Baby steps – Giant Undertaking

Submitted by The Mahogany Coconut Group

As the Caribbean region diligently turns to what is hopefully the “new norm” or the post COVID-19 era, we note the tentative baby steps, in what will be a giant undertaking. Caribbean social and political culture is steeped in the “creep before you can walk” philosophy, and from all indications, this gradualism or “old norm”, will continue, as we confront the “new norm”. It seems almost like a cautionary tale affliction.

The MCG understands this approach because the indelible scars of a people still caught in defeating the psychological remnants of brutal slavery and now persistent post slave and post-colonial eras , cannot be expected , to be exceptionally capable or aggressively confident of understanding or even capturing and developing their true worth. We therefore always seem to be taking baby steps in socio economic development.

From the Federation experiment to the present post-independence period, we seem to be creeping forever. This almost pathetic reality has frustrated progressive forces since the mid-sixties. The failure of the Grenada Revolution was almost the final nail in the coffin of radicalism, but we persevere.

The COVID-19 has exposed this frightening and self-defeating reality. When will we, the mighty people we are, RISE as was instructed by Marcus Garvey, so many decades ago?

William Skinner
Communications Officer MCG

26 thoughts on “Baby steps – Giant Undertaking

  1. Gradualism is the under-valued, steady older brother of radicalism. The one who his parents ignore because his younger brother is always throwing a tantrum, and they need not worry about gradualism because they know, even if subconsciously that he will always be there and he will always be steady.

    Sometimes radical thought is needed to light a fire. However guiding that fire into a great conflagration seldom ever happens. Radicals pontificate about change, but rarely actually achieve it. They are big and bold ideas and maybe even sometimes detail-oriented too but are unwilling to acknowledge prevailing reality.

    Look no further than our own country and its birth as a democratic, independent nation. In those earliest days, Adams led the country slowly out of the jaws of colonialism. After some time he was decried as a conservative and being too close to the ruling plantocracy. However, in truth, he was a steady figure who could hardly rip the country at once out of an arrangement of centuries. It was the foundation he and those with him laid that allowed the so-called “young turks” to emerge and enact the more radical policies that they did, many of which were not theirs but the brainchildren of Crawford. However, in the present day, and at the time, those who came later to find the foundation are credited with building the house.

    Was Don Blackman or Ramses Caddle or any of their successors to the crown of local radicalism in the political field ever capable of truly fulfilling their ideology?

    Radicalism has its place because it is the bold ideas which are forged by it that are essential to development. However, we musn’t sideline the eternal importance of gradualism, for it is gradualism that provides the canvas on which radicalism may paint its bold future.

  2. Steps..

    The following strategies must be used to achieve the objectives:

    information dissemination;
    strengthening of CSO communication networks for information and experience sharing;
    high-level advocacy targeting policymakers; and
    leveraging partnerships with critical regional and global public health institutions.
    We need to work with national, regional, and global partners to meet the needs of our community and add value to their work, with the ultimate aim of reducing the impact of COVID-19 on PLWNCDs, vulnerable populations such as older persons and youth, and the general public.

    The timeline of, and adjustments to, the strategy will depend on the duration and course of the COVID-19 epidemic in the Caribbean.
    Although, to date, the risk of COVID-19 infection among young people is relatively low, data have shown they may largely be asymptomatic vectors of infection, unknowingly transmitting the virus to the more vulnerable. In addition, young people—adolescents and children—may be experiencing confusion, fear, and anxiety about the future and what it holds for their loved ones. It will be important to engage this group to ensure that messages around social distancing and containment reach them, and to give them the tools to cope with mental health issues they may face during this time of uncertainty.

    The HCC will advocate for and encourage consultation with young people in planning and disseminating messages that target them, taking advantage of its established youth advocates and youth initiatives.

  3. I can tell you from what I have seen that before any borders are opened the wearing of masks must be mandated by law and accompanied by a fine.

