Round Table with Oscar
August 5, 2014
From rot to renewal

Gun mouth is slowly becoming a new form of speech in SVG. In a hail of bullets, people are learning to test their messages to the community and while we lose check each month of how much the passion, the crime, the hunger and corruption are eating into our society. It represents the fruit of a complex political class struggle that calls for a high quality of unity and renewed mentalities to see us through.{{more}}

Behind all episodes and news reports of “abnormal” events in our community and in institutions that seemed to be reliable and stable, there is one constant factor or process. It is the decay, the rotting away of political authority and the uprising of citizen autonomy or “laisser faire,” some of it depraved, some of it in the form of blossoms of social capital, some of it near insurrectionist. On the surface of this underswell of change, we see and smell the dying days of the present regime – the Unity Labour Party (ULP).

It is my way generally to examine not just the situation of decay that is in my face. I also look for the dialectical opposite of what is in position here and now. That is why I am focusing on what is to emerge after the NDP season in office for the next 10 or so years. What do we do, and who are we to become in order to shape a decent, harmonious, just and wholesome Caribbean SVG in 2024, 45 years after the eruptions of the La Soufriere, the United Peoples Movement (UPM), and the taking of constitutional independence in 1979?

AFTER THE NDP

The political diet placed on our table is poisonous. We consume the tale that when our political party wins a general election, things start to change for the better the very next day. We even snack hungrily on the tidbits thrown at us, that the first 100 days will change our situation from grey to gold! In other words, when our party wins, we, the citizen members, just expect and wait for Arnhim or Ralph or Son, or Anesia and O’Neal to deliver the changes. That is a deadly poison to drink! DON’T! Sweep it off the table.

When the ULP shall have been swept out of office in the next elections, that will not be the changed SVG. It will be the same rotting SVG with a new set of managers. The real change will begin when slowly but surely, citizens start a fresh movement, gather a new momentum, come out from the dumbed subjugation of the past decade or longer and make new spaces for innovation, release new voices and conversations, unbind old policies of exclusion and oppression from inside the state and outside. It may take 10 years for this movement to grow. You know, it’s funny. When the outgoing ULP regime, in spite of its real and rhetorical claims to progress, put a small political class out to feed, and others to nibble and still others to starve and atrophy, it buried the means of creativity, it muzzled the voice, it both planted the seed and surrounded it with drought. It is that seed of innovation and voice, which can abolish the ULP type of rule, once Vincentians provide the momentum and energies for it to grow and blossom. That could take 10 years.

THINGS TO COME

Just as a concrete target, let us say that we cut gun crimes, sex and gender crimes, property crimes, including praedial larceny, down to one half of what they are now, will we feel the difference? What target should we set for dealing with corruption, hunger, employment and community divisions in 10 years? These targets are not final goals; they are part of a work in progress, benchmarks for a renewed SVG and region. We hold them up and work through the rot to reach them and ask ourselves this question: What kind of citizen, what kind of politics, what kind of economy, culture, education and spirituality will take us there? The frenzy of a party power struggle for five years, then a final match-up on Election Day is hardly a recipe for socio-political renewal. We have 10 years perhaps of the NDP in office to shape a new process and a new people out of ourselves. After the NDP, let’s aim to have in place an emerging new SVG.