Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

THE IDOL AND ITS WORSHIPPERS By Dr. Godfrey Vincent

posted 18 Dec 2017, 02:58 by Gerry Kangalee
According to a report in the Sunday Guardian (12/3/2017), Ancel Roget, President-General of the OWTU and President of the JTUM, expressed his frustration with the PNM government and its inability to deliver good governance. His comment is just another case of a worshipper screaming at his idol for not doing favorable things for him. In terms of this essay, the Idol represents political parties, and the worshippers exemplify the "motley crew" of Trade Union leaders who worship at the feet of the idols (political parties).

This practice is not new; its trajectory can be traced to 1956 with the advent of the PNM and its High Priest, Eric Williams. From 1956 to 1981, Eric Williams and the PNM used the state to dispense political patronage to various groups in exchange for their political support.

One of those groups was the Trinidad and Tobago Labor Congress that included individuals such as Carl Tull, Nathaniel Critchlow, W.W. Sutton, Selwyn John, Vernon Glean, all members of the Trinidad and Tobago Labor Congress. These leaders ensured that their unions and membership fell in line and worshipped the idol. However, with the death of the High Priest, Eric Williams, in 1981, the subsequent collapse of the economy, and the rise of the ONR and then NAR, worshippers began looking towards another idol to worship.

In 1986, the NAR swept the PNM from office, ending some thirty years of PNM rule. With this victory, former PNM worshippers left the PNM "church" in droves and came to worship at the NAR shrine.

In addition to these new worshippers, the NAR also attracted some high profile Trade Union leaders such as Basdeo Panday and George Weekes. These two justified their positions by saying that labor has a seat at the table. By adopting this position, in effect, both Panday and Weekes became minor priests who served the new High Priest, A.N.R. Robinson.

From 1986 to the Coup in 1990, the idol attracted new worshippers who were now indoctrinated with the Gospel of Neo-liberalism. For that brief moment in 1990, it appeared that the idol worship came to an end. However, when the powers brought this under control, two new High Priests, Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday emerged and attracted new worshippers to worship the idol.

From the 1990s to 2010, the worshippers divided their loyalties between two High priests: Manning and Panday, who preached the gospel of the "Washington Consensus." Some worshippers like Wade Mark, David Abdulah, Vincent Cabrera, Errol McLeod and others became willing followers as they jockeyed for senate positions, board appointments and other forms of government patronage. While they threatened "brimstone and fire," on both governments, they abandoned the working class and went after "filthy lucre." They continued to make the annual pilgrimage to Fyzabad, but in reality, they were "backsliders" waiting to serve another idol, that emerged in 2010.

By 2010, the Church of the UNC had been all but destroyed and worshippers left in droves to form the Church of the PP. In this new church a High Priestess emerged for the first time on the political landscape. Eager to worship at this new shrine, the worshippers, David Abdulah, Errol McLeod, Ancel Roget and Daaga signed their names on to the Fyzabad Accord and urged their members to worship the new idol. While they continued to talk radical, their eyes were set on the prize, government ministers, senators, board members. They worshipped this idol until it was defeated in 2015.

Since then, the worshippers have returned to worshipping at the PNM shrine but the backsliding continues. Today, Ancel Roget is threatening to stop worshipping the idol because it is not preaching the "gospel of good governance." Roget is so blind and does not understand that the "gospel of “good governance" comes directly from the cathedral of the IMF and World Bank. Good governance, Mr. Roget, will not save the trade union movement and the working class. It is a cover for the "boys and girls" to minimize their corruption, continue the patrimonial state, and preach the gospel of neoliberalism.

The idol and its worshippers have polluted the country for many decades and have destroyed the trade union movement and by extension the working class. The only way to change this is to "return to the source." Who will rise up? Who will be so bold to destroy the shrines, the groves and temples of the idol and its worshippers?
Comments