Log In

Reset Password

Glorifying in the whip hand when whips should be in our past

Powerful speech: Arthur Hodgson inspired with his words

I recall one evening, somewhere around 1968, being shocked out of my boots at a political rally at Devonshire Recreation Club when Arthur Hodgson said in a speech with his bellowing deep voice: “The objective in politics is to gain power.”

He said it with resonance, and the comments then were crude and cut through all my noble ideas of purpose — and may have been the cause that drove me into looking deeper into political movements.

Naturally, I have spoken to him in recent times and he recalls the event clearly, and has a far more evolved perspective today.

Beneath the veil of politics are economic and social realities, and more often attached are agendas presumed to address those realities. For that reason, the stated political imperative espoused by parties is to gain the power to satisfy or address those socioeconomic issues. In that context, it would seem reasonable to seek political power.

However, seeking power is a process of its own and, unfortunately, it has become the preoccupation and even the end-all be-all. In fact, political parties unabashedly revel in what was once Arthur’s crudely nascent understanding of politics. Indeed, the general public seem no wiser and have embraced the notion that the role and efficacy of a political party is to gain the power to rule.

What of the idea of a government to establish principles of human freedom? What of the idea of a government committed to reason, truth and the furtherance of the fraternity of all human beings?

We used to call that the brotherhood of man. What about justice?

They had a political term once, which came under the umbrella of equality. That term is egalitarianism.

Have all these ideals vanished? Do they mean anything at all any more? Words such as “none of us are free unless all of us are free” — do they resonate with any purpose any longer for a government?

Government and political parties alone are not guilty if the electorate and the population have no other expectation except to follow the political tantrums and mechanism built just to attain power. Politicians will develop no art other than what it takes to fit inside the mindset, a prerequisite of the political camps.

Chief among this is a loyalty that is second only to being known and trusted by the party hierarchy. Being known to the constituency or the country has no sway in that regard. We cannot be alarmed when we discover our leaders are dishonest or lack higher human character because honesty and moral fibre are not central to or the ethos of the political game.

When we raise the bar and desire for a higher human society, we will concomitantly change the nature of our politicians and the political machinery that supports them. At the moment, we have two camps divided upon racial lines, each arguing to be better but neither for the whole.

We have a system of government that caters to division because it was borne out of a division between the nobles and the commons. It’s not that we cannot elect to develop a better system; we choose not to because it suits our way of entertaining special interests. It’s a tradition, so why change tradition when it appears to work? Forget the principle that I am not bound to follow my fathers, particularly if they made no sense.

I always get a bit bemused when I hear black leaders and politicians, in particular, who defend or proclaim the Westminster system — and I have heard one former United Bermuda Party minister and two Progressive Labour Party leaders publicly do so.

I always asked, did they study history?

Not surprisingly, they all went to the same high school, but did they understand the argument of the levellers, Guy Fawkes?

Did they understand the nature of the argument, which resulted in the United States of America?

Not to suggest that the only logical step is the American Constitution, but the principle of “We, the people” or “All men are created equal and entitled to certain inalienable rights”?

Where does any of that fit into the Westminster system?

I didn’t say it can’t fit; just that it isn’t and it should be of concern. Nor am I suggesting the Westminster system is an inherent evil. To the contrary, it was progress and an evolution, but like all works in progress, it must keep moving and evolving to greater levels to service an evolving humanity.

So the big ethical question is somewhat asked by former Jamaican senator Sir Dudley Joseph Thompson when he questions the progress of leaders today with his words: “We seem content to sit in places where white folks use to sit”.

Was the aim of freedom to get either the master’s house or one like it, and possibly the whip in his hand? Or was our march to liberate all mankind?

If the answer is the former, then enjoy the seat while you can. But if the answer is the latter, then the work is still to be done and looking for workers.