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posted 5 Feb 2015, 10:24 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 6 Feb 2015, 21:35 ]

After all the tumult and the shouting regarding Kamla’s night of the long knives, what have we learnt that we didn't know before? The National Workers Union (NWU) fully understands  the anger, disgust and outrage being expressed by large sections of the people at the criminality that lies at the heart of the political system. 

The NWU is quite clear that the government has collapsed and damage control is the order of the day as the Persad-Bissessar administration limps toward the election. The NWU sympathises with the widespread calls by a frustrated populace to call elections now!

So here we go again! We are on a merry go round of throwing out those in whom we placed our hopes for salvation during the last election and letting back in those who we threw out last time around. We have been here before!

In 2010, we threw out the Manning regime on a wave of revulsion against the goings on of Calder Hart, the prophetess, the megaproject corruption typified by the Brian Lara stadium and the arrogant delusions of Manning himself. The collapse of that administration was signalled by the vicious battle between Manning and Rowley who is now being portrayed as the new Messiah, which led to the calling of early elections

In 2002, we got rid of the Panday administration which had its snout stuck deep in the trough of corruption: Piarco airport project, short pants man, the Duprey/Panday axis etc. The collapse of that administration manifested in the revolt of Ramesh, Romeo and Ralph which brought down the government.

We can go on and on. We can go back to the first Manning regime which collapsed because its financiers jumped ship and went over to the UNC – the very financiers who were central to the Section 34 fiasco and who for more than a decade have utilised the judicial system to escape paying for their misdeeds with the connivance of politicians of all stripes.

When we look below the surface of the bacchanal and comess, it becomes clear that the existing political order, just like the existing economic order it functions to facilitate, offers no hope, no respite for working people, the poor and the disadvantaged. In fact it thrives on the exploitation of those sectors.

While politicians of all type scramble and fight over the people’s patrimony, the health and education sectors are in a state of collapse, income inequality is growing and the ranks of the poor are swelling; drug traffickers sit in high positions and the police service is riddled with corruption and criminal collusion; merchants dig out people’s eyes with ridiculous price increases and the economic elite jockeys to corner the foreign exchange which they had no part in earning so that they could stash our money abroad and pay for their drugs and arms dealing.

We have switched between Bim and Bam for a generation and things have not only not improved they have steadily grown worse. The political arrangements reinforce ethnic chauvinism and division among the oppressed and afford rival gangs alternate opportunities to feed at the trough of public funds and enrich themselves by accumulating capital through corrupt dealings and acting as enforcers for those who really run the society from their boardrooms at home and abroad.

While the political arrangements are presented as designed to serve the people, they actually ensure that working people and the poor continue to be exploited in the interest of the transnational corporations, local conglomerates and an assortment of financial conmen, crony capitalists, political hustlers, jacket and tie bandits, money launderers, drugs and arms dealers; those who live off the fat of the land and gorge themselves at the trough of the national treasury. In the words of the Mighty Sparrow, those who “use their riches and their power to make a mockery of the law and have the law protect them same time.”

While we fight up for “good governance” and switch from Bim to Bam, the power structure remains in place – the transnational corporations, conglomerates and financial smartmen continue to rule the roost.

While people have the right to exercise their vote as they see fit, they should recall that the present Opposition for two generations has waged war against the working class. They have inflicted anti-worker legislation on the trade unions; they have pursued economic policies that have left the neo-colonial structure of the society intact and that are premised on cheap labour.

They inflicted numerous states of emergency on the masses over the years, began the dismantling of job security in the public service, tried to decertify the Communication Workers Union and the Transport and Industrial Workers Union and presided over an orgy of corruption.

So while exercising your franchise, be very clear that elections don’t actually disturb the power structure. The power of capital cannot be voted out of existence. It must be dismantled root and branch.

The people in their community organisations, sporting and cultural associations, credit union, trade unions, co-operatives, professional and other associations must insist on participating in their own affairs and through debate, discussion, joint mobilisation and organisation strengthen the institutions of people’s power and carve out their own space that can challenge the power of capital as we move forward.

The struggle is not just for “good governance”. The power structure in the country is based on corruption and inequality, exploitation and oppression. The watchmen for the system are part of a kleptocracy. The system cannot afford “good governance”. Appealing to the constitution or to the good conscience of those who benefit from the system is not going to cut it.

The organised people have to build alternative visions of the future and have to construct alternative institutions to take their interests forward. No matter how hard we try to reform the colonial institutions that we have been saddled with they can never serve the interests of the working people, the poor and the disadvantaged. They were designed to maintain and, indeed, strengthen the power of the economic elites over the whole of society.

Who wins the next election is not as important as how organised the people are in their institutions, how willing they are to encourage a culture of democratisation, to actively struggle against the tendency toward authoritarianism and dictatorship in their own organisations, to encourage a culture of mass participation in decision-making and implementing of decisions and to fight against the unbridled power of those who have control of the state.

History clearly shows that the solution is not just simply to change the guards but to change the power relationships in the society. The National Workers Union is willing to initiate and participate in conversations and discussions to help to bring about the state of affairs outlined above. We just can’t go on this way!