Volume No. 2 Issue No. 6 - Monday July 09, 2007|
Rivets And Windmills: Adding Policy Focus To Political Vision So That Dominica, the Caribbean Cinderella Can Finally Get Her Invitation to the Ball - Part VII
By Philbert "Atley" Aaron PhD
Douglas was succeeded in office by a pragmatic Pierre Charles. Pierre Charles, a Marlowe focused on multilateral institutions and stabilized the economy. Pierre Charles seemed the antithesis of Douglas.
Pierre Charles brought a deliberate style to his decision-making, leading the country through a series of agreements with the International Monetary Fund. .
By then, however, Dominicans’ appetite for the shallow grandeur that the Trinidadian novelist V. S. Naipaul has depicted so well in his character of Blair in the novel A Way In The World was in full effect. .
The local calypsonians parodied Charles’ contemplative style.
I am not aware of it. I will look into it. .
This was a Calypso that was too enamored with Don Quixotes like Rosie. At best, Pierre Charles seemed contemplative, not charismatic. At worst, Pierre Charles appeared to be a man who was overtaken by economic events, in the long shadow of Rosie Douglas. .
His legacy is temperance, a contemplative style and it may outlive that of all the loudmouths. .
By 2005, I felt that something historic had occurred in Dominica. For the first time in Prime Minister Skerritt, leader of the DLP, someone had come to office who did not grow up in or participate directly in the symbolic politics of Decolonization, Labor Unions, Black Power, Independence or the Cold War. .
At last, there was a chance for real pragmatism in policymaking in the areas of the economy, education, and foreign affairs. .
I was wrong. It is not Skerritt’s fault. The problem is structural in nature. We lack the institutional capacity for policy. Have you ever asked yourself these questions. .
Who decided to ditch the Republic of China on Taiwan for the People’s Republic? How was the decision made? How was it communicated to stakeholders after it was made? .
So, pragmatism was not to be. Dominica’s association with China and Venezuela seems at best accidental. If a riveted policy structure exists, it is hard to see where a stadium or an oil refinery fits in. .
Yes, each in itself seems much desired by all. However, development is a multifaceted—politics, economics, social, cultural—thing. .
How are those investments integrated into present structures? How do they set up future investments? In other words, What now? .
I can hear Dominicans, especially Diaspora, cursing me out now, asking me, So what? We supposed to give back the stadium? It is somewhat like the debate over an international, sorry, jet airport, since we already have two international airports. .
It never gets rational. Fellas want an airport because they tired of stopping in Antigua or Puerto Rico when they making their once-a-year trip home. .
I would refer them to the notion of opportunity cost. I would ask the following question: What chance could Cinderella have missed while she was fixated on the big playground? .
More than anything, however, is the tone that those foreign policy strategies set for the nation as a whole that is alarming. Tone? Diaspora might ask. Tone? You can put tone in a saucepan and cook it, nuh? .
Yes, tone. The Prime Minister is more than anything supposed to serve as a keynote speaker to the flock. For example, Dominicans seem to think that those Chinese investments are a pay-off for switching diplomatic relations from Taiwan. .
That is a fact. It may be disproved. I do not want to argue the moral rightness of the action. I do not want to argue whether it is a fair trade. Some Dominicans would have traded jobs, lajann shesh, instead of iron and steel. I am thinking of the tone it sets. .
If a country can trade its sovereignty brazenly—and I am not saying it did—then, who is to condemn individuals for selling less sacred goods, like drugs or black bodies, to make a living? I can see sensation taking some people now. .
They are quick to counter that you cannot compare drugs or prostitution with a stadium. Chalk and cheese, they say. Apple and oranges. Chalk and cheese my foot! .
Remember, I am not talking morality, but right political action. If I were talking morality, I would have a damned good case, too. Sovereignty and the human body are both pure and indivisible and therefore serve as metaphors for the defense of the territorial integrity of the motherland. .
But I will leave this line of reasoning to the men of religion and to the ethicists. I will stick to the cultural side. I am thinking of the emotional charge of leadership action. .
Like in a child, everything that Cinderella does boosts her experience and confidence for the next challenge. What are we to be proud of in a stadium for which no Dominican architect or craftsman can gain fame or experience? .
Okay. Take this example from Chinese-Soviet relations. Years ago, the world hegemon, USSR tried to give China technical assistance while keeping the blue prints and therefore the know-how behind their engineering assistance projects. .
The creators of the saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day but teach him to fish and he will eat forever,” the Chinese sensing that what was at stake was something more than the transfer of materials but the transfer of know-how and eventually self-reliance and pride broke with Russia. .
Today, China is an emerging power. My point is whereas the Don Quixote charismatic leader woos China and gets a stadium, there needs to be a Marlowe, a man of rivets who ensures that the stadium will be maintained, that a new one may be built without assistance later. .
Most concretely, however, it is Marlowe who will ensure that the stadium will be used optimally. That no foreigner can do for Dominica. Why? Because it will be a long-term task requiring an integrated plan. .
Here is what it will require. It will require parents waking little children up to practice gymnastics or cricket, student-athletes developing their own disciplines, coaches training their charges, principals making space in the school curriculum for sporting, policymakers making provisions for national events, and a public willing and able to attend events. .
Were those invisible things planned while the visible stone structure was going up in Windsor Park? If they were not, it is like building a field of dreams, build it and they will come. .
Or like first building the pepenn, yes breadfruit canning factory that a famous politician had proposed for Portsmouth, then after it is built, turning your attention to the formula for turning breadfruit into what it was to be canned for. .
Let me repeat. If Cinderella is to make it to the big dance, Don Quixotes alone will not do. A few Marlowes working hand in hand with the Dons will be necessary.
Read Earlier Sections
Rivets and Windmills - Part One
Rivets and Windmills - Part Two
Rivets and Windmills - Part Three
Rivets and Windmills - Part Four
Rivets and Windmills - Part Five
Rivets and Windmills - Part Six