Dr. Fraser- Point of View
August 20, 2010
Cry for me – SVG?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”{{more}} I read this Charles Dickens’ classic a long time ago. In fact it was one of the books I had to do for my GCE A level Exams. I don’t know why after such a long time this famous quotation from the book has come back to me. The book was entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” and it appears to me that we have a classic case of two ‘St.Vincents’. So for some this is the best of times, while for others it is the worst of times. When speaking to some people on the street you get the impression that they are talking about two countries, not about one. But in a sense it is all before us because a winter of despair could lead to a spring of hope and a season of darkness could be transformed into a season of light. But who will be the players?

Today might conceivably not be the worst of times but certainly it is not the best of times. It might be the age of foolishness and hopefully out of this foolishness will come wisdom. There is a lot of talk around and an air of expectancy. At the same time, incredibly, there is a certain stillness that heralds the approach of something. Reading the newspapers these days is not very comforting. This is no fault of the newspapers for they are reflecting what is happening in our state and what is happening on the ground cannot bring comfort to ourselves and our country, so one wants to Cry for SVG. A number of things are happening that make little sense and do no good for our country. As I write this column I am hearing rumours to the effect that Otto Sam, Headteacher of South Rivers Methodist School (I believe), has been transferred to NEMO; the Chamber of Industry and Commerce is accused, out of the blue, of being political. When questioned about the payment by the International Airport Development Company of a lease for an apartment for persons involved in the “Vision Now Programme” the Auditors were apparently informed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health that this was offered because persons did not want to conduct business with the Government because payments were being held up at the Treasury. So we have everything before us and nothing before us.

True enough this is the Silly Season and fittingly a lot of things don’t really seem to make sense, but one is tempted to feel that there must be some method in the apparent madness that is engulfing the country. Not much of a positive nature appears to be happening. Everyone is waiting. It is really a difficult time and things are in a limbo because one expects that sometime soon General Elections will be called. It is a tense moment and there is a great deal of anger floating around. The longer the Silly Season goes on the worse things are likely to become. But there is no magic wand that will turn things around and that is why I say ‘Cry for SVG’. With Communications being what it is today, everything becomes almost instantly national property regardless of where it takes place. There is at the same time a sort of freedom where armed with your cell phones you can instantly participate in the verbal battles that permeate and symbolise the Silly period. The conflicts and the tensions are not only at the individual level, organisations are also becoming victims, so Tuesday’s edition of the ‘Searchlight’ informed us that the Public Service Union and the National Labour Congress are at odds over the Car Park Issue. The Public Service Union’s Statement is then branded as being politically motivated and so it goes on. And remember the Public Service Union is a member of the National Labour Congress!

Everything during this period is likely to be branded political based on what is happening and who are the players involved. My view is that this kind of situation will continue once the Silly Period is prolonged. What happens to our country in the meantime? As is to be expected, the majority of our peoples’ minds and attention are, at the moment, focussed on the upcoming General Elections and not enough thought is being given to what happens after. The dynamics of this time will undoubtedly influence what happens or could happen after. So Oscar Allen quotes (T.Smith 2010 vs. S. Huntington et al) “It is not enough for us to exchange the political parties in government. From time to time: that is good, but it is just not enough’. He calls on our people, along with political parties, to assemble in other agencies “to broaden our commitment, penetrate our reality and enrich our grasp of our tasks.”

How and where do you start?

There is a lot of work to be done, but how and where do you start? Government’s role in our lives is so powerful that it becomes the starting point, which to a large extent becomes the end point. So Oscar says that the way is open for a liberating politics. He will have to show us the way to get around the realities based on peoples’ needs and their reliance on Government to provide those needs. We still do not see ourselves as central to what has to be done. But in the short term there is a lot of cleaning up to be done, tensions to be removed, fences to be mended and other short term goals to be accomplished. Oscar is looking long term, but what is to be done in the short term to ensure that it does not imprison the long term? We are in a sense victims of a system that points us to the next sign post which has marked on it ‘General Elections’. There is where peoples’ minds are focussed. Will their role in this help to provide them with the tools and the awareness to liberate themselves and move out of the election cycle that appears to control everything? We must not ‘Cry’ for SVG. We must liberate SVG from the kind of politics that is strangling it. But there must be a platform from which to do that and there must be players.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.