    I was In a wholesale warehouse today and saw 2 people walking around without masks on. When I reported it to the security he said they make sure they have on a mask to enter, but some take it off when they get inside. I witnessed a doctor went to one and identified himself as Dr X and advised him to put on his masks. You know what the idiot told the doctor? ” it does keep me hot and nobody can mek me wear one.”

    In Paris now if you are out in public without a mask look for €160 forth with for the fine as the authorities are charging the fines on site.

    Of course this is Barbados where nothing is enforced so we will just wait for the second wave to flare up and then ask ourselves why.

  4. @ KK at 11:43 AM
    A very good start to the day. You certainly know local Political History. Barbadians are noted for their gradualism. It has worked for us. A look around the Caribbean would support the thesis, that despite our apparent conservatism, we have the most advanced Social Democrat System.

  5. Why do we constantly have to identify ourselves as ahead or more advanced than others. For example it is noted that Trinidad has a press that is much more democratic than any in the Caribbean. Does that make Trinidad superior? Each of these islands is realistically at the same stage of development or as some would say non- development.
    It is known that Jamaica was the first country to ban trading with South Africa in solidarity with Nelson Mandela and was threatened by the USA. Does that mean that Jamaica is superior?
    At present the USA is pressuring one of our islands over a twenty five million debt. Does that mean that island is lesser developed?
    Insular thinking will continue to be our down fall. The simple truth is that it makes no sense boasting or claiming some imagined superiority when in natural fact we are here waiting on tourists to come and save us from economic ruin, the same way that others are waiting.
    The entire Caribbean is basically at the same level of socio economic development. We need to rid ourselves of the pot calling the kettle black syndrome.
    The article starts and continues to look at the Caribbean response to the new norm. It was never intended to look at ‘ who better than who’.
    Sooner or later we will learn that it is not one Caribbean island up against the world but the Caribbean up against the world.
    Time to stop pedaling division and Massa plantation positions in order to satisfy and perpetuate limited vision.

    • @William

      Good point.

      The developed world views the region through the same lense read a backwater place.

  6. @ David Bu at 1 :50 PM
    Even if your statement is true, does it really matter how other worlds see us or how we see ourselves? It is the level of social,economic and political development we have achieved that matters. I see that you are still waiting to be approved and validated by others. Same old ,same old. The colonial strings were cut over 50 years ago. Stop behaving as though it is still attached.

  7. On May 22nd an article (now retracted) was published by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet which appeared to discredit the idea that the out-of-patent drug hydroxychloroquine could be a possible safe and effective medication for treating Covid-19 patients.

    The Lancet article was first exposed as a fraud based on the use of fraudulent data in a report published by The Guardian newspaper after their own journalists had investigated the matter. Mr. Donald Duck when asked for comment as the leading spokesman and representative for the Association of Pantless Ducks would only say, “Quack! Quack! Quack!.”

    The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine turned into laughing stocks as widely-touted hydroxychlorine study found to be based on fabricated data organized by science fiction writer and adult content model
    By Mike Adams (Natural News)


    As The Guardian explains in its investigative report:

    The Lancet study, which listed Desai as one of the co-authors, claimed to have analysed Surgisphere data collected from nearly 96,000 patients with Covid-19, admitted to 671 hospitals from their database of 1,200 hospitals around the world, who received hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with antibiotics.

    The negative findings made global news and prompted the WHO to halt the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global trials. But only days later Guardian Australia revealed glaring errors in the Australian data included in the study.

    The fraud is so obvious and so horrifying to real scientists that the scandal has earned the name “LancetGate.” Both The Lancet and the NEJM have been reluctant to pull the study because, of course, discrediting hydroxychloroquine (plus zinc) is a necessary step to clear the way for hundreds of billions of dollars in profits for the vaccine companies that fund the medical journals. (my emphasis /GM) The fabricated study published in the journals was used to cancel clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine, which was the goal from the very start. As the Guardian reports:

    Data it claims to have legitimately obtained from more than a thousand hospitals worldwide formed the basis of scientific articles that have led to changes in Covid-19 treatment policies in Latin American countries. It was also behind a decision by the WHO and research institutes around the world to halt trials of the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine.

