Hubris, by any other name, remains hubris
For those religiously inclined, perhaps the greatest example of hubris is that of the Shining one – the angel Lucifer – whose prideful descent from Heaven eventuated into the rise of Satan.
And there are others. In Greek mythology, Narcissus is so smitten by himself that he starves to death while admiring his own reflection.
And foolish Niobe, who bragged of her 14 children and expressed her superiority over Leto who had only two, the twins Apollo and Artemis who were sired by Zeus. As punishment for Niobe’s boastfulness, her 14 children were slain.
Politicians, perhaps because of the nature of their calling can often be reduced to hubris. Indeed, such can be the requirements of the profession. It should surprise no one that some actually believe they elevate to hubris. In small independent nations with dependent economies like those in the Caribbean, island folk often contribute in no small measure to politicians displaying extremely foolish pride, overestimation of their worth and palpably ignorant over-confidence.
In such conditions regional politicians see but never believe that the writing is really on the wall. In these situations some politicians perceive that disenchantment with one group of their peers, translates into an automatic desire for them to fill the breach. In these prevailing circumstances, island folk perpetuate the forced merry-go-round by tying their fortunes to whichever they see as the lesser of two evils at specific junctures.
With a general election due in fewer than 12 months, the ruling Democratic Labour Party has a major question to answer: Can it win another national election under the leadership of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart? Indeed, Mr Stuart, if he puts party before self, should also be giving this question diligent thought.
And what about the Barbados Labour Party and its prime minister in waiting? Surely, the likes of Gline Clarke, Ronald Toppin, Dale Marshall and George Payne must be wondering what the future holds for their political careers should their leader win a very sizeable majority in the general election? Will the Sword of Damocles that they willingly conspired to place over the head of Mia Amor Mottley in her moment of weakness, be turned now against them in her moment of great triumph? Hell still hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Prime Minister Stuart took over the mantle of leadership of Government, undoubtedly something he could not have foreseen, as a result of the 2010 death of Prime Minister David Thompson. He then received his own narrow mandate in the general election of 2013. There were concerns raised about his leadership style in his first coming. Though Barbados never burnt under his watch then, some would attest to frequently hearing his fiddle.
Mr Stuart’s second coming has been one of downgrades, declining foreign reserves, debt burden and inefficiently functioning social services. In the midst of it all his leadership style has been one where he appears cocooned in a sphere where he occasionally breaks his silence to remind citizenry of the beauty of the thesaurus and to deliver anecdotal reassurances.
This was Mr Stuart last weekend at a gathering of his colleagues and supporters: “Everything you heard here today . . . satisfies the criterion that people-centred policies, humanitarian values, and humanitarian priorities rank higher than commercial values and commercial priorities.”
If one wanted proof that this was eloquent nothingness, it was provided at the same forum, ironically by the man who has been carrying the weight of the country’s financial burdens on his almost prime ministerial shoulders, Chris Sinckler. He had this to say: “I would love if I could tomorrow, to wean the Government off both the Central Bank and the NIS because it costs us a lot of money to be in there.
“But we know that as a responsible administration, because of the situation we have facing us, it is not humanly possible at this time to cut that cord, because the level of disruption and instability it would cause in this economy will cause the collapse.”
There is an inextricable link between “people centred policies, humanitarian values, humanitarian priorities” and “commercial values and commercial priorities”. They depend on each other for survival. Which brings us to the notion that “Barbados is more than an economy, it is a society”. Where does the importance of one stop and the other begin? How can one contemplate concepts of a society without acknowledgement of its lifeblood – the economy? That eloquent nothingness of separating economy and society has been promoted for the last nine years to the point of retching.
As the clock ticks down to an imminent general election, both the Government and the Opposition have mouthed a confidence of winning and turning Barbados’ situation around. They have suggested superiority over each other, at times pompously so. But will the electorate be faced with a situation of being damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Time will tell.