Professor Wilson’s response and Guyana’s politics
If you decide to teach philosophy, even as a hobby, you will have to introduce your students to the mind of E. O. Wilson. Professor Wilson has now taken his place in history. Hate him or love him, he has to be read in the philosophy classroom, because what he has to say is just too important in understanding human civilization and how it works.
Wilson, a biologist at Harvard University (he’s still there) invented a scientific term, “socio-biology” based on his famous 1979 book, “On Human Nature.” In a nutshell, Wilson is saying (brace yourself for some eye-raising philosophy) that all social behaviour of Homo sapiens (that’s us, human beings) is biologically driven.
All living organisms are products of evolution and human beings are genetically determined. The mind is not a product of nurture and culture, but a result of genetic evolution. Concepts like free will are non-existent. What we are is what our genes make us out to be. There are genes for different types of behaviour, some of which include race awareness. This leads to war and xenophobia.
Harvard campus was turned into a battleground with the publication of “On Human Nature.” Demonstrators gathered on the Harvard campus calling for the dismissal of Wilson. All kinds of labels were assigned to Wilson by the liberal world and left wing people, including terms like racist and warmonger. Wilson made a simple response. It was not new. It was basic and will remain so for all time to come. He said he was a scholar and all he did was discover an objective law that exists in science.
He stated that he is neither a political activist nor a racist, or interested in politics at all. Then he made the most commonsensical of replies. Wilson said he is a scientist. He researches. If what he finds has consequences for society it is for the policy-makers to act. What Wilson was saying is that humans have roles. The scholar cannot provide lies for people who have power, neither can the scholar hide what he/she finds because the time or place is not right. Society has to deal with what scientists discover.
Mr. Ravi Dev either doesn’t understand the roles that inhere in human society or he wants Guyanese scholars to be like him – a provider of propaganda for the PPP Government. Writing in his piece in last Sunday’s KN, Dev warns us that when we use terminologies like fascist, dictatorship and racist to describe the PPP Government, we must understand that we can create social instability.
Dev’s words are the opposite to Professor Wilson’s attitude so let’s quote him; “Mr. Kwayana defends the opposition’s insistence on treating the PPP as a “dictatorship”…he ignores my caution in an early exchange with him on the local context of such a political aberration … in my estimation once a government has achieved the status of a “dictatorship” its removal is justified…it is my contention that the accusations of “dictatorship” have served to steer opposition strategies from the task of utilizing democratic institutions…”
It is unfortunate that Dev should write his viewpoint one week after a profound observation by a living historical giant –Mikhail Gorbachev. Last week, he accused Vladimir Putin of perpetuating dictatorship. Can someone please direct Dev to that statement? Can someone also direct Dev to the studies of an internationally known scholar, Fareed Zakaria, who is partly responsible for the coining of the term, “elected dictatorship”? Zakaria refers to Antigua as a semi-democracy. What would he call Guyana if he was to touch down here?
Now the question for Dev. What happens when the scholar researches politics in Guyana and comes up with the answer that Guyana is a dictatorship? Should he/she not publish his/her research because once it becomes public all hell is going to break loose? Names that come to mind are professors Alissa Trotz, Nigel Westmaas and Clem Seecharran. Judging from their research, all three would classify the Jagdeo Government as a dictatorship.
Sadly, we cannot invite them to speak on politics in Guyana, because should they commit the “cardinal sin” and categorize the PPP Government as a dictatorship, then we are in for trouble. Such incendiary language will cause opposition supporters to beat the war drum. In fact, Clem Secharran has gone so far as to speak about the plight of African Guyanese. Mr. Ravi Dev fools no one. He has become a propagandist for the PPP. His new role is to mask the horrible atrocities the PPP Government commits. The reality is that the PPP Government is more than dictatorial. It is fascist.