    Full article with hyperlinks to the Guardian article and the now retracted, fraudulent study at The Lancet:

  8. @ GreenMonkey

    This is the usual practice in the Scientific World. Research is replicated and if it is not supported by subsequent studies or the data on which it is based are rendered flawed it is withdrawn. This is how progress is measured.

  9. @Khaleel Kothdiwala & @Vincent Codrington
    “Sometimes radical thought is needed to light a fire.”
    Actually radical thought is ALWAYS necessary to light the fire. There has never been a single instance of social progress towards justice that did not require that fire. Radical thinking always points the way forward… and conservative thinking always puts up obstacles to change. Gradual change is simply what happens when conservatives decide to compromise because radicals have made it too costly for them to continue sticking to the status quo.

    Gradualists did not bring an end to enslavement; radicals did. Gradualists did not spark the 1937 insurrections and start the process of decolonization; radicals did. Gradualism is a political perspective that is perceptible purely in hindsight. It is simply the result of radicals partially overcoming the forces of reaction.

    Without the light provided by the fires of radical thinking, everyone simply blunders around in the dark getting nowhere. Then after radical thinking has forced some incremental change, some of the conservatives jump onto the bandwagon calling themselves gradualists and celebrate because it turns out that the radicals had been right all along. This serves to ease their conscience for having slowed down progress towards social justice.

  10. @Peter L Thompson June 7, 2020 9:02 PM

    Radicals emerge grabbing headline achievements. When we look behind the headline, when we look at the byline, when look at the things which made it possible for the newspaper to go to print, you find a vast network of gradualists. Yes you have faux gradualists who use it as a tool of obstruction. But equally you have pragmatists who acknowledge reality. Radical action hastened emancipation but it was the slow plodding of the abolitionist movement in Britain over a period of a century and more which created favourable conditions of public opinion which meant that the abolition of slavery could become a reality. Regardless, both instances which you mention, while momentous, failed to fundamentally change the dynamic. It simply changed its manifestation. Which brings another point into focus: after the headline is grabbed what next? After the disturbances of the 30’s it fell to gradualists like Adams to mold radicalism into a politically possible ambition which could ultimately be achieved. I don’t deny radicalism has its place. Its place is very much complementary to the role of the gradualist. One provides the big idea and inspiration and the other (much maligned) does the hard graft of painting the portrait as best they can.

  11. The headline reminds me of the moon landing. LOL.

    So I want to rephrase it: The election of Mia Mottley was a tiny step for her, but a quantum leap for the island. The population has to be grateful to Mia Mottley every day for the fact that they are allowed to be ruled by her.

  12. @ Khaleel
    The entire abolitionist movement was composed of radicals who were seen as almost mad by their contemporaries.

    You completely misunderstand radicalism if you contrast it with pragmatism. Radicalism IS pragmatism, because we know that any system has to be shocked into a response in order to provoke change. It is the conservatives who are romantics… they base their politics on a mythical golden age that exists only in their imagination.

  13. @ Khaleel
    Your reading of history is profoundly ahistorical. Sir Grantley was a radical… he was clearly seen as such by the power structures that he opposed. As time passed he was certainly outflanked by others who took over the leading edge of radical change. This is the fate of all successful radicals because our journey towards social justice is a process, not a destination.

  14. Sir Grantley was a complex figure who bitterly opposed many of the other radicals of his era. This does not make him a gradualist. He was a liberal radical who sought to undermine the power of labour oriented radicals because he was aiming at a bourgeois revolution not a working class revolution. His triumph in the 40s was to take over the union movement and mold it around bourgeois ideology, but this does not obscure the fact that bourgeois ideology was in radical confrontation to the plantocracy.

