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Commentary: Trans-colonial collaboration in St Lucia's political system
Published on September 8, 2016Email To Friend    Print Version

By Harvey Cenac

The title is meant to be deliberate and thought-provoking, in particular, to the sensationalist spectre of seeing Saint Lucians as subjects and objects, rather than as a people and agents of radical, hemispheric, economic, and social change.

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Harvey Cenac, chief visionary office(CVO) for Seed Foundation Inc., has over 15 years experience as an entrepreneur, coach, and strategic communicator. His background includes experience in the United States and the Caribbean. He is also the co-author of the book "Walking with Giants
However, whether one understands or not, there is a common interpretation of alarm that is invoked by a persnickety political leader, relating to Niccolò Machiavelli systems, which is about to rewrite who we are as a people, and the heritage of being Saint Lucian.

In impractical terms, Saint Lucians are pre-disposed to a post-election political subjectivity to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, aided by his cabinet colleagues, that has never been experienced both on a practical or imaginative level. This will enter into our lives and disturb the creativity and resolve of a people, during uncertain and difficult times, to fight and achieve some measure of influence, even control, over our livelihoods.

The critical constant that must be emphasized is that there has always been a conscious choice about our “way of being” in the Caribbean, a perspective that has its grounding outside of what scholars commonly considered to be the twin spectres of colonialism versus national subjectivity.

In this regard, when an artist develops musical rhythms, like cultural ambassador and developer Bob Marley did, or when a religious ritual is introduced in a religion in the Caribbean, that nation does not necessarily lose a sense of its components.

Not the least of which as well, the study of our political history has diminished fewer students, and elders are being exposed to and thus lack the transformation to enrich the national story in this age of extreme partisanship, and the so-called democratic process.

Hence, Prime Minister Chastanet is now taking Saint Lucia down a path, as native Saint Lucians (exclusive of himself) prefaced with voter illiteracy and widespread poverty, where the majority worship that which is perceived as “foreign, white and wealthy“ and believe others will look after their interests. This is risky, and stands a greater chance of losing the essence of our true identity.

The large number of portfolios that Prime Minister Chastanet has allocated to himself, and his decision to chair the Cabinet of Ministers, as the "Minister of Everything" while globetrotting aimlessly, is being viewed by many as the return to rule and control by the elite ruling class, and the plantation economic pattern termed ‘economic zones by special interest’ that was dominant during the colonial and post-colonial periods.

My own sense of optimism for Saint Lucia lies not in a trans-colonial collaboration system by Prime Minister Chastanet in a geopolitical region that has had in its history a people, both African and French Negroes, occupying the region since the 18th century.

Saint Lucia’s most important manifestation of historical arrest or misadventure often goes under the title of democracy. One would think that this term has a basic loyalty to the nation rather than to a trans-colonial leader. The argument so far has been to give Prime Minister Chastanet a chance, purporting that Saint Lucia will be better developed by a trans-colonialist.

May I re-call to memory that most gifts from trans-colonialists are very small, and minimal; they are never really gifts, but instead more of a compensatory value, previously gained.

Nevertheless, it becomes fashionable to speak of ‘change’ or ‘ching ching’; an assertion that has implications in the socio-economic and political spheres and it can be shown for a broad revisionist of conventional politics to the historical narrative that merely recount the doings of queasy elites that shaped the nation’s past.

The evidence I have accumulated from the three-month-old Chastanet-led administration has led me to believe that trans-colonial collaboration is not intrinsically emancipatory, participatory, or progressive.

This trajectory is what Dr Eric Williams had theorized as “staggered development” in the region, and is particularly poignant when one considers the motivation behind and potential success of trans-colonial freedom-seeking efforts among populations of colour.

That being said, Prime Minister Chastanet, as a trans-colonialist, has manifested an idealistic impulse to imagine another world that could result in improved material circumstances or modernization as a way to re-develop Saint Lucia.

This assertion has implication in the socio-economic spheres and will be shown to be false in all respects.

It might be worth noting that, under most trans-colonialists, there is always a claim of growth and development, which means that goods and services of a certain type might be on the increase. However, the profit goes abroad and the economy becomes more and more dependent on special interests; as in all cases, there is never provision for making the economy self-sustainable and focused on its own national goals.

Meanwhile the Chastanet-led administration’s first 100 days has achieved nothing tangible, no policy of substance that resonates “change”, but egocentric posturing under self-inflicted pressure to deliver on election promises of common lies and deceit that few find inadmissible, except the mass of illiterate poor and undereducated who cling on for dear life.

The desired change will not be easy when a vital part of this country’s continuing democratic discussion is disappearing. Propaganda machines are conditioning the minds of Saint Lucians to believe that only Prime Minister Chastanet understands their plight, even if it’s a far cry from the truth.

It matters now more than ever that knowledge of our political past is crucial, as it would serve as a remedy to the misuse of history by our current political misfits and save us from being bewildered by parallel false prophets. And it certainly would help us better understand the likely effects of actions through the acquisition of insight and maturity.

One might find my statements to be extravagant or negative. But they are presented only because Prime Minister Chastanet as a transactional, trans-colonial leader will have a deleterious effect on the psyche of Saint Lucians.

Never mind the mantra of bringing the truth to light, there appears to be little effort to fill the void.

Saint Lucians will have to combat the redoubtable influence of Prime Minister Chastanet, beginning with historical lessons to identify political history, make literacy a priority, and use the experience of educators and minister of education, Dr Gail Rigobert, to enact policies that bolster the teaching of political history and civics without politicizing the process.

Without both formal and informal education, it will be impossible for Saint Lucia to get to preferred destination, and against such trans-colonialist views of Prime Minister Chastanet.

There is hardly any doubt; the writing is on the wall. It is an unmanageable challenge for Prime Minister Chastanet’s administration’s historical delusion, parochialism and inconvenient truths.

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