Fifty Years of Tapia

The Conference will examine the following subjects:
  • Tapia House Group’s fidelity to the mission of the New World Group to transform Caribbean Societies;
  • The extent that 47 years of evidence verifies the theoretical soundness of Lloyd Best’s 1968 Pure Plantation Model thesis that Onshore Sector is the locus of economic transformation;
  • The need for transformative power to reform our constitutional and political arrangements so that decision-making will support a shift of resources to the Onshore sector.

The conversation will be led by Ivan Laughlin, Vanus James, Lloyd Taylor, among others. All are invited to attend

Two Seminal Events

Nineteen Sixty-Eight (1968) marks the anniversary of two seminal events in the existence of Trinidad and Tobago society that carried then, and continues to have, positive developmental implications for us as well as the wider Caribbean.

One was undoubtedly Lloyd Best’s bold theoretical excursion uncovering the debilitating production structure without internal drivers that diverted resources away from what he called initially the Residentiary sector and later labelled the Onshore Sector. This was the publication of the paper, A Model of Pure Plantation Economy (PEM) Vol 17. No 3 - the journal Social and Economic Studies, ISER, UWI, Mona, Jamaica. That took place in September 1968. The paper was since updated as Revised and Expanded Model of Pure Plantation Economy (Best, L and Polanyi-Levitt, Kari, The Theory of Plantation Economy, 2009)

The second decisive development was the founding of an intermediate political organization, called the Tapia House Group (THG), two months after on November 14, 1968. These two events have a common thread in the personality of Lloyd Best, but no more unifying than the fact that both initiatives had as a decisive objective: the ultimate decolonization of the Caribbean. As we showed elsewhere, Tapia was a democratic default position from the New World Group; and not a premeditated off shoot.

Why Do We Recall

That was 50 years ago. And because, by God’s grace, we are still here, Tapia community members find that there is a social, political, psychological and intellectual need to commemorate these two events. This commemoration is for those of us who are still alive, for those would be leaders chaffing at the bit to take the baton of transformation to run the other legs in the relay of change, and for all of posterity -our descendants who are born and yet are unborn.

Our Magnificent Change Initiatives

This commemoration of Tapia provides an opportunity to survey the career of the Movement for change dating from the 1950’s or what we might call the modern history of Trinidad and Tobago. In terms of politics, these included the initiatives by CLR James to reconstitute the PNM from inside, as documented in Party Politics in the West Indies (1962,1984); the attempts in the mid- 1960s within the labor movement for Oil and Sugar to unite; the social and political protest upheavals in the 1970s led by Daaga and the National Joint Action Committee; the emergence of Tapia in 1968 to underwrite the intellectual basis of change; the foregone attempt by the forces united under the People’s Front to form a Labour Party for Trinidad and Tobago in 1975; and the decade long patient initiatives to construct a single striking force that led to the creation of National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) in 1985/86, upon the foundations of the National Alliance of Trinidad and Tobago. Tragically, NAR turned out to be a one term government whose demise as a political party of parties was complete in 1988, while it was collapsing in office.

Apart from our desire to reinforce the collective social memory, so easily distracted by a strong daily dose of trivia, we intend other things too. We want to examine to what extent Tapia’s career was faithful to the objectives for change pursued by its forebear, the New World Group. We want to assess what progress has been made in understanding how Lloyd Best’s Onshore sector transforms itself, and in the process transforms Caribbean economy and society, and to review shortcomings in our use of the instruments of power to consummate our effective pursuit of change. The footprint of the conference lies in the heart of the foregoing remarks.

Our Unconditional Dedication

This commemoration is due to be held on Saturday November 10, 2018 at a venue to be announced.

It is dedicated unconditionally to all those, who sincerely and magnificently, held aloof the banner of change; to those who fell on the frontlines or failed to win seats even to those whose efforts fell by the wayside, whether able or not to survive their disappointments by picking themselves up to carry on confidently; and to all those who are committed to endure so to bear witness to the attainment of our goals. Students and parents, residents and citizens, workers. farmers and business, CARICOM residents, natives and foreigners are welcome to attend and participate.