FROM SIR BRIAN ALLEYNE – Chronicle articles

Dear Editor,
I read with much consternation the article contributed by  your columnist,
Dr. Philbert Aaron in your July 1 publication.

I want to  begin by saying that I am always pleased and proud to be
mentioned alongside Dr.  Francis Severin, a young man (in relation to my own age)
for whom I have the  greatest admiration for his intellect, his independence
and integrity, his  national spirit and his demonstrated commitment to the
people of Dominica and to  the national interest. I doubt very much that Dr.
Severin will appreciate being  associated, by implication, with Dr Aaron’s
thesis that politics and truth are  incompatible.  I certainly do not
appreciate being identified, even by sly  implication, with such a notion.  I do
not claim to be without stain or  blemish, but I absolutely reject any attempt
to associate me with what I  consider to be Dr. Aaron’s machiavellian and
wholly unprincipled proposition  that truth has no place in politics.  It is
little wonder that, with that  philosophy apparently guiding the actions and
postures of the Dominica Labour  Party and the Government which that Party
leads, that there are so many, and  such persistent, clouds of suspicion
over the actions of that Government.

I  can interpret Dr. Aaron’s article in no other way than conveying that
honesty  and integrity (truth) has no place in politics.  Dr. Aaron says he is
“not  sure when truth entered politics”.  Can you believe that?  He posits
that “maybe truth is the result of an obsession with the law.”  So
perhaps  the law also has no place in politics.  Dr Aaron, the publicist for the  
Government of Dominica and the Dominica Labour Party, is perhaps
re-emphasising  Prime Minister Skerrit’s declaration that no law, no Constitution, will
prevent  him from contesting the last election.  I am not prejudging
whether Mr.  Skerrit was or was not qualified for election, but the clear
implication of his  statement, which I heard myself, is that he was unconcerned
whether he was  breaking the law or not, in putting himself up for election.
If truth has no  place in politics, then honesty, integrity and
accountability have no place in  politics.  That is certainly not the philosophy on
which Commonwealth  Parliaments, of which our Parliament is one, operate.  The
Commonwealth  Parliamentary Association (CPA), of which Dominica’s
Parliament is a member, and  all our Parliamentarians and most past Parliamentarians
are also members,  recently published a report entitled The Overseers.  At
page 9 ff, the  authors posit that “our whole system of government Ð
executive, legislative and  judicial Ð is part of the accountability mechanisms
existing within a state, as  are other components of civil society such as the
press and voluntary  organisations.

“Our Parliaments themselves have developed a number of means  of subjecting
the executive arm of government to accountability.  Such  procedures as
questions, urgent debates, private members’ motions, and  adjournment debates
allow members to raise issues relating to the use or  proposed use of
government power, to call upon the government to explain actions  it has taken, and
to require it to defend and justify its policies or  administrative

“Accountability is about instilling or reinforcing  an ethos of legal
compliance and efficient practice.  It works by  motivating people in ways that
are beyond their direct control to engage in  desired conduct.  At its
highest level, if a government is required to  answer on the floor of the House
for its actions, that is a real incentive for  ministers to avoid improper or
imprudent actions that are likely to be revealed  by parliamentary scrutiny.”
The above quotes from the political organisation  (not opposition but
parliamentary) the CPA, are in themselves sufficient to  wholly debunk Dr. Aaron’
s immoral, unprincipled and ridiculous thesis; a thesis,  however, which
seems to have guided much government action in the past few  years.  On the
religious/moral/integrity plane, we can turn to some  powerful words of the
leader of the largest Christian church in Dominica, indeed  in the world;
sentiments which would undoubtedly find favour with other  Christian
denominations as well as other spiritual and religious  groups.

Commenting on such cynical attitudes to truth as contained in Dr.  Aaron’s
article, Pope Benedict XVI in Light of the World; a conversation with  Peter
Seewald;  Ignatius Press, (the Church, yes!) had this to say:
“But  viewed in that way, man would not be capable of ethical values,
either. Then he  would have no standards.  Then he would only have to consider
how he  arranged things reasonably for himself, and then at any rate the
opinion of the  majority would be the only criterion that counted.  History,
however, has  sufficiently demonstrated how destructive majorities can be, for
instance in  systems such as Nazism and Marxism, all of which also stood
against truth in  particular.”

Would it be farfetched to conclude, in light of Dr. Aaron’s  statements as
the public relations voice of the Dominica Labour Party and the  present
Government of Dominica, that we are on the road to an elimination of  ethical
values, of standards, and that they are concerned only, or mainly, with  how
to arrange things reasonably for themselves?  These are questions we  must
ask ourselves urgently.

It is true that the Pope is a religious leader,  and therefore would be
dismissed out of hand by Dr. Aaron.  But let us take  heed that Dr. Aaron’s
cynical and profoundly amoral, if not immoral view, is  reminiscent of Pontius
Pilate’s offhand dismissal of Jesus, when Pilate  exclaimed, “Truth?  What
is truth?”  Yet in spite of Pilate, and  Aaron, Jesus is today, and has been
for 2000 years, and will forever be, the  most powerful political figure in
history. (In saying this I do not imply that  Jesus was or is only, or
primarily, a political figure, but there is no doubt  that his message has had a
profound influence on the politics of much of the  world for 2000 years.)
The author of the book, Speak Truth to Power, Kerry  Kennedy, in his
introduction to the book, speaks of the men and women he  portrays, in terms of “
courage, with its affirmation of possibility and change,  is what defines
them, singly and together.  Each spoke to me with  compelling eloquence of the
causes to which they have devoted their lives, and  for which they are
willing to sacrifice them ╨ from freedom of expression to the  rule of law, from
environmental defence to eradicating bonded labour, from  access to capital
to the right to due process, from women’s rights to religious  liberty. As
the Martin Luther Kings of their countries, these leaders hold in  common an
inspiring record of accomplishment and a profound capacity to ignite  change.
”  I only hope, and pray (yes, pray!) that Dr Aaron and his  disciples have
not succeeded in so corrupting the minds of the majority of  Dominicans
that we may abandon the virtues of honesty, integrity, commitment to  truth and
devotion to our Christian religious convictions which have guided our  
country at political as well as secular levels until recently and hopefully  
until now.
Sir Brian G.K. Alleyne, S.C., KCN.

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