Last week started with defiance and ringing determination from a besieged section of the press; it closed with the faltering steps and whimpering solidarity of emasculated trade unions observing Labour Day. The continuing travails of the independent press and labour movement on full display, and indicative of the malevolence that flows from memories seared by fifty year wounds. Together these two cornerstones of society were part of the machinery that forcefully separated the PPP from its rightful place. This must never be forgotten, and for this a steep price must be extracted.
Many have linked the PPP’s traumatic departure from office a half century ago to a number of different factors. These range from communist fears and the Monroe Doctrine to naked ambitions and racial calculations. There were others, but these are among the most prominent and enduring, and a source of ongoing controversy. Not so prominent are the agencies the ruling party hold responsible for its forced exit. Looked at closely, it can be seen – or be believed – that certain instrumentalities were behind the PPP’s fall with a handful occupying centre stage. The primary contributory forces – the boots on the ground – were: certain trade unions, media houses and security forces, with the civil service and big business performing slightly lesser roles in an entente of evil. The ruling party holds these sectors – these foes – responsible for its loss of power and banishment into an agonizing wilderness for 28 years. This must not happen again.
Peer through the curtains of time, and recall the Argosy and Evening Post; AFL-CIO linkages and Carrington and Verbeke, among many others; Owens and an intransigent force; and labour paralysis and bureaucratic obduracy. And the blood in the streets and villages from wounds that still fester and pain. This is the institutional memory of the PPP; a memory that influences relationships and events in these days and times. For those were the days of the party’s debacle, and now the resulting implacability of: Never Again!
Never again will unions or the media or the security apparatus (or any others) be allowed to repeat the machinations of yesteryear, and unleash the forces of upheaval to oust, even unsettle. They must not stand! Not this time.
It is why the private media, as embodied in SN and KN, are under constant attack in ways mainly foul. They are independent, but taking advantage of the environment to wage undeclared war on the ruling party like their treacherous predecessors; and through a robust combination of sensationalism, exposure, confrontation, fear-mongering, poison pens, ignorance, and distaste for official truth. The ultimate aim is not to correct the government, it is to unseat it. The fourth estate once mutated into an apocalyptic fourth horseman bringing the end of a government. Hence the ongoing wielding of the retaliatory advertisement weapon that first hacked at SN, and now bleeds KN; it is an expression of the smouldering political animus. The party will run them into the ground, for it will not be run out of town again.
Then there are the unions. The lessons lived the hard way through the turmoil inflicted by subsidized unionists still resonate with an undeniable cacophony. The Cold War might be over, but the PPP continues to seethe from the heat of those memories. It is why crippling strategies of fragmentation, infiltration, and division have characterized the current way of life within certain union entities; why the government’s hard line and acrimony are starkly discernible. Revenge best served cold and repeatedly. Revenge assisted today by the perfidy of some labour leaders who have been rendered innocuous through their own excesses and vulnerabilities; leaders neutered through hardheadedness, and a longing for the soft life. On Labour Day, workers of this country who continue to search desperately for a square deal live with a raw deal, while their leaders carve out side deals.
It is the raw deal of starvation wages in the public and teaching and security services. Here is a sizeable bloc of voters, but incorrigibly oppositional in mentality and loyalty. It, too, had a hand in casting out the PPP, and keeping it out for decades, while suckling at the table abandoned. Now there is the annual revenge served from a choleric cup and burning with the rancour of five per cent; a spiteful cup bottomless in its capacity for recall and injury. People cry out daily in this workers Gethsemane; they long for relief that will not come. As the screws are turned inexorably on the unions, the PPP humbles several lifelong enemies by grinding them in the garden of submission.
Next, there is the security apparatus, and a believed fifth column if ever there was one. Once this institutional enemy was a pit bull; today it is reduced to an administrative poodle. It is a necessary presence that requires nuance and the clandestine in remoulding: divide and rule, rearrange, coddle, undermine; and watch all the time. Call it interfering or deregulating the security forces; each would be on target. Because of its history, the objective was to render it into an ineffective and manageable threat. That mission has been accomplished. One more enemy of the party stripped and laid low.
Last, there are enemies found in the handful of businessmen identified as hostile. Whereas most old capitalist adversaries have moved on, budding replacements are held on a short leash through the fearsome edge of the tax axe. Just as how Democratic and Republican administrations unleash the IRS on perceived enemies, so too the local tax boys are called into action to intimidate recalcitrant shopkeepers. As Chief Justice John Marshall famously said, “The power to tax… is the power to destroy.” The destruction meted out by vengeful men with long memories, and the power to scourge and to crush.
And so the press is degraded, unions decimated, workers defeated, and the security forces destabilized; a partial register of enemies pierced, sometimes mortally. Present and future antagonists do well to take note for this is the promise of the PPP. History will not repeat itself.