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OATHS, EDICTS AND EAT A FOOD by Burton Sankeralli

posted 30 Nov 2012, 20:00 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 30 Nov 2012, 20:17 ]
It’s not PP but PR: a media show; as a colleague put it “government by billboard”.

So while a couple of these jokers spew bile and venom, Madam goes about the place reciting her oath of office. Well someone ought to inform her that there is a slight difference between recitation and action. Added to this when one realizes that one of these jokers is really the cabinet minister responsible for the guns who has already led storm… I’m sorry… state troopers against these very citizens… and the other minister eat ah food Money Lall himself, the slayer of food crops, the man who would be Prime Minister, one has reason for deep concern. So he eh dead yet Minister Jack Palance? Do you care to assist in that regard?

“The best fascism we can get” is how I have already described this bunch and if I am right we really in a bad way. But let’s be honest here… we created them… just as we did the opposing section. And this is what we are left with: the PNM is a sick and evil political institution, this regime is a gang.

And I say we created them, this in many ways but I point out two.

First, there is the philosophical question concerning progress. Our fixation with progress as KFC, Blackberry, shopping malls, foodcourts and highways. Yuh want highway? Well take highway in all yuh pweffen. But we must eat ah food.

And speaking of this land of “eat ah food” this brings me to the second point. Trinidadians don’t get process. That when we have to make life and death decisions – and thanks to Wayne we now all see starkly what life and death means – one ought to follow a proper process, one that is inclusive and transparent.

Of course what we have in this country is government by vaps. We can share our highways, tunnels, industrial estates, housing projects, quarries the way the Minister of the People shares out food coupons. No thought required. Once we eat ah food… right?

And if in the process we destroy swamps, forests, mountains, wildlife, food crops, homes, temples, schools and entire communities well I suppose we can call that collateral damage. But we get to eat ah food, right?

Oh, and that last not so little word “community”. I wonder how different the governance of this place would be if we truly believed that development is not a matter of highways but communities…and actually acted on this belief!

Having as a philosopher pondered the highest heights and the deepest depths, I have come to the studied conclusion that all and every evil in this world is ultimately the result of isolation. This is to say, the breakdown of community of that vital connection to life in all its aspects.

It is community that is our primary, ultimate and greatest resource yet successive regimes have delighted in going around the place smashing them in the name of progress and eat ah food. Well it’s not as if we are swamped by social problems of poverty, disease, crime, violence, corruption…is it?

But, one may justifiably ask, is not the government position based on the desire of communities (including far larger communities) for the benefit of a highway? Madam oath of office talks of standing up for the majority, the greatest good for the greatest number. Let us for one moment accept the highly dubious claim that this is indeed their aim.

Historically the phrase “the greatest good for the greatest number” arose at a time in Western civilization when the entire ethical-political project went disastrously wrong. Remember the bad old days when Europeans went around the planet plundering and enslaving people? I suppose we didn’t count. Well it’s a good thing that has stopped. Right?

The problem of course is that “the greatest good for the greatest number” is not really politics, not ethics, not morality. It is accounts. And this explains why our tertiary institutions, largely devoid of philosophy, are chock full of accounts and humans resource management and PR (let’s not even mention would-be lawyers) producing these technocratic geniuses who are so fit to govern. We didn’t just create them we churn them out.

Now Ma’am if you examine your oath of office rather than just parrot it you will realize that it says nothing about “greatest number” nothing about the “majority” it speaks simply of Trinidad and Tobago which is to say the people. Now are not these citizens you are brutalizing “people”? Ought they not to benefit from the protection of your oath?

What your oath commits you to Madam Prime Minister is not the greatest good for the greatest number but to the greatest good for ALL. And while, yes, this is a thankless job which, by the way, you begged us to give you and, yes, there are always those who will feel they got a raw deal, you are committed to bend over backwards to serve the people, not most of them.

Now if we accept the centrality of community this means opening up dialogue involving all our communities not issuing edicts and parroting oaths. This involves a just, intelligent, inclusive transparent process. All this you and your gang have failed to do.

So we might come to the realization that development has nothing to do with highways and you sure as hell will see to it that no communities get destroyed. On the other hand a five and a half billion dollar project is ah lot of food.

Finally ma’am, as titular head of this government, it may interest you to know that trampling on a minority in the name of the majority is not democracy. But it is a good definition of fascism.