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posted 15 Nov 2013, 22:34 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Nov 2013, 22:36 ]



Have you stood on the shore before an oncoming tidal wave?

Ok, the line is not original but due to a diet of excess science fiction. This: with its timelines, paths taken and not taken, and unsuspected futures. 

So what path have we taken as a society? What timeline have we unwittingly strayed into? What Tsunamis await us? There is an appropriate quotation of David Rudder I was tempted to share here but I will save as it will come in handy. Perhaps in the not too distant future. 
But let me share an experience I actually did have in my younger days. Some friends and I had a curious of habit of driving to Maracas Bay… by night. So on one occasion I found myself in the sea in a moonless night. It was a bit unnerving to be there in the water in the darkness not knowing what size wave was coming my way. 
I suggest this is the situation our society has found itself in at this time. This: as we have to guess what the darkness of the future offers. But seeing that what is going on in this place something has to give. And it’s only a matter of time. And Trinidad is one hell of a place. Everything may seem ready to collapse but our state of endemic chaos can go on and on and on for years and years. And when it appears settled and solid as a rock all will come crashing down.
And here I am in the midst of all this offering analysis, a bogus obeahman. But let me offer a few questions.
First, when? Well I have given that answer, it could be tomorrow or it could be decades. Not very scientific I know. I suppose science is not an exact science. And the thing is when the wave rolls in we may be too busy feting to even notice. Pass me a vessel.

To be honest I was hoping the Old Jack would mash up the two party set-up and free up the system a little bit. And yes, he made his contribution and for this we thank him and while it is always a dangerous thing to write off Jack it does appear that at least in the context of the ILP and electoral contest he is a spent force.\ 
So we’re back to same old same old. Solid as rock. Right? So it seems, but just remember what Panday must have been thinking after he destroyed the COP in the election of 2007. In the immortal words of Imam Yassin Abu Bakr – Where is he? 
Second, what of institutions? I keep talking of revolution but any successful process presupposes some kind of sustained organizing or structuring framework. At this we Trinidadians have proven to be notoriously hopeless. By and large the only institutions that work are the criminal.

 Now I have said that there are indications that this may be changing. That there is a whiff of possibility in the air. This may indeed be the case. And yes, the emerging formations may be a continuation of the institutionalized criminality that we have now but I humbly suggest that it may be a good time to hoist a sail as we never know what breeze will blow. A phrase of Lloyd Best comes to mind – Playing for change. 
Three: and it is here I wish to invoke – the “phantom base”. For a time I was inclined to think of this political base as a chimera, a mythical urban legend with no basis in reality. Something desperate political parties cling to in the face of an inevitable cut-tail. But the statistics reveal its presence. 

So what is the phantom base? Well each of the two major political parties or perhaps more accurately the two sides of the one regime has its respective base. But even when combined this comes up to significantly less than half of the potential voting population. Then there is a fluid swing vote which also tends to gravitate toward attempted third parties like the ONR or COP or ILP. 

But then there is this mysterious phantom base: that section that does not usually vote at all. However I think the statistics will bear me out that when some of it does intervene as with the NAR in 1986 or the PP in 2010 this together with the swing vote does indicate the possibility of a new political configuration. 

Now the dominant colonial minded discourse sings the song that not voting is unpatriotic and shows you don’t care and ought not to complain. But I suggest that it is the other way around. That the real patriots in this country as a general rule do not vote. And this I think is proven that when on the two occasions – almost twenty five years apart – there (wrongly) appeared to be a glimmer of possibility at least some of them came out. 
It is clear upon any serious examination that for decades now the PNM when in power has been running a minority government. For most citizens it has no real credibility whether it be in or out of office. This was unambiguously revealed in the recent elections where the PNM was only able to hold on to its minority base. In the St. Joseph by-election, the UNC having made a complete mess of things and undergone a string of election defeats and the ILP challenge was struggling to regain its base; yet the PNM even though it was widely perceived as having a strong candidate was only able to win by measly 600 or so votes. 

Between the PNM cult and the UNC cabal the ILP mafia was actually at one point looking good. And the phantom base has returned to invisibility. Just as how Jack signified the eat-ah-food nature of our time this phantom base signifies possibility. Don’t get me wrong, I am not romanticizing. Those who actually make up this base are by no means uniform. However the sustained existence of a fairly massive block of people in the society who do not normally participate in the electoral system because they know it is crap indicates that there is hope: a dynamic of possibility. 

And so we come to the fourth and decisive question. Our Tsunami is booked, but after (or during) that what? The thing about crisis is that in all the disruption and destruction it opens a door for new alignments to emerge. But the new configuration will either be better or worse than what went before. 
So will the tidal wave leave us mired in an even more criminal structure and nihilist outlook or will it be the beginning of a real revolutionary transformation? Here the bogus obeahman can give a clear and unambiguous answer – It is up to you. 
So this friends and comrades is my closing analysis. I recommend that we use what time we have well. As we gaze into the thick darkness of an impending future: bracing for the wave; waiting for the Movement. 
Burton Sankeralli/November 9, 2013