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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Leadership farce

Tennyson Joseph

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Leadership farce

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“They’ve doubted you. They’ve lied on you. They’ve done all they can do, but one thing they can’t do is stop you.” – West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Dave Cameron’s tweeted response to West Indies cricket crisis (as quoted in the Sunday Sun, November 16, 2014, Page 4B).

When on October 28 I wrote here Generational Decline, I never expected immediate validation from the mouth of one of the young leaders to whom I had alluded. However, the above alleged tweet from the president of the WICB has shifted the current crisis of West Indies cricket from tragedy to comical farce, and provides additional fodder for reflecting on the challenges of Caribbean leadership in the moment of neo-liberal hegemony.

Neo-liberalism is a useful lens for understanding the Dave Cameron types (now prevalent in academia, politics, the trade unions, public administration and even the church) since it is neo-liberal ideology that has legitimised their emergence. 

For example, instead of patiently learning the art of leadership, that group typically mounts a power-grab on the basis of “technical competence” measured narrowly in paper qualification. It boasts vaguely of replacing an “old group” whose time has expired. It parades “technical managerialism” over leadership. Its unspoken slogan is “I am young, tech-savvy and better”. 

Since the issuing of Cameron’s unfortunate tweet, Barbadians David Comissiong and Tony Cozier have written in shocked terms at his revealed arrogance. We should not be shocked. Egocentrism is among the features of the self-image most highly valued by the new leaders. Brace yourselves, Caribbean patriots; there are more crises and arrogant responses to come, and not only in cricket!

Interestingly, in response to my article, Judy Clarke (Weekend Nation, November 14, 2014, Page 12) has provided a menu of features of true leadership, which transcends time. Among those are: “vision, courage, integrity, fortitude and a selfless attitude”. Sister Clarke, my daily living places me in constant contact with the next generation of leaders, and I assure you that their first reaction will be to scoff at your analysis. Neo-liberal conditioning has instilled in them values of self-acquisitiveness, individual survival and short-term gain as distinct from long-term vision and sacrifice.

What is equally sad and ironic is that this neo-liberal leadership group, though disdainful of genuine political sacrifice, has a very narrow interpretation of politics, measured only in terms of “office occupation”. It is very dismissive of the power of people to mediate and curtail power, and very optimistic in its managerial cleverness (smartmanism) to insulate itself from popular censure. 

All of this is captured in Cameron’s vain boast that “they have done all they can do, but one thing they can’t do is stop you”. Sadly, Mr Cameron, a brief foray into history (incidentally, a subject despised by the arrogant neo-liberals) would remind you of the fate of leaders with far more skill and acumen than yourself.

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