Power and wealth and the Freudian anger of David Granger
David Granger must be an angry politician. Not only is he an experienced man because of long public service in sensitive and interesting areas when the PNC was in power but he can explain his feelings and social evolution in Guyana using intellectual concepts because he is a brilliant scholar.
Granger may not allow his irritations with the fictions about the PNC Government to boil over but they are there inside his Freudian mind alright.
This suppressed fury will rise to the top as the PNC campaign move into top gear and the nation will hear and see the intellectual wrath of Granger and he tries to put Guyanese history in perspective. Granger is going to tell all Guyanese that the myths about the Burnham Government are too many and need to be explained. In other words Granger is going to do what historians do best – strip away the fictions that people have been fed, that the PNC was a worse government than the PPP.
Mr. Granger is going to make the comparison and some truths we the Guyanese need to know will be revealed. This essay here is along the lines of the Granger theme.
What is the essential difference in the exercise of power between Presidents Forbes Burnham and Bharrat Jagdeo? Here I offer my brief analysis. Burnham was driven by the need to have power. Mr. Jagdeo is motivated by the pursuit of power and wealth. In this comparison, Mr. Jagdeo becomes a far more dangerous and destructive autocrat.
A common thread that runs through my comparative assessments of the two leaders is the endowment of fierce nationalism in Mr. Burnham that Mr. Jagdeo completely lacks. Mr. Burnham was your par excellence nationalist.
Mr. Jagdeo has little appreciation for what nationalism means. Given this difference, Mr. Jagdeo had to turn out to be the less caring oligarch.
It is outside the scope of a short newspaper commentary to offer a comparative evaluation of Burnham and Jagdeo. What you see here are notes of a research that will be presented at a scholarly conference. The categories of race and class are very important in comprehending the fundamental differences in the politics of both men.
Wealth played no significant role in the exercise of power by the African middle class in the post-colonial Caribbean. Adams, Williams, Barrow, Manley, Burnham, Compton, Price, Bradshaw, Cato, Mitchell among others, never engaged in private capital accumulation (Antigua was a slight exception).
The post-colonial African middle class leaders were infatuated with nationalism. They were schooled in the arts, the humanities, law and the social sciences. They loved public service occupations, particularly teaching. Mr. Burnham’s father was a school teacher.
These middle class people saw themselves as the custodians of English culture and its attendant political values. They were people possessed of a possessive mentality. The land was theirs to govern and the land must belong to the state.
The African middle class saw the state as a sacred concept. It should not be given away, destroyed or trampled upon. Interestingly, Burnham never bought Belfield, his official residence. For all the denigration of Burnham by the PPP, his so-called wealth was never discovered. And that is because it never existed.
The story of Mr. Jagdeo is old news. He hails from the countryside from a poor family without any strong connection to education. It would be a mismatch to compare the educational exposure of Burnham and Jagdeo. Here is where race and culture come in. The quintessential line that demarcates the cultural mind of the Guyanese East Indian and his/her African counterpart is that the Indian psyche is shaped by the business ethic. Indian integration into the Guyanese society has followed a path that was completely dissimilar from African Guyanese.
It is no accident, and most definitely so, that Mr. Burnham and Mr. Jagdeo kept intimate friendships from sources that bear no resemblance to each other.
It is no secret in Guyana. In fact, it is public knowledge that Mr. Jagdeo’s most trusted companions are from the world of vast wealth. Mr. Navin Chadarpal hinted at that in his reply to Mr. Jagdeo’s rum-shop accusation against him.
Mr. Burnham’s confidantes were from politics and the professional classes. He had little admiration for the wealthy strata. Space has run out to deal with the role of private capital accumulation in the Government of Guyana and I will need legal advice when I touch on that subject.
In another column, I will continue on the wrong accusations against the Burnham regime that obviously we will hear more about from Mr. Granger.