Virtually every where one looks in Barbados these days, one sees deeply flawed national leaders and institutions sinking – almost inexorably – into tragedy! It is almost as if a “tragic flaw” has become lodged in the bosom of the national body politic.
In January 2006, the then opposition Member of Parliament, David Thompson, executed a most cynical and opportunistic political manoeuver, and displaced his long time colleague, Clyde Mascoll, from the leadership of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). Having basically used Mascoll’s leadership to get the DLP through a difficult period, Thompson decided that he wanted the beckoning political glory, and did what was necessary to unseat his friend and take back the reins of power.
Well, Thompson got what he wanted – the leadership of the D.L.P and ultimately the leadership of the entire country – but, almost like the unfolding of a Greek tragedy, he has not been able to enjoy the winning of his long sought after prize.
Now, in October 2010, another opposition Member of Parliament has done a similar thing to his long time colleague and political side-kick! After having used Mia Mottley to get the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) through the difficult first years of a stint in opposition, Owen Arthur now senses that political glory is in the offing, and had decided that such glory must fall to him and be used to rebuild his image in the historical annals of Barbados.
Mr Arthur has seemingly got what he wanted, but will it all turn to ashes in his opportunistic hands? Time will tell!
But the sense of tragedy also extends to institutions and entire social classes as well. Take the case of the wealthy, traditional, white, big business elite of Barbadian society. Clearly, they have realized that recession-mired Barbados is on the verge of a major economic and fiscal adjustment, and they are now making their moves behind the scenes to ensure that the adjustment does not touch them, but is borne instead by the working and lower middle classes. And, of course, a critical part of this scheme involves getting their agents into positions of leadership in the two major political parties!
The tragedy in all this is that after 44 years of ‘Independence’, the white Barbadian sector of the population still see themselves as a separate minority group with one foot out and one foot in the nation building process, determined to hold on tight to their traditional position of economic domination, ambivalent towards the new emerging national culture, and forever seeking opportunities to extract wealth from the society.
This is a tragic, unhealthy situation that should have been rectified years ago! There is no reason why – with enlightened national leadership – the white community could not be led to reorient themselves; to establish a meaningful relationship with the masses of black Barbadians; and to adopt a constructive nationalist role in the building of a new economy.
The large black working and lower middle classes also face the tragedy of political parties that are getting ready to sell them out! Listen carefully to the noises coming out of the DLP, and you will see that they are readying themselves to decimate the National Drug Service and the system of free tertiary education.
The BLP, for their part, are pushing notions of privatisation – even of the airport and seaport – and can see no further than a servile “off shore” economy based on tax avoidance and evasion.
The major losers in all of this are the working and lower middle class people of Barbados, who, unfortunately, can see no further than the DLP/BLP circus show. And this is the ultimate “Barbados Tragedy”!
About Mark Lee
Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.