah bne-greed, selfishness, double crossing thievery , envy,and the likes.\s-brother-commits-suicide-253301171.html

    Tell me again people, ‘with citizens like these , who need enemies?’

    Look ,in defense of the neo spiritual , former Independent Senator, we get where he is coming from, but to use “The Killing Fields,” and T&T in the same breath , is an insult to victims in Rwanda,Columbia, the Balkan / former Yugoslavia,Congo,Sudan, Sri Lanka,Cambodia , Sierra Leone, Liberia,Kashmir , the Gaza, Syria ,Afghanistan , Iraq, and similar places , where real wanton, despicable violence ,and evils took place, and is still occurring , under the watchful eyes of the Global Community ,and the media at large.
    Need we forget Rev, Venezuela which just 7 miles away, experience 27,000 murders per year. Get some perspective Pizzanao.

    Just saying.
    Stay Vigilant T&T!

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