ALL AH WE IS ONE: Marking time
With 2012 closing on Moody’s induced anxiety over economic conditions, and with political restlessness over an expected election which feels delayed, Barbados is opening the New Year with a sense of economic and political fatigue from the sheer effort at sustaining normalcy.
It is this sense of pushing hard with little forward movement, painful sacrifice with little reward, what Bob Marley would call “giving your more to receive your less”, which has given 2012 the feel of “painful frustration in which the passions have turned inward upon themselves”, to use Hegel’s vivid metaphor of failed effort and stagnation.
The Government’s determination to stick with more of the same without relief out of a sense of tightrope walking in which the slightest shift off the pre-determined path will lead to collapse has added to the length of 2012.
The most that a government can offer in times of difficulty is hope. To continue on an undeniably difficult path without relief, and to reject any suggestions of an alternative, is to deny hope.
The contradictory claim that the current path is the only possible option, the best possible option, and the absolutely necessary option without which Barbados would face utter destruction, is to present an abstract and intellectually fuzzy explanation when practical action is craved.
Without prompting, the Moody’s downgrade has met with the standard response, further extending the sense of fatigue and lengthening a difficult year.
This is compounded by the apparent intention to extend the political term by holding the election only when constitutionally forced to. Any expectations that the end of the calendar year would coincide with new beginnings have been dashed by the hints that the constitutional 90-day outer limit continues to remain an option in the minds of those empowered to date the election.
This delay has further heightened the sense of marking time. It would be difficult to find another period when electoral delay, economic sameness and political inertia coincided with the end of a year and electoral term, as if stopping time until the political starter’s whistle commands a forward march.
It is in this sense that the Government is doing itself no favours by delaying the election. Due to its deliberate steadfast adherence to a singular economic approach, the Government has given the election an economic importance which otherwise could have been avoided.
Currently, the election is perceived as the only basis for testing an economic alternative. Had the Government been more willing to blend economic austerity with economic stimulation, and had it not been so obvious in living out its term, the election would not have fixed itself on the public consciousness as marking an end point.
All indications are, though, that the arrival of 2013 will be delayed until the issues of 2012 resolve themselves.
Merry Christmas! Goodbye 2012! Welcome 2013!
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs.