Erasmus’ 400-years-old essay “The Praise of Folly” offers us quite an interesting vantage point from which to view the overall performance of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration to date.
But for the moment, I wish only to bring to public notice, a short passage from this work that I believe will help us understand the essential quality of the relationship between the PM and her Minister of Works, Mr Jack Warner and what appears as her inexplicable refusal to act against him even as very serious allegations of corruption are made against him locally and internationally and he defies judicial authorities.
The passage speaks loudly to both parties and all us, prompting the question: Is Jack Warner to PM Persad Bissessar what Calder Hart was to PM Patrick Manning? Or further, can we ever escape the apparent absurdity practised by both prime ministers, one following the other without the last election even providing a break in the rhythm?
Speaking as Folly, and on folly, Erasmus explores the nature of the friendship that Warner has and Hart had with their respective bosses. It’s a voice the PM would do well to pay heed to, assuming of course that she can.
‘Look here now,’ Erasmus asks, ‘when you condone your friend’s vices, when you overlook them, blind yourself to them, deceive yourself about them, even convince yourself that his vices are virtues and worthy of admiration—isn’t that the next thing to folly?
‘… People may call it folly as much as they like, and folly it is, but this one quality provides the tie that binds friends together.’
And Jack and Kamla seem to share a bond of friendship no less than the one that bound Calder Hart and Manning.
These friendships we know have been filled with nothing but praise and the display of an attitude on the part of the State’s Chief Executive, past and present, that says let the people be damned since they lack the intelligence to comprehend the alchemic formula used by their leaders, for turning vices into virtues.