I don’t like socializing. Why? I really don’t know. If and when I write my memoirs I will classify myself as the quintessential working class boy. Maybe it is because of that I have this attitudinal reluctance. I have missed and continue to eschew many social functions whether political, literary, social, personal etc. But there are occasions I like to be present at. I enjoy the company, the analysis, the gossip; the works. Two such events are the annual Walter Rodney death anniversary and the birthday of my friend, Dr. Mark Kirton.
I have always been invited to Mark’s birthday: I always go. Last Thursday was no exception. Mark and I go way back as students at UG in the early seventies. We had countless quarrels when we both became lecturers but deep down in my heart I like and appreciate Mark Kirton. Last Thursday, was yet another occasion of learning and listening at Mark’s little birthday lime. One of the guests spent half an hour with me explaining in depth the oil find. From what I was told, it means Guyana has one of the largest oil deposits in the world. I did say to him that if the current political players are still around by 2020, I will not trust them to use oil revenues without resort to corruptible temptations.
I would say my most satisfying moments were the little discussion I had with James Bond of the PNC. I am not at liberty to disclose what Bond said in response to my questions. But I can reveal my attitude to the only question he asked me. He inquired of my assessment of the PNC. I forgot to tell him I think the PNC at the present juncture is an ordinary party with ordinary leadership that will not walk on the avenue of transformation.
My first response was to express my annoyance at and rejection of the Ministries of Labour and Youth respectively. I told Bond that any analysis of the PNC has to configure into the analysis the reason for the scrapping of those ministries. Bond did say that there is a Minister of Labour. But I told him such a Minister is not represented in Cabinet and that the Minister of Labour is subordinate to a senior Minister – the Minister of Communities. I expressed to Bond my resentment of the dissolution of the Ministry of Labour as a separate Ministry, yet the Granger Cabinet has a Ministry of Business.
I pointed out that the current PNC leadership hasn’t got anything in common with Burnham’s PNC. You can dislike Burnham as much as you want to but the Forbes Burnham Government from 1964 to 1985 was essentially shaped by Mr. Burnham himself to allow the working people of Guyana to benefit from the resources of the country, not as a matter of routine, not in a tiny way, not in a meaningful way but in a way that made the lower income classes synonymous with Guyana.
I do not see even one leader in the PNC that comes close to that thinking or wants to come close to it. The current PNC leadership is shamelessly neo-liberal in its economic ideology. For a party of the nature of the PNC and PPP to embrace neo-liberal economics is sad and perhaps even tragic. Jagdeo shamelessly embraced neo-liberal economics and it has resulted in the ruin of the poorer classes. I don’t think David Granger has economic advisors that will steer him away from that pathway. Mr. Granger himself, I think, is not unhappy with the neo-liberal approach.
That is what I told James Bond about the PNC. This is what I believe. As part of my analysis of the PNC that I offered Bond, I did say that unlike Forbes Burnham, Desmond Hoyte was, and now David Granger, are the two PNC leaders that seem embedded and ensconced in middle class political economy. I think Hoyte could not and Granger cannot seriously ground themselves in the world of the Guyanese working people. Ironically, Hoyte was very respectful of democratic rights and Granger seems to be the same, though it is too early to put one’s entire faith in Granger.
There are nascent signs that Granger may not be uncomfortable with some oligarchic features of his PNC colleagues. Bond said he had to go to the airport and I wanted to leave, since the clock was way past my bedtime which is 10.30 PM. Mark is at the University of the West Indies but did indicate that he may be back as early as the beginning of the new year to serve his country.
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