Friday, August 11, 2017

Ancel Roget and the Mimic Men

July and August are the months in which the big Carnival bands in T&T show off their costumes for the coming Carnival season. Trinbagonians wait with bated breath to see which band has come up with the most creative and innovative way to pretend their designs aren’t just bikinis and feathers. It’s a time when the nation whets its appetite for the delights of Carnival that lie ahead; namely indulging in wild fantasies, staggering down the road tipsy, and urinating in public. Which also means it’s the perfect time for the nation’s trade unions to hold a rally; which they did last Friday in Port of Spain. 

Dressed in their Nehru suits, T&T’s trade unions took to the streets to protest the Government’s austerity measures. As everyone knows, T&T’s trade union leaders are the epitome of calm, thoughtfulness and reason. At least when compared to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Hence, to solve our current economic woes, they demanded the government fire four cabinet ministers. Stop all public sector job cuts. Immediately settle all outstanding wage negotiations. And demanded the media stop criticizing them. This might all sound like unimaginative and banal rhetoric that is disconnected from reality. But so is Soca. And admittedly, it’s more substantive than anything the government has proposed thus far.  

The standout performance of the rally though, belonged to Joint Trade Union leader comrade Ancel Roget. Comrade Roget is an outspoken critic of the evils of capitalism and a crusader for social justice. It’s a thankless task he performs in his humble chauffer driven BMW. Speaking at the rally, Comrade Roget remarked: “The time has come to take back power and place it in the hands of those who deserve it.” By ‘the ones who deserve it’ he means the ordinary workers of the country. And by ‘ordinary workers of the country’, he means himself. 

Comrade Roget also controversially called for citizens to boycott the businesses owned by the “elitist one percent.” Those wealthy individuals who live a life of luxury while the rest of us struggle. Of course, that doesn’t include people like Comrade Roget’s predecessor, Comrade Errol McLeod who was given a retirement package worth $4.5 Million by the Oil Field Workers Trade Union. Everyone knows trade unions earn their money the honest way; by taking it from taxpayers. The elitist one percent on the other hand earns their money by nefariously selling us doughnuts, coffee and nice cloth.

But Comrade Roget didn’t stop there. He later suggested citizens embrace a diet of roti and pelau. It might not be healthy. But at least the Syrians and Lebanese don’t know how to make it. Socialists of course are famous for their revolutionary diets. In Soviet Russia, Comrade Stalin’s diet helped millions lose their excess belly fat as well their bellies. In China, Comrade Mao’s diet helped millions more slim down by sticking to a meal plan of water, dirt and desperation. And right now in Venezuela, millions are embracing Comrade Maduro’s diet which involves replacing carbohydrates with stray dogs and anything you can find in a rubbish bin. 

There are rumors that emerging from this rally, T&T’s trade unions are contemplating forming a new political party. One based on their revolutionary Marxist principles. Which if true, must be embarrassing for the leader of the Movement for Social Justice, comrade David Abdullah. That’s like you’re having a party and all your friends say they can’t make it because they already have plans to go look for a place to drink, dance and have a good time. 

In his essay ‘Power?’ V.S. Naipaul compared the similarities between the escapism of Carnival and the politics of Black Power revolutionaries. Both offered costumes and flags and the excitement of role playing fantasy. “Perhaps this excitement is the only liberation that is possible,” wrote Naipaul. “ Black power in these black islands is protest. But there is no enemy. The enemy is the past…opportunism and borrowed jargon may define phantom enemies: racial minorities, “elites”...but at the end, the problems will be the same of dignity and identity”.  

Those Trinbagonians who have been whipped up by the excitement of Comrade Roget and his friends, should look past the fantasy they are being sold and realize they are just buying overpriced bikinis and feathers.

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