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WANTED: A PARTY OF THE WORKING CLASS by Sylvestre McLaren

posted 8 May 2012, 18:04 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 8 May 2012, 18:06 ]
The 2010 General Election saw the coming together of various political groupings to form a coalition for the sole purpose of removing the Peoples National Movement (PNM) from government. 

The election result clearly demonstrated that the electorate was unhappy with the performance of the PNM. This was confirmed by the overwhelming show of support received by the coalition now known as the Peoples Partnership (PP) government. 
 
However, in two years into its term of office, it is unable to deliver on the promises it made during the election campaign; while internal issues are plaguing the PP and are being ventilated in the public domain by its members. 

The Congress of the People (COP) leader, Prakash Ramadhar and the leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) Senator David Abdulah, whose party was not “officially” a party at the time of the national elections have been raising concerns about the treatment meted out to them by the majority partner. 

In the case of the COP its complaint is that the majority partner in the coalition has not kept its promise that the mayorship of the city of San Fernando was to be held by the COP. 

The Mayor of San Fernando Ms. Marlene Coudray defected from the COP to the UNC and as far as these people are concerned working people should be alarmed by this occurrence. According to Mr. Basdeo Panday “politics has a morality of its own” - the politics of the capitalist that is. 

What does all of this mean in the context of politics in this country? In my humble view it speaks of the deep differences which seem to be a hangover from the 1986-1987 period when the first coalition was attempted. 

You see, what is being attempted is the search for a formula which could cement a political relationship between the class forces in order to make the sell out of the country's patrimony bearable but it will not work. 

The problem however, is that different entities are in the coalition to achieve different objectives. On the one hand those who belonged to the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) want to continue the task which it had set itself which was to privatise the whole economy, and on the other hand some elements in the United National Congress (UNC) want to use the state's resources as it was used in the past to dispense patronage. 

What is driving these differences is the naked self-interest which is propelling these factions. Clearly, the COP is strongly influenced and controlled big local business, foreign transnational capital, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and International Financial Corporation (IFC) 

In the case of the UNC it is wealthy Indian business, a few rich Africans and some wealthy Syrian business elements, largely from the commercial sector, which see themselves benefitting from the State's continued involvement in economic activities. They are not against the capitalist system. What they want to achieve is to carve out a place for themselves in the system that is being constructed. 

The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ), a junior partner in the coalition, is concerned about the inequity which now exists in the way resources are being shared. 

In this regard, it specifically mentioned the appointment to state boards. This question of board appointments does not appear to be of critical importance to the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) or the COP. But the MSJ which purports to represent the interests of the working class in the partnership sees board appointment as one of the sweeteners it can use to win the support of potential members. 

If it raised any issue over the failure of the government to honour the Workers Agenda as was promised in Fyzabad and it was ignored, then that is a measure of its standing as a partner in the coalition. It is an indication, that the view held by the senior partner is that the MSJ did not contribute anything by way of electoral support to the success of the coalition in the last election. 
 
The recent comments of the Chairman of the UNC, Jack Warner, about statements made by Senator Abdulah may well be confirmation of this view. If that is the case, then the President of the Oilfields Workers Trades Union, Comrade Ancel Roget, would be justified in carrying out his threat to pull out of the MSJ, if the MSJ refuses to pull out of the PP. 

If this threat becomes a reality, it would be a major step forward for the trade union movement. It will represent a major break with opportunism and divisiveness in the labour movement. It would be expected that comrades such as Vincent Cabrera would follow Comrade Roget by leaving the MSJ. In my view these two comrades have a major role to play in building a strong trade union movement in this country. 

The PNM, the oldest of the parties and the most experienced as far as governance is concerned, has been unable to give any leadership to the population because its record of governance in the recent past left a lot to be desired. As a result, the new leader Dr. Keith Rowley is faced with the difficult task of winning back the respect the party once had. 

While all of the above is happening the working class is faced with two essential tasks which it must carry out almost simultaneously: to strengthen the trade union movement and to build the party of the working class. 

This is a task which it cannot delegate to a few trade unionists who believe that because of their standing in the movement they are qualified to take up the task of leadership of a party of the working class. 

The party of which they speak is one of the types you will find in Europe. These party types cover a wide spectrum of the political landscape: from far-right to far-left and there are those who fall in-between, such as, left of centre, middle of the road, right of centre, centre, and populist as well as some who pretend to be socialist. 

The MSJ can fall into any of these categories. The problem is that these political types are very skilled at saying all the right things while doing something entirely opposite when they get into office. This is because; they are not really and truly parties of the working class.

In most instances they are led by middle class elements who look up to the capitalist; dreaming to become a capitalist some day. The main problem is that these parties may be able to win genuine, progressive leaders of the working class over to their side and that is how the forces of the class are divided and weakened because we do not know how to identify the imposters. 

The Party of the Working Class is not an ordinary party. It is different from the other parties and those differences are spelt out in its policies and programmes. Its ideological position is founded on working class principles which were spelt out by working people before Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto. It is a party of the workers, by the workers, for the workers, to which persons who subscribe to the ideology of the class may belong. 

Such a party is not formed for the sole purpose of fighting the next election. It is a party whose aims and objectives are to educate the working class about its role in the defence of its class interest, about how it must rely on its strengths as a class, about the fact that it is the working class which produces the wealth of society, from which it is denied its fair share. 

Such a party must work with the people: sharing their pain while working to improve the quality of their lives. All of the above will not happen overnight. It will take commitment and selflessness and persons of the highest moral and ethical standards to form such a party. But it must be formed. We can do it and we will do it.
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