Industrialization by Illusion: T&T Today
By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
May 08, 2008
In his 1972 article titled "The meaning of development", Professor
Dudley Sears argued that, "a country which had doubled per capita income
could not claim to have experienced development if poverty, inequality,
(inflation/ spiraling high cost of living, food shortages, human
safety/security, level of crimes) and unemployment had not been
In layman's terms, this phenomenon can best be classified as "growth
without development"; in other words, it represents a scenario wherein an
inverse relationship exists between economic, financial and industrial
expansion/growth and the Quality of Life (QOL) and Basic Human Needs
(BHN) of the citizenry of the country. Today, Trinidad and Tobago
resembles such a phenomenon/scenario.
As James D. Cockroft, Andre Gunder Frank and Dale L. Johnson elucidate
further in their book titled Dependence and Underdevelopment (1972): "
Real development involves a structural transformation of the economy,
polity and culture of the satellite that permits the self-generating and
self-perpetuating use and development of the people's potential." (p.
The afore-mentioned speaks volumes as to the illusory nature of the
government's policy to industrialize Trinidad and Tobago. This policy can
only be described as Industrialization as if People do not Matter.
The fact of the matter is that Prime Minister Manning is bent on
creating, fashioning and molding Port-of-Spain in the image and
likeness of Euro-America's Manhattan, Miami and/or San Francisco.
The "Breakfast Shed" situation is one classic example of Patrick
Manning's Industrialization as if People do not Matter policy framework.
In this specific case, the existence of people, human beings, at the
"Breakfast Shed" was only an after thought in the industrialization
planning of this area in Port-of-Spain. The people were irrelevant and
expendable. The so-called industrialization of this area was done as if
the people, human beings, at the "Breakfast Shed" do not matter. This
represents typical Euro-centric economic planning whereby the human
being, human factor, is non-existent.
Another example is the industrialization of the Queen's Park Savannah
with its replacement by a new National Performing and Carnival Arts
Centre. This was also done as if the people, human beings, in the
country's cultural arts fraternity and Carnival associations , including
band leaders, do not matter. They have never been consulted in this
As a corollary, one finds that the industrialization of the Princess
Building grounds with the construction of a Performing Arts Centre
plus an illusive 60-room hotel was also done as if the people, human
beings, in the country's arts fraternity do not matter. This
industrialization process apparently cost Dr. Keith Rowley his job as
Minister of Trade and Industry in the PNM government.
Indeed, one can only surmise that Prime Minister Patrick Manning is
repeating Dr. Eric Williams' historical admonition to his ministers: "If
yuh doh like it; get to hell outta here."
The fact of the matter is that this country's industrialization process
via smelters continues unabated and in a defiant, acerbic public mode
as if the people, human beings, of the affected communities do not
matter. And the list goes on and on.
The stark reality is that industrialization is not measured in terms of
tall buildings and capital expenditures. Human development is the spinal
cord of any sensible, sane economic/industrialization policy.
This writer strongly contends that under the rubric of the government's
apparent "Industrialization as if People do not Matter" policy, T&T
is experiencing the phenomenon of retrogressive progression.
By way of elucidation, retrogressive progression exists when a country
(T&T today) experiences rapid, exponential financial/industrial growth
(economic progression) coterminous with rapid, exponential decline in
its induced human values stock such as education, health care, safety and
crime, Quality of Life (QOL), respect and value for human life, family
values, infra-structural amenities, morals, human decency, etc,
Furthermore, retrogressive progression suggests that in this situation,
the government operates under the illusion that the country and by
extension the people, are moving forward while in reality both entities
are moving progressively and retrogressively backward into
self-inflicted human disaster, oblivion, and fatalistic self-destruction.
In other words, it does not follow that just because of economic
progression, including T&T's impending International Financial Centre
(TTIFC), the people of T&T are better off and that their Basic Human
Needs (BHN) have been met. In fact, the reverse may be true. Indeed, one
can argue that the people of T&T are worse off in terms of their QOL
and BHN as a result of the Euro-centric, albeit anti-human, genre of
government's industrialization policy. The evidence is omnipresent and
As a result of this government's anti-human industrial policy,
Trinbagonians now judge each other by one's outward materialism rather
by one's inward humanism. In other words, one is judged by how one
looks rather than who one is as a person, a bona fide human being.
