From the Trinidad Express
Sat 15, 2001
What in heavens name is Best trying to say here.
"In spite of themselves, the political leaders have no choice now but to draw closer together, to discover their one-ness and to bring into the open all the preferences, tastes and values they truly share as the two essential components of the neo-Crown Colony."
This is the type of intellectual dishonesty that Best and a few others are noted for. How could this impasse cause people who do not trust each other to suddenly realize one-ness? He does not say.
Before anyone claim I am taking things out of context I am posting the entire article, which is riddled with more empty rhetoric.
Time to face reality
THE elections have predictably underlined gridlock. We’ve at last arrived at the most intriguing moment. In spite of the bluster, it is the two great antagonists who will soon be embracing one another. Panday and Manning are absolutely the most terrified of the players. Their great fear is that the old regime is coming to its limit.
The stalemate has made it impossible to escape some form of agreement merely to have the first ball bowled and a minimum of ongoing collaboration. As it stands, we’re not even in a position to elect a Speaker. But it is not only the matter of getting the game re-started. It is much more fundamental than that.
In spite of themselves, the political leaders have no choice now but to draw closer together, to discover their one-ness and to bring into the open all the preferences, tastes and values they truly share as the two essential components of the neo-Crown Colony. The effect might be confirm blood-brothers and to open a way to a second party.
That is certainly what some have in mind. It must be brought into the open especially since this is a place where the greatest seekers of advantage favour the declarations of the patriot . The talk of collaboration must therefore be seasoned with the reminder that it is politics we’re dealing with.
T&T is irresistibly growing up and no longer insensibly. We’re discovering who we are, what our interests are, how we came to be, and why we cannot go on for much longer without inheriting or creating for ourselves something like a true native tradition. We do have Mother India, Mother Africa and Mother Europe; there can be no getting away from that as a source of pride and of valid difference, as well as, above all, as the fund of lore with which to navigate America in wisdom.
And yet we’re not Africans, Indians, Chinese, Europeans, Portuguese or Syrians. We’re Afros, Indos, Euros, Lusos, Chinos, etc. We’re fated to accept the responsibilities of creoledom in America. Only yesterday, we all came to this barracoon to provide labour power. With Independence, the absentee investor and the natural ruling classes have almost all gone away. We’re now unequivocally in charge.
This can only mean a proletarian civilisation still to be crafted through a full and democratic participation driven by cultural if not genetic intercourse amongst the constituent peoples. Though we’re just beginning to achieve articulation, we’re at last finding the confidence to talk politics as interest, individual, community, collective. For almost 40 years, personal power has mostly sought its own consolidation in an ethnic bonding made all the more inviting by demographic concentration and palpable lack of preparation with any social or scientific ideas.
Our post-Independence fare has meant mostly anti-imperial propaganda without ever penetrating to the roots of our own condition. So much of the statement sees us in the third person it is everywhere. Much of the obsession with the coloniser has been hard to avoid, even if there are also reasons of our own responsibility for which we’ve taken so long to become conscious. We’ve needed to take advantage of our own hands-on experience the better to size up the challenge of the economics, the politics and the rest.
There is no doubt to my mind but that PNM has been an incubus sapping our vigour in the most mesmeric ways. Luckily, the reality is something we’re beginning to plumb. Leadership and management are not so much a matter of wickedness and/or crookedness, or conversely, of good guys and bad. By far, it’s more the active symptom of organisation and method unequal to the challenge.
Over and over the issue before us is our collective innocence, ignorance and incompetence, hard to face up to, precisely because it is pervasive and appears to condemn us all. We’ve been slow to realise that there is a real crossing to be made from an old world to a new; but the institutions are not ready; the culture is an albatross; the schools are a visitation; the educated the biggest burden of all.
A thorough re-tooling is called for. It entails a brand of irreverence that, if anything, serves to jolt the sensibility of the old authoritarian order. This is the most tawdry of places, a scandal of operations. The incompetence of not only this present government, in almost everything it does and it says, is absolutely impossible to defend, in a country with our resources and our people. It is frightening to hear what is offered as the reform and the deepening of education, above all in the Ministry and the University.
And yet, our people do not wish to hear the truth of our retarded condition. We talk as if we’re doing well; we’re affluent; we have a lot of things; but T&T the run-down, scary place the novelist so deplores. It’s not without compensations but it’s a hard place to live in. We’re simply not attuned to bringing into the open the reality as it is, all the more because the cosmopolitan society has demanded the mas of role-playing to butter up and to accommodate the Other, in the interest of peace.
Now all of that is suddenly collapsing. For precisely the reason we’re gaining in the means of autonomy and of open expression, we are invited to get real. If the place is to function as home for the generations, the first requirement is to find out about self in particular and then to speak up. Who pretends this country could be run by the charlatanry of PNM and Manning, or of UNC and Panday, in the perspective of Capildeo and Williams? But that is what we have.
Nothing better could have happened toT&T on the last lap of colonial status than PNM, nothing worse could have befallen us on at the Jouvert of Independence. By 1960, that party was already obsolete. You can now see it plain. All the most cherished notions the Afros have of political education and schooling are sterile, producing no spark, mainly stunting entrepreneurs and snuffing initiative out. See it in the front bench; see it in the back-bench. To save itself, PNM needs to be born again and it cannot because its people seem incapable of even posing the issue.
In the year 2000 that party published a vision. In 2001, when again faced by the wholly phony challenge of UNC performance, it opted to join the competitive bidding. That meant to distribute offshore revenues even before they’d been hatched. Just when the country needed to face the reality of itself in the world, out of impotence we were regaled by all kinds surrealist shopping lists that, in the end, frustrated the occupancy so craved.
Those who voted in anticipation will claim to have contributed positively to the stalemate. They may also wish to reckon on the moral compromise that is certain once again to chain them to inaction when again there is opportunity. Manning has neither a political nor a moral base; what he has is purely electoral. He also does not have the minimum of education, by which I do not mean degrees. He and his dead front bench are integral to the old regime. They have nothing to tell us. How can we continue? At least somebody must contrive to give it voice. Whatever else may be introduced to distract and lure, in order to become the incumbent, to what end can we link it, after fully four decades?
The ineluctable conclusion is that, to save themselves from drowning together, Panday and Manning are fated to footsy-putsy. They can scarcely avoid a minimum of agreement; they also have a real opening to save themselves by taking before and abandoning the Crown Colony. It’s not a matter of revising the Constitution. What is needed as a pledge of their conversion to a new culture of politics is a simple reconstruction of the parties. The corollary in the Parliament or Legislature can only be free voting, oblivious of party line.
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