Living to steal another day

By Raffique Shah
May 07, 2024

Raffique ShahHowever lofty the ideals they may shout from the rooftops, when you get down to base, when you reach the gutter where most of them reside, politics is not about ideals. It is about naked power.

Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher, wrote in his masterful introduction to Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth: They bring nothing new, they create nothing new, they simply regurgitate what their masters fill in their heads. Centuries after the great intellects introduced them to concepts such as democracy, you can hear them in the ex-colonies, now independent states, screaming as if they invented the words, “Government of the people, for the people and by the people”; “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!”

What nonsense! In the capital city of the greatest democracy they claimed to have invented, on election night they had hordes of animals storming the White House in Washington, as they sought to nullify the real results, thus ensuring Donald Trump could openly, brazenly steal the so-called seat of democracy and tell the world he won the presidential election. That the American people, at least the majority of them would elect a liar, a thief, a scoundrel to their highest office, it shows the contempt with which they treat the very concepts they promote as ideals.

I did not intend to vent my spleen on the easiest targets one can find to train one’s bullet on, especially as a general election lurks around the corner. But when I see Trump’s surrogates setting the stage for yet another bid to steal power by any means necessary, I feel compelled to have my write.

You see, I have closely monitored our politicians since the year of the Black Power Revolution 1970. In an open field where lies can be made to look like the truth, people can be made to vote for lies as easily as they sip coffee on a Sunday morning.

It is, however, a sad indictment on our level of intelligence, or more accurately our depth of ignorance, that supposedly intelligent people can so easily be swayed by charlatans.

When leaders of parties can treat members of parliament and senators with the contempt that is noticeable in their speech, their body language, it is well past the time to shout—halt!

At the beginning of this column, I argued that our politicians specialised in mouthing empty slogans that have long worn out their values, if ever they had such. Lincoln has been held in such awe by generations of Americans, not to add disciples around the world, so we take his definition of democracy as the gospel truth.

Honest Abe, in my opinion, was anything but honest. He knew democracy was never intended to fulfil the ideals “Of the people, for the people, by the people”. Besides being a slaver owner, Abe successfully promoted BullSmit.

Democracy never had anything to do with the people, the latter being mere pawns to be used to elect dangerous crooks to positions of power.

How often have we seen thieves worm their way to sit close to the thrones where real power resides? Not only do they get close to it, but oftentimes they sit on the seat and Lord-it.

Recently I noted that John O’Halloran sat close to the centre of power in the PNM that was led by Dr Eric Williams. It was worse than that: he was executor to Williams’ will. But worse was to come; the PNM government was swept from office and in the floodwaters were other suspicious characters such as Francis Prevatt. Prevatt and O’Halloran disappeared from every reference to the history of politics.

Then, in came the likes of Jack Warner who, by the time he got close to the seat of power, had been mentioned in dispatches in the banditry that swirled in the coffers of FIFA. By the time this mafia-like organisation that rules world football started imploding, Warner and his Smokey and The Bandit-style gang were close to controlling political power.

Gang members also disbursed millions of US dollars to poor-rass football organisations right here in the Caribbean. But the buggers had their racket so neatly sewn that they roped in every politician who was for sale and many multi-millionaires who were selling FIFA dollars.

People in this mixed-up, messed-up country do not know how close we came to being a mafia state under Basdeo Panday’s leadership. Oh, he was a Demi-God alright, a saint who never looked at his bank account$, who in the righteousness of his religion had his wife supervise all household budgetary receipts and expenditure.

They looted the treasury, skirted jail, now most of them live to steal another day.

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