Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Labor, Politics and Majority Rule

The Bahama Journal Editorial

Another Majority Rule anniversary has come and has gone.

And so, today we reference matters germane to labor, politics and Majority Rule in the Bahamas.

And for sure – even as this one recedes into the mists that come with memories effaced; another will arrive and some other Bahamians will venture that, the General Strike of 1958 did play a massively important role in the social transformation of the Bahamas.

And so we would argue that those who now go in search of the mainspring governing action in those days might first wish to look at the leadership cadre behind the General Strike; there they would find Randol F. Fawkes [labor’s main man and champion of the so-called grass roots]; Clifford Darling, a taxi-driver [and therefore an owner in his own right of his means of production] and Lynden O. Pindling [as Parliamentary Leader of the then-nascent Progressive Liberal Party].

Fast forward to the social history available to most Bahamians and you would find that, it was the Progressive Liberal Party – with the help of a distinguished cadre of intellectuals and other political savvy men and women [with some of them like Clement Maynard, labor leaders in their own right]; that was able to command the support of the so-called “Majority”.

We would also venture that the role played by Clifford Darling and his men was the maneuver that did more than any other tactic to show the resolve of the Bahamian people not only in the specifics that had triggered the strike, but also in the broader struggle for full adult suffrage in the Bahamas.

And yet again, any fair reading of the social history of the past fifty-plus years would show that it was Pindling’s fate and that of his party to take the mantle and become the pioneers of development in a Bahamas that had entered history’s stream in a truly big way when the case of the Bahamas [that is its case for freedom] was argued before the United Nations.

This was like Black Tuesday of April 27th. 1965 uniquely Pindling’s.

As the record attests, Pindling and his Progressive Liberal Party went on to a series of victories that took them and the people they led to both so-called Majority Rule and Independence.

Evidently, they also faced some major challenges.

Highest on that list would be the damage done by the illicit trade in drugs throughout the Bahamian archipelago; the corrosive effects this trade had - and which it continues to have on social life in our country.

Notwithstanding this challenge and a host of others, there is no doubting the conclusion that the Bahamas built by Pindling endures. In this regard, it is nothing short of exemplary that the man who is today Chief and the man who would be Chief are both distinguished political alumni of the late and truly great Sir Lynden O. Pindling.

And so we would argue that if there is a legacy of 1958 that resounds even now; the resonance is to be found in the ascendancy of the Progressive Liberal Party in the years subsequent.

But even as we make these brief points concerning the General Strike of 1958, the eclipse of Fawkes and his supporters, the subsequent ascendancy of Pindling and the PLP, we also note that, despite their advances and that of the nation itself – there has always been an underclass of workers who have not benefited as much as they might have at one time or the other dreamed.

In addition, there are clearly any number of so-called ‘small’ businesses that have not been able to consolidate themselves in the all the years since the achievement of so-called Majority Rule.

This is not as surprising as it might – on first blush- appear; this because regardless of intention, no government no matter how well-intentioned, can make someone [or better still anyone] succeed in business.

And as an old saying puts it, money goes where money lies – and so it has and so will it continue.

But for sure – even as the evidence mounts that this is so, there remains a persistent cry to the effect that this or that group is being oppressed by another.

This is evidence of the highest order that the real struggle in our country and others has to do with the struggle between classes and the masses; and not that between the so-called ‘races’.

Indeed, such is the current state of political play in the Bahamas that both of this nation’s political parties now vie for the support of practically the same people; and thus the current slide towards a politics of tribalism and personal destruction.

January 11, 2011

The Bahama Journal Editorial