Kaieteur News – No human being should insult and damage their existence by blindly putting faith in an individual, group, or organisation that has consistently failed to protect and preserve that existence. Psychological damage of immense magnitude has to emerge.
African Guyanese since their first governmental leader, Forbes Burnham, have looked toward their three presidents (Burnham, Desmond Hoyte, David Granger) to empower them against their consciousness that they are not a moneyed or propertied ethnic community. But it has not happened.
The reason is that the rural African peasant class and the African proletariat have put faith in African middle class leaders who lacked the inner philosophical substance to be loyal to them. The three presidents were from the African middle-class and tended to embrace elements of that class rather than catering for the bulk of the dispossessed African masses. The African middle class and the Mulatto stratum were openly patronised by the leadership of Hoyte and Granger.
There have been two other PNC leaders – Robert Corbin and Aubrey Norton – who emerged from the womb of the working-class unlike Burnham, Hoyte and Granger, but since they were not in power, they will not be part of this discussion. Given the nature of this theorising here, a newspaper column will not suffice so the outlay here will have to be extremely brief.
One brief digression is in order. Although Hamilton Green never became leader of the PNC or president, I believe he was the only substantial personality in the PNC’s government from 1964 to 1992 who showed a more than passing interest in empowering the African proletariat. In the triumvirate of Burnham, Green and Dr. Ptolemy Reid, Green was the only one of the three who concentrated on directly tending to the African masses.
Burnham used the Indo-Afro binary and the cultural contempt of the Portuguese and Mulatto classes for Indians to carve out the symbolisation of an African saviour. The perennial presence of the PPP meant that Burnham’s African base was solid. But two factors inherently worked against African Guyanese empowerment.
One was that Burnham did see himself as a saviour of the African masses. Burnham was driven by the totality of power which prevented him from understanding class analysis of Guyanese society. Secondly, Burnham did not want to make state resources available for the economic elevation of African Guyanese in general because he feared embourgeoisification of African Guyanese would have diluted his impregnable hegemony.
This explains why he leased cattle ranches to his wife rather than legalising ownership. When the PPP government came to power in 1992, the leases were either interrupted or were not renewed. It was Burnham’s rejection of African embourgeoisification that made the African middle class and the Mulatto stratum angry with him and nurtured the WPA to overthrow him.
When he died, he left the African peasant class and the African proletariat in modes, styles and power that were hardly different from the beginning of the 20th century. What Hoyte did when he succeeded Burnham was to divest the vast resources of the State he inherited from Burnham but the diversification had no class analysis attached to it.
Hoyte did not have any thought of what African empowerment meant and had no thought of what constituted the African economy in Guyana. His economic direction titled the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) was brutal ignorance of Guyana’s sociology and it literally, I repeat, literally obliterated the economy of the African Guyanese masses.
The seminal text on the ERP is Tyrone Ferguson, “Structural Adjustment and Good Governance: The case of Guyana”. The missing link in the book is class analysis. Ferguson completely ignored the impact of the ERP on the African masses and the implication that it had for the psychology of Black people. Because Ferguson was not a sociologist, he did not incorporate sociological analysis in the Hoytean use of economic reorganisation of the Guyanese economy.
Another African middle class personality became the PNC leader and the president of Guyana – David Granger. Granger’s song was straight out of the repertoire of Hoyte. A quintessential middle class personality, Granger like Hoyte did not see the State as a source of African empowerment.
This explains why he in his weekend programme, “The Public Interest,” said on Friday, July 29, 2016 the following: “There is no magic wand. The government cannot provide jobs in the government service, in the police force or the defence force. Employment is not something to be provided by the government.” As the oil bonanza looms, African Guyanese today have to look out for themselves rather than their leaders who continue to exploit their psychology. The consequence can only end in tragedy. It is heading in that direction.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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