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posted 21 May 2017, 18:24 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 May 2017, 18:25 ]
Recently, a representative of the intellectual class was on a talk show discussing elements of the acute crisis which is gripping us on all fronts here in Trinidad and Tobago. He was suggesting that a major factor that has contributed to and will continue so to do is the belief/ideology of the ruling class and their elected/appointed representatives that government/governance is the business of the political parties.

That 'ordinary, everyday' people are merely to be gestured to or given handouts. Thinking, organising, mediating in the process of government is seen as interference, subversion and sedition.

Those who challenge existing thought, methodologies, perceptions, are threats to the social order. Take your pick from Butler then to now: 'dangerous negro, communist, radical, subversive element, threat to public order, rabble-rouser, fundamentalist!'.

So the established and entrenched governors seek to defame, marginalise, ostracise and when necessary imprison those who think out of the box, or 'go left', seeking to spread disaffection among His/Her Majesty’s subjects who are really content to be slaves or an underclass

CLR James
Listening to this, I thought how late in the evening this is coming. C.L.R James popularised the phrase and sought to develop political consciousness on the basis of "Every cook can govern.'' Very few of this generation are aware that Eric Williams moved to restrict James's movements and activities in the mid-sixties after James had sought to make P.N.M an open organisation. See (Party Politics in the West Indies/Modern Politics). James would state that people are not 'hogs to be fattened'' who, in turn, would show gratitude by applauding with votes.

One of the mantras of George Weekes, as leader of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union, was that 'workers have brains they ent touch yet'. Anyone who was a member of the union in that era, has/had worked with/in the OWTU would know what made it the people’s organisation that it was then.

Ordinary, everyday workers who were elected officers had direct knowledge of the leading thinkers of the world through education programmes and conferences. C.L.R James, Tariq Ali, Walter Rodney, John La Rose, Abdul Alkalimat, Mohammed Babu, Maurice Bishop, Cheddi Jagan, George Beckford, Tim Hector, representatives of the African National Congress, George Moonsammy, Lennox Pierre – these were some of the people with whom officers of the union interacted.

What has prompted this late admission/concession? There is no one at the helm of the ship of state. In fact, the captain is off on vacation again, as people rot in jail and have their houses torn down. Water or no water, he is off to secure and celebrate personal family success.

The divisions within the ruling strata are no longer concealed or concealable. I think the commentator is trying to tell the political class that the only way to retrieve the status quo is to engage the people who are burning tyres and blocking roads.

It may be too late for that however. Like the judiciary, the political structures are fractured. These activities are simply the ordinary people beginning to break free; to find a way 'every cook can govern’ in the cooks' interest.