A free people need not apologise for practicing their freedom

Apr 15, 2020 by Alvette “Ellorton” Jeffers, Antigua Observer

Barbudans demonstrate against hotel development on their island

Picture Credit: National Workers Union (Trinidad and Tobago)

The Antigua and Barbuda State is never to be trusted; and especially in this moment of national crisis, our scepticism must be heightened. We do not develop this healthy scepticism because its representatives are habitual liars. The State has to be held under constant scrutiny because its different bureaucracies are first and foremost concerned with their own survival, and when they are compelled to speak to the population, it is what is paramount. Therefore, they have a reason to circulate sanitised information hoping that it fosters, within the community, a favourable opinion of the State 

The State includes the political Executive that governs. It can change every five years, but the political party that assumes that position, continues to function within the prescribed settings that make the survival of the entire State possible. The departments of the State include the courts, the prison, the police, the defence force, the civil service bureaucracy or any outside agency that is legitimised to function on the State’s behalf. Each department has its distinct function and rules. Together, they serve the single purpose of cementing the State’s authority and dominance. Its separate departments raise or collect revenues from which the salaries of bureaucrats are deducted and payments for public undertakings are made. Each State department has the authority to persuade citizens to comply with regulations passed in Parliament; and through this process they act to align the citizens’ behaviour with the norms of the State. The success of this effort contributes to the financial survival of the bureaucracy and the workforce they employ. In short, the State’s functionaries live off of a fraction of the profit labour creates in the form of taxation, fees and fines. Some have long used their privileged positions to “enrich” themselves by making the “island’s business” their “business.” (Carib News,October 9, 1996) It can be said, therefore, that the State is also a parasitic body that is given power to regulate and monitor social conflicts that are products of the economic system that exploits labour and leads to the creation of a wealthy class of individuals. This wealthy class lives a life of comfort while all others face an unpredictable future. This class depends upon the State to fortify its privileges and, additionally, it benefits from a labour relation’s policy that undergirds capital’s interest over those of labour by undercutting the power that labour had during the 1940s-1970 to call a general strike. 

The State, or if you prefer this parasitic body, does not maintain itself through force only; but it has used violence, in 1968 and 1979, to end labour uprisings in favour of the State and foreign investors. To lessen its dependence on coercion of any type, the State sources other avenues for legitimacy. One such source is its potential to implement social programs that the working class and every-day people need. It cannot justify its raison d’ etreif it fails to provide them. It will not garner the endorsement of those it continually disappoints. At such times, the political Executive can access resources to create dependable, flag-waving sycophants, some of whom are permitted to engage in unconventional conduct. It is among them that the State finds its most virulent loyalists; and they are loyal only because they can gain a pecuniary advantage over others. They are often the most strident in their condemnation of those citizens who will not swear loyalty to the Antigua and Barbuda State. These citizens who openly resist the State’s normalisation processes and remain nonconformist are sometimes the victims of all types of public shaming, official mal-alignment and in some instances, they are sanctioned for being, to borrow a phrase from Martin Luther King Jr., “maladjusted to injustice.”

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