The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

‘Our once re­spected par­lia­ment long ago trans­mo­gri­fied into a gussied-up whore­house, where johns and their tricks toss around ob­scen­i­ties as eas­ily as they do the Mace, all in the name of We the Peo­ple. To judge by the plethora of video­taped ev­i­dence on the In­ter­net, we are, ad­mit­tedly or not, share­hold­ers in the na­tion’s House of ill re­pute—the air-con­di­tioned ex­ten­sion of the Cas­tries mar­ket­steps and Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard!’

Al­though sev­eral sources have at­trib­uted to Lord Ac­ton the ax­iom “power tends to cor­rupt and ab­so­lute power cor­rupts ab­so­lutely,” (1887) the con­sen­sus is that the English Catholic his­to­rian did not in­vent the idea. Wil­liam Pitt the El­der had said some­thing sim­i­lar in a House of Lords Speech (1770): “Un­lim­ited power is apt to cor­rupt the minds of those who pos­sess it.” I es­pe­cially like the fol­low­ing, lifted from an English trans­la­tion of France and Eng­land: A vi­sion of the Fu­ture by Alphonse Marie Louis de Prat de La­mar­tine, pub­lished in Lon­don in 1848: “It is not only the slave or the serf who is ame­lio­rated in be­com­ing free . . . the mas­ter him­self did not gain less in ev­ery point of view . . . for ab­so­lute power cor­rupts the best na­tures.” By free­ing his slaves the slave mas­ter sets him­self free. If only that were be­yond dis­pute!

What if a man’s orig­i­nal na­ture had from child­hood been twisted out of shape by var­i­ous un­speak­able abuses; by poverty, de­pri­va­tion and deeply etched feel­ings of in­ad­e­quacy? What if such a man should some­how dis­cover him­self in cir­cum­stances that af­ford him the unique priv­i­leges that elected Caribbean politi­cians have taken unto them­selves— par­tic­u­larly prime min­is­ters— abet­ted by par­a­sitic en­ablers? In that sce­nario, might power be the red devil’s dildo—not his cre­ator?

I’ve been pon­der­ing over that a lot lately. It seems to me what our politi­cians pos­sess—or would will­ingly sell their souls to pos­sess—is ac­tu­ally a pow­er­less power, good only for hold­ing sway over the per­cent­age of the pop­u­lace (in­clude our de­clared best brains) that imag­ines it­self al­to­gether lost with­out them. The ir­re­duc­ible truth is that they can do next to nothing, save on beg­gar knees. The economies of their ef­fec­tively failed states de­pend (to bor­row from Ten­nessee Wil­liams) on the pe­cu­liar gen­eros­ity of strangers: mainly Saudi Shy­locks, shifty-eyed bil­lion­aires chas­ing un­ques­tion­ing holy grails, and on spec­u­la­tors in all va­ri­eties of du­bi­ous en­deav­ors, as il­le­gal in their over-po­liced home coun­tries as here (where it is pos­si­ble for the holder of one of­fice to be the ef­fec­tive con­troller of sev­eral other of­fices at the same time).

Our pow­er­less pow­er­houses have all but wiped out ev­ery golden goose within reach; ren­dered our once fa­mously fer­tile lands bar­ren by a com­bi­na­tion of ar­ro­gant ig­no­rance and will­ful ne­glect, and by years of flout­ing the laws of na­ture. Once pris­tine waters awash with fish now are so pol­luted as to be haz­ardous to life—hu­man and ma­rine.

We the peo­ple have for too long been will­ing par­tic­i­pants in the sick rit­ual that has passed here for good gov­er­nance. A long time ago wrong over­took right; what once was im­moral is to­day mo­ral—en­thu­si­as­ti­cally en­dorsed by the self-ap­pointed guardians of Heaven’s front gate. To cite yet an­other ca­sual ob­server of life as we’ve made it, Sir Louis BlomCooper. This is from his report of the 1998 com­mis­sion of in­quiry into a trio of events in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion: “I have dis­cerned a cul­ture in Saint Lu­cia of stud­ied in­dif­fer­ence or, at the very least, to the prac­tice, even the con­cept of pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity—a cul­tural cli­mate in which ad­min­is­tra­tive tor­por can thrive, un­ham­pered by de­tec­tion or, if and when un­cov­ered, by dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.” Blom-Cooper would not be the last to record the con­tin­u­ing sorry state of state af­fairs on our Rock of Sages.

When we can­not talk away the worst as­saults on our Con­sti­tu­tion we blame them on the ef­fects of slav­ery suf­fered

hun­dreds of years ago by our for­bears and passed on to us, whether or not ge­net­i­cally. Or on “the sys­tem” we’ve al­ways known to be cor­rupt, as if in­deed we were not our­selves the blood, flesh and bones of that per­pet­u­ated same cor­rupt sys­tem. Small won­der we find our­selves in ev­ery sphere in­creas­ingly de­pen­dent on lesser evils.

To bor­row yet again from the late great Christo­pher Hitchens: “The whole point about cor­rup­tion in pol­i­tics is that it can’t be done prop­erly, with­out a bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus.” Which re­turns us to the mephitic mat­ter of what we the peo­ple do to our­selves when we not only know­ingly elect peo­ple of du­bi­ous char­ac­ter to seats at the most im­por­tant ta­ble in the land but we also seek to jus­tify and per­fume their ob­nox­ious ta­ble man­ners and scat­o­log­i­cal drop­pings.

