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Caught in the vortex of our times

By Michael Harris

Political events in our country are proceeding at such a dizzying pace that it is difficult to separate what is significant from what is mere frippery, and difficult to find the time to analyse fully and explore in depth the meaning of any one event before that event is hustled off-stage and some other drama or one-day wonder, takes its place.

Take the last week for example. First we had the astounding revelation that known criminal and convict, Rajaee Ali, has been handed millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to manage the Carapo arm of the Ministry of Sport’s Life Sport programme.  Then the acting Commissioner of Police, who was at pains early in the week to deny that Mr Ali was a suspect in the Dana Seetahal murder, callously opined that reporter Mark Bassant had brought death threats on himself through his incorrect reporting.

Then the Internet exploded with the video of a man “who looks like a Government minister partying with “ganja’’ and women in a hotel room.”  The Minister of Communications, in the only official response from the Government, states that the video “is not a scandal” but his Ministry calls on TV6 head of news, Dominic Kallipersad, to apologise to the Prime Minister for airing her incoherent responses to his questions about the video.

And then on Friday came the mother of all marches. By all accounts it had a bumper turnout but what did it set out to achieve and what did it achieve? And what are we to make of the fact that three of our political parties, the PNM, the ILP and the MSJ, were all front and centre of the march.  In response the government brought hundreds of yellow-shirted supporters to greet the Prime Minister outside Parliament.

Oh! Not to forget, the police shot and killed a man. Again.

The question then is what does it all mean? Which of these events and developments mentioned above is worthy of note as having some significance for the politics of our country and the future of the society? 

It may well be that all of these developments are pregnant with meaning and each of them, in some way, changes the tapestry of our lives. But how are we to know when there is so very little time for considered judgement and analysis. 

At times like these it is useful to take a step back from the examination of each  in the kaleidoscope and try to look for meaning in the pattern as a whole. When we do that we might just come to recognise that the pattern is not new; we have been here before.

How many of us remember what it was like some five years ago when the Manning administration was tottering on the brink of collapse? Then too, like now, there was a dizzying progression of events exploding so rapidly and with such force that it was impossible to fit into any rational pattern or to make sense of it all.

In one of my articles during that period I wrote the following: “The collapse of political systems is never an orderly process. The developments which attend such a collapse are never straightforward and seldom demonstrate a pattern of linear causation. Indeed very often it seems that the only true indicator of such a collapse is the fact that these events seem to make no sense at all and defy all rational explanation.” 

That is exactly the situation we find ourselves in today and that is the surest indication we have that this present Government is disintegrating before our eyes. This administration finds itself “beset by widespread and continuous public protests, mired in scandal and controversy, bereft of legitimacy or moral authority and, as a consequence of all these conditions, incapable of effecting or implementing any significant policies and programmes.” 

If we view the vortex of developments from that perspective it would allow us to focus not on each incident which takes place but on what is to be done after the government collapses which it surely will.

It is when we ask that question that we come face-to-face to the true dimensions of our political dilemma which is our inability as a people to break free from the shackles of futility that is the consequence of our current political system. The futility which sees us forever replacing one set of incompetents for the other.

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