“ ALL AH WE IS ONE - Time for boldness ”

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RECENT NEWS on the regional integration movement has not been encouraging. The talk among the people who have been entrusted with the health of the living body is now of corpses and obituaries. The Prime Minister of St Kitts, Denzil Douglas, ironically advocates a “slowing down” of the movement towards a single economy and tries to pass that off as a new advance, superior to the enthusiastic support for deeper integration once espoused by the founding fathers.  A clearer example of generational retreat and of “one step forward, two steps backward” cannot be found. Leaders, who can hardly be stirred from their slumber to give a positive report on the achievement of long-overdue tasks, discover a new-found energy that fuels only cross-talk and mauvaise langue and are at their best only when verbally beating the integration project into the dust.  What is worse, all of this is coming at a time when the failure of stand-alone, single-island development is now beyond question, exposed as it is by the comatose nature of the Caribbean state in the face of the Great Recession.  Indeed, if the scent of death can be picked up, it is not of the integration project, but of the false claim that any Caribbean territory can survive on its own.  Given the failure of the custodians to provide custodianship, the time has now come for the Caribbean people to take full responsibility for the future of the Caribbean integration project. Indeed, one of the explanations for the present predicament is that, where integration is concerned, the Caribbean people have left everything too much in the hands of the Heads of Government Conference (HOGS) and in the secretariat itself.  We have placed no demands, we have not organised independently and we have been too ashamed to make bold demands, embarrassed as we are not only by the failure of 1962, but by the enduring propaganda that integration is a pipe dream. The only viable response in such a context is for those committed to the integration project to begin to make the boldest of assertions as a direct counter-attack to anti-integration propaganda.  We must urgently organise a Caribbean Integration Party with a single platform, a single programme, a single executive, a singular leadership and with organised branches in each country. We must boldly claim every Caribbean country as our own, with the same arrogance that European colonials claimed the region as theirs. We must creatively imagine a singular Caribbean state, with a single parliament and civil service, just as British colonials organised our spaces as singular administrative regions, but we must do it with a deeper spiritual meaning. The one thing required now, above all else, is political will, not from our timid leaders, but from the common folk. Only they can pronounce its death. Forward ever!   Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus specializing in analysis of regional affairs. Email tjoe2008@live.com