Professor Cudjoe Has Challenged
Where has the nation reached? Professor Selwyn Cudjoe in "The Pursuit of Happiness" (Guardian, November 30, 2007) says in his opening sentence "The people of T & T are witnessing a decline of our civilization which no amount of money can reverse ...". This assertion, and his arguments are worthy of study inside and outside of the PNM. Indeed, what I wish to call "The Cudjoe Declaration" ought hopefully to be printed as an internal document for wide PNM debate.
The 'Berlin Wall'
At the same time, we of the general public cannot remain aloof to the significance of the Professor's intervention. Is he saying that the whole nationalist movement vehicle has "gone sour" (as in the political leader's phrase on the Mariano Browne affair)? Is he distancing himself from the palace guard of, I quote, "an outmoded system that emphasizes the divine rights of kings"?
"The Cudjoe Declaration" needs discussion, examination, criticism, debate, the taking of sides. Space limitation allows me only limited further comment, based on his article.
1. "...To leave a legacy". The PNM is 50 years old. What transmission of an institutional memory is there? No party schools, as in the past? To Ferdie Ferreira, a very sound and careful analyst, would Dr. Cudjoe open an avenue of debate?
Indeed Dr. Cudjoe describes PNM's "greatest weakness" as "the absence of a sustained intellectual engagement with its publics" (plural). As an operating model, are there any intellectual currents within today's PNM? If yes, are they closer to Dr. Eric Williams or to Benny Hinn/Reaganite Republicanism?
Borrowing from Selwyn Ryan, who wrote in another context - "Much would however depend on Panday and Manning and how the succession issue is resolved in both parties". Do members still rise through party ranks? Conscientious hard work and representation, does it help? Consider Penelope Beckles.
2. "Freedom to express oneself within the party remains the prerequisite for the integrity of the party." Let think-tanks and party schools emerge; step away from voting by acclamation and return to a secret ballot.
Prepare for "the succession issue" but ask whether the party is now only a mega-corporation complete with venture capital support and in-built succession "channels" (e.g. Salybia Spa graduates). Ask whether the shareholders (foot-soldiers, Youth League etc) only exist now for annual general meetings - complete (before and after) with ragga-soca rallies, welfare transfers ... and a jersey.
With the publication of "The Cudjoe Declaration", the Professor may have vigourously challenged the Berlin Wall, and the perceived East German leadership behind it.
ARTHUR L. McSHINE
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