Membership has its privileges but friendship, especially the right friends in the rights places has its benefits, and in the case of Guyana, enormous benefits.
You look around Guyana today and without doubt there has been tremendous development.
But at the same time, you have to ask whether within the next year or so whether there is going to be any part of Guyana left for the people of Guyana, other than what is privately owned. From the way a small band of individuals is gobbling up Guyana, you have to ask just what is going to be left.
Guyana is a big country and it has always been presumed that it is big enough for every citizen to have his share. But from the way some individuals are cashing in on their friendship with others, it seems as if they may eventually own the entire country.
What is fascinating about this very troubling development, is that in normal circumstances there would have been nothing wrong with this happening because in a capitalist society, it is the most competitive that win. The problem in Guyana is that a small oligarchy, a small number of individuals is cornering great wealth and it would seem this is so because of connections that they have.
What is even more amazing is that these individuals have mostly been outside of the ruling party. They do not enjoy their new found fame because of the ruling party but because of their close friendship with individuals within the government. In fact many of those who are now benefiting from the largesse of the state were never close to the PPP. They are outsiders who now seem to have great influence in what happens within the ruling administration.
Guyana has always had an oligarchy. During the long rule of the PNCR, even though the country was professed to be a socialist society, there was a small group of mainly family owned businesses that dominated the economy after the state.
This group enriched themselves and are still enriching themselves today. Throughout all the difficult days, they made money and they are still making money.
They have however now been surpassed by a new oligarchy, one that owes its wealth almost entirely to the connections. These connections have brought untold wealth to certain individuals and they are not letting up.
History has taught us that these individuals usually constitute themselves into a class and this class uses its influence and wealth to exercise control over the policies of the country. This is how you end up with class rule.
The new oligarchy is not part of the capitalist class; they are in class by themselves.
The two main political parties may harbour the idea that they can do without the oligarch class. The reality however is that the oligarchy always finds a way of keeping the political parties under their wing.
And it is not going to be any different this year. In order to contest elections, political parties need money, big money. Overseas Guyanese may also believe that the parties depend on them to fill the elections coffers. The reality also is that only a pittance is likely to be raised from overseas. The bulk of the election funds have to come from Guyana.
How will the main political parties preserve their independence in the face of their dependence of the finances of the oligarchy? It is not an easy situation because they know also that history has shown that whenever the oligarchy gives assistance it comes with strings attached and therefore the oligarchy is going to come knocking after the elections.
In the case of the post -1992 PPP, the old oligarchy appointed commissars who did their bidding for them. And then they discovered a weakness in certain individuals and began to work on these individuals to the extent that after it while, it seems as if they were able to influence these individuals to do what they wanted. This has continued to the degree that this influence has spread widely within the government and a new oligarchy has emerged, one that is confident that their interests are preserved.
The old oligarchy has been left out in the cold and they are now waking up to the reality that the new kids on the block are eating into their businesses and with the sort of political clout that they have may even force them to close down.
This is what makes the forthcoming elections so interesting. It is not just one oligarchy seeking to ingratiate itself into both of the main parties. There are two oligarchies, one that is on its way out and which had had a history of trying to get close to ruling parties, whichever ruling party was in power.
This new oligarchy has never sought to get close to any political parties. They use their connections to get close to figures within the government and who knows one day they might control the government through these very individuals.
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