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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Generational decline

Tennyson Joseph

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Generational decline

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The current “collapse of governance in West Indian cricket”, to echo P.J. Patterson, plus the ongoing failures of the Caribbean post-colonial state, demand that we analyse the leaders who have presided over these twinned unprecedented and shameful failures. If it is accepted that West Indies cricket is often a reflection of our wider existential condition, the two ongoing crises can be treated as having a singular source.

Nearly all of the developments in the current cricket fiasco have been recently witnessed in wider Caribbean politics. For example, the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) insistence on pleasing the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) without full agreement of the players has been echoed in recent situations where unions have been more interested in “working with the government” rather than defending their members, in the face of neo-liberal austerity. Similarly, the WICB’s open comfort with WIPA reflects similar government-union partnerships while workers suffer.

Most importantly, however, the present crises expose the limitations of a generation of mostly young leaders who are largely adept at opportunistically “occupying office”, but lack some of the intangibles and sensibilities that make for wise leadership. 

They are the empty neo-liberal generation. They reject past struggles and sacrifice, wallow unashamedly in individual acquisitiveness and self-aggrandisement. To them, “image is everything”. Their wing-tipped shoes, tight-fitting custom-made trousers, and matching shirt and tie substitute for any real substance of personality. 

Truly deep leaders would have done all to ensure that they never presided over the total collapse of West Indies cricket. Similarly, our political leaders would have fought harder for workers’ social protection. Instead, we have been greeted with smug, silent arrogance and empty rationalisations about “living in new times”, while they preside proudly over collapse and decay.

Sadly, the current group appears unable to understand that those who hold power have the foremost responsibility to elevate the standard of office and to raise the level of governance. Part of this inability to understand this reality is its innate opportunism which is concerned mainly with self-preservation.

It is significant that despite the depths of crisis to which West Indian cricket has descended, the subject of the possible resignation of any of the leading figures has been studiously avoided. Similarly, despite the obvious failures of the society, our opportunistic leaders continue in office, apparently oblivious to human suffering and intent on avoiding any sincere, open dialogue with the people.

Despite the painfulness of the current condition, the low depths to which our societies have descended provide the comfort that this surreal period of supremacy of the “shallow generation” is nearing its end. Their obvious challenges at holding things together cannot be masked by the smug external airs which they effect. 

Neither West Indies cricket nor West Indian society will be allowed to collapse on the altar of the convenient claim that “we have no choice”. Something must give.

• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs.