Recalibrating.


Eusi Kwayana’s book, ‘No Guilty Race’, is often quoted by those who support his contention that all races are equally guilty in the internecine history of race relationship in Guyana. However, one has to wonder what makes Kwayana an expert on race relations in Guyana. After all its quite obvious that he writes based on his experiences and little else and by this logic all who have experienced the realities referenced by Kwayana can then be considered experts. Incidentally, in lauding Kwayana, his fans seem to have conveniently forgotten that this was the man who had called for a division of Guyana on the basis of race, and although Kwayana and others have attempted, with hindsight, to re-contextualize that call, anyone familiar with the original context within which that call was made knows of its racist underpinnings.

In any case, based on their own experiences, there are thousands who would dispute the Kwayana’s ‘conclusions’ arguing that in affirming that there is no guilty race Kwayana has equated the trees with forest, especially given that a statistical analysis of all periods of ethnic violence in Guyana makes it clear that invariably Indians have far more often and in overwhelmingly greater numbers been victims than perpetrators. And in this respect the election to goverment of the PPP/Civic has made not a single iota of difference (‘slow fyah, mo fyah’, the ‘Buxton Freedom Fighters’ saga, Bartica and Lusignan massacres et al), even though there are those who attempt to equate ethnic violence/crimes with police shooting of criminals and/or wanted individuals who either attack the police or attempt to evade police capture.

On top of these and other revisionism by Dr. Hinds, Dr. Gibson and company, has come this call for power sharing. This call is the latest tactic in the history of political recalibrating on the part of the PNC and Afrocentric activists. To illustrate:

I.     Burhnam pulled out from the Jagan-led PPP party and sought and obtained deals with the British/CIA to destabilize the elected government of the day.

II.     Burnham then demanded a change in the electoral system to PR and was granted the same.

III.     The PNC then sought a coalition with the UF and demanded and obtained the reins of power.

IV.     After using and then kicking the UF by the curbside, the PNC rigged elections to hold on to power for more than a quarter of a century.

V.     The PNC then introduced concepts such as cooperative socialism and party paramountcy to tighten control and establish a dictatorship.

VI.     When the fall of the Berlin Wall and a changing geo-political climate forced the PNC to bring back free and fair elections it quickly resorted to violence after losing elections. Thankfully it was unable to sell its strategy to a people jaded by violence.

VII.     Now comes power sharing – a concept that has not worked anywhere in the world and one that is viewed by many commentators and analysts as a strategy for the PNC to obtain power via the back door.

Dr. David Hinds’ academic arguments for power sharing have been debunked by Stabroek News letter writer, Roger Ally, who wrote, “David Hinds proposes to give Guyanese an even stranger creation-Disproportional Representation (DR). Under his scheme, he and his coterie “want power-the ability to determine “who gets, what, when and how.” Mr. Hinds recognizes that his group does not have support; so for him Democracy “cannot mean mere numbers.”

“He wants “the power of decision making” because he believes that this is his “birthright”. So he dreams up an intellectually bankrupt paradigm that he calls “substantive democracy” that he refers delusionally to as a “higher form of democracy.” His faulty paradigm is predicated on an oxymoronic concept he calls “the fundamental human right of each ethnic group”. A fundamental human right belongs to the individual and not “an ethnic group”. The rights of the individual are antithetical to the group. Dr. Hinds’ model is internally inconsistent because this nonsensical construct is designed to give a minority power that is disproportionally greater than its representation – that is -Disproportional Representation (DR). He believes that his paradigm makes sense because his “political activism is located in a broader multi-racial praxis (read subversion of democracy).”

Furthermore, to prove the existence of African marginalization Dr. Hinds et al have shifted the goal posts from the known and accepted indicators, to new ones of their own creation, with perceptions replacing facts and figures. Then they ‘support’ those perceptions by either extrapolating from the experiences of a few individual to generalize for an entire ethnic group, comparing apples with oranges or referencing situations non-contextually – a ‘weapon’ that has become quite popular in their armory.

Such argumentation is then supported by assumptions presented as facts on the basis that once Dr. David Hinds and company say so, it must be so. For example Hinds declares, the East Indian cabal that controls the PPP is committed to the notion that never again will the representatives of African Guyanese get their hands on political power.” Somehow a political party wanting to maintain power as all political parties that win power do and all political parties in opposition aspire to, has now been transformed into “the notion that never again will the representatives of African Guyanese get their hands on political power.” But then by that logic is not Hinds saying that his goal is for African Guyanese to obtain and maintain power. By extension therefore would his call for power sharing not have as its ultimate aim a seizing of power by Afro Guyanese?

Adds Dr. Hinds, “African Guyanese have been progressively reduced to second class citizens and political aliens in Guyana”. Yet the reality is that the current government does not have a dual policy approach with one policy directed towards to one ethnic group and a different one for other ethnic groups. Consequently, if African Guyanese are “been progressively reduced to second class citizens and political aliens” then by that logic so Guyanese of all other races, especially given that the people who have benefitted from the policies of the current government belong the cabal, (which, contrary to what Dr. Hinds stated, is not East Indian but multi ethnic) and their circle of family and friends.

Besides, while Dr. Hinds speaks blithely about understanding East Indian fears, his outpourings do not indicate how those fears would be assuaged. For, as Ravi Dev pointed out “…if Africans obtain a share of the Executive, through their explicit identification as Africans, and the power bases of the state – the Bureaucracy and the Armed Forces – remain overwhelmingly dominated by Africans, does this not signal an existential African dominance of such a government?

And when talk about the military comes into play we are disingenuously told that balancing the armed forces must go hand in hand with balancing the private sector. Yet the simple reality is that the private sector is not a part of the state machinery while the armed forces are. So a government has neither authority nor power to dictate the composition and operation of the private sector whereas it possesses both in relation to the composition and operation of the military. Again Ravi Dev places this in context, “The state, constituted by all the people, must in its own composition reflect the latter for its fundamental legitimacy, if nothing else.”

Furthermore, Dr. Hinds says, “My political outlook has been shaped in part by two currents in Guyanese political tradition-Black Nationalism and Multiracialism. For me the two are interrelated-one is not a negation of the other.” And on this underpinning he makes his foray into political discourse on Guyana. As an Indian I have no problem with Dr. Hinds and company being black nationalists. In fact it would seem that the Guyanese generally do not have a problem with this. Yet should any Indian declare that his/her political outlook has been/is shaped by Indian nationalism that person would be skewered and labeled for the rest of his/her life as racist. Ravi Dev is a case in point.

Well guess what Dr. Hinds? We do have something in common. My political outlook has being shaped too by multiracialism and group identity.  So when you and others talk about new political paradigms, please note that we Indians need guarantees that we would have nothing to fear and would always have equity every which way. Then not only would I be willing to embrace your activism but also I will join you in working to implement such paradigms.

In the prevailing climate, any paradigm that includes the PNC cannot give me such guarantees – and this conclusion is based on the PNC’s track record as well as its current modus operandus. So for now, Westminister-style democracy (which was quite satisfactory to the majority of Africans prior to 1992) stands and any political movement that wants to gain power must find a way to reach across ethnic lines. Given the ethnic makeup of Guyana’s population it is clear that the PPP has been able to do so, even if to a limited extent.

Meanwhile if Dr. Hinds wants to work towards a political movement that can transcend ethnic politics do count me in, body and soul! On the other hand Dr. Hinds must surely know that his theory that taking to the streets does not equate to violence is not supported by history, as previous street marches have all resulted in violence and injuries to the innocent.  And, as in the past, Indians would once again bear the brunt of such inevitable violence.

 

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About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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