A parasitic technocracy is a network corrupt politicians, consultants, businesses, contractors, civil servants, who conspire to seek their own interests, often against the public interest, and close ranks when they are caught. I know it exists. I have experienced it over the last 15 years. Here are seven personal examples:
Textbook Technocrats. Before I was hurled into the world of activism, I was a bibliophile. My Doctor of Philosophy degree at Oxford University in the late 1980s and early 1990s was devoted to a study of the Economics and Ideology of the trade in textbooks between London and the British colonies, namely India and the Caribbean, between 1900 and the World War II. Armed with a four-year National Craftsman Certificate course – 1992-1996 – at John Donaldson Technical Institute, in Bookbinding and Printfinishing, I opened a publishing company. It was devoted to writing, designing, printing and publishing beautiful books for children. A call came from the ministry of education. It had gotten a grant from Europe to buy books for children in our local schools. I submitted two copies of my books. I had to argue tooth and nail to get past a wall: established publishers, established importers of foreign books, and the technocrats, had established a solid wall, a coterie of interests, and so sidelined the local, the ital, the small-fry, the ones less invested in the system.
2. Caroni Carpetbaggers. When I heard that Caroni (1975) Ltd was about to be closed in 2002, I instantly interceded. I visited the human resources manager, the workers. I called a symposium at UWI to discuss the fate of 77,000 acres of land and a wealth of assets: lands, labour, expertise, buildings, projects, stocks, enterprises. I wrote, with the assistance of two undergraduate students, a paper called the Caroni Position Paper. It was a developmental manifesto, showing how these powerful assets could be levered to create an altered social and financial economy. No go. This was dissed, after I presented 12 copies to government. Little by little many of these stocks were sold cheap, giveaways; via a scheming between officials, civil servants, contractors and big business. Cannibalized. The rum stock is the best known case.
3. Consultant-ocracy. Around 2003, I visited the most senior minister involved in the Caroni closure. I took with me two consultants, experts, university lecturers, whose expertise I relied on. The meeting was called to discuss our proposals for the Caroni lands. When I left the meeting, one of my student researchers asked: “Did you see that?” “What?” I asked. One of the lecturers just pushed his call-card towards the minister across the table.” It was done so furtively, I did not see. I was aghast. Why was he there? To serve the public interest? Or to eat ah food? I have seen some professionals, academic heads, throw science out of the window to eat ah food.
4. Oil and Gas Technocracy. Disregarding the Caroni Position Paper, the government went on with its own plan for saving the economy: the Master Gas Plan, written by British and US consultants Gaffney and Cline. Its ambition was to monetize the gas economy. Two smelters. A mega steel mill. Large chemical and plastic plants. Four industrial estates. A mega highway through the Oropouche Wetland. A network of gas and pipeline infrastructure. Gaffney and Cline lamented that the technocrats and bureaucrats in the energy sector were a law unto themselves, reliant on “a handful of industry professionals. This would be a cause for concern in any private sector company and should be of considerable concern to the GORTT…. it is recommended the GORTT move to protect this vital artery of the economy by a regulatory and control structure.” Members of boards, ministers, consultants, technocrats: all one.
5. Civil Servant-ocracy. In its bid to enforce its Master Gas Plan, against resistance in Cedros, Chatham, La Brea, Otaheite, Claxton Bay, Savonetta, the government sent a storm of officials against the people. Lobbyists from foreign corporations; technocrats and bureaucrats from state corporations; the sons and relatives of the techno-bureaucrats; technical experts from the ministries; party hacks; and constituency chiefs. If this confederacy had succeeded, where would we have gotten the gas to support these megalomaniac heavy gas-based projects?
6. Parliamentary Hood. The hood refers to a cabal of interests in Parliament which scratch each other’s backs. They drink from the same parliamentary teacup. They have friends in the contract-ocracy, private corporations, amongst the ministries, permanent civil servants, who vie for projects, for lobbyists, funders, friends, regardless of merits. How could an audit of the wasteful, destructive and fragmenting Debe to Mon Desir highway be commissioned, when both sides of the aisle could be implicated?
7. Closing Ranks. In order to protect itself from its act of recklessness, lack of probity, and downright criminality, public officials, across governments, misrepresent the major cause of the flooding east of the collapsed highway embankment in Debe, and at Silverstream in Mon Desir. Garbage and old fridge they say. Rivers need cleaning they protest. Yes, very true. But the major structural cause of the damming of water in this area is denied. Across the board, officialdom closes ranks to avoid exposure, cover up its social, economic, financial and ecological crimes. Thus, no one ever makes a jail.
This, herein described, is the proverbial swamp. It must be drained by an altered system of government.