Today, for example, Trinbagonians do not go out to enjoy themselves with
Pal Joey Lewis' "Pint of wine" music; rather, Trinbagonians go out to
"dress to impress." In other words, the human being/factor/element no
longer exists in how Trinbagonians enjoy themselves socially; overt crass
materialism is now the yardstick/norm. This is retrogressive humanism.
Today, Trinbagonians judge each other by how they look as in the
designer/brand-named clothes they wear, the car they drive and how
Americanized they are in their modus vivendi, 24-7-365. This is
In addition, the government's Euro-centric industrial policy mind-set has
propelled Trinbagonians to overtly identify with the culinary
values/habits of Euro-America via KFC, Church's Chicken, Mc Donald's,
Subway, Pizza Boys, Blimpie, Royal Castle, Pizza Hut, Burger King,
Ginzanos Sub, Popeye's Chicken & Seafood, etc.
Put simply, the culinary habits/values of Trinbagonians have now been
totally and irreversibly Euro-American Kentuckyfried, Subwayed and Mc
Trinbagonians' culinary habits/values operate as if people, human beings,
in the country's culinary fraternity do not matter. This is retrogressive
Ipso facto, it need occasion no great surprise that a mammoth
Euro-American KFC screen now overshadows/overpowers/predominates the
statue of this country's premier national hero, Captain Andrew Arthur
Cipriani , on Independence Square in Port-of-Spain.
Ergo, the most poignant questions that immediately comes to the fore
are: Does this Euro-American industrial structure smack in the middle
of the nation's capital represent the true independence of a people or
does it speak volumes as to a people's voluntary Euro-American
The presence of this Euro-American spectacle represents the most
blatant, unconscionable, egregious and vicious insult and disrespect
for and complete defamation of, the sanctity of Trinidad and Tobago's
independence, national identity, pride and sovereignty.
It is also very interesting to recall that during the era of Euro-British
colonialism, Salvatori building made "Cipriani look like ah lil boy";
today, in the era of Euro-American re-colonization, the mega
Euro-American industrial, culinary structure is once again making
"Cipriani look like ah lil boy".
This industrial insanity compels the following question from the lyrics
of social commentator Morel Peters (Luta):
In addition, it is no small wonder that as a result of this
Euro-American re-colonization, young Trinbagonians have absolutely no
respect/value for human life and will kill another "youth man" for a pair
of designer sneakers. This is retrogressive humanism.
Could somebody tell me?"
The stark reality is that young Trinbagonians are now under the subliminal
indoctrination/sway/magnetic force of instant gratification and have
deduced that since the fruits of government's industrial policy will not
trickle down to them, then, their obdurate propensity is "to get rich or
die trying" a la the African-American rapper "50 Cent's" philosophy of
Instead of being responsible/respectable members of society,
government's anti-human industrial policy has compelled young
Trinbagonians, particularly males, to conclude that they have no option
but to live their lives as "gangsters for life." That's their
comfort zone. This is retrogressive humanism at its zenith.
In this specific case, one can only deduce that there is a direct
relationship between government's Euro-centric, anti-human industrial
policy and human values/interaction and moral decadence in Trinidad
For while the government is wallowing under the illusion of attaining
"developed country status" in industrial, financial and economic terms,
human misery, moral decadence and inter-personal self-destructive
behavior are the stark realities on the ground for the average
In the final analysis, Industrialization as if People do not Matter
conjures up memories of the 15th century Euro-colonial mind-set/world
view that contended: "The colonizer knows what's best for the colonized."
This colonial, historical mind-set towards the colonized is now been
repeated by Trinidad and Tobago's neo-colonial government.
In sum, the government's anti-human industrial policy has transformed
Trinidad and Tobago into the ultimate impersonal society that is wrapped
up in the swaddling clothes/trappings of a failed state.
Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour
and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.
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