Sto­ries abound about the sor­did pro­cliv­i­ties of our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives and their com­plicit tax­funded sur­ro­gates. The same gov­ern­ment that had ini­ti­ated the ear­lier men­tioned en­quiry, the same that Blom-Cooper had de­clared “un­com­fort­ably aware of the past back­ward­ness in good gov­er­nance,” and lauded for tak­ing “the first step to­ward dis­pelling the cul­ture [of cor­rup­tion],” that gov­ern­ment was it­self re­spon­si­ble for sev­eral costly mat­ters of pub­lic in­ter­est still to be prop­erly ac­counted for, among them Fren­well and Gryn­berg. It had ini­ti­ated foren­sic au­dits in­volv­ing op­po­si­tion MPs. But rather than tak­ing the cor­rec­tive steps af­forded it by the Saint Lu­cia Con­sti­tu­tion the gov­ern­ment in­ex­pli­ca­bly chose in­stead to post the dis­puted re­ports on the In­ter­net, not be­fore the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions.

When in op­po­si­tion, the cur­rent gov­ern­ment pledged to un­cover the se­crets of Gryn­berg. To date, nada. Is this, too, a case of say­ing on the cam­paign trail what­ever works but with nary a thought for the stan­dards vi­tal to good gov­er­nance and, to quote Blom-Cooper once more, “key to the fu­ture sta­bil­ity and de­vel­op­ment in the ter­ri­to­ries of the Caribbean?” Why have no ques­tions been asked in par­lia­ment rel­a­tive to Gryn­berg, de­spite that the gov­er­nor gen­eral has pub­licly con­firmed her non-in­volve­ment in the still se­cret costly ar­range­ment?

I am be­com­ing in­creas­ingly con­vinced none of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions, go­ing back years; none of the sev­eral se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions lev­eled al­most monthly at op­pos­ing par­ties in par­lia­ment; none of the made-for-Face­book rev­e­la­tions, not to say leaked of­fi­cial doc­u­ments “anony­mously” di­rected to a par­tic­u­lar me­dia per­son­al­ity, were ever in­tended for the pur­poses of jus­tice. As ex­pen­sive as have been these trans­par­ent ad­ven­tures, it is my con­vic­tion their sole pur­pose was to sully in the in­ter­est of po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions the rep­u­ta­tions of cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als. They were never meant as ev­i­dence to be placed be­fore a court of law. What a farce our once revered in­sti­tu­tions have be­come: the col­lec­tive church, the Chris­tian Coun­cil that in an ear­lier time was at once re­spected and feared by the good, the bad and the ugly . . . (with apolo­gies to T.C. Brown) Where are they now?

Our once re­spected par­lia­ment long ago trans­mo­gri­fied into a gussied-up whore­house, where johns and their tricks are free to toss around ob­scen­i­ties and the Mace, all in the name of we the peo­ple. To judge by the plethora of video­taped ev­i­dence on the In­ter­net, we are all share­hold­ers— re­luc­tant or not—in the na­tion’s House of ill re­pute. An air-con­di­tioned ex­ten­sion of the steps of the Cas­tries mar­ket and Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard.

For how many years have our school chil­dren been taught to be­lieve our par­lia­men­tary sys­tem is based on White­hall? A car­ni­val grotesque of the Bri­tish par­lia­ment would be a more apt de­scrip­tion. Our par­lia­ment mind­lessly mocks what it was meant to em­u­late—with at­ten­dant con­se­quences that, one way or an­other, af­fect the whole coun­try. How ris­i­ble to hear a min­is­ter of gov­ern­ment sug­gest­ing our off-the rails youth might eas­ily mend if only they could learn to set­tle ar­gu­ments with­out reach­ing for one an­other’s jugu­lars. I dare to say con­flict res­o­lu­tion ses­sions would more use­fully be con­ducted in the House that is not a home.

Then again, why should we ex­pect a politi­cian in of­fice to demon­strate traits never syn­ony­mous with the beast prior to its el­e­va­tion? When did we at­tend a po­lit­i­cal rally where the prin­ci­pals demon­strated some mea­sure of re­spect, for them­selves or for their au­di­ence? Can you re­call, dear reader, a po­lit­i­cal rally that wasn’t a naked in­sult to the na­tion’s in­tel­li­gence? Why, then, act sur­prised when our MPs hurl in­sults at one an­other, when they de­clare their fel­low elected col­leagues crim­i­nals, rene­gades and no-pedi­gree ca­nines even with a lady in the Speaker’s chair? As for the pos­si­bly il­le­gal use of state trap­pings as weapons of war, well, that’s what hap­pens when lesser evils are placed un­fet­tered at the levers of state power.

Politi­cians are not cater­pil­lars; they are demon­stra­bly more closely re­lated to cock­roaches. And na­ture never in­tended cock­roaches at any point to meta­mor­phose into but­ter­flies. For all time, cock­roaches will be cock­roaches!

It is quite pos­si­ble the next House sit­ting will prove what Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet is made of. A St. Lu­cia with 50 homi­cides in less than a year is ob­vi­ously a St. Lu­cia to­tally out of con­trol. The ques­tion is: Can he tame the beasts?

Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions Daarsrean Greene: For some the law of the jun­gle would be more ap­pro­pri­ate in our cir­cum­stances than the Saint Lu­cia Con­sti­tu­tion. Thank­fully the vast ma­jor­ity say nay!

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