Some more notes from 2004, during a period when I had left the PLP but was analysing the current situation and potential options.
The PLP would be unable to discharge the historic mission of ‘progressive labour’ if it dissolves into factions.
It can prevent the dangers of factionalism only be developing and consolidating the new course towards workers democracy – democracy of the grassroots.
Bureaucratism of the party apparatus is precisely one of the principal causes of factionalism. It ruthlessly suppresses criticism and drives the discontent into the depths of the organisation, either through formal penalties or by bureaucratic stifling.
Mechanical centralism is necessarily complemented by factionalism, which is at once a malicious caricature of democracy and a potential political danger, both in terms of open civil warfare leading to self-destruction, or the pig-headed plowing into the rocks by stopping up the ears to criticism of the captain with his hand on the wheel.
A Crisis of Democracy
Only through ruthless criticism will we avoid potential pitfalls, and thus the party must encourage critical thought always.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does politics. If decisions are not made by the people, for the people, they will be made instead by default, by bureaucrats, the rich or opportunists, for their own interests, regardless of how they try to fool the people into thinking otherwise.
The main crisis for our nation today is one of conceptions of leadership and democracy.
The retreat away from democracy, particularly within the PLP, has seen a de facto coup of careerist apparatchiks whose interests are more that of the UBP than the PLP.
Democratic participation in society, be it PTAs, workers councils, union locals or parish groups, are all speed-bumps in the path of outright oligarchic bureaucratism.
It is time now for the party rank-and-file to reclaim progressive labour and replace the top-down democracy of the leadership with the bottom-up democracy of the workers, and dissolve the colonial-induced conceptions of leaders and led.
On Losing Power? [2006 Notes]
Even should the UBP return to power, it would be a mistake to equate this with the defeat of progressive labour.
A defeat of the Progressive Labour Party, for sure, but this would be but a defeat of arrogance, of social and racial chauvinism, of cronyism. In short, it would be a defeat of Bermudian politics as we have known it for the majority of its existence; but it would not be a defeat of progressive labour.
1998-2006/7 may well go down as a watershed moment in Bermuda’s history. For once and for all it will be no longer possible to uphold the myth that race is the sole problem with our socio-economic system. Rather, race in Bermuda is a result of our historic and continuing class system – a function of political economy, past and present.
The loss of the PLP would be the defeat of UBP-lite, in as much as the leadership of the party has caricatured the UBP in its actions. It would open the potential for the idea of progressive labour to reassert itself within the party that bears its name, and exorcise the demons that have perverted it.
In many ways, as much as the return of the UBP would see a revenge of Whitness, and all that represents, it also opens the door for the PLP to reclaim itself, to face its failures and be returned to its senses, as well as the benefit of the opportunists, those parasites of power, leaving (why stay when there is no power to suckle on?) and the grassroots once more taking power.
The question is, would they learn from such a defeat?