He was at the time referring to a resolution presented by Constituency 8 of the Labour Party at its Annual Conference held at the Marriott Hotel last Sunday.
The objective of that resolution was obvious: Denzil Douglas wanted to put Sam Condor and Timothy Harris in their place, to muzzle and demoralize them, to have them intimidated by delegations from other selected constituencies, some of which were padded to three times the usual size, and, in the process, to weaken their support within the Party itself and render them politically impotent.
The move, if successful, would have completed Denzil’s task of neutralizing, in one fell swoop, the last two members of “the Gang of Four”(his term), the other two members, according to him, being Jeanne Byron-Condor, who was voted off the Party Executive, and myself, who was ‘expelled’ in utter and brutish disregard for propriety, for the Party’s philosophical underpinnings, or for the Party’s Constitution.
Indeed, dealing with Denzil’s perceived Gang of Four was one of the main objectives of the entire Conference. But it didn’t work. Sam and Tim put their feet down, people railed in outrage, and things became so heated that Denzil had to pull back.
But he hates to lose. So you can expect him to try other means of dislodging Sam and Tim. However, this is one battle that he will not win, try as he may.
And this was not his first effort to deal with Sam and Tim, you know.
You will recall that a couple of months earlier, he had brought in a man from overseas( you see how he loves to bring in people from overseas to mess with our people!) to try to get Sam and Tim to publicly disavow and condemn me and what I was saying about his leadership. And that had failed. So he tried to expose them to the ultimate embarrassment by having the resolution brought at the Party’s Annual Conference.
Now an organization whose leader insists that all members must only express views that are supportive of the organization’s policies and positions cannot be a democratic organization.
To paraphrase Sam’s comments to WINN FM on Monday morning, the labour Party’s tradition is steeped in democracy which itself can only thrive where different views are allowed to vigorously contend. Policies and positions need always to be reviewed, questioned and challenged, so that the organization gets it right.
While there’s no need to be rude, there’s no question that muzzling and meek, emasculated compliance with the status quo are anathema to growth and democracy.
I remember a brilliant mathematics teacher at the then St.Kitts-Nevis Grammar School, Mr. Jones, saying one day that he loved having my late brother, Jamie, in his class because “he challenges me”.
I also remember Sir Robert Bradshaw, on more than one occasion, speaking to me as a youngster, whether about one of the several books that he had given to me, or loaned me, or on other topics which he would raise. And if he felt that I was not sufficiently involved, he would ask me if I didn’t have any questions or any comments, and if not, why not.
Now back to Washie.
In referring to this matter on the Operation Rescue platform on Wednesday night, Washie compared Denzil to Josef Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953.
Stalin was a coercive and ruthless dictator, and made use of his secret police and his extensive and intrusive propaganda machinery to maintain his dominion over the largest nation on the planet. He had little tolerance for dissenters or for independent thinkers.
One of the things that he was notorious for was to fill massive halls with thousands of Party members from all over the Soviet Union. He would then, either himself or through others, launch accusations and abuse against Party officials and other officials who he thought were not sufficiently loyal to him. He would humiliate them and expose them to open and vicious ridicule by the crowd, then he would send them outside to be executed at once.
Imagine the scene. On the one hand, the targeted officials, terrified and frightened out of their minds; and on the other, the large gathering of people, their dignity, decency and integrity ripped out by fear and terror, and their hearts grateful to Stalin for their livelihoods and for their very lives.
But so many of them knew that he was doing wrong things, and doing things the wrong way. But they were paralyzed.
Of course, there would have been some in the crowd who believed every lying word uttered by Stalin. For them he could do no bad. He was their saviour. These were the ones whose minds were totally controlled by his propaganda.
Regardless of the category to which they belonged, the crowd would heckle and boo the targets to the top of their voices to show their support for the Dictator, making sure, in that excruciatingly paranoid environment, that his spies saw them do that.
This man’s iron-fisted rule of the Soviet Union was one of history’s multitude of examples showing that power in the wrong hands feeds on fear and favour and drains people of dignity, decency and democracy.
Was Washie right in comparing Denzil to Stalin?
Well, before you answer, here is some more information on Stalin.
He orchestrated the expulsion of thousands of persons whom he regarded as “unsatisfactory” Party members.
Many of those persons were supporters of Leon Trotsky, a high-ranking member of the leadership who didn’t share some of Stalin’s views and who Stalin saw as a potential challenger to his leadership. For him, anybody who disagreed with his view was, in some way or other, a potential threat to him and his leadership.
And to neutralize such threat, and to show who was the real boss, Stalin had Trotsky expelled and banished to remote Kazhakstan. He was subsequently assassinated in Mexico by one of Stalin’s goons.
Then there were two high-level comrades named Kamenev and Zinoviev who began to propose policies different from those of Stalin.
How did the Dictator respond? He got the Party to pressure these two men into signing a document undertaking not to make any comments, or to associate themselves with any comments, that were not in line with Stalin’s policies, as such comments “would create conflict in the Movement”.
I kid you not.
They signed. But Trotsky, who was also called to sign, refused, and that was what caused his expulsion, banishment and eventual assassination.
Then there was a bright young leader named Sergey Kirov who Stalin also saw as a potential challenger to his leadership. (I’m sure it would come as no surprise to you that Stalin was determined to lead the Soviet Union until his death).
He tried to get Kirov under his wing, so that he could neutralize him. But Kirov didn’t go for that. So he was assassinated by a man who Stalin claimed to be a Trotsky supporter, and Stalin used that as an excuse to execute a number of persons who he said were Trotskyites, including the above-mentioned Kamenev and Zinoviev. Of course, the killer was one of Stalin’s goons.
And there’s more that I can give you to assist you in determining if Washie is right. If you need more information, it’s easy to access. After all, these are the days of the internet.
On the other hand, maybe what is above is sufficient for you.
Now I cannot speak for Washie, but I don’t believe that he was saying that Denzil would go as far as Stalin did to neutralize people. I certainly don ‘t believe that Denzil would.
But as I reflect on Washie’s words, unpleasant images unavoidably appear.
Because given the fiscal mess into which Denzil has plunged us, with him now going to meet with Government’s creditors to ‘beg a break’( remember my article of December 19th, 2010, entitled ‘Who Will Fire Him? The IMF, or the People?’), with the IMF now ‘in the house’, with roads, hospitals, schools, community centres, police and other security facilities, cemeteries and other government buildings in such deplorable condition; with no money there to keep essential services up to speed, with law and order, cultural and moral values in a state of such decay, and with morale in the public service and in the nation generally so low, I am deeply concerned.
And the goings on at last Sunday’s Conference serve only to further deepen, and to validate, my concern.
Is Washie right?