The gathering storm is a Churchill phrase. Winston Churchill used it as the title for the first volume of his massive six-volume history of World War Two.
The historical account is given from his perspective as a discredited politician who saw that Germany would re-arm and go to war but to whom no one would listen until Germany finally provoked World War II in 1939. Western Europe felt the German lash, the possibility of which it had chosen to ignore and Churchill had a glorious return to centre stage as the principal wartime leader.
Darcus Howe, the Trinidad born London based civil rights activist, broadcaster and commentator died on April 1 this year. Three years before the attempted coup and insurrection of 1990 in Trinidad he made a TV documentary screened in London, also entitled the Gathering Storm. In this case Howe warned of coming civil unrest in Trinidad.
We subsequently felt the lash of the attempted coup and the insurrection it triggered, the possibility of which we had chosen to ignore.
We Trinis did not like Howe’s warning because we must never “bad talk we country.” Internally, constructive or prescient criticism is dismissed as “negativity” and the authors branded as “naysayers”, “nihilists” or worse. The crime of criticism is considered compounded if it is carried out before foreigners.
Howe was accordingly excoriated when he gave his warning, but it should be noted he came to Trinidad and publicly defended his views. His excoriation was made official because he was condemned in our Parliament.
Howe related this in 2005 in the New Statesman magazine after he returned from a visit to Trinidad to take part in a programme about the events of 1990 and to reflect on the accuracy of his prediction.
Co-incidentally, on his way to the airport to return home to London, a bomb exploded in Port of Spain where a female citizen lost a leg. He referred to the speculation, rife as to whom was responsible for placing the bomb, and he ended the 2005 piece as follows: “A new storm. Of that I am sure.”
This might be a good point to remind readers that at the time of that bomb explosion, then Prime Minister Manning claimed to know about a “Mr Big.”
Concerned about where we are heading as money runs low and that the social problems, which we have tried to buy off but that have remained largely un-addressed, these columns have been focused again during this month on our instability.
I have focused again on our dysfunctional socio-economic conditions, the interlocking relationships with the “Mister Bigs”, and the dishonest assistance and wilful blindness that facilitate the perpetration of crime at all levels of the society. These matters hinder a meaningful response to the criminal work and pomps carried out or facilitated by the “Misters Big.”
I have asserted that successive constitutionally elected governments have lost or conceded control of aspects within their governance remit to an extent that we have already had a form of coup d’état.
The death of Darcus Howe at the beginning of the month naturally prompts the question whether the new storm, of which Howe was sure, is gathering?
Just to repeat this question will no doubt cause rumbling within the facilitating elites. The practice of those in the highest offices making coarse attacks on opinions that differ from theirs has continued unabated.
The practice has deepened since the official condemnation of Darcus Howe decades ago, although social conditions have manifestly deteriorated since 2005 when Howe made his new assertion of another storm to come.
We did not learn any lessons from the first oil boom, which commenced in 1973 and which we thoroughly enjoyed but which had completely dissipated ten years later. The current dramatic deterioration of social conditions happened despite our country again becoming loaded with energy sector money—oil prices having rebounded for a while commencing in or around 2003 and when natural gas prices were good.
Now prices have plummeted again and we have little diversified activity to sustain the economy but plenty attitude against competitiveness, productivity and self-restraint. We are living, consuming and still feteing on withdrawals from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, borrowing and subsidies and we freely indulge in killing as a form of dispute resolution.
We nevertheless have a solid core of creative, law abiding citizens but development of this core is not facilitated with the same level of investment and leadership to which the rotten core has easy access.
The solid core is forced to sail on the not so good ship Galicia, which has become the latest metaphor for the acts and omissions of the facilitating elites and state enterprises, which fatten the elites but leave the rest of the population to be stranded or to tread the rough waters.
Will we be able to continue treading these rough waters or will another storm batter us?