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posted 29 Aug 2017, 07:12 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 29 Aug 2017, 07:59 ]
Regardless of his motivation; regardless of what you think of him; with his keen
sense of the use of media, Watson Duke has ensured that the Tobago sea and air bridge fiascos remain at the centre of national attention.

The sea and air bridge fiascos would have been, in the customary way, pushed to the back burner, as the next outrageous corruption leak hits the headlines. Duke’s media show has ensured that the Tobago question is not going to disappear quietly.

The sea and air bridge issue is not the essence of the matter. It is just the latest egregious example of the unequal, inequitable, asymmetrical relationship (take your pick) between Tobago and Trinidad – a relationship that has exercised the minds of Tobago patriots for more than a hundred years.

So even if the present foul up is eventually corrected, the issue of the constitutional, political, economic and social relationships between the two islands remains to be resolved. Not that I believe that party politics as we have come to know it will be part of the solution.

Whatever leads the working people and the poor to question how this country is run and in whose interest is to be welcomed. We are approaching a tipping point in T&T, just as the international capitalist system itself is approaching. We just can’t go on this way. The colonial social arrangements that we cling to are clearly no longer able to cut it. The old society is on its deathbed.

There has been a massive loss of faith in the economic and political institutions to deliver a decent quality of life, to deliver a just and equitable society. We all know it. We all are instinctively aware that as surely as night follows day a social explosion is on the cards. What we do not know is when the social explosion will come, what form it will take and what kind of new social dispensation will emerge from it.

What is clear is that cynicism and wha we go do is not going to assist in changing the society. Facebook warriors could skin and grin and adopt supercilious poses but pretending that T&T will never change is not going to derail the locomotive of social upheaval and revolutionary possibility that is speeding down the track.

There are moments in a society’s evolution when the possibility of a great leap forward presents itself. 1919, 1937, 1970 were such periods. These uprisings were clearly led by, and put forward demands that would advance the interests of, working people and the poor. There is no widely accepted leadership, today, as there was in the examples cited above.

In such a scenario, when the social explosion erupts, given the number of lethal weapons in the hands of marginalised and criminalised youth, given the deep involvement by the armed forces of the state in criminal activity, it is not difficult to imagine widespread bloodletting and the possibility of the establishment of an authoritarian regime based on the open use of armed repression.

Today, the working class movement is in a strait jacket brought about by the inept, incompetent, visionless leadership of the trade union movement which, in large measure, is more concerned with maintaining power in their individual organisations than seeking to defend, protect and advance the interests of working people and those forced into what Marx called the industrial reserve army.

The leadership of the trade union movement has become parochial and unconcerned about the hundreds of thousands of non-unionised workers who slave away day after day, night after night, under atrocious conditions for a minimum wage that could barely provide a civilised standard of living, far less a decent quality of life. According to figures supplied by the National Insurance board, in 2013 55% of national insurance contributors earned less than $5460 per month; 31% earned less than $3560 per month. This does not include the close to 150,000 people who are not on the NIS rolls. Who speaks for them?

The trade union leaderships seem no longer concerned with matters outside of the limited range of so-called “industrial relations.” For many of them, the interests of the working class do not include matters outside of the ambit of the Industrial Relations Act. It is as if workers do not exist outside of the workplace; as if working people are not concerned about housing, health, education, transportation, cultural and sporting affairs, the relationship between Trinidad and Tobago. The trade union leaderships seem quite content to cast the wider labour movement into the abyss.

The leaderships of the trade union movement, in large part, have lost the class consciousness and instinct toward solidarity with workers everywhere and not just the members of their unions. They do not seem to understand that the fate of their members is closely bound up with the eighty five percent of the workforce who have no connection with the trade union movement and who view many of the leaders of the unions as no different to the cravacious lawyers, venal bankers, eye-gouging merchants, political hustlers and professional parasites who infest the body politic of this country.

If we are convinced that a new social arrangement is in the offing, is it not incumbent upon us, as much as is possible given the prevailing situation and the resources that we have, to plunge into the whirlpool and ensure that it is branded with the image and likeness of those who have provided the corn, the meat and the grain for the consumption of those who live off the sweat of others; who appropriate the surplus value produced by the labour of others?

It is clear that for humankind to survive we must change the world. It is also clear that if we are to change the world we must first understand the world. This is where Duke’s intervention should be used as a jumping off point to gain a deeper understanding of the society in which we live: in this case the relationship between our islands.

We can no longer afford to engage in tactics that come out of the mouths of leaders while addressing the converted and not out of serious, widespread discussion, debate and consultation with the members of the unions and with peoples’ organisations.This can raise the consciousness and mobilise wide sections of working people and the poor to defend their interests against those who have screwed up the society and then try to force the people to pay for their corrupt and criminal activity. There is no other way. It is time for this shit to stop!

The fuel that will drive the social explosion is plentiful and available. "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven...” (Mark 13:32). All that is missing is the spark that will initiate the conflagration. Look sharp and get in your section!