I would like to clarify some points raised in Mr. Rudolph Singh’s response to my letter responding to Peeping Tom’s article, titled, “Capitalism cannot exist where there is socialist thinking”.
Mr. Singh asked, who is the “we” I speak of. I signed my letter as Leader of Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP), and I refer to the ideas and policies of our organization throughout, so it is very clear who the “we” is. OVP has established the George James Institute for Thought and Action. We hold discussions on these topics fortnightly, attended in large part by young people. The aim is to demystify these ideas. It is in the interest of the oppressors to maintain that subjects such as socialism, neo-liberal capitalism, political economy etc. are too complex for “the people” to understand and that we must therefore leave these issues to “the experts”. We teach that this is false and that all people are capable of understanding the world around them, and participating in the struggle to find solutions to the problems that confront us.
You stated, “Perreira wrote, the socialism we speak of existed prior to European notions of socialism and is rooted in our ancient traditions and cultures. In analyzing this sentence, the socialism referred to, makes socialism multifaceted, meaning that there are different types of socialism.”
Of course, there are different models of socialism, Mr. Singh. The Peeper and other detractors of socialism in our midst are determined to misinform by holding up a repressive and bureaucratic model of socialism that emerged out of the European experience, and existed in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. This is a straw man, easy to pull down.
The flaws of this model have long been recognized, and it is no longer seen as viable. It is precisely this type of Eurocentric thinking that has us where we are today. As an ethical and social system, socialism has its genesis, in theory and practice, in African and other Indigenous cultures. Its moral foundation can be located in numerous verses in the Bible and the Quran, as well as in the teachings of Buddha. Socialism did not begin in Europe and did not cease to exist when East-European Communism collapsed.
Any political/economic system adopted by a nation-state must emanate from its people’s own culture and historical experience, and cannot be mechanically transposed from one country to another. We invite you to think outside the box, Mr. Singh.
OVP is talking about 21st Century Socialism, aka Communitarian Socialism, Democratic Socialism (not Social Democracy) and People’s Socialism, as was practiced in Libya under the leadership of Muammar Qaddafi. In Antigua, Prime Minister, Gaston Browne is even talking about an “Entrepreneurial Socialism”. This socialist tradition has nothing to do with State ownership and repressive bureaucracies and does not prevent people from owning private property.
Privately owned businesses will co-exist with other forms of ownership such as community, co-operative and genuine public ownership. It is this type of socialism that transformed Libya from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the most prosperous. In Ecuador and Bolivia, communitarian socialism, emerging from their own respective cultures and experience, has already led to remarkable human achievements that were impossible under neo-liberal capitalism.
You say that my discourse will alienate the young, but I put it to you Mr. Singh that the young people of Guyana, across all communities, are tired of having these false narratives and worn out examples thrown in their faces. They are talking about a better future for all and they know in their hearts that neo-liberal capitalism cannot deliver the future they want and need. One of the greatest mistakes that our present government continues to make is to underestimate the ability and insight of our youth.
You complain that my indictment of capitalism did not satisfy you. Do I need to remind you that it was capitalism that waged genocidal wars against the Indigenous peoples of the Americas; enslaved my African ancestors during the horrific period of chattel slavery and is doing the same today in its neo-liberal incarnation under the guise of wage-slavery and the Prison Industrial Complex? As indentured servants, your own ancestors were exploited and treated as lesser beings by this barbaric system.
In a world where neo-liberal capitalism is the dominant economic system, current global statistics speaks volumes. According to Oxfam, “just eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity and corporate tax dodging costs poor countries at least $100 billion annually. This is enough money to provide education for the 124 million children who are not in school and prevent the deaths of at least six million children.” Is this a sufficient indictment for you, Mr. Singh?
Gerald A. Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP)
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