  15. @ PL Thompson

    @9:32 – I have never heard a self-proclaimed radical also co-opt the term pragmatic to describe themselves. Many consider pragmatism to be anathema, not so? Is pragmatism acknowledging the reality that the world “must be shocked into change” or acknowledging that human history is cyclical and there is no real fundamental change beyond changing manifestations of variables which are immutable across space and time?

    @9:42 – here you introduce a much more interesting conversation, specifically one of definitional perception. Ultimately radicalism and gradualism are relative terms. One cannot exist without the other to compare it to. So it depends on what metric one uses to measure radicalism. The power structures of the Colonial Office took a very dim view of the man they called the “little white nuisance” EK Walcott. He believed in greater autonomy for local institutions and less Colonial Office control, which was rather radical. That view did not however extend to enfranchisement of blacks, a point on which he later clashed with Adams and company. Would you consider Walcott to be a radical? As with all things, perception is king!

  16. I just read that in Cuban class rooms children are taught “ international services”.
    Full quote: “ For Cubans ……”international service is regarded as a “ sign of political maturity “ and taught in the schools as “ the highest virtue.”
    Reading this interesting debate , I am left to ask what are we teaching our young people in the classroom and are we doing them an injustice by unleashing them into society with a very limited understanding of basic .
    political concepts.
    And then my mind went back to this earlier position: “ despite our apparent conservatism, we have the most advanced Social Democrat System.”
    Oh well as some once said :things get “ curiouser and curiouser”


    TRON — “allowed to be ruled by her.”

    Careful reading between the lines and one can quickly see SLAVERY is still alive and well. DICTATORSHIP tentacles slowly but surely engulfing the countries POLITICAL domain. What is likely to follow, ANARCHY.

  18. WS
    NY is more developed the Georgia. It has a more developed public transportation system than Ga. Are these facts? YES!

    Is NY better than Ga? That answer is an opinion.

    BU allow us to state our opinions if the are viewed as insular or not .

    According to the amount of NYers moving to Ga one can argue that there somethings in Ga that are better than NY. Could that be it is less developed?

    Why can one island have something that is better the the other islands and another island be better at something else yet be a union

    Barbados had the best cricketers in the world yet West Indies was led by a Guyanese to be the most successful team ever.
    Isnt that the blueprint for CARICOM success? Taking the best from each/some country and putting it to work for the best of all the others

    Who wants to see insular will always see it.

    Ps. An American on return from a cruise told me that Barbados seems to be the most developed of the islands he visited.
    That is his opinion

  19. @ PLT
    re: Radicalism,gradualism,conservatism
    All these terms have been used to describe Sir Grantley some points in his illustrious political career. No one can deny that he enfranchised the working classes, included them in his cabinet and embolden the majority of the citizenry to think social equality.
    I think that we are entering the game of semantics. This will not get us too far in imagining the post CVID-19 Society , Polity and Economy. Of course we can waste time on Semantics .. the new Barbadian Condition.

  20. Spatial disparity/inequality, whether real or perceived, across the Caribbean is one of the two biggest obstacles stymieing a more progressive version of Caribbean unity. Some countries are worried about people coming and others are worried about money/opportunities leaving. These concerns are real, as the spatial disparity will solidify the core and periphery. These already informally exist, with centripetal forces at play. Why do we think Bajans are reluctant to relocate? Member states must therefore collectively through CARICOM devise a framework that aims to strategically address this disparity. Providing funding through the CDF alone will not suffice. Collaboration rather competition and the fostering of territorial cohesion through laws, policies etc are recommended. With PMs unwilling to relinquish their local power, ensuring spatial equality is the next best approach and calls for real, real radicalism and a re-imagining of our concept of statehood within a regional bloc.

  21. @Tron June 7, 2020 9:30 PM “The headline reminds me of the moon landing. LOL. So I want to rephrase it: The election of Mia Mottley was a tiny step for her, but a quantum leap for the island. The population has to be grateful to Mia Mottley every day for the fact that they are allowed to be ruled by her.”

    Do you never tire of being a damned lapdog?

Leave a comment, join